Talking Sustainability: Adam Handling and Nespresso

Words by Keven Amfo

09 October 2020


Sustainability-focussed chef and restaurateur Adam Handling discusses his alliance with Nespresso, detailing dual initiatives to eliminate waste and encourage conscious living.

Recent recipient of GQ's Restaurateur of the Year award for 2020, Adam Handling, has a long-established commitment to sustainability. It was only natural that he serve as an ambassador for Nespresso and support one of their premiere sustainability initiatives, that of the RE:CYCLE bike.

Created in collaboration with Swedish brand Vélosophy, the RE:CYCLE bike is made using recycled Nespresso capsules. We speak to Adam and Guillaume Chesneau, Managing Director at Nespresso UK, about each of their sustainability initiatives and how their unique alliance came to be.

How did Adam's role of ambassador and the creation of the RE:CYCLE bike come to be?

Adam Handling: Nespresso approached me as they wanted to talk to me about sustainability and my approach to it, and how my ethos is implemented across my group. They came in, and we had a big discussion about their coffee and my style of food. We were going through the tasting notes for some of their coffee, and the Peruvian blend stood out to me, which coincidentally happened to be their most sustainable coffee that was launching this year. That's how the ambassadorship came about, that particular coffee works so well with my style of cooking and my sustainable approach, so I'm their Peruvian ambassador.

Guillaume Chesneau: We met Vélosophy when they won Nespresso's Circular Economy Dragon's Den-style contest in the European Parliament, #Innov4CE, back in 2017. We were inspired – not only do they make stylish city bikes from recycled aluminium, but they were also the first bicycle company in the world with a one-for-one promise. For every bike they sell, they give another to a schoolgirl in Africa, helping her gain better access to education.

Together, we co-designed the limited edition RE:CYCLE bike – launched last year and returning in 2020 – which has been produced using recycled Nespresso capsules.

Vélosophy shares Nespresso's values of sustainability, innovation, quality and stylish design. By partnering with Vélosophy, we want to demonstrate the beautiful potential of recycling Nespresso's aluminium capsules. We hope this collaboration will inspire and delight coffee drinkers and cycling fans and encourage people to make recycling a part of their conscious living choices.

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Adam, you are committed to sustainability in all of your restaurants and are somewhat of a pioneer in this regard within the industry. How can other businesses – and individuals even – implement some of these strategies?

AH: At the heart of my operation is a commitment to eventually eliminate all food wastage by creating beautiful dishes from offcuts that are usually thrown away, and operating as far as possible a zero-waste policy, for example purchasing whole animals and using every part, never using unnecessary garnishes on cocktails or in dishes, using fruit and vegetable offcuts to produce purees and fermented ingredients.

Food suppliers have to deliver their goods to us in recyclable cardboard; it is a rule that nothing is delivered in plastic or polystyrene. The sustainability programme even covers decorative floral arrangements in our restaurants – no cut flowers are displayed, only living plants and herbs.

We teach a practical understanding of sustainability processes within our training and apprenticeship programmes. I believe that zero waste, food production and seasonality is essential knowledge for everyone working in the hospitality industry, and particularly amongst management and staff.

Choosing to eat at home more sustainably can be something that we can all introduce gradually. Unless you're entirely self-sufficient, it's pretty difficult to make radical changes about the way we buy and cook food, but there are some meaningful ways that we can make some shifts that are good for us and our environment.

This is our ethos when we're buying food for our restaurants, and also when I'm shopping for home:

Avoid 'value' meat or poultry products

There's a reason why these products are cheaper, and usually, it's because of the intensive way that the animals are reared – quite simply, they've not had a very good life.

Avoid processed foods and ready meals

They're full of additives and ingredients that you'd never include in your own recipes, so why should we be eating them at all?

Look for accredited suppliers

When you see the Red Tractor mark on British produce or the MCS logo on fish and seafood, you know that the producers are working to a decent standard of welfare and care for livestock, the land and the sea.

Buy locally

Support your local butcher, baker, greengrocer and fishmonger – now more than ever it's crucial to spend your money within your community, and helping to keep the independent businesses alive is vital to the survival of the high street.

Buy seasonally

From every perspective, it makes sense to buy foods from as close to their point of production as possible; they're going to be fresher. Still, it's also important to eat seasonally, when foods are at the peak of flavour and texture.

Nespresso has previously gotten flack for creating much waste. Was that part of the motivation in creating this bike?

GC: Nespresso is a sustainable coffee choice. We enable precision consumption: using our capsules makes sure that each cup of coffee only uses the exact amount of coffee and water required. This, in fact, minimises waste.

Also, we have the ability to recycle every Nespresso capsule. This partnership aims to demonstrate how recycling can have a positive, beautiful impact on the world. Nespresso capsules are fully recyclable; our UK recycling scheme began over ten years ago, and we have undertaken several ways to encourage people to recycle their aluminium coffee capsules. We hope this partnership inspires people to recycle even more.

Have you had any other ideas for unique, sustainably created products?

GC: Along with the Vélosophy RE:CYCLE, Nespresso has also partnered with Caran d'Ache to launch the 3rd limited edition version of the iconic 849 ballpoint pen, made with recycled coffee capsules. This is a nod to Nespresso's beloved Ispirazione Italiana Firenze Arpeggio coffee; both the RE:CYCLE bike and Caran d'Ache pens have been beautifully crafted with our coffee line's recognisable bright purple finish.

As I mentioned, both products have been created to inspire consumers to recycle their aluminium coffee capsules by showing how each simple act of sustainability can have a much more significant impact on the world at large.

What other ways can sustainability and functionality go hand-in-hand?

GC: At Nespresso, we believe that there are countless opportunities to craft functional products sustainably. We recently announced the launch of our first coffee capsules made using 80% recycled aluminium, as well as the development of new machine boxes in fully recyclable packaging made of 95% recycled material.

By the end of 2021, we aim to have our Original and Vertuo coffee capsule ranges made using recycled aluminium. We are continually looking for new ways to marry sustainability and functionality – and this is part of our global commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2022.

For more information on the RE:CYCLE bike, or to make a booking at one of Adam Handling's restaurants, please contact your lifestyle manager.

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