For Earth Day this year, we decided to sit down with two champions for change and discuss sustainability in the coffee and chocolate industries. Wilf Marriott, founder of Islands Chocolate, and David Foster, co-founder of Halo Coffee discussed what it means to be sustainable, finding the right packaging, and what the future holds for small brands standing up to industry goliaths.
Islands Chocolate is one of the first proper sustainable chocolate brands and Halo coffee is making the necessary change for the world by creating a totally garden-compatible coffee-capsule.
The sheer volume of coffee capsules that were ending up in landfills propelled the founders of Halo Coffee to create the world’s first garden-compostable coffee capsule that is 100% plastic and metal free.
Wherever a Halo coffee capsule ends up, it is no longer a problem that the customer needs to worry about because it won’t spend 500 years in a landfill like plastic and metal capsules do. Because Halo’s a natural product, it will degrade in about 4 weeks.
Islands Chocolate has worked to create sustainability throughout the whole process.
“We’re actually on the ground, growing cocoa ourselves [on our family farm in St. Vincent, Carribean] which is incredibly exciting. It’s allowing us to create flavours in the chocolate that haven’t been seen or tasted before. How we’re treating cocoa is much like a fine wine.”
After falling in love with the island and the people there, the Marriott family decided to take a risk and take over a cocoa farm that was up for sale. Wilf’s father was a farmer growing up, and after buying the land, Wilf was brought in as the cocoa salesman. As there wasn’t another company able to manage the whole process from farming the beans to selling them in shops around London, they decided to launch in 2018
Because the industry standard of both coffee and chocolate is not yet eco-minded, packaging is a tricky aspect for both businesses.
It took many moments of trial and error until Halo Coffee found the ideal packaging that was printed with vegetable based inks and completely compostable while also locking in freshness of the specialty-grade coffees.
Islands Chocolate was most concerned about the chocolate’s consistency when arriving to a customer. The bar’s packaging has a compostable inner-liner and a recyclable cardboard box. What they haven’t yet found is a fully recyclable bag for their chocolate buttons that keeps the chocolate stable and out of sunlight that can also be recycled in the UK.
Halo Coffee and Islands Chocolate are actively looking into better, more progressive ways than the current industry standards have to offer.
David Foster says, “This is half the battle. What you’re up against is limited supply.” While plastics, PLAs and metals are all typically the cheapest options for companies, they are far from being sustainable for the planet. “It is cheap, but who’s paying the cost?”
We asked David and Wilf where they saw their industries and individual companies in ten years.
Wilf: “We hope to be a brand that is a household name; [to be a] sustainable chocolate company that isn't’ just making false promises or [having] some accreditation scheme sign them off, but actually people who can showcase exactly what they’re doing through every part of the process.” He wants to “still be having a lot of fun, still be creating amazing products that people love and to be showing people how chocolate should be made and the flavours that should come out of the chocolate if it’s produced... and managed right.”
David: “I’d like to see the whole globe using a home-compostable, garden-compostbale capsule. I think the coffee capsule industry is going to change because it will have to change. The majority of companies who are using plastics are going to be in trouble unless they start investing in ‘green’ technologies. I just don’t think the public are going to continue to justify a cheap capsule made of plastic… a lot of people [may not] care at the moment, but the youth of today...who will soon have disposable income, they’re going to start voting with their feet and with their wallets.”
Companies like Halo Coffee and Islands Chocolate are at the forefront of positive change but it’s all about surviving the battle to implement sustainable, industry-wide change. Earth Day is a great reminder that big companies need to evolve, and policymakers should work to implement these industry-wide changes.
Happy Earth Day
You can also watch the interview on Instagram @halo_coffee_global under our IGTV.