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How Sustainable Is Your Cup?

How Sustainable Is Your Cup?
3 March 2021 James Brooke

Guide to sustainable coffee from the experts at Marley Coffee.

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, with around two billion cups consumed every single day; 94 million of those cups are enjoyed in the UK alone(1). It’s clear that we’re a nation of coffee lovers but do we know all we should to ensure the coffee we drink is sustainable?

Experts at Marley Coffee, global gourmet organic coffee brand from the family of Bob Marley, have shared their guide to ensuring your morning cup of coffee not only tastes good, but does good too.

“In the last few years, and particularly since 2018 – dubbed the year of the ‘influential sustainable consumer’(2) – the shift toward buying high quality coffee that also boasts strong sustainability credentials has continued to grow,” says Guy Wilmot, UK brand manager for Marley Coffee.

“It makes complete sense to ensure every aspect of the industry is as sustainable as possible – from the farmers growing the beans in Jamaica and the many coffee origins we work with, to the packaging your beans arrive in. It’s not only what the consumer wants and expects, but it also helps to support and drive a circular economy throughout the supply chain.

“For the coffee industry to continue to thrive, this means more than simply adding a sustainability tagline to packaging; we need to be educating consumers on the simple ways they can contribute to bettering the environmental impact of their daily coffee habits.

“As consumers, we need to consider which brands guarantee sustainable growing practices, waste reduction during roasting and manufacturing processes, minimisation or elimination of carbon footprint during distribution, and improved infrastructure around coffee cup and single-serve pod recycling. It may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.”

Read on for Marley Coffee’s guide to sustainable coffee drinking…

Is expensive coffee more sustainable?

It would be fantastic if we could all walk into a supermarket and pick up a higher price point coffee knowing that this price point ensures better environmental, social and economic sustainability credentials. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

One thing you can be certain of however, is that a lower price point will almost always mean lower quality product and as such, a far lower likelihood of any robust sustainability practises whatsoever.

Which certifications should I look for?

Pick up any packet of coffee and you’ll likely see a range of slogans and labels stating all kinds of claims in relation to sustainable growing, fair wages for the farmers, recyclable packaging and promises to offset carbon emissions. In reality, there are a handful of certifications that all UK consumers can look out for to help guide them when purchasing coffee to ensure that any statements made on the packaging match the brand’s real-world commitments.

  • Bird Friendly – One of the lesser-known certifications, Bird Friendly products adhere to some of the strictest regulations on shade cover and canopy height, which protects both the land the coffee is grown on and provides habitat for migratory bird populations – aka natural insecticides. This certification also ensures 100% organic production. The aim of Bird Friendly products is to reduce all environmental impacts of coffee production.
  • Soil Association Organic – Many people assume that beyond ‘the dirty dozen’, organic is simply a marketing term and an excuse to increase price points, especially when it comes to luxury products like coffee. In fact, as it’s produced without any artificial chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides or other harsh fertilisers, choosing organic coffee benefits not only the consumer, but also the health of the farmers who produce the coffee and the environment where it’s grown. Coffee is one of most traded natural commodities in the world so a commitment to only buying organic will have a hugely positive impact on the environment globally.
  • Rainforest Alliance and UTZ – The Rainforest Alliance seal means that the product or ingredient was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability – social, economic and environmental. Essentially, it means that the product is contributing to a better future for people and planet.
  • Fairtrade – Fairtrade certified products can be grown anywhere in the world. The certification ensures that the farmers who grow the coffee receive a fair price for their harvest, which allows them to invest in their families and wider communities.

How can I reduce my coffee waste at home?

Many tonnes of spent coffee grounds are sent to landfill every year causing the release of the harmful greenhouse gas, methane. A far more straightforward way to dispose of your spent coffee grounds is to throw in your food waste caddy provided by the local council.

Better still, scatter on flower beds, in plant pots, or add them to your compost. Coffee grounds are an effective natural fertiliser, helping to absorb heavy metals and offering several key minerals for plant growth.

Alternatively, it might be worth getting friendly with your local café to find out if they’re part of a waste collection scheme. If so, they will be able to take your spent coffee grounds, which will then be collected – thus diverted from landfill – and turned into all manner of things including biomass fuels, logs for wood burners and even reusable coffee cups.

Should I stop using my coffee machine and pods?

At-home coffee machines are increasingly popular, and simply disposing of them due to the environmental implications of using coffee pods will only create a surge in otherwise usable machines heading to landfill.

The key thing is to ensure that you’re using the most environmentally friendly pods you can. The best option is 100% aluminium, recyclable pods, like those we use at Marley Coffee.

Is there anything else I can look out for?

In addition to farming practices and sourcing of beans, look for brands that extend their commitment to sustainability to packaging too. Coffee brands that use fully recyclable coffee bag packaging or plastic-free packaging are crucial to the circular economy and, in addition to capsules and coffee bags which are already recyclable, Marley Coffee beans packaging will be fully recyclable by Summer 2021.

A final consideration is what a brand is doing to offset the carbon emissions caused by transporting your coffee from farm to shelf. Trees help clean the air we breathe by absorbing harmful carbon from the atmosphere, so look for brands that support global reforestation efforts with donations to organisations like One Tree Planted and Eden Reforestation Projects.

“Armed with all the facts on how to make sustainable choices when it comes to their morning cup of coffee,” adds Guy, “consumers can contribute to the positive ripple effect of sustainability in the coffee manufacturing process, which is key to driving a circular economy and benefitting both people – growers and consumers – and the environment.”

For more information on Marley Coffee, visit


Notes to editors:

For further press information, please contact:
Julie Aguilera | Elsa Findlay | Charlotte Wright
Rooster PR
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8930
E: [email protected]

About Marley Coffee
International gourmet coffee brand, Marley Coffee, offers premium quality beans, grounds, pods and coffee bags.

Founded by Rohan Marley, Marley Coffee traces its origins to the Nine Mile farmlands of Jamaica, where legendary musician Bob Marley learned a deep respect for nature and humanity that helped guide his life. Bob always said he would return to farming one day and with Marley Coffee, Bob’s family is honouring and fulfilling his dream.

The ethos of the Marley Coffee brand, aligned with Bob Marley’s legacy as a force for global good, and encapsulated under Marley Coffee’s “One Love” banner, is rooted in the triumph of peace, unity, family, love, and sustainability, and is manifested in every cup of Marley Coffee.

100% arabica and available in grounds or whole beans, the Marley Coffee range includes nine different blends, plus a pure Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. All coffees are named after Bob Marley songs.

Marley Coffee Nespresso-compatible capsules are currently available in two varieties. Whilst the newest addition to the product portfolio – Marley Coffee bags – comes in three different blends.

Marley Coffee is a superb tasting, quality product, that is loved by serious coffee drinkers around the globe. It’s a classic, authentic coffee, with a rich, smooth flavour and intoxicating aroma that is giving the purity and pleasure of the coffee experience back to consumers.

Beans are sourced from the top coffee growing regions worldwide and are small batch roasted in the UK for distribution throughout Europe. Marley Coffee boasts both Rainforest Alliance and Organic Certified ranges and monitors its coffee sources using the highest ethical standards. The brand promotes the sustainable efforts of small farmers in the poorest rural communities around the world, with all partner farms striving to support both local communities and the environment through organic, sustainable and ethical practices. It also supports global reforestation via donations to One Tree Planted.

Marley Coffee extends its sustainability commitment to packaging across the full range of products. All Marley Coffee packaging is fully recyclable.

Priced from around £5.99 for a 227g bag, Marley Coffee is available to buy via the Marley Coffee website (, Amazon and in major UK retailers, including Planet Organic, Selfridges and As Nature Intended. The product is also stocked in a number of independent stores via distributors, e.g. Tree of Life, Marigold Health Foods, CLF, The Health Store and Rainbow Wholefoods.