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Groupe SEB’s professional coffee machine unit’s commitment to sustainability

Sustainability at Groupe SEB

Ayca Ozol, Sustainability Manager at Groupe SEB, explains how its professional coffee machine unit is committed to creating a more sustainable future.

In November 2023, sustainability assessment platform EcoVadis awarded Groupe SEB a Platinum rating, its highest level of recognition which places it in the top 1 per cent of companies assessed worldwide.

“Since it is the most widely used sustainable assessment with over 100,000 companies evaluated across 200 industries and in more than 175 countries, it is a very important accomplishment for us,” says Groupe SEB Professional BU Sustainability Manager Ayca Ozol.

For Groupe SEB, this recognition comes from a series of initiatives that have taken place within the company. Its professional coffee machine unit, which includes brands WMF,  Schaerer, Curtis, and La San Marco, continuously evolves its operations to ensure sustainability is a vital component.

“We design our products to be part of the circular economy to contribute to carbon neutrality,” says Ozol. “We prioritise quality to extend the life of our products and promote the use of recycled materials and recycling.

“Additionally, we formulate eco roadmaps to control the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our whole value chain.”

This includes use of eco design, eco manufacturing, and eco logistics to contribute carbon neutrality in every phase of the products’ lifecycles.

Ozol says the professional coffee machines across the portfolio adhere to Groupe SEB’s sustainability framework.

“All our sustainability efforts are anchored in the Group’s comprehensive roadmap, which is formulated in accordance with the most demanding international standards,” she says. This includes the Global Compact, Carbon Disclosure Project, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and Ecovadis.

The company prioritises two main factors when assessing the lifespan of its products: quality and repairability. These characteristics are considered when new machines from the Group’s coffee brands WMF Professional Coffee Machines, Schaerer, and Curtis are designed and constructed at its plants in Geislingen in Germany, Zuchwil in Switzerland, and Montebello in California, United States.

Image: Groupe SEB

“Every single machine undergoes an extensive quality assurance process at every stage of development and production before leaving the factory with a 100 per cent final inspection, which even extends to detailed data analysis after delivery to customers,” says Ozol.

“We also ensure the quality of our stainless-steel components by producing the vast majority of our sheet metals and grinding discs in our plant in Geislingen. This robust management plays an essential part in the longevity of the machines and the quality of the coffee that our customers can offer.”

Ozol says Groupe SEB’s professional coffee machines are at the cutting edge of innovation, not only in finding new ways to create high-quality beverages, but also in ensuring its partners are supported in sustainable practices.

“Milk, coffee, and water are not only the most important ingredients of a coffee, they also account for the lion’s share of the carbon emissions of an average recipe alongside the energy use of preparation,” she says. “We are committed to developing innovative technologies that help our customers use our machines more efficiently.”

These new innovations are focused on the heating, boiler insulation, and cleaning processes within the machines, with each element designed to minimise milk, coffee, and water waste. Among these innovations are the WMF Dynamic Milk and Schaerer Best Foam systems.

“These systems, together with the WMF 2-Milk-Solution and Schaerer Twin Milk, allow the same machine to offer different milk alternatives, which facilitates the use of plant-based milk,” says Ozol. “The Best Foam and Dynamic Milk systems allow this key ingredient to be frothed in line with the highest taste and texture expectations, while using air to increase milk yield.

“Machines from WMF and Schaerer also integrate patented technology which ensures constant monitoring of the brewing process and the amount of coffee grounds to maintain consistent taste, and therefore increase the efficient use of coffee.”

To increase boiler efficiency, users of WMF and Schaerer machines can select Eco Mode, which reduces the boiler’s temperature.

“This mode is especially useful for machines that are only used during peak times and then remain in standby mode for longer periods, with tailored timing choices available for the highest possible energy savings,” says Ozol.

WMF machine
Image: Groupe SEB

WMF and Schaerer machines also include fully automatic cleaning systems through the WMF AutoClean and Schaerer ProCare.

“Both systems guarantee the highest standards of hygiene, but also keep an eye on the consumption of cleaning agents, energy, and water,” she says.

Groupe SEB Professional Coffee Machine Unit also designs recyclable products by prioritising sustainable materials while emphasising easy disassembly. For example, around 39 per cent of the materials used in the WMF 1500 S+ automatic coffee machine are recycled, based on figures from a university-run sustainability management survey.

“At the end of the product life cycle, 89 per cent of the materials used can be directly reintegrated into the recycling process, according to calculations done by our recycling partner in Germany,” says Ozol.

“Our goal is to establish a uniformly defined recycling process for all our professional coffee machine brands around the world, which will increase our recycling rate in the coming years.”

To address repairability, the professional unit involves its in-house service teams from the very beginning of the development process, when they are taught how to best inspect, replace, and repair each machine.

“Service portfolio and product care systems help extend product lifespan, with reasonably priced spare parts available for eight years after the last serial production,” Ozol says. “A significant network of trained repairers ensures strong regional coverage for service availability.”

For professional coffee machines` international service network, which includes own service technicians across its 11 subsidiaries, as well as certified service partners worldwide, the company has introduced a range of digital tools. These aim to reduce both the total cost of ownership for customers, as well as the carbon footprint by minimising physical visits where possible and enhancing their efficiency when they do occur.

“The wide range of digital service tools includes remote service desktops, service monitoring, and remote software updates aiming to resolve service calls remotely whenever possible,” says Ozol. “Route optimisation using an AI dispatch engine will help ensure the most efficient technician schedules whenever an on-site customer visit is required.”

Ozol says its Van Stock Optimisation is another strategic approach in these efforts. This involves algorithm-based stock analysis for technicians’ vans to ensure the availability of spare parts and to minimise the numbers of second on-site visits.

“This approach also makes it possible to use smaller vans with a lower environmental impact,” Ozol says.

“Our professional coffee machines will be fully integrated to this forthcoming ambition and will seamlessly adapt to the sustainability strategy to align with the Group’s broader ambitions and SBTi-approved goals,” Ozol says.

For more information, visit wmf-coffeemachines.com and schaerer.com.

This article was first published in the May/June 2024 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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