Costa Rica developed the first product category rule in Latin America to measure the environmental footprint of coffee with international standards.
25 January 2021
  • Consumer Information for SCP

Costa Rica developed the first product category rule in Latin America to measure the environmental footprint of coffee with international standards and is working on a new ecolabelling norm for domestic sales of the grain. For the occasion, Andrea Meza, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy, stressed the importance of this program as a mean to promote and champion new sustainable consumption and production schemes. She exhorted businesses to take part in the program and highlights the role of the consumer in choosing products that earned the ecolabel.

Five companies are already adopting these guidelines with support from UNEP and the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Different stages are carefully examined before the ecolabel is obtained: planting, harvesting, grinding, packaging, and final distribution.

Since 2014, ecolabelling norms have started to be approved for different products on Costa Rica. At the moment, new category rules to measure the footprint of bottled water, malt-based drinks, and bakery products are being developed.

Background

The coffee industry has had a very prominent role in Costa Rica, with significant economic, social, and environmental consequences. While this traditional agricultural sector has lost some its importance in recent times, Costa Rica is the 14th exporter worldwide (ICO, 2018), with more than 1.2 million bags exported every year. Costa Rica exports 90 percent of its coffee production, and export revenues account for 15 percent of total exports (ICAFE, 2015).

The production of coffee beans in Costa Rica proved very successful and expanded quickly, making a remarkable impact in the life of many Costa Ricans involved in the industry. Today, coffee tends to be cultivated on small plots in family farms and the sector relies on seasonal labor. Despite coffee production still being a major source of revenue in Costa Rica, it does not come free of environmental consequences.

The cultivation and processing of coffee beans made the industry the second biggest source of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Several efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions have been made in recent years, and as of 2019 roughly one third of the land used for coffee cultivation saw the implementation of sustainable farming methods. The diffusion of “technified” coffee brought further serious environmental threats, such as soil erosion and increasing deforestation.

To earn the ecolabel, companies will have to abide to strict standards concerning every phase of coffee production and will be carefully evaluated by a third-party monitor. Establishing an ecolabel for coffee is a powerful tool not only to inform customers and allow them to make more sustainable choices, but also to incentivize a growing number of producers to change their production and management practices.

A product that protects nature, protects us all. Watch the video to know more.

 

 

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