Costa-Rican co-operative Coopedota developed the world's first carbon neutral coffee. Coopedota is a 190 year old co-operative of 800 coffee farmers. Its coffee has been certified according to the British Standards Institution’s PAS2060 specification for demonstrating carbon neutrality.
Earlier this week, to boost its environmental credentials, Coopedota along with Kraft Food received the national “Guayacán” prize, as a reward for its environmental friendly policies.
Climate change is a major issue on the global agenda. Many coffee farmers in Costa Rica and across the world have been seriously affected by climate change. Severe floodings in Costa Rica have led to a low coffee supply last year. Coffee shortages followed by price hikes in 2011 have led to growing concerns among coffee farmers. Coopedota aims to set an example and make others in the coffee industry follow their steps in order to reduce CO2 emissions.
"We all have to do something. Natural disasters can affect everyone. In the United States hurricanes had a catastrophic impact. Coopedota is ready to help, we run different guidance programmes and we are willing to share our experience,” said Roberto Mata, executive manager of Coopedota.
"It is a necessity, coffee is an agricultural product that has been affected by the weather and we all have to do something, we all do, not just farmers. Climate change is a major problem we are facing with, one which requires urgent measures. We are in a very sensitive area."
Customers tend to prefer coffee from producers which have environmental-friendly policies. Coopedota's efforts to reduce emissions are in line with the country's policy to become carbon neutral by the year 2021, the year marking the 200th anniversary of its independence.
"There is a continually growing market for low-carbon products. Other co-operatives are trying to reduce emissions. For that we have to take drastic measures," Roberto Mata added. The executive director of Coopedota believes co-operatives can pave the way towards reducing carbon emissions, not just in Costa Rica, but all over the world. "If they discipline themselves this can be achieved. That will also lower production costs,” he said.
“Climate-smart coffee is about our bottom line and our continued existence. The market for low carbon products will grow as consumer’s worry more about climate change. We want to capture the value for sustainable purchases and pass it on to our farmers, many of whom have been affected by climate events,” the co-op's sustainability manager, Hortensia Solis, said.
Coopedota's Dota Valley’s coffee has a worldwide reputation. The co-operative wanted to be one of the first coffee producers to address the concerns over CO2 emissions. “Indeed, we are famous for our coffee’s high quality, but lately our customers value our sustainability practices as well,” Roberto Mata, said.
Coopedota started its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 1998, soon after the Kyoto protocol has been adopted. In 2009, following the Copenhagen climate summit, Coopedota set an ambitious target on achieving net zero GHG emissions.
In order to obtain the certification Coopedota had to reduce the GHG emissions associated with the life cycle of the product (production, transport and sale). Coopedota has worked with consultants from EARTH University, Peace Corp personnel and recent graduates from Yale University to measure its carbon footprint and establish a carbon strategy.
The creation of Coopedota played an essential role in the development of coffee farming in the area of Los Santos, Costa Rica. Due to the fact that there were no mills nearby and the producers lacked expertise in the agronomic process, the coffee was sold to middlemen who paid producers unfairly.
Coopedota was awarded the Coffee Merit Medal in 2001. This distinction is awarded every year in the National Coffee Congress by iCAFE to businesses or the general public for their contributions to the coffee sector in research, improvements in systems and crops. The co-op also received the awards White Flag and Blue Flag.
• For further information on Coopedota email Roberto Mata.