Focus: Energy and Water Resources
Many people around the world begin their days with a cup of coffee without knowing where that coffee came from or how it was produced. In fact, 70% of the world’s coffee is produced in Latin America, and 140 liters of water is needed to produce enough for a single cup of coffee. Most of the waste water from this production is released untreated into local rivers and streams, and contains organic matter that is harmful to the environment and people’s health. In addition, as waste water sits in the soil, it releases methane gas, a greenhouse gas more harmful than CO2. Since the 1990s, UTZ Certified has been giving recognition to truly sustainable coffee farmers, and working to generate models for sustainable coffee production. They are now the leading certification for sustainably grown coffee, tea, and palm oil, and are working diligently to solve the coffee waste water problem.
UTZ Certified recently piloted a new water management system on 19 farms in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The system has three main components, water use reduction, waste water treatment, and methane gas capture for fuel. In all 19 farms, UTZ has reduced water use by up to 60% and increased water treatment by up to 90%. This means that not only has more fresh water been conserved, but water contamination has also been drastically reduced. In addition, by capturing methane gas, waste water is turned into fuel to power cook stoves, coffee mills, and water treatment systems. During the pilot program alone, UTZ estimates that 55 full-sized guava trees were preserved.
With the successful completion of its pilot program, UTZ is prepared to scale up the waste water treatment system to benefit more small-scale farmers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. However, the UTZ Certified label is more than a guarantee of environmentally friendly agricultural practices; UTZ also promises the provision of a safe working environment and no use of child labor. Through UTZ, small-scale farmers learn good agricultural and business practices and receive fair payment for their crops. Is your coffee UTZ Certified?
Environmental Impact: Avoided water contamination, avoided deforestation, efficient fuel use & avoided use of fossil fuels, including avoided emission of GHGs and harmful substances.
Measurement: UTZ Certified
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