Bill Barrett’s career has demonstrated his understanding of global issues and personal mission to address tropical and temperate deforestation through certified fairtrade and organic coffee and co-operative structures. In 1997, in partnership a coffee roaster, Planet Bean was purchased and established. Planet Bean is owned and operated by Sumac Community Worker Co-operative. Due to Planet Bean’s ecological sensitivity, Barrett has always wanted to tackle the unavoidable waste that take-out cups produce – as they are the single largest contribution to the non-recyclable waste stream. Planet Bean consistently looks at social, economic, and environmental justice issues and transfers them into practice by doing something that is not just reactive but transformational.
Barrett wanted to create a system with similarities to the bottle return program at beer stores. With the help of another IG client, Fill it Forward (the designers of reusable cups), he is developing a “Re-Cup” program for Planet Bean. Fill it Forward is working with a Canadian manufacturer and the project team is working with a designer to include images of outdoor public art in Guelph. As a business model, Re-Cup has a lot of potential to expand across Guelph and even southern Ontario and Bill would love to see other cafes join in eliminating disposable coffee cup waste.
Another initiative Planet Bean is pursuing is Sisters’ Story Coffee that is sold online with 15 per cent of sales going to a local Canadian women’s shelter or sexual assault centre that can be selected by the purchaser upon checkout. The Sisters’ Story coffee is organic, certified fairtrade and sourced from an Indigenous women farmers co-operative in northern Peru.
For Barrett, circularity means system efficiencies with the least amount of waste and the most sustainable practices. Barrett shares the example of giving the coffee grinds they produce to farmers who use them to fertilize crops. He also highlights the importance of the environmental benefits of circularity and the sociological and economic impacts that should be considered. Barrett says he believes that the most efficient circular models are the ones that consider gender, race, wages, working conditions, and other social and economic factors.
A previous version of this story is posted here: https://foodfuture.ca/business_workstream/post/circular-business-highlight-week-planet-bean