Eversys explains why sustainability is a core company value that is more of a cultural mindset than just an operational one.
For many businesses, sustainability is a relatively new concept they’ve had to learn and adapt. But for Swiss manufacturer Eversys, it was identified as a core company value from the time it was established in 2009.
When Group CEO Martin Strehl joined Eversys in 2012, Co-founders Jean-Paul In-Albon and Robert Bircher were already talking about environmental responsibility. Jean- Paul so was passionate about the topic that he designed a coffee machine fully made of metal with more than 93 per cent of its parts recyclable in a single step. The components requiring two steps were the electronics, containing metals, cables and rubber covers.
“His vision was to create a [supply] chain that was fully recyclable. The second thing he did, was enforce that about 76 per cent of all our parts are sourced locally, meaning Switzerland, Germany, and parts of Italy. The only thing we outsource are our electronic components from Asia. Jean-Paul was very conscious of carbon footprint at the time,” Strehl says. “And the third thing he did, was make our machines extremely energy efficient. The biggest energy user of machines is mainly the electricity consumed by the boilers, so he made them extremely efficient and developed an energy saving mode when the machine was not in use.”
Eversys launched its first machines to market in 2011. It’s for this reason and the company’s ‘built to last’ approach with resilient, recyclable materials, and the use of replaceable modular components and technical upgrades, that its machines remain in the field at 11 years old.
“I can’t think of many machines that had to be put down, as it were. I see a lot of machines recycled into the market but not retired,” Strehl says.
When the time comes, customers are encouraged to refurbish or recycle their machines directly within their local market. In the United Kingdom, Eversys machines are offered as rental contracts at a reduced price for businesses that don’t have the ability to spend a lot on a new machine. In Ireland, Strehl says one client that had bought 1000 machines on a five- year contract has since removed the machines from the frontline, refurbished them, and rolled them out to secondary markets such as offices.
When Thomas Dechorgnat joined Everys three years ago to help lead its quality and sustainability department, he was impressed to discover the company already had a sustainable mindset. Beyond its energy-saving manufacturing principles, Dechorgnat was tasked with taking a broader company approach to ensure Eversys remained a leading and exemplary company in terms of sustainability in the market, as per the vision of the founders.
“In the early years, Eversys used to rent premises wherever it could find the space, but I remember discussing with Jean-Paul about the possibility of having one building for Eversys, to have a reduced carbon footprint and remain efficient in what we do. In 2017, we started thinking about creating the building we are now in. We developed a mindset where we had all the tools to be sustainable, not only with regards to our product, but also throughout the company,” Dechorgnat says.
The Sierre-based building was constructed in 2019 with materials that would use as little energy as possible. Internally, all water and electricity consumption are measured, controlled, and all operations, production and logistics are monitored to ensure each division of the company is improving its carbon footprint. The same approach will be applied to Eversys’ new factory extension, due for completion by the end of 2023, with more than 10,000 square meters of additional space. In addition, Eversys will install solar panels on the new roof, which will not only generate electricity for its own use, but for the local electricity grid as well.
To first understand where Eversys was having the greatest impact on carbon emissions and make plans to move forward, it completed a lifecycle analysis of its raw materials all the way to the recycling of its coffee machines.
“It gave us clear information, and as a result, we now review each step of the life cycle of our products and take action to drastically reduce the environmental impact,” Dechorgnat says. Eversys implemented ISO 9001 certification in June 2021, a quality and efficiency management standard to benchmark its sustainable operations. From there, Eversys focused on obtaining ISO 14001 certification, demonstrating effective environmental management. An internal review of all activities and procedures was undertaken to observe what could be improved.
Part of the process was an initiative to find partnerships with local companies to discuss what could be achieved on a larger scale.
“Sustainability for Eversys is great but sustainability for everyone is better of course,” Dechorgnat says. “We always seek to reach more people and are in frequent contact with a lot of our neighbours frequently to see what we can do together to improve the surrounding area, community.”
This includes the promotion of transport such as bicycles, even using more water with coffee instead of dairy.
“The number of ideas we got from our employees and our neighbours was quite amazing. We discovered that this topic was really important to the whole team, more than we were expecting it to be. So when we obtained 14001 certification in June 2022, it was really a team achievement because everybody was behind it,” Dechorgnat says. “Everybody is an actor, everyone plays a part on sustainability for Eversys.”
Part of Eversys’ sustainability pillars extend to People, Profit and Planet. People is represented by the company’s communication with employees to inform and include them in projects so that they operate to their full efficiency. This is the responsibility of Eversys employee and university bachelor student Victoria Pittier, who is committed to raising employee’s awareness of recycling priorities.
“We have a sorting centre in the office so I communicate and train employees about how to recycle properly to help minimise carbon emissions. Production is a different approach again, so I communicate directly with production managers about the layout of production lines within the factory to help reduce waste with cartons and plastic from products we receive from suppliers,” Pittier says.
As such, Eversys is communicating with suppliers to reduce the use of plastic bags, cardboard, and foam when packaging parts and materials. Eversys uses any remaining packaging materials to repack their own machines internally, or for close suppliers in Switzerland, returns the packaging so it can be reused in a circular flow.
Another of Pittier’s initiatives has been to help Eversys digitalise procedures and invoices to minimise the consumption of printed paper.
“It really has improved our waste reduction, internally, and for our customers. We even have QR codes on packaging now instead of additional paper sheets,” she says.
Eversys is committed to making customers aware of its top-to-bottom approach to minimising waste from its people, the environment, and construction. It is also transparent about its biggest impact on the environment: its supply chain and flow of logistics.
“There are solutions where we have small manufacturers of electronics in Switzerland, and some parts in Europe, so the question is whether we can get all our supply chain based in Europe in order to minimise transportation costs and carbon emissions? It would be a massive improvement rather than being so dependent on the Asia market for electronics,” Dechorgnat says.
Another challenge surrounds forecasting of equipment and product delivery times which has largely been impacted by the war in Ukraine. “The better we forecast, the less impact we will have on the environment because we can organise transportation to be made at a certain time, optimise loads, and not so last minute,” Dechorgnat says.
When it comes to the manufacturing of machines, Strehl adds that the greatest challenge is creating a machine at a lower cost point without compromising the company’s DNA for quality. Eversys’ latest all-metal designed machine, the Légacy, is a recent example.
“How do you make the machine beautiful, related to your other products, and reduce the price? For the engineers, that’s a huge challenge.
If you make a machine that’s more expensive than everybody else’s, but is more sustainable, do people really care? I think some do, but they do look at the bottom line, so you’ve got to almost create a perfect storm where you give the customer what they want through technology without raising the cost impact,” he says.
From a cultural point of view, Strehl believes sustainability needs to go from being a value to becoming a way of life.
“Sustainability is going to become a huge topic worldwide. It needs to become part of our life routine, of our actions, and not just something that you do once in a while. It needs to be inherent in absolutely everything we do,” he says.
“At Eversys, Thomas and Victoria are doing a phenomenal job. They continue without limits to push the boundaries of what we can do, because we believe in sustainability, we reinforce it all the time, and will continue to do so.”
For more information, visit www.eversys.com/en/
This article was first published in the September/October 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.