Nespresso is a B Corp

In big news just out overnight in Europe, Nespresso has announced it is a Certified B Corporation - making it one of the largest companies in the world to do so. This is the culmination of a three-year journey for them, and is further evidence of the growing recognition in global business that change is needed.

Given the size of the business and the visibility of the brand, Nespresso’s certification will undoubtedly attract a lot of attention, interest and potential criticism about the B Corp Movement. We want to tackle this head-on, as it is also a huge opportunity for all B Corps to demonstrate the leadership they are known for.

Like every B Corp, Nespresso has undergone the rigorous certification and verification process — which is increasingly complex given the size of their global organisation — and achieved 84 points on the B Impact Assessment. Their full transparent assessment is available publicly on their B corp directory profile. Their own website has comprehensive resources of their approach to certification, including where they are performing well and the areas of improvement they are focussed on.

We understand you may be keen to learn more about such a large business in the sector getting certified, so B Lab has collaborated with Nespresso on an extensive FAQ document for our community - see here (this will keep evolving as we add more).

The local AU and NZ Nespresso teams are thrilled to be a part of the community and will be making themselves available if you would like to get in touch directly with them. We’ll share plans for online and in-person events in our community, threaded below here as we finalise the details.

For those on your team who might be interested in this (Nespresso will likely get some public attention!) but are less familiar with B Corp Certification, it is a good opportunity to remind them of a couple of important things:

  • B Corp certification is not just a badge of sustainability or an acknowledgement of environmental accomplishments - it is an holistic framework that looks to help businesses understand and improve their impact towards people, communities and the planet.
  • B Corps and other businesses across the world use the certification process as the start of a journey of continuous improvement, and a framework from which to build better business practices.

We also shared this article recently with other examples of how the B Corp community is growing, and larger businesses are achieving certification across the world.

The power of this movement lies in the community, and its ability to look towards what we can do together to address the world’s most pressing challenges. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Nespresso to the ranks, and inspiring them — as you have done with countless others — on their impact improvement journey.

Please also share your thoughts, comments and questions below!

4 Likes

B Lab Europe has taken the moment to reflect on what the evolving movement looks like with companies like Nespresso engaging, have a read in Medium here

Sorry one more! B Lab Europe also hosted a Coffee Industry Town Hall hosted this week featuring Nespresso. It’s a (very) deep dive into the industry, I learned a heap from the panellists. You can watch the video here, using password CoffeeBCorps2022! to access.

Please note this was an event for B Corps only so please don’t share it outside the B Corp community

Huge!! Well done team, there’s so much opportunity here.

2 Likes

Wow! That’s big news @Andrew-BLab . Well done to everyone at Nespresso for the commitment to do this. I understand that there will be some who will view this negatively but, with a brand of this size taking a transparent and open journey towards and then beyond certification, it will ad a much-needed big voice to the B Corp movement. Interested to view some of the resources you’ve shared above Andrew.

3 Likes

The Coffee Town Hall is a super deep dive into the industry Karen, if you’re up for it! Very interesting to learn from the panellists, I can’t think of another sector where we have so many players as B Corps from across the value chain.

Exciting news!

It has definitely caused a bit of a stir.

A few people commented that this has made B Corp less attractive to them and makes the Cert a bit less meaningful. Others see it as a great step in the right direction.

Interesting times to be alive!

2 Likes

Thanks for the extra information and opportunity to get a little closer to the action and detail on this one Andrew - tipping points for monumental socio/economic movements like this must surely be coming closer when big names like this are joining the table. Looking forward to playing a positively supportive and purposeful role as a member of this wonderful community.

3 Likes

when you need to tackle an “something” head on, you are basically trying to control the PR war.

what a black day for bcorps around the world.

i’m incredibly sad and disenchanted, and this is what happens when “growing the business” comes at the expense of “growing your values”.

just wow.

what a kick in the teeth.

#greenwashing

@Andrew-BLab - it would be lovely to get an update on this recycling statistic, if/when you get a chance between press releases.

Coffee giant Nespresso concedes 71 per cent of its pods are not being recycled, despite a global push to make it more convenient to save aluminium and turn coffee grounds into mulch.

Craig, not sure if the greenwashing point was about Nespresso or B Lab’s role? Either way, I think Nespresso taking the step to certify is not greenwashing; in fact, we see it as the opposite. Making claims without any form of scrutiny is rife, and we need more companies willing to hold themselves to account. One of the available mechanisms for this is B Corp certification.

Perhaps my choice of words was poor: by tackling this head-on I meant we want to meet any concerns, recognising many people would not understand how Nespresso achieved certification. This is not about controlling a PR war — it is about being transparent with our community about what certification covers, and what it does not.

Every B Corp stands up to be accountable. B Lab’s job is not to protect the reputation of B Corps, and we openly encourage the public to hold B Corps to our standards through our complaints process. Our job is to tell a broader story that supports changing the way we do business. We knew with Nespresso it would be important to outline as much as we could to B Corps, both about the certification process for such a large business and about Nespresso’s own performance, so that they could see the influence this movement is having at the scale of a large multinational.

If we turned our backs on large businesses, we’d be failing in our mission. Driving change means working with more businesses, including larger ones, to help bring them on a journey. All B Corps have strengths and also have areas they wish to improve, but our early adopters have done the work of leading by example, and that is what has made certification worth pursuing. I’m confident that this aligns with our values, as well as our goals at B Lab.

If you have questions for Nespresso that aren’t answered in the document above, or the recording of the Town Hall, we will point them here to answer them. I know the issue of recycling pods and sourcing aluminium came up in the Town Hall, and that may answer your question. Nespresso have expressed a commitment to being transparent about where they are looking to improve, and the roadblocks they are facing to get there. We’re hoping that the B Corps in this space will help them get farther on this journey than they could have gotten alone.

1 Like

andrew,

i will say this right now.

I am the problem. I want BCORP to stand for more than you are willing to stand for.

sure, dont turn your back on large business.

however…lets not kid ourselves.

nespresso sells plastic coffee machines at cost, and sells coffee at a premium.

pick a 3rd world country, and buy your coffee as cheaply as possible. brazil, uganda, ethipia, mexico, pick one. then ship that coffee to china on a boat.

pick another 3rd world country, purchase your aluminium and have put shipped to china.

then get it all packaged up neatly at slave labour wages, and then ship it worldwide.

spend a heap of money on marketing, geroge clooney adds etc.

sell nespresso pods at a premium, so that nestle can take those profits to wall street.

then have over 70% of your customers dump the rubbish in the landfill.

this is capitalism 101.

and after 10 years or so of sitting in your swiss office, your marketing teams says we need an edge, our offering has gone stale…what do you do…

arghh lets make alot of promises about what we will do and become a b corp.

its pathetic.

i was so proud to be a bcorp, and now i couldn’t be more embarrassed.

maybe instead of getting ahead of the PR issues, you should make an effort to speak to your existing / future customers. if the response you get isn’t at least 80% positive about Nespresso…it probably means you have stuffed this one up.

either way, im stepping away b corp because i’m not proud to be involved, and my guts are still churning at my disappointment, queasiness and shame.

thanks for taking the time to respond, even though i don’t agree.

Hey @CraigRowston I think it’s important people question this and raise concerns as you have done. Nespresso was never going to be welcomed by all with open arms.

However I also know that like every other certified B Corp Nespresso had to answer 150+ questions about their operations which would have been scrutinised by a team of assessors. They scraped through with 84 points. In answering those 150+ questions entire teams would’ve most likely had to select the lowest performing option on a lot of them, meaning the B Corp framework is providing a roadmap for them to drastically improve their operations from 80 – to the impossible 200.

Maybe it’s radical optimism on my behalf but isn’t it considerably better than Nespresso try to hold themselves to the standards of the B Corp movement then never engage at all? Aren’t we trying to create a new economy that addresses the very concerns you raise about Nespresso’s operations? Surely the act of answering those honestly and transparently is holding them to a level of accountability. I just don’t see how we build a new economy without major players stepping up to our level.

I’m trying to be optimistic whilst feeling somewhat bleak about the state of the world, so go gently :wink:

6 Likes

Hi @alisonmichalk,

I took 7 days to digest, and the sinking feeling is still there. but thanks for taking the time to respond.

I find it telling/concerning/disappointing that no-one else in this community has made comment on this thread, be that good or bad, supportive, unsupportive. 3-4 people on such a polarising topic, and hardly a whisper. Several people have “liked” posts , and they seem to be B Lab employees.

I think thats the saddest part of the whole discussion, it’s not really even one. Where is the passion either way.

I also took some time to research nestle / nespresso to get a further understanding of their business model and history, it wasn’t something that provided much optimism.

This article is about 2 years old…but i think nicely puts into perspective the problems Nespresso has, and why “greenwashing” is a potential answer for their problem, because no board of a publicly listed company is going to blow up its business model.

There was also this article that got my attention, which if accurate, is more damning.

The truth will probably lie somewhere between these articles and the Nespresso marketing collateral.

I’m all for being optimistic, but but optimism needs be be based on reality, and in my opinion business like Nespresso, needs to have “made” substantial change in order to be considered for B Corporation, not “promise change” or create “rainforest alliance” entities.

Substantial change, to my mind, doesn’t appear possible with their existing business operations.

Business models need to be designed to be a “force for good”, from there ground up. But first they also need to be sustainable in the long term, pressure tested, profitable, authentic.

Only time will tell, but B Corp has put its reputation on the line with this “collaboration”.

Despite @Andrew-BLab saying “B Lab’s job is not to protect the reputation of B Corps” i’d argue that by association, every B Corps reputation is on the line.

That’s why I can’t understand the silence.

I also wonder, what comes next? What happens when the next Nestle / Nespresso PR disaster comes to light?

Just how well does the next humans right issue align with B Corps values?

What are our expectations from B Corp in their response to any future incriminations?

I am not willing to put my reputation on the line for a partner like Nespresso, and their litany of past indiscretions, and hence why I’m withdrawing my support from B Corp at this time.

Thanks Craig

Craig, have you looked over the resources shared in the original post? Might also be good to do so, whilst you are researching them. I also think drawing conclusions from silence on this forum is risky here, this forum is still growing. People’s participation in this chat is not representative of the full conversation.

My point about not protecting reputation was more that B Lab itself does not jump in on specific stories or controversies to represent or defend a specific B Corp. When people argue that something a B Corp has said or done is relevant or somehow compromises their certification:

  • we point people to our certification and standards to educate them about what B Corp is (and how it is earned)
  • we encourage people to utilise the public complaints process in place
  • we may initiate our own investigation where the issue directly relates to our standards

I understand your point about reputation and recognise that the Certified B Corporation logo is of course a trust mark, carrying with it clear brand value. Just clarifying my original comment about B Lab’s role.

I’ll leave it to others to keep commenting. I understand you will make your call on certification for your business, and shoot a note to certification@bcorporation.com.au if you want to follow that up.