Interview: Grace O’Shaughnessy, Java Republic

05 Aug 2019 | 10.14 am

Interview: Grace O’Shaughnessy, Java Republic

‘Sustainability is at the core of our business’

05 Aug 2019 | 10.14 am

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Origin Green is Ireland’s national food sustainability programme. It is a voluntary programme led by Bord Bia that brings together farmers, food producers, retailers and food service operators with the common goal of sustainable food production. This month, we speak with Grace O’Shaughnessy (pictured), Managing Director of Java Republic. The business joined Origin Green in 2012 and has made significant progress in promoting sustainability across its operations.

What is the background to your business?

Java Republic was founded in 1999 by David McKernan. From day one, the business has gone from strength to strength and today is one of Ireland’s most premium suppliers of hand-roasted coffee and 100% organic tea.

Why is sustainability important to you?

Our ethos is ‘Coffee With A Conscience’ and sustainability is at the core of this. We want to be able to guarantee our customers and partners that we are doing the best we can to protect the environment. As a growing business, it becomes your responsibility to support the environment in whatever way you can.

When was Java Republic awarded carbon-neutral status?

Our carbon-neutral roastery was the first purpose-built one in the world. In 2008, we installed our energy cabin, which is a containerised wood pellet boiler that provides all of our hot water and heating. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2011, and since then have worked closely with Carbon Clear, a leading provider of carbon and energy management and sustainability services.

We purchase carbon credits from Carbon Clear to offset the impact of our activities in Ireland. As a result, we are currently supporting a project in Peru that preserves 1,000 hectares of Peruvian Amazon from deforestation.

What are the key points of your sustainability plan?

We were one of the first in Ireland to introduce fully compostable cups and lids. Additionally, we give away our hessian sacks free to customers for school projects, council projects and garden centres. We also bag our coffee grinds (five tonnes per year) and offer them free to the public to use as a natural fertiliser. We regularly travel to coffee origin countries, to meet and support the farmers that grow our beans.

In Ireland, we recently launched a pioneering partnership with Oberstown Children Detention Centre, providing on-site barista training to the young people there. In 2019, we also set about improving employee wellbeing. This involved reducing the working hours, changing the sick leave policy, increasing the number of holiday days and introducing service holiday rewards.

What progress have you made in your Origin Green plan?

Since 2012, we have increased our compostable waste and reduced our general waste to landfill by 10.5%, while increasing our production year on year. Initiatives included segregating waste on site, and changing the single-use plastic in our cafes to compostable or fully recyclable items. We have reduced our coffee packaging and now save an average of 7,890 metres of foil per year. By switching from our larger green tea boxes to our fully recyclable white boxes, we save an average of 5,000kg of cardboard per year.

We are now in the second stage of our Sustainability Plan with Origin Green. The sustainability targets that we have committed to reaching cover a number of areas, such as employee impact, community engagement, health and nutrition, and customer and supplier initiatives.

For more information on the Origin Green programme, visit origingreen.ie

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