MICE2020 goes green

In September 2019, people around the world united in what is widely considered the largest call-to-arms against climate change in history. British newspaper The Guardian reported roughly six million people from 185 countries took part in the protests. The volume and passion of the demonstrations sent a clear message to world leaders that urgent change is required to safeguard the world’s future.

The Australian coffee community will also showcase its dedication to a sustainable future at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE), from 4 to 7 May 2020.

Australian born waste diversion service Reground, reusable cup manufacturer HuskeeCup, and eco-friendly packaging solution company Detpak will all operate modified versions of their services at MICE to optimise efficiency and effectiveness for the trade show’s setting.

“The coffee industry is going to be heavily affected by climate change. Countries that grow coffee will be under threat, so we all need to be doing our part to protect them,” says Kaitlin Reid, Commercial Director of Reground.

“There will be a lot of eyes on MICE this year. It’s a great opportunity for the expo to take a stance and announce that sustainability is a core pillar in the coffee industry.”

Reground launched in Melbourne as a waste collection and education service. The business implements a simple yet highly effective strategy. Partner cafés fill their Reground-branded bins with coffee waste and the company’s van collects the bin, swapping it with a fresh one. The full bin is then taken directly to a local compost garden.

“The compost isn’t kept or treated. It gets taken to a garden generally within 30 kilometres of where the coffee is produced and used to grow food. That way we are keeping everything hyper-local within the community,” Reid says.

“We also use a van instead of a truck because coffee grounds are a resource, not waste. We want to shift that perception.”

2020 will be the first year that Reground will have a solidified partnership with MICE. Several of its café partners used its bins at MICE2019, but after experiencing strong growth and successfully partnering with Lavazza at the 2020 Australian Open, the business feels it is well-positioned to tackle such a large trade show.

“Our team will collate data on how much coffee has been diverted and how much methane gas has been saved from being released into the atmosphere. We will also convert the final figures into how many lattes that equates to, so people can gain a clearer understanding of what a difference it makes,” Reid says.

While Reground is tackling coffee waste, HuskeeCup is aiming to eliminate the footprint single-use cups leave at events like MICE by implementing its HuskeeSwap initiative.

“When we exhibited at MICE2019 we were instantly inspired by the opportunity to demonstrate the impact on waste reduction that we can have through our swap system, HuskeeSwap,” says Nicole Barnes, General Manager at Huskee.

HuskeeSwap leverages the idea of a shared economy. Consumers can go into participating cafés and swap their used HuskeeCup with a fresh, commercially cleaned one, creating a constant flow of reusable cups changing hands.

“As a company, we are contributing thousands of cups to be used at MICE. After using their cup, consumers can drop them into one of our bins and our team will do all the work. They will be professionally cleaned and go back into circulation,” Barnes says.

“We’ve kept it simple – we will approach exhibitors, and they just need to say ‘yes’ and we will supply them. All attendees have to do is ask for their sample to be served in a HuskeeCup.”

MICE2020 will be the first major trade show to implement HuskeeSwap after a successful trial at the smaller-scale Stockholm Coffee Festival in November 2019.

“We have a very simple vision and goal and that’s to reduce as much waste as possible from the coffee industry. With tens of thousands of international visitors coming to MICE, it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase a working system that was birthed Down Under and is having a global impact,” Barnes says.

Saving the environment from unrecyclable single-use plastic cups has also been a mission of Detpak. The packaging solution expert has focused on its

RecycleMe program at previous MICE events, a system where its recyclable cups are collected and converted into printing paper.

Detpak has been a long-time supporter of MICE and this year will debut its recyclable wholesale coffee bags.

“Our range of wholesale coffee bags have mineralised lining instead of the regular polyethylene plastic lining. Unlike traditional coffee bags they can be easily recycled through kerbside collection or through our RecycleMe system,” says Tom Lunn, Group General Manager of Marketing and Innovation at Detpak.

“The industry is heading towards reviewing all of the packaging coming in and out of cafés as they are the most visible waste streams in the industry.”

Lunn has been involved with Detpak for 15 years and is proud of the coffee industry’s willingness to embrace conservation efforts.

“In my early days in coffee, all the focus was on ethical sourcing. It’s changed over recent years, and now there’s a real focus on all aspects of the business.

People in coffee are really cognisant about the environment, and I think consumers are a large part of that,” he says.

“MICE is a globally renowned trade show. It’s great that the event is showing leadership and setting an example to the international specialty coffee industry.”

With increasing education influencing consumer behaviour, Reground’s Kaitlin Reid also believes it’s important for major events to act as protagonists for change.

“Our research showed that if given a choice, around 86 per cent of consumers would prefer to support a sustainability-focused business over one that wasn’t,” she says. 

“There’s been a lot of talk about the war on waste and the recycling crisis, it’s mobilised people to start talking about it, and major events like MICE can be a real driver for change and sustainability.”

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