Dear President Obama, President Hollande, President of COP21 Fabius, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Modi
Dear Heads of State, Ministers, Delegates, Representatives of NGOs
50’000 People, including you, are expected to participate in discussions at the COP21 in Paris to come up with “solutions” for the Environment. We sincerely all hope this will be a defining moment for our Planet.
As you and all have realized for a long time, many questions are constantly coming back when the word Environment is mentioned. “Can free enterprise make money while not creating damage to the Environment?”.
“Can countries – including emerging countries – develop their economies without also damaging the Environment?”.
Finally, “can People live and consume while reducing and possibly suppressing pollution, but still keep or grow their lifestyle?”.
In short “can we keep and live in a free enterprise driven society while being environmentally responsible?”.
As one of you famously said: “YES, WE CAN !”…
It is obvious to all of you and to all of us that the sole and only solution rests on technological innovation.
Within a very “minute” part of this issue affecting the whole world, our company has been successful at creating a sustainable tech-driven initiative in a specific business.
In short, our company manufactures and sells fully biodegradable espresso capsules (pods) which fit in the most widely used espresso preparation system for homes and offices.
We know that this example may seem “mundane”. However, as you all know, efficiently tackling the environmental challenge is not about taking one single measure but, more so, it is about the multiplication of efforts and successes in the widest areas encompassing our free economies.
However, our company’s specific example seems worth to spend a bit of time on it; because it is both duplicable and also, at the end of the day, not so difficult to realize and to implement on a much wider basis.
The example is extremely simple, hence worth reading. Our main competitor is using aluminum. We all know the huge negative impact related to mining, refining, and recycling (for the minor part that is effectively recycled).
On our side, our company, Ethical Coffee Company, has decided to go all the way into something which common wisdom said to be impossible and we succeeded. Again, it may sound quite mundane, but the underlining efforts and success in itself show that this success can be of major importance, if and when applied to many more industry sectors.
Against common technical wisdom, we succeeded in developing a fully biodegradable and fully bio-sourced espresso capsule. The world largest market capitalizations in this sector, such as Nestlé or Kraft, decided on their own that this was impossible and, consequently, did not succeed.
The technical challenge is not so big, but not so small. It is about developing a product that can withstand a high water pressure at high water temperature.
Again, this may sound terribly “mundane”, but as you all know, one of the major environmental issues our Planet is facing is the over-abundance of plastic or aluminum waste, on top of the generation of CO2 rendered necessary when using those types of material.
To illustrate the importance of this issue, over and above the known issues of the four “Continents of Plastic” circling our Oceans, let us take an example: if we account for aluminum made coffee capsules every year that goes by sees a quantity around the equivalent of 100 times or more of what would be needed to build the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Taking a step back, it is obvious to all of us that creating such an amount of pollution, just for “stupid” coffee capsules, is just something the World will have to do without.
Particularly, if those coffee capsules can simply be replaced by biodegradable and bio-sourced capsules rendering exactly the same type of service to the Consumer.
The point here is not coffee capsules, per say. It is about replacing polluting material by non-polluting material capable of rendering the very same service polluting material does render to the Consumer today.
I guess you will all agree that this is so simple that one can only wonder why it has not become the rule instead of remaining the exception.
To address this, we unfortunately have to address a few of the real issues which render the above “simple” example a real “political feat” to achieve.
In order to allow for non-polluting technologies to replace polluting technologies, one major subject has to be addressed.
“Dirty” energy is way too cheap.
It is obvious that this is one of the major subjects already written in your agenda.
It is a fact of life that the vast majority of industrial pollution is generated by old, established major Industries. It is also a fact of life that established industries are economically very powerful and have, over time, established a very strong lobbying network.
The top Management in charge of running those industries has, because of the various established remuneration systems, no real tangible incentives to do a real effort in order to change those industries into less or non-polluting industries. This would right away negatively affect their bonuses, stock option plans and other kinds of remuneration.
Consequently, the Governance of those industries is incentivized to fight against competition which, because of its non-polluting advantage, can be real threats to them and to their lifestyles. Here, it seems that clearly, newer, more modern regulations are needed. As mentioned, those industries have no incentive whatsoever to reduce their polluting emissions by themselves.
In short, there is a very pernicious, but much avoided subject. It is about creating the proper framework for businesses, such as what is described above to flourish and expand.
In our case, the major roadblock to our success was not technology per say. I will be direct, it was about a disproportionate amount of various “war dirty tricks” that the dominant actor in this field – Nestlé, the world largest market capitalization in the Food & Beverage sector – did put across our way.
It took our company around four years to overcome the various “very dirty tricks” Nestlé had used as landmines to try to simply kill our company.
We finally somehow won in front of the French Antitrust Authorities (ADLC).
The Ruling that came out, even though allowing our company to survive and restart expansion, is still a Ruling which clearly does not apply the appropriate “tough” conditions. In short, Nestlé got out in a very “easy and comfortable way”. On our side, we had to adapt. The only positive part of the Ruling is that Nestlé is slowed down in its capacity to lay landmines around. In short, a major issue to be addressed is clearly the power of industry’s lobbies.
Yes, it is a challenge. Established industry employs people. This is clear. However, when such lobbies can get to the point of almost succeeding in killing a non-polluting innovation, the game becomes “stupid” for our economies. Taking into account the creation of new employment in a market that would really be open to fair competition and not bending to the pressure of lobbies, employment can be developed further while not generating pollution.
I am not here to get you to shed a tear on us. The right direction is to allow our free economies to develop, this in a less and less polluting manner.
We all talk about energy sources. It is clearly a key point of the whole game.
However, only addressing this point will not do everything. A much tighter monitoring of Anti-competitive activities by market incumbents, is mandatory.
You all know that money-making established industries talk about pollution, but do not act on it, and even go against it when we look at the huge spending means they use on trying to choke competition.
Replacing polluting material by biodegradable material is the only way to go in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector, itself a major polluter because of the way packaging is currently handled.
Therefore, to prove that clean businesses can also create jobs, we have decided to offer each one of you the job of “Marketing Ambassador” in our Company. We know you are all qualified to work with us thanks to your understanding of these issues.
Certain that you all want to change, among other subjects, this one too, we do hope and are certain that you will show the way in this very symbolic manner by becoming Ambassadors of our Company. Our Company is small, mostly for the Anti-competitive weapons deployed by our major competitor, but its future is bright and clean.
We are hereby asking you, dear Presidents and Heads of State, to show to the World your commitment to Environment by joining us as and individually prove to everyone that IT IS POSSIBLE TO COMBINE ECONOMY AND ECOLOGY.
If the environment concerns everyone, that means everyone should be able to participate in any project or activity that could help us go in the right direction. Therefore, we are also offering this position to anyone who wants to dedicate him/herself to pushing for a cleaner environment.
Here is the link to our website where you will be able to register as a future Marketing Ambassador: www.ethicalcoffeecompany.com
By doing this, you will be part of the transformation of “talk into action”.
We do believe that you, who are in charge of our future, will get on board with this symbolic gesture.
What we hope for is that, in the future, polluting materials are eliminated, both through taxation and – most importantly – through the creation of a Collective Conscience about Our responsibility towards the current and future generations.
We hope that this first gesture, which is both concrete and bringing a clear and immediate effect, will be met with real action. Hence, being the first step in a free economy context of what should be our World in the future.
We are looking forward to welcoming you in our Company and getting your inputs on how to create a better future for all of us.
Let’s sign our contract over “CO2-neutral” coffee…
Chairman and CEO
Ethical Coffee Company