Getting people excited about respon­sible consumption: expanded product ranges, inten­sified commu­ni­ca­tions

On the path to becoming a 100% sustainable business, we resolutely work on offering our customers more and more eco-friendly and socially compatible products. By contin­u­ously expanding our sustainably produced range of products, we want to encourage them to embrace sustainable consumption. For our customers to choose respon­sible consumption, we must explain sustain­ability in a credible, under­standable, and appealing way, because our customers’ purchasing decisions influence the breadth and depth of our sustain­ability measures, as well as the pace at which we achieve our goal of becoming a 100% sustainable business. To keep our customers even better informed about our activ­ities in the area of ​​sustain­ability, we are further expanding our commu­ni­ca­tions: via tradi­tional channels as well as on social media platforms and at the points of sale.

Inspiring people with sustainable product ranges

Our focus in expanding our sustainable ranges is on coffee, cotton and viscose textiles, furniture and handi­craft utensils made of wood and cellulose, as well as shoes, bags and acces­sories made of leather. In 2016, we made further progress in this expansion.

Sustainable coffee assort­ments: validated and certified

The share of certified and validated sustainable green coffee amounted to around 36% in 2016. In the medium term, we want to integrate all coffees into our sustain­ability concept. As early as 2010, we converted the entire range of our ‘Privat’coffee range including the ‘Rarities’ to 100% sustainable grades according to the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM standard with an organic option. And since 2009, our Coffee Bars have only used sustainable coffee grades for our coffee beverages and specialties,certified according to Fairtrade standard, among others. We had twice the reason to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our Cafissimo capsule system in 2016, because we also started offering coffee with the Fairtrade seal in this segment, in addition to coffees from Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM or UTZ-certified farms and the European organic seal. To ensure all consumers can recognise sustainable coffee grades at a glance, we put the respective seals on the front or rear of the packaging. In 2016, we also switched our ‘For Black n’White’ filter coffee to certified sustainable grades, in this case the UTZ standard. We developed the new Blonde Roast coffee and intro­duced it in 2017. Its light roasting, low bitterness and soft-fruity flavour especially appeal to a gener­ation of consumers that loves filter coffee. Blonde Roast is certified according to the Rainforest Alliance standard, as are the coffee grades used in our Gala and Eduscho Espresso and Caffee Crema assort­ments.  

Consumer goods: Focus on environ­mental and social compat­i­bility

With the expansion of our sustainable product lines, we meet many consumers’ require­ments for respon­sibly produced products. In 2016, we further developed our concept. All consumer goods are made of various materials from different places of origin, and that have different effects and require­ments. To reduce this complexity, we have divided our Non Food items into two main product groups, which we analyse in greater detail in four stages. The two main product groups are ‘textiles’, which includes clothing, sportswear and functional underwear, bedding, shoes and more, and ‘hardware’ such as furniture, electrical appli­ances, and jewellery.

We begin by concen­trating on the main compo­nents of a product group, e.g. cotton, and set a target to only use raw materials from sustainable sources for them by 2020. Then we look at the material used that makes up next-highest share, such as spandex, and in the third step examine additional compo­nents such as buttons. The final step is to focus on the manufac­turing process. Using this approach, we plan to signif­i­cantly increase the environ­mental and social compat­i­bility of our products by 2020.

In 2016, we once again expanded our existing sustainable product range.

Cotton: Tchibo uses more cotton from sustainable sources in its textiles every year. According to the Organic Cotton Market Report, we were the world’s third-largest buyer of organic cotton in 2016. In 2016, the share of cotton from sustainable sources in our products was 80%, which means that we are getting ever closer to our goal of using sustainably grown cotton in 100% of all Tchibo cotton textiles by 2020. They meet the require­ments of Cotton made in Africa, the Organic Content Standard or the GOTS Standard. We have been pursuing a new path since 2016 with the Tchibo Eco Logic Appachi collection, whereby we promote the training and further education of Indian cotton farmers beyond eco-friendly culti­vation.

Viscose: Tchibo also takes care to use fibres from more sustainable sources in the field of cellulose-based fibres such as viscose and lyocell. The share of sustainably produced cellulose fibres was also 80% in 2016. Tchibo obtains 60% of its viscose from the company Lenzing, which obtains the wood pulp for fibre production exclu­sively from respon­sibly managed sources.

Wood: The wood and pulp used as raw materials for Tchibo products come from respon­sibly managed forests. In 2016, the share of sustainable wood products in our range was around 63%, and around 40% of the products were Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®)-certified. In 2016, 100% of our garden furniture was made from FSC®-certified materials. 100% of the boxes we use to ship orders to our customers are made of FSC®-certified material.

Animal materials and fibres: More than nine years ago, Tchibo decided to completely ban real-fur products from its assortment. In 2014, this was followed by products containing angora. In 2015, Tchibo began offering exclu­sively chrome-free tanned leather products, but has suffered a consid­erable disad­vantage against chrome-tanned articles from the compe­tition.

Reusable cups: In 2017, we took another important step in resource conser­vation and the prevention of waste by offering reusable cups in our Tchibo coffee bars. Customer can buy them on-site or bring their own reusable cups to purchase refills.

Cafissimo: We also developed our Cafissimo capsules for more eco-friend­liness in 2016 by reducing the aluminium content in the packaging and designing the capsules to be 100% recyclable.

No more free plastic bags: In 2016, we intro­duced a charge for disposable bags, which reduced the number given out in Tchibo shops by almost 90%.

Resource conser­vation through recycling: Closed Loop

In designing a sustainable product range, the respon­sible use of resources is an integral part of our activ­ities, because the global extraction of raw materials and high volume of waste contribute to global environ­mental challenges, such as climate change and loss of biodi­versity. Our compre­hensive ‘closed-loop’ concept pursues the objective of conserving valuable resources while also increasing the sustain­ability of consumption. For us this means that even at the product design stage, we conceive our products in such a way that they are produced with recycled or renewable resources if possible, can be used for a long time, and at the end of their use can be recycled into useful goods or materials. We confirmed this aspiration by signing the Detox Commit­ments in 2014, that also includes the end of life consumption. In 2016, we analysed product groups in detail for their closed-loop potential and derived closed-loop approaches from this. We follow the following three approaches for our product groups: use recycled and renewable materials, ensure longevity, reuse, and recycle. Tchibo has already carried out pilot projects with closed-loop approaches for selected products.

Tchibo offered a compostable T-Shirt in 2016, and in 2017 produced a dishwashing brush made almost entirely of recycled, relatively eco-friendly polypropylene (PP), the plastic used for our Cafissimo capsules. We further developed the capsules in such a way that they are 100% recyclable, because recycling plants recognise the used plastic as polypropylene, which allows them to further process the plastic material. We transfer success­fully tested methods to other products, so as to gradually introduce closed-loop products into our product ranges. This is how we create material cycles wherever possible.

To ensure that the products can be used for as long as possible, we formulate high quality standards and grant warranty periods that go beyond statutory require­ments. At the same time, we offer support for care and repair of our products, and provide spare parts, thereby increasing the longevity of products. To ensure the best possible recycla­bility of the products at the end of their useful life, we are working to design our products in such a way that most of their compo­nents are recyclable. This includes taking account of the insights gained regarding collection and recycling systems, and to enable a consumer-friendly return system for our products. With this in mind, we support the recycling of our textiles, and in 2017 entered into a cooper­ation with FairW­ertung that offers our customers a consumer-friendly way to return their old clothes. In FairW­ertung, we have found a reliable partner who ensures that donated clothes are handled respon­sibly.

Consumer-oriented commu­ni­ca­tions: GUT GEMACHT – DONE IN A GOOD WAY

By offering more and more sustainable products, we also build consumer awareness for respon­sible consumption. Easily under­stood commu­ni­ca­tions are helpful here, because our customers’ purchasing decisions measures affect the pace at which we can implement sustain­ability programmes on our path to becoming a 100% sustainable business. To support them in selecting products system­at­i­cally, we must clearly label sustainable product ranges, prepare infor­mation in a consumer-oriented way, and make it easily available. We contin­ually expand our sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions and standardise our product labelling, e.g. with our ‘GUT GEMACHT’ (DONE IN A GOOD WAY) logo as a commu­ni­ca­tions bracket for all the sustain­ability standards we apply.

On the one hand, we commu­nicate at the points of sale and on the packaging, and on the other hand, we use a wide range of commu­ni­cation channels such as the Tchibo magazine, our own website, the corporate blog, and social media platforms. On we have set up a separate section for sustain­ability that presents all the key infor­mation about our activ­ities in a concise, consumer-friendly way. We also use our own YouTube channel to explain various aspects of sustain­ability, especially the meaning of the seals used for coffee, wood and cotton. To ensure that our employees are always informed about sustain­ability at Tchibo, we train them exten­sively and always keep them up to date.

Because we want our customers to be able to spot sustainable products at a glance, in 2015 we intro­duced the Tchibo sustain­ability ribbon to show the sustain­ability and the standard used, on the product itself and in product commu­ni­ca­tions. The ribbon offers a high recog­nition value and can be flexibly used for all sustain­ability standards. For products containing organic cotton, for example, a ribbon with the words ‘organic cotton’ is promi­nently placed next to the Organic Content Standards (OCS) seal.

We are also bundling our after-sales sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions under the heading 'GUT GEMACHT – WEITER GEDACHT' (DONE IN A GOOD WAY – ONE STEP FURTHER). Our customers will find plenty of infor­mation and ideas on, in the Tchibo Community and in our Corporate Blog about topics ranging from mainte­nance & repair to upcycling & refash­ioning, to useful return and recycling options.

Commitment to the Alliance for Consumer Education

To promote early awareness of sustainable consumption among children and teens in Germany, at the beginning of 2013, Tchibo joined the ‘Alliance for Consumer Education’ founded by the Feder­ation of German Consumer Organ­i­sa­tions. In this Alliance, repre­sen­ta­tives from the public and private sectors, educa­tional author­ities, science and academe, NGOs, business associ­a­tions, ministries, and individuals work to strengthen the decision-making and consumer skills of young people without adver­tising individual brands. The Alliance currently supports exemplary consumer education projects at schools.