Caribou Coffee recycling Coffee is big business. It is grown in more than 60 tropical countries and supports 25 to 100 million people around the world. With more people loving their daily cup of joe a shift has taken place from traditional, sustainable growing methods to monocultures that require large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers that can quickly deplete the soil, among other harms. Caribou Coffee is the second largest coffee company in the U.S. behind Starbucks Corp. As a major player in the coffee business, the company feels the burden of responsibility that comes with that prominence. To that end, Caribou has published its “Do Good Report.” What might be tagged as “corporate social responsibility” by other companies, Caribou’s Do Good Report outlines its Wildly Important Goals, or WIGs. According to Caribou, Do Good is about making a difference in three important areas: sourcing, environment and community.


The company began partnering with Rainforest Alliance (RA) in 2003. The partnership ensures that a large portion of the coffees Caribou sources comes from RA-certified producers. Certification guarantees that coffees are produced in environmentally and socially responsible ways, and that the workers have good wages, decent living conditions, education and health care. In January 2012, Caribou became the first major coffee company in the U.S. to source all of its coffee and espresso beans from sustainable-certified farms. The WIG for 2012 is to explore RA certification for tea and to test three eco-friendly cup solutions.


Caribou is committed to having all of its coffee shops participating in some form of recycling in three to five years. Currently, 75% of all of its stores do some form of recycling and this year’s WIG is to up that figure to 90%. For this purpose, Caribou has partnered with Paydirt, an organization focused on developing sustainability plans. Paydirt helps to increase individual store participation in recycling, diverting waste from going to landfills, recognizing waste management opportunities and setting realistic goals. To encourage Caribou “guests” to reduce waste, Caribou offers a 10% discount when a reusable mug is provided. And, in June 2009, Caribou started reusing the burlap bags that are used to ship coffee beans to its warehouse. To date, Caribou has recycled 150 tons of material.


Caribou’s goal, to be achieved within three to five years, is to double its amount of community giving from $500,000 to $1 million annually. For more information about Caribou Coffee, visit