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How Costa Coffee cut energy consumption

30 May 2012

A new management system standard ISO 50001 helped Costa Coffee reduce energy consumption and improve working processes

UK coffee chain Costa Coffee, a division of Whitbread, recently became NQA’s first client in the food industry to achieve certification to ISO 50001, the international standard for energy management systems.

Although the intention was to cut energy use the additional benefits of the process have been expanded production and increased output, according to the company.

Martin Hockaday, environmental sector manager at NQA says while there is currently no legislation requiring companies to demonstrate their energy management processes, an increasing number of organisations choose to do so by going through a certification process. The question is why do they do so?

‘’Whitbread wanted to focus on one of its most energy intensive sites: its coffee bean roastery based in Lambeth, south London, where energy reduction was crucial,’’ says Martin. ‘’Upon analysing its current operations, it became apparent that, owing to the limited amount of electricity available to the site, expansion would be possible only if it could create spare capacity.

‘’The team at Costa looked at every piece of equipment, how it was used and when it was used in the manufacturing process; everything was analysed, from the coffee bean roasters and packaging equipment down to the kettle in the staff room. This process enabled Costa to identify where they needed to better control their equipment and allowed them to see when their peak energy uses were.’’

According to NQA, Costa was, by examining how the site was being used, given the chance to ingrain energy saving in all working practices, including common, often overlooked behaviours (electric wall heaters are no longer left on if the windows are open, for example). The focus then moved to how equipment was used in the roasting process.

‘’As a result, some processes were changed, such as delaying the switching on of packaging equipment until coffee beans are roasted, instead of having it on from the start of the 12-hour operating period,’’ says Martin. ‘’Measures like this may seem simple with hindsight, but this could only be done after calculating that no manufacturing time would be lost as result of switching on later.

Such measures, when coupled with more efficient equipment and behaviour change programmes, enabled the site to cut its energy use by 16%. The savings have meant the firm has met its key target to generate enough spare capacity to install a second roaster and expand their production capability without having to build a new site. They expect to see further cuts to energy in the future, as they continue to evaluate and tweak the site’s performance.

The certification process allowed Costa to have a full reassurance that the system they had implemented and the actions they were taking were on the right track and would support the continual improvement of their energy performance.

Going for certification undoubtedly gave Costa a platform to go to staff and say: ‘We are one of the first companies to go for this standard, we’re really proud of it and you should be too.’ It gives something over and above the usual ‘switch it off’ campaigns and allowed them to really engage staff with simple housekeeping issues that can make a lot of difference.

The Costa team are proud of meeting the standard, It has been well received in team briefings and internal communication in Whitbread.

From the start, Costa were very clear about what they wanted to achieve and NQAworked to support their aims and values. After long discussions we were confident that we could work together to achieve their objectives.

A few members of Whitbread staff were already aware of the certification process but often people can be afraid of the word ‘audit’, especially if they haven’t been through the process before. We made the overall process simple and its aim easy to understand for people on site who hadn’t any prior experience of auditing.

Having seen the benefits of ISO 50001 in Costa, Whitbread intend to roll out the standard to the company as a whole.

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