Packaging & waste: less is more

Packaging is essential because it protects our products during trans­portation and storage and ensures that our customers receive their goods in perfect condition. In addition, sales packages are used to inform customers of important product features. We do use as little packaging as possible and work to ensure that natural resources are used sparingly in their manufacture. In addition, we avoid packaging waste and ensure that our packaging can be recycled after use.

The Tchibo Packaging Directive that is mandatory for our suppliers also applies for the design of all Tchibo product packaging. It defines our quality and environ­mental require­ments and explains the statutory labelling require­ments we have to comply with as a provider. For example, all plastics must be identified to ensure their environ­men­tally friendly recycling. In general, all compo­nents, adhesive tape and labels must be recyclable. Tchibo never uses PVC as a packaging material, and we only use solvent-free printing ink that is low in heavy metals.

In early 2015 we began to further develop our packaging strategy by pursuing the following five comple­mentary approaches to avoiding, reducing, recycling and improving packaging.

  • Avoiding: avoid outer/secondary as far as possible
  • Reducing: further reduce the weight of packaging
  • Recycling: use more and more secondary raw materials and increase their recycla­bility based on eco-design principles
  • Improving: increase the share of certified cardboards and test next-gener­ation bio plastics

By 2020, we aim to reduce paper and cardboard consumption by 30% percent compared to 2013 in this way.

More eco-friendly, more economical packaging

The packaging used by Tchibo is mainly composed of paper or cardboard. Our goal is to signif­i­cantly reduce the consumption of paper and cardboard in our product packaging and to only use environ­men­tally friendly materials in future. So we are always looking for ways to save paper and cardboard and increase the proportion of the recycled and FSC® paper we process. For shipping packages we have only used FSC®-certified cardboard since 2013. This also makes economic sense for us: continuous improvement in shipping and repack­aging saves paper and reduce our costs.

In our coffee packaging there is less potential for cutting down on materials. It protects the coffee beans or ground coffee from light and oxygen that would otherwise impair the flavour of our coffee. The technical filling process and transport also place special demands on the packaging. Nonetheless, we are looking for solutions for a more resource-efficient design of our coffee packaging and regularly review our packaging. For example, this resulted in the conversion of Cafissimo capsule packaging to recycled materials.

Coming soon: more efficient use of cartons in online shipping

Up to 15% of packaging materials can be saved by more system­at­i­cally filling packaging when shipping Tchibo online orders. A thesis written by a student from the Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg confirms this. On the basis of 200,000 anonymised orders she calcu­lated which gradu­ation of prede­ter­mined packaging sizes best suited the optimal filling of cartons with goods. Tchibo therefore decided to gradually adjust the sizes when procuring its shipping packages, from mid-2015, to reflect the results of the study.

Cafissimo: better use of capsules

Coffee capsule systems like Cafissimo receive public criticism due to the ‘rubbish problem’. Although usually their ecological footprint is better than that of filter coffee because only the required quantities are prepared – meaning that less coffee is poured away – we have set ourselves the goal of making the capsules more environ­men­tally friendly. We are working hard to develop the capsules so that they can be recycled better, and are confident that we will achieve this goal in 2016.

Disposable takeaway cups

Disposable takeaway cups are especially contro­versial as people tend to litter inner cities and green spaces with them. In our Tchibo shop Coffee Bars, we serve beverages in reusable porcelain tableware. Beverages are only served in ‘to go’ cups if customers specif­i­cally ask for them. However, we emphasise that they should be disposed of in an environ­men­tally friendly way after use. To this end, we are partic­i­pating in a public-private pilot project in Karlsruhe that involves the public in raising awareness of the proper disposal of disposable cups.

Clean city partnership with the city of Karlsruhe

In 2014, we joined food service industry companies, coffee shop operators and the city of Karlsruhe in launching a clean city partnership. The idea is to ensure that coffee shop packaging and disposable cups are properly disposed of and recycled. Tchibo partic­i­pates in the partnership with its six Tchibo shops in Karlsruhe and supports a poster initiative to encourage consumers to partic­ipate.

In addition, we are currently working on further measures to reduce the proportion of disposable cups. This includes the option of refilling cups brought in by customers.

Gradual conversion to paid-for reusable bags

Instead of free, disposable bags made from fossil fuels we want to offer our customers alter­native solutions in the future. In 2015 Tchibo/Eduscho Austria launched a pilot project for this purpose. Use of disposable bags should be reduced by 50% by the end of 2015, and to zero in 2016. Since 1 July 2015, Tchibo shops have charged a fee for disposable plastic bags. As an alter­native, we also offer our customers the option of buying reusable bags.