Thursday, July 10, 2008

Standards and Sustainability

Most if not all coffee farms I visited seemed to be striving for some form of sustainable business practices, but definitely not in the same ways or at the same levels. However, there do exist regulations and standards, both through legislation and through private certifications that help contribute to ensuring that coffee producers are approaching some form of sustainability. As I mentioned before, there are many different types and definitions of sustainability.

Some farms are more concerned with economic sustainability so they focus on seeking the most economically-efficient practices, which in turn save energy, which in turn helps the environment. However, they might not care to avoid chemicals to fertilize or fumigate their trees because it maximizes production, at least on the short-term. It all depends on what the interests of the farm are. Some farms are motivated by producing simply organic coffee, while others care about nature, while others worry about production, while others want the best quality coffee, and that is just a tenth of a percent of the different interests among coffee producers. That is why it is important to have standards and regulations in order to ensure that these producers have concern for the environment, society, quality, and the economy, among other important issues.

Some of these standards include the ISO 9000 which is for protection of the environment, another is ISO 14000 which is for quality. Some farms exceed the minimum standards and go beyond obeying regulations by incorporating more responsible business practices, such as offering scholarships and other educational opportunities to the communities surrounding their farms or even to the workers on the farms themselves and their families. Some non-governmental agencies contribute to promoting higher standards, such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and C.A.F.E. Practices.

ISO 9000 specifically addresses waste water on coffee farms and how it is disposed of. This is in response to the past common practice of dumping the waste water from the coffee processing directly into the rivers, which contributed greatly to polluting the water. Now, many more coffee farms have purification plants of different types in order to comply with ISO 9000.

1 comment:

ISO 9000 said...

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How Can Sustainability and Social Responsibility Contribute to the Future of the Middle East?

With their potential for economic growth and their financial wealth, Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf countries have the potential to become front runners in the Middle East in considering the environment and social responsibility, and I hope to help them to start that foundation.
The Middle East is a fascinating place with so much cultural richness and financial prosperity. People of the region are increasingly growing aware of the changing climate of business and of the world as a result of globalization and as such there is growing potential for development here. We can see already a substantial amount of growth and innovation in a very short period of time through the example of Dubai. Unfortunately, one area that still lacks a greater awareness is the environment and how it is being impacted by the current practices of companies and individuals. This problem affects all aspects of life from physical health to the natural beauty of the region. This problem however can also be viewed as a treasure box of opportunity for those who have vision and initiative and wish to consider sustainable concepts and how they can adopt them in their businesses.

I chose this cause because I love the Middle East. I am originally from Latin America and study in the University of Washington and I am studying abroad in Kuwait. I had so much success here and fell in love with the region so much that I was looking for a way I could give back to a place that had given me so much. I realized quickly that the region overall had great issues with regards to the environment. The beautiful beaches of the gulf were littered with garbage, there were little if any recycling programs, no awareness campaigns and lesson plans for the schools with regards to the environment, all of the landfills were unplanned and unlined and the waste seeping into the soil and polluting the storm water drains. Yet I could not understand how such a wealthy country with the financial means to take care of this issue and with a government committee assigned to the environment was allowing this to be this way. I decided I would try to see how I can help make a change for the better just as many countries have also done with regards to such issues as waste management such as the UK.