RESPONSIBLE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: Securing the future with a proven guiding principle
For over 65 years, the Hamburg family-owned company Tchibo has modelled itself on the ideal of the ‘honourable merchant’. We think long term and see it as our entrepreneurial duty to take responsibility for our actions. Building on this principle, we made sustainability an integral part of our business strategy in 2006. We consider the impact of our business operations on people and the environmentin our key processes and products, and thus safeguard our commercial success far into the future.
Enjoyment and quality are hallmarks of the Tchibo brand. To be able to continue delivering on this claim in the future, we have integrated sustainability in our business strategy, the Tchibo DNA, and in our Code of Conduct since 2006. We combine our pursuit of revenues and profit with ecological, social and societal responsibility, because an intact natural environment as the basis and source of high-quality products, ensuring human rights in the supply chain, reliable cooperation with responsible business partners, passionate employees, and the trust of our customers are crucial determinants of the future viability of our business.
In August 2011, we went a step further and set the following strategic core objective: Tchibo is on the way to becoming a 100% sustainable business. In line with this, we are progressively designing our business processes and products to be environmentally and socially compatible, because our commercial success must not be at the expense of people and the environment. We place particular emphasis on the areas where we have the greatest influence and thus the greatest possible leverage. We want the Tchibo brand to be synonymous with sustainability and to be perceived as such by our stakeholders.
In the firm conviction that a sustainable business safeguards our company’s future, we will continue on our path with full strength. We take our cue from international guidelines such as those of the OECD, the fundamental principles of the ILO and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As a responsible company, we want to continue making significant contributions to sustainable development and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ten years of sustainability: experiences and insights
Over 10 years ago, we embarked on the path to becoming a 100% sustainable business. We have achieved a great deal since then: we have managed to set milestones and advance important issues. We identify challenges, tackle them, and work on innovative solutions. In the past ten years, we have also experienced some mishaps, especially when we came up against the limits of what we can do as a single trading company. But we draw valuable insights for the further development of our focus on sustainability from our successes as well as our setbacks. The experiences of the past ten years have strengthened our determination to continue pursuing the goal of becoming a 100% sustainable business and thus safeguarding Tchibo’s future viability. To implement this goal, we have developed a management system and firmly anchored it in the company.
In dealing with the key sustainability issues, we also involve our stakeholders. Maintaining a dialogue with them is important in order to identify and evaluate key issues and expectations, and prioritise measures. This is the only way we can set the right course for the diversity and global dimension of the challenges. Accordingly, we have developed a roadmap setting out the key measures, and also clearly delineating the areas in which we can achieve improvements as a single company – for example, through our WE qualification programme for our consumer goods producers or our Tchibo Joint Forces!® qualification programme for coffee farmers – and where we can only achieve changes in cooperation with other stakeholders.
Into the future with innovation and cooperation
From this, two strategically important instruments were derived, which we will increasingly focus on in future: cooperation and innovation. Cooperation in order to increase leverage and jointly develop solutions for systemic and structural challenges with other protagonists and stakeholders. Innovation, because ground-breaking new ideas and measures are needed in response to the depletion of resources, loss of biodiversity, climate change, demographic change and other global challenges.
Transparency is an essential prerequisite for implementing social and ecological standards in our value chains. We are currently working on achieving even greater transparency about the upstream stages of the supply chain for consumer goods.
Another important prerequisite for bringing about change and promoting sustainable consumption is kindling our customers’ enthusiasm for sustainable products. We only achieve this through credible and easily understandable product and process communication. We are working flat out on this.
Responding effectively to current and future developments
In 2016, Tchibo once again further developed its focus on sustainability – also with a view to current challenges in politics and society.
Exchange with stakeholders
In the process of bringing our business in line with economic, ecological, social and societal criteria, it is important for us to purposefully involve our internal and external stakeholders. We learn about different expectations, receive impulses and specific suggestions at an early stage and build up a trusting relationship with our stakeholders. That is why we are a member of the most important alliances and initiatives and are often involved in innovation processes - both at company and societal level. In various events and forums, we have entered into an exchange with our stakeholders.
We entered into an exchange with our stakeholders at various events and forums. In 2016, we focused on reviewing ten years of sustainability, from which, together, we have derived knowledge for the future. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Tchibo's strategic corporate responsibility, we invited representatives from the worlds of business, politics, associations, non-governmental organisations and trade unions to a dialogue event under the heading “Mit Kraft aus der Nische – wieviel Pflicht verträgt/braucht Nachhaltigkeit? (“Powering out of the niche – How much obligation will sustainability tolerate?”) in November 2016. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Dr Gisela Burckhardt of FEMNET e.V., Kirsten Brodde of Greenpeace, State Chair of the FDP Hamburg Katja Suding, Gerd Billen, Parliamentary Secretary of State for Consumer Protection, and our CEO discussed how sustainability can be taken out of the niche and further advanced in the interplay between voluntary efforts and regulation.
As long there is no legal framework at European level for implementing ecological and social duty of care in the global supplier structures, we at Tchibo rely on voluntary commitments. We either fulfil them alone or in cooperation with other stakeholders or initiatives – depending on their level of complexity.
Global Coffee Platform
In 2016, Tchibo was involved in the founding of the Global Coffee Platform (GCP), a merger of the Sustainable Coffee Programme (SCP) and the 4C Association. The goal of GCP is to unite all the key players and initiatives in the coffee sector – private as well as public – in a global alliance to jointly address sector-wide issues. As part of the GCP, Tchibo plays an active role in shaping a sustainable coffee sector. At the beginning of 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) regarding possibilities for cooperation.
Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
In 2015, we joined the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, initiated by the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. The aim of this alliance of companies, non-governmental and standards organisations, trade unions, business, and politics is to improve social and environmental standards across the entire textile value chain. Tchibo is active in all of the Alliance’s working groups. In August 2017, as part of the Alliance, we published our ‘roadmap’ for 2017. It contains 15 measures to further improve the environmental and working conditions in our textile supply chains (further information).
In October 2014, we signed and published the Detox Commitment initiated by the environmental protection organisation Greenpeace. In doing so, we pledged to eliminate the use of undesirable chemicals in production processes, especially those of our textile suppliers, by 2020, and to create closed-loop material cycles. We are now implementing this ambitious goal step by step. Our extensive ‘closed-loop’ concept pursues the goal of closing material cycles, thereby conserving valuable resources while at the same time making consumption more sustainable. For us, this means that even at the product design stage, we develop our products in such a way that they can be produced with recycled or renewable resources as far as possible, that they are durable, and at the end of their useful life can be repurposed for high-end recycling (further information).
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
In 2012, Tchibo was the second company in the world to sign the „Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh“ and contributed to its coming into force, its improvement, and its ongoing implementation (further information).
Framework agreement with IndustriALL Global Union und ACT
In September 2016, Tchibo became the first German trading company to sign an international framework agreement with the IndustriALL Global union. This idea is to make it easier for workers and trade unions in the factories to negotiate wages and benefits with factory owners and management. We also work with the IndustriALL Global Union and other international trading companies in the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) initiative to secure living wages and industry-wide collective bargaining between social partners in the global clothing industry (further information).
We have also joined a voluntary commitment by business associations in Germany and Austria to stop providing free plastic bags. We have successfully implemented this since January 2016 in Germany. As a result, we were able to cut the number of free bags given out at our Tchibo shops in Germany by nearly 90%. In Austria, we have entirely stopped giving out plastic bags since 2016 this counts up for a reduction of 80%. As second voluntary commitment, we have decided to systematically use reusable cups for ‘coffee to go’. We introduced our own reusable cups solution for our coffee bars in the Tchibo shops, and are also participating in the trial phase of the Kehrwieder-Becher initiative to test the introduction of a deposit system for reusable cups in Hamburg city centre (see further information in chapter customers & products and chapter environmental protection).
Tackling political and societal challenges
Tchibo intensively examines current political and societal challenges and develops specific measures for sustainability management.
Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability has been integrated into Tchibo Gmbh’s corporate strategy since 2006. From the beginning, this has included our working towards the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals. In 2015, the United Nations formulated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on the Millennium Development Goals. We regard the SDGs as a global framework for our sustainability agenda, and seek to contribute to their fulfilment (further information).
National action plan for business and human rights
We see the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 2011 as another formative development. Based on existing human rights commitments such as the International Human Rights Charter and the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), they for the first time provide a universally accredited frame of reference that imposes some of the responsibility for respecting human rights in global supply and value chains, and for preventing human rights violations, on companies. We are aware of this business responsibility and integrated respect for human rights into our business practices many years ago (further information).
EU reporting obligation
The regulations implementing the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive enter into force in 2017. Although the associated obligation of expanded non-financial reporting does not apply to us as a family-owned company, we will continue to provide transparent and comprehensive information on the results of our sustainability management. We follow the principle of transparent and comparable annual reporting that has been established at Tchibo since 2008. The present Sustainability Report 2016, which has been prepared in accordance with the internationally recognised standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), we also take into account the requirements of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and thus contribute to the transparency of a sustainability-driven way of doing business.
Germany’s New Packaging Act
The new German Packaging Act, which was adopted by the Bundestag and comes into effect in 2019, stipulates further recycling and reusability requirements for business. Together with the Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE), the German Industrial Plastic Packaging Association (IK), the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE), and our supermarket concession (Depot) partners and other companies, we proposed practical and sustainability-promoting regulations for packaging design, collection, licensing and disposal which are reflected in the legislation.
National Programme for Sustainable Consumption
The German Government’s National Programme for Sustainable Consumption is meant to promote sustainable consumption in the areas of home living, mobility, nutrition, office and work, clothing, as well as tourism and leisure. The programme specifies goals and measures that are linked with existing strategies, funding programmes and regulations. The German Government also wants the programme to serve as a platform for social discourse on the evolution of consumer behaviour. Tchibo has for many years promoted responsible consumption by offering sustainable product ranges, and expressly welcomes the programme (further information).
As a family-owned company and an active corporate citizen, we feel it is a matter of course to get involved and take responsibility beyond the limits of our own business activities.
Tchibo seeks to promote better living conditions in the countries of origin with its own collaboration projects. Based on the principle of helping people to help themselves, we team up with partners to offer primarily educational and vocational programmes for children, youths and adults in the coffee-growing countries of Central America and East Africa, and the cotton-growing countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2016, societal discourse was dominated by the issue of refugee aid and the integration of displaced persons. This is a challenge of great relevance to global society that we tackled and responded to within the scope of our possibilities as a business. For example, we are involved in a three-stage action plan for displaced persons in the distribution countries Germany, Austria and Turkey: we provide internships and apprenticeships, enable our employees to volunteer their time for support activities at a refugee reception centre and a school,and supply relief organisations with donations in kind as needed.
One broad-based aid campaign was our ‘Tchibo Weihnachtswunder’ (Miracle of Christmas) campaign in 2016. We donated 100,000 gift packages for people in need all over Germany to the Bundesverband Tafel e.V. charity. These packages mainly contained winter clothes, practical household items, cuddly toys, and coffee. On top of this, there were 177,328 Christmas packages filled with Tchibo items ‘from our customers’: During the promotional period, 20 cents per €10 in sales to our customers were donated to the ‘Tchibo Weihnachtswunder’ campaign, and used to put together the Christmas packages. Beyond this, Tchibo employees fulfilled the wishes of children who depend on the help of the Hamburg Tafel charity with gifts worth up to €25 as part of the ‘Wunschzettel’ (wish list) campaign.
The National German Sustainability Award 2016
The fact that the German Sustainability Award judges picked Tchibo as Germany's Most Sustainable Large Company in 2016 tells us that we are on the right track with our sustainability efforts. The judges praised Tchibo for its pioneering role and voluntary commitments in the consumer goods sector.