The innovation is to be an environmentally conscious, sustainable café with minimal to zero waste. The goal is to be able to re-use everything in the café - stop using disposable single use plastics . The second part to this goal is to also use her community’s resources to become a locally sourced company.
University of Guelph
The owner bought the existing business in April 2019 as she was looking to participate in something local. Through her passion for the environment, she decided that she wanted to look at the production cycle and operations of the business and make it more sustainable. She decided it would be beneficial and affordable to input a strategy of sustainability by making sure the cutlery, storage, and all the necessities to running a café were reusable and fully recyclable.
The owner was the main person to put this sustainable strategy in place. She closely examined her supply chain, her products and the efforts to make her products, as well as the way she serves the products. From there she looked into ways to make it all reusable by leveraging her own knowledge and using the teachings of the Guelph Waste Resource Centre. For instance, she started making all her baked goods herself limiting the shipment of packaged goods covered in plastic wrapping. She also uses post-consumer recycled plastic products that can be recycled by the Guelph Waste Resource Centre, such as the lids on the take-out coffee cups and the containers of her salad dishes. In addition, she has also replaced the plastic cutlery with wooden reusable cutlery, including the use of metal straws for cold drinks in-house, and beeswax-lined paper straws for takeout. She even goes as far as taking compostable waste home with her every night because the building in which she is located does not have a compost waste system in place. For the catering side of her business, she provides reusable platters, and has made special covers for the platters to provide zero waste. The challenge that has arisen in her attempts to become sustainable has been in the take-out coffee cups. They are lined with a thin layer of polyethylene, which is not recyclable. She has a temporary strategy to fix this problem by offering twenty cents off the purchase of coffee if the customer brings in their own coffee mugs or uses the in-house ceramic mugs, incentivizing the community to take part in the attempt to be sustainable. She is currently looking into a more effective way to solve this problem by researching ways to dissolve the polyethylene lining in an environmentally friendly way.
This innovation relates to a sense of mission and purpose because she recognizes that as a company she has a responsibility. She understands that her stakeholders extend further than her customers, all the way to the community she works in and the environment we live in. She also recognizes the impact of employing and purchasing her products locally. Her mission is to become a sustainable enterprise by eliminating unnecessary waste and harmful materials from the environment while becoming a fully locally sourced business. The purpose of the Carbon Café is to serve the community, not only by delivering on delicious baked goods and other food products, but by also doing so in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way through leveraging local resources. This purpose holds her responsible to giving back to the community through her operations and production.
The original idea to become a fully sustainable operational business came about through a chain of eye-opening events that created a strong passion. After being exposed to what was happening in the oceans, landfills and environment in general, Carol-Ann decided she couldn’t sit around and watch this happen all around the world. She decided to make an impact and try to make the world a little more sustainable.
The purpose behind making the Carbon Café completely re-usable was not only to make the world a little more sustainable but to send a message. Carol-Ann wanted to lead by example and teach her community and the young students within it that it is possible for companies to be fully sustainable. She wants the next generation to improve on original business practices and innovate new models to allow for sustainable change.
Carlo-Ann's environmental goal includes “being better to the environment, [reducing] pollution, reducing waste, all of that it sings to me.... and it starts here."
The impact of the innovation on the business has been limited. Her main customers are people who understand her business model and change their purchasing habits to make an impact. However, the cost associated in being a sustainable business is both capital-intensive and time consuming. The zero-waste model is outstanding and fits the values of where society is heading but the Carbon Café might want to consider advertising this value a bit more to allow for a greater impact on the business.
The impact on the society was inspiration. This innovation and the strategy that comes with it, has encouraged the community to participate in her sustainable efforts. It has educated customers on the ways to recycle and reuse products they enjoy in an easy manner. This is spreading awareness to consumers, especially young ones, on how company’s can show their responsibility to the community and be environmentally aware of their impact.
The impact on the environment has been the creation of less waste and danger to nature. Carbon Café has limited and, in some cases, eliminated their use of harmful plastics and products from their waste. This helps the environment prosper and live with less of an impact from dangerous production cycles caused by firm. Carbon Café attempts to protect more sea life and the wellbeing of different species who thrive on a clean environment.
The short term effects are eliminating waste from the community, employing more locals, and educating customers. The long term effects are changing the mindsets of consumers by empowering them with the choice to be more sustainable and to encourage the firms they purchase from to do so as well. The long term effects also include saving the environment with any means of effort possible, however little they may be.
Gratitude and support from community and customers of the Carbon Café offer concrete evidence of these impacts. People have this café and the owner as an example of what it takes to be environmentally responsible. With this, the popularity of the Carbon Café has increased and is thriving from the recognition the community has given to this company. As we are seeing, there are more and more local businesses, as well as, large franchise that are switching their operations and products to be more sustainable.
Carlo-Ann summarizes this by saying “Save the ocean…that sings to me. And it starts here”.
The business benefit is the recognition from customers that this is the type of behaviour they want to see from the places in which they purchase goods. Consumers are choosing the Carbon Café over other popular cafes because they recognize the good it is doing for the community. The business can thrive with this recognition because they are serving their consumers properly and in many levels past their product. They are creating loyal customers by matching their lifestyle and values.
The societal and environmental benefit is using a platform to educate consumers on the dangers of the products they purchase. The Carbon Café is an example for consumers on ways they can reuse and recycle on a daily basis. This changes the mindset of consumers within the society by making them also responsible for the environment. With this, there is less waste and harmful buildup of toxic chemicals that put the environment at danger.
Carlo - Ann Betz, Owner
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Guelph, Ontario, CA
Business Website: https://carboncafe.ca/
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 2 to 10