It's no secret that Costa is one of the UK's most-loved high street chains.
However, many of its customers may not be aware that their favourite coffee house is striving to minimise its impact on the environment, too.
We caught up with the food retailer's Energy & Environment Manager, Oliver Rosevear, to find out more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Costa.
I began my career in hospitality, working in operations for hotels and bars including Greene Kings and Hilton hotels. I made the move into the energy industry working for British Gas, managing energy contracts for some of the UK’s largest companies before becoming an energy consultant. I joined Whitbread in 2010, primarily because it gave me the opportunity to combine my experience in the hospitality sector with my energy specialism.
What got you into the retail sector?
When I was working as an energy consultant in Blackpool, implementing carbon management programmes to help companies control their carbon emissions, Whitbread became a client of ours. I had an opportunity, for someone with expertise in the energy management space, to enter the retail sector.
Without a doubt the best part of the job is having the chance to make a real difference, from a sustainability point of view, to a major company. I get a real buzz from putting plans and ideas into practice and then seeing the tangible output. This year, for example, we have managed a 38 per cent reduction in energy across all UK retail space.
Describe your responsibilities as Costa's Energy and Environment Manager.
My role has developed over time and I’m now responsible for managing carbon management programme for Costa, ensuring there is compliance to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).
I also manage our sustainable construction programme ensuring we build more efficient stores complying with Part L Building Regulations and developing BREAAM complaint sites.
I also implement and maintain the ISO50001 and ISO14001 systems, and responsible for developing a waste resource programme looking to increase rates on recycling across the business and identify opportunities to innovate with a number of key waste streams.
How has your previous experience aided your current job?
I’m sure that starting off in hospitality was fundamental to learning how to operate within a retail organisation.
Managing bars teaches you how to manage a team and serve customers at the same time, as well as work long hours, which helped me to understand people and how they work.
It’s important to recognise what pressures others in your team are under as well as what motivates them to be there. Applying that operational knowledge is extremely effective when it comes to implementing energy management practices across the organisation.
Why is Costa's zero energy coffee shop so significant?
The Eco Pod gives customers the same Costa experience but, crucially, this happens inside a "zero energy" building. Zero energy is achieved through passive ventilation and innovative construction techniques which means that the energy required to heat and cool the building is minimised. The low amount of energy which is required for building temperature control comes from solar PV cells embedded in the specially curved roof.
This is the first time in the UK that a zero energy café or restaurant building has been built and opened commercially. The Eco Pod is a test bed for Costa to trial and learn lessons about sustainable design and technologies. We intend to draw on the best bits and what works well so that, where possible, we can incorporate these lessons into any new build coffee shops as well as our existing network.
What advice do you have for other retailers looking at recycling and reusing products to minimise waste?
It's important to understand the resources available to you in the first place and be imaginative in where you can utilise them. From our perspective, we like to pay special attention to key materials that are perhaps slightly different from regular materials which already have clear recycle paths in place.
It’s about constantly looking to use materials as a resource, as opposed to waste products. Our carpet underlay, for example, is made out of Costa’s old coffee ground sacks.
Can you tell us more about Costa's Grounds for Grounds project?
We want to make the most of every one of our coffee beans so, through the Grounds for Grounds project, customers can come into our stores to request our used coffee grounds for free.
Our customers use these grounds in their gardens, either as a natural plant fertiliser or to create a naturally balanced compost pile. It’s a simple idea, but it can be hugely beneficial for our waste reduction efforts and the customer’s needs.
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking in retail?
Communication is key. Effective communication with different teams and divisions across the network is what enables us to be able to implement our energy efficiency strategies and ensure our progress in the CSR space. Failure to communicate our plans to the rest of the company really does hinder our efforts to minimise energy usage and maximise energy efficiency.
What would you say is the biggest risk for your sector, given the current climate?
The referendum result does by its very nature create some uncertainty about how the government will cope with environmental management, simply because the EU played a role in this space previously.
The European Union plays an important part, challenging us to ensure we are doing the right thing, so I hope the government will continue to do the same as Brexit becomes a reality.