Achieving impact through sourcing

North Start Coffee Roasters is wholesale roastery with coffee shops in Leeds, employing 30 people.

From inception, North Star’s approach to sustainability has been centred on how it sources coffee. Its procurement policy reflects the reality that one-size-fits-all approaches to sustainable supply chains are rarely effective in a global industry. By forging as close a relationship as possible with its export partners, its is able to tailor its approach to creating positive impacts within the specific supply chain in question. Being selective about its partnerships enables it to have confidence in the positive impact, and long-term viability, of its supplier relationships, a confidence which it can pass on to consumers.

Environmental sustainability is central to North Star’s sourcing. It partners with farms which promote growth forestry techniques that utilise shade trees and promote biodiversity.

North Star’s sourcing policy is to supplement purchase contracts with investment in projects which tackle social challenges like climate and youth empowerment. For example, it recently collaborated with producing partners to invest in infrastructure to help improve the quality of the coffee it is producing and offset losses in yield due to climate change.

As part of becoming accredited as a B-corp organisation, North Star has begun implementing measures to further reduce its carbon footprint. It switched its coffee roasting machines to a king that was 80% more energy efficient by recycling the gas that powers it. In 2021, North Star became the first company in the UK to offer home compostable coffee packaging.

North Star has found that its holistic approach to sustainability has not only supported its marketing to consumers but has made staff recruitment and retention easier as a values-driven company. Staff engagement and productivity have also benefitted; by integrating its strategy for growth with its strategy for impact, its staff are motivated to achieve more positive impact through growth.

“My understanding of sustainability is sustaining systems, to be here in the future and to support people and planet moving forwards. But when it comes to coffee, the system has never worked. So we're focused on regeneration and ultimately getting to a point where we have something worthwhile. My advice would be to focus on the issues that are most prevalent in your industry and think about how your business activities could contribute towards tackling them just by doing business.”
Holly Kragiopoulos,
co-founder, North Star Coffee Roasters

Related courses and resources

Surveys show that a large majority of global consumers expect companies to be run in a socially responsible manner, with 81% saying they are more likely to buy from brands with similar values to their own. Full IoD members can request a template CSR policy for your company from the Information & Advisory Service.

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