Getting people excited about respon­sible consumption: expanded product ranges, inten­sified commu­ni­ca­tions

GRI 301-2

On the path to becoming a 100% sustainable business, we resolutely work on offering our customers more and more eco-friendly and socially compatible products. By contin­u­ously expanding our sustainably produced range of products, we want to encourage them to embrace respon­sible consumption. For our customers to choose our sustainable products, we must explain sustain­ability in a credible, under­standable, and appealing way, because our customers’ purchasing decisions influence the breadth and depth of our sustain­ability measures, as well as the pace at which we achieve our goal of becoming a 100% sustainable business. To keep our customers even better informed about our activ­ities in the area of ​​sustain­ability, we are further expanding our commu­ni­ca­tions: via tradi­tional channels as well as on social media platforms and at the point of sale.

Inspiring people with sustainable product ranges

Our focus in expanding our sustainable ranges is on product groups that our customers care about. These include coffee as well as, e.g., clothing for babies and children in textiles, day- and nightwear or women’s fashions. In the hard goods sector, we are working on increasing the sustain­ability of furniture and handi­craft utensils made of wood and cellulose. In 2017, we made further progress in this expansion.

Sustainable coffee assort­ments: validated and certified

Tchibo stands for highest quality in coffee – and we want to keep offering this to our customers in future. That is why we focus not only on flavour and taste, but also pursue the medium-term goal of only offering coffees whose culti­vation meets ecological, social and economic standards in equal measure. 

Since 2009, we have prepared the coffee and coffee special­ities at our Coffee Bars exclu­sively from certified, sustainable coffee grades. Since 2010, we have switched our entire Privat coffee range, including the Rarities, to 100% certified sustainable grades according to the standards of the inter­na­tionally recog­nised seal organ­i­sa­tions Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, and UTZ, as well as Bio (‘certified organic’). 

The entire range of coffees in our Cafissimo capsule system has been certified by the inter­na­tional Rainforest Alliance or UTZ since 2012. In 2016, we also started offering capsule coffee with the Fairtrade seal. The coffee grades of our Qbo capsule system are also 100% certified according to the Rainforest Alliance standard. The filter coffee FOR BLACK 'N WHITE, intro­duced in 2015, has carried the UTZ seal since 2016.

In 2017, we expanded our range to include BLONDE ROAST coffee. The coffee grades used for this come from coffee farms that are certified according to the Rainforest Alliance standard. This also goes for the Espresso and Caffè Crema from Eduscho's GALA range. The Gala Grande range won a bronze award in the ‘Coffee, Tea, Cocoa’ category in the ‘Product of the Year 2017’ consumer voting carried out by the trade journal Lebens­mittel Praxis.

To ensure all consumers can recognise our sustainable coffee grades at a glance, we give the respective seals prominent placement on the front or rear of the packaging.  

Consumer goods: Focus on environ­mental and social compat­i­bility

With the expansion of our sustainable product lines, we fulfilling many consumers’ wish for respon­sibly produced products. Tchibo is contin­u­ously working to expand its range of sustainable textiles. In 2017, the proportion of respon­sibly produced cotton was around 80%. We are the world's third-largest user of certified organic cotton. To ensure social and ecological standards in the culti­vation and processing of respon­sibly produced cotton, we work together with recog­nised inter­na­tional certi­fi­cation organ­i­sa­tions. They include Organic Cotton, Cotton made in Africa, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and the Organic Content Standard (OCS). 

In 2017, for example, we offered GOTS-certified baby, toddler and children's fashions as well as day and nightwear made with organic cotton that meets the require­ments of Cotton made in Africa, the Organic Content Standard, or the GOTS Standard. Some of our bedding ranges are also GOTS certified or contain organic cotton. Since 2016, we have been pursuing a new path with the Tchibo Eco Logic Appachi collection. It not only contains cotton from environ­men­tally friendly culti­vation, but also helps promote the training and further education of Indian cotton farmers.

Im Hartwaren­bereich haben wir In the hardware sector, we again produced 100 % of our garden tables and chairs and handi­craft utensils from FSC®-certified materials in 2017. Our customer shipping cartons are also made of 100% FSC®-certified material.

Reusable solutions to prevent waste 

In 2017, we took another important step in resource conser­vation and the prevention of waste by offering reusable cups in our Tchibo coffee bars. Since August 2015, our customers have been able to have reusable cups filled – always in compliance with safe hygiene standards, of course. In return, they receive a discount of 10 cents on the drink. In addition, we offer reusable cups made of recyclable material in various designs for purchase. In September 2017, we also installed a temporary instal­lation made of disposable coffee cups (‘Mach die Welt ein bisschen Becher’) in downtown Hamburg and at the same time gave away reusable Tchibo cups – the idea was to build awareness for waste avoidance.

We seek to further increase the use of reusable cups by partic­i­pating in an initiative to promote reusable cups, the ‘Kehrwieder Becher’, in Hamburg city centre, and in other similar initia­tives in Munich, Berlin and the federal state of Hesse. 

In addition, since January 2016, we have no longer given away disposable plastic bags free of charge in Germany. With success: At the Tchibo Shops in Germany, distri­bution of free bags fell by nearly 90 % in 2016. As an alter­native, customers can purchase high-quality reusable bags. We also sell disposable bags for 20 cents.

Resource conser­vation through recycling: Closed Loop

In designing a sustainable product range, the respon­sible use of resources is an integral part of our activ­ities, because the global use of raw materials and high volume of waste contribute to global environ­mental challenges, such as climate change and loss of biodi­versity. Our compre­hensive ‘closed-loop’ concept pursues the objective of conserving valuable resources while also increasing the sustain­ability of consumption. For us this means that even at the product design stage, we conceive our products in such a way that they are produced with recycled or renewable resources if possible, can be used for a long time, and at the end of their use can be recycled into useful goods or materials. We confirmed this aspiration by signing the Detox Commitment in 2014. We analysed our product groups in detail for their closed-loop potential and derived closed-loop approaches from this. We follow the following three approaches for our product groups: use recycled and renewable materials, ensure longevity, reuse, and recycle. We have already carried out pilot projects with closed-loop approaches in various product categories, and have prepared to expand these efforts.

Use of recycled materials 

In 2017, we first used recycled materials in hard goods production. We started with a range of dish-washing brushes made almost entirely from recycled, relatively eco-friendly polypropylene (PP). In 2018, we expanded the use of recycled plastic to similar assort­ments and scheduled them for various sales weeks. By using recycled PP, we close the loop to our recyclable Cafissimo and Qbo coffee capsules, which are also made of PP. We have further developed the capsules so that they are 100% recyclable and their materials can be further processed. Besides using recycled materials in hard goods, Tchibo has also made prepa­ra­tions to use recycled fibres in various textile products.

Extend the useful life of products

Besides using recycled materials, ensuring a long service life for the products leads to greater conser­vation of resources. To make sure that our products can be in use for as long as possible, we formulate high quality standards and grant warranty periods that go beyond statutory require­ments. At the same time, we offer support for care and repair of our products, and provide spare parts, to raise our customers’ awareness for how to increase the products’ useful life.

Recycling of textiles

To ensure the best possible recycla­bility of the products at the end of their useful life, we are working to design our products in such a way that most of their compo­nents are recyclable. This includes taking account of the insights gained regarding collection and recycling systems, and to enable a consumer-friendly return system for our products. With this in mind, we support the recycling of our textiles, and in 2017 entered into a cooper­ation with FairW­ertung that offers our customers a consumer-friendly way to return their old clothes. In FairW­ertung, we have found a reliable partner who ensures that donated clothes are handled respon­sibly and trans­par­ently demon­strates the downstream use of the donated clothing.

Borrow instead of buy: Tchibo Share

‘Tchibo Share’ is another element in our resource conser­vation efforts. In January 2018, we became the first company in the mainstream market to offer baby and children's clothing for rent via the platform. All of the available garments are made of sustainably grown organic cotton. When the items are returned, we treat them and then offer them for rent as second-hand goods. 

Our concept responds to the social trend towards sharing products instead of buying them. Partic­u­larly for baby and children's clothing, we see this as a logical way to promote and facil­itate sustainable action on the part of consumers. For our new offer, we cooperate with the Magdeburg company kilenda, which already has several years of experience in the renting-out of children's clothing.

‘Tchibo Share’ is another resolute step on our path of a compre­hensive approach to ensuring the longest possible product life and subse­quent recycling: after rental, the baby and children's clothing made from organic cotton continues to be used as second-hand items and, is thus has a long useful life. Items that can no longer be rented or sold are donated to FairW­ertung and recycled in accor­dance with social and ecological standards.

Consumer-oriented commu­ni­ca­tions: GUT GEMACHT – DONE IN A GOOD WAY

By offering more and more sustainable products, we also build consumer awareness for respon­sible consumption. Easily under­stood commu­ni­ca­tions are helpful here, because our customers’ purchasing decisions measures affect the pace at which we can implement sustain­ability programmes on our path to becoming a 100% sustainable business. To support them in selecting products system­at­i­cally, we must clearly label sustainable product ranges, prepare infor­mation in a consumer-oriented way, and make it easily available. The ‘GUT GEMACHT’ logo serves as a commu­ni­ca­tions bracket for all the sustain­ability standards we apply.

On the one hand, we use our ‘GUT GEMACHT‘ commu­ni­ca­tions at the points of sale and on the packaging, and on the other hand, on a wide range of commu­ni­cation channels such as the Tchibo magazine, our own website, the corporate blog, and social media platforms. On we have set up a separate section for sustain­ability that presents all the key infor­mation about our activ­ities in a concise, consumer-friendly way. We also use our own YouTube channel to explain various aspects of sustain­ability, especially the meaning of the seals used for coffee, wood and cotton. To ensure that our employees are always informed about sustain­ability at Tchibo, we train them exten­sively and always keep them up to date.

We want our customers to be able to spot sustainable products at a glance – which is why in 2015 we intro­duced the Tchibo sustain­ability ribbon as a label for sustain­ability and the standard used, on the product itself and in product commu­ni­ca­tions. The ribbon offers a high recog­nition value and can be flexibly used for all sustain­ability standards. For products containing organic cotton, for example, a ribbon with the words ‘organic cotton’ is promi­nently placed next to the Organic Content Standards (OCS) seal.

However, respon­sible consumption doesn’t end with the purchase of a sustainable Tchibo product; rather, it covers the entire lifecycle of the product. In addition to offering special services, we are therefore increas­ingly integrating the topics of long useful life, mainte­nance, repair, reusing and recycling into our commu­ni­ca­tions, providing useful tips, infor­mation and assis­tance for customers. To this end, we have further developed our ‘GUT GEMACHT’ commu­ni­ca­tions and expanded it to include sustainable consumption after the Tchibo product has been bought. Under the heading ‘GUT GEMACHT—WEITER GEDACHT’, we have built up an online platform to help customers treat our products in a way that maximises durability, and encourage them to recycle the products respon­sibly at the end of their useful life. On this online platform, customers can find care and repair instruc­tions, ideas for upcycling and refash­ioning products, as well as infor­mation on the proper return and recycling of used products. For example, customers can do a search for the nearest used clothing containers managed by FairW­ertung e. V. members. Instruc­tions and tips can also be found in the commu­ni­cation of individual product categories and on other commu­ni­cation channels such as blog posts and newsletter articles.

Commitment to the Alliance for Consumer Education

To promote early awareness of sustainable consumption among children and teens in Germany, at the beginning of 2013, Tchibo joined the ‘Alliance for Consumer Education’ founded by the Feder­ation of German Consumer Organ­i­sa­tions. In this Alliance, repre­sen­ta­tives from the public and private sectors, educa­tional author­ities, science and academe, NGOs, business associ­a­tions, ministries, and individuals work to strengthen the decision-making and consumer skills of young people without adver­tising individual brands. The Alliance is currently supporting exemplary consumer education projects run by schools in particular. These ‘consumer schools’ receive support from local consumer protection centres, and can apply for an award from the Alliance for Consumer Education. In 2018, 32 schools across Germany will receive an award.