Bartalks reported in May about Nespresso achieving B Corp certification. It is a certification bestowed upon businesses with “high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors, from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.” In order to achieve the certification, a company must score above 80 points on a scale of 200 points — Nespresso achieved 84.

However, some companies have taken it upon themselves to question the quality of the certification, saying in an open letter “the very mission of B Lab and the integrity and relevance of B Corp Certification is at risk.”

The very mission of B Lab and the integrity and relevance of B Corp Certification is at risk.

Open Letter complaint to BCorp

A group of more than 20 companies, many of them coffee companies, have shown concern over Nespresso gaining B Corp certification. The signees of the letter, who are also B Corp-certified, state “progressive social impact and environmental stewardship are core to [their] approach to business”, believing certifications like B Lab are an important force in remodelling economy towards “economic models that truly benefit people and the planet.” 

The companies acknowledge the B lab Certification is useful, but awarding it to Nespresso implies that it may follow in the footsteps of previous Fairtrade and organic certifications that some believe have become marketing ploys for large corporations.

The letter cited that “Nespresso’s abysmal track record on human rights from child labor and wage theft to abuse of factory workers is well documented by the media and NGOs.”

The fact that Nespresso can achieve a score that allows them to be certified as a B Corp and use the Certification to greenwash its business model and practises demonstrate that the B Impact Assessment scoring system and certification process is in serious need of repair.

Open Letter complaint to BCorp

The companies called for stronger minimum criteria for achieving a passing score. They also demand that B-Lab develop “a protocol for holding B Corps accountable, to improve Risk Factor areas over time, or face losing their B Corp Certification.” Many other programmes require a measurable commitment over time.

Among the 21 signatories were All Good Products, Cooperative Coffees, Exilior Coffee, Green Element, Grove Collaborative, LAUDE the Label, Peace Coffee and Thanksgiving Company.

For example, in May, Fair World Project criticised Nespresso’s core business model for being “incompatible with a vision for business that’s good for people and the planet, as B Corp certification promotes, given the huge amount of waste created.” Despite Nespresso’s efforts to make its capsules appear more environmentally friendly, the majority of their aluminium single-serve pods end up as waste that isn’t recyclable without additional steps.


  • Profil21

    Žiga Povše is a freelance writer, translator and a full-time coffee lover. After after visiting his girlfriend's family farm in Cerrado Mineiro, they opened an online store to sell Brazilian specialty coffee, and he remains an avid reader and a prolific writer.

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