4C in a nutshell
Credible certification for sustainable and climate friendly coffee supply chains
4C stands for “Common Code for the Coffee Community” and global leading certification scheme for the sustainable cultivation and processing of coffee. Over 10% of the global coffee area is 4C certified. 4C is currently active in 20 countries, where over 300,000 coffee farmers produce 1.6 million tons of 4C certified coffee on nearly 1 million ha of land. The 4C standard is inclusive and aims to reach even the smallest farms: four out of five producers are smallholders.
The 4C standard ensures that coffee cultivation is not contributing to the cutting of primary forest or reduction of biodiversity, that good agricultural practices and the protection of soil, water and air is applied, that human, labour and land rights are respected and that farmers are sufficiently trained to increase productivity and profitability.
As an independent and stakeholder-driven standard for the entire coffee sector, 4C aims at strengthening the production of environmentally friendly, socially fair, and economically viable coffee worldwide.4C is a credible and robust system, applying innovative audit and risk assessment procedures, and is strengthened by a comprehensive integrity program. 4C brings real impact on the ground, enabling continuous improvement and enhancing smallholder livelihoods, and supports companies in achieving and keeping their sustainability commitments.
4C Code of Conduct – at the core of the system
4C certified coffee is one that has been produced in accordance with the 4C Code of Conduct, which was developed in a comprehensive and transparent multi-stakeholder process involving coffee producers, trade and industry, as well as various civil society organizations from around the world. The 4C Code of Conduct lays out 4C sustainability principles and criteria across three dimensions of sustainability.
- Business Management
- Capacity and Skill Development
- Access to Services and Market Information
- Human and Labour Rights
- Working conditions
- «4C Add-on: Food Security»
- «4C Add-on: Gender Equality» (in progress)
- Protection of Biodiversity and High Carbon Stock Areas
- Use of Pesticides and Other Hazardous Chemicals
- Soil Conservation and Fertility
- Water Conservation
- Waste Management
- Energy Consumption
- «4C Add-on: 4C Climate Friendly»
Why use 4C?
All-in-one: 4C represents sustainability, innovation, and reliability
It is a trustworthy and secure system, relying on modern technologies and profound training to monitor the compliance and continuous improvement of participating farmers and partners along the supply chain.
4C for producers
- 4C enables socially and environmentally beneficial farming with good agricultural and management practices
- Improvement plans ensure increasing performance across sustainability dimensions
- Inclusive approach: Four out of five 4C coffee producers are smallholders
- Increased productivity and profitability through capacity building measures
- Integrated smallholder solutions to achieve real impact on the ground
- Improved access to information and new international coffee markets
- General professionalization of coffee production, in particular for small and medium-sized producers
- Contribution to better working and living conditions
- Pursuing access to markets and better income with certified coffee
4C for traders, brand owners and roasters
- Strict sustainability criteria and 4C Chain of Custody certification for intermediary and final buyers for increased credibility
- Independent recognized third-party certification (ISO 17065 and ISEAL Assurance Guidance, ITC, SAI Silver Level Compliance, actively contributing to the majority of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
- 4C is a toolbox for companies to assess and address risks in their supply chains and meet the increasing due diligence requirements
- 4C capacity building measures ensure professionalism, impartiality, and reliability
- 4C Integrity program ensures integrity and trustworthiness of the system
- Latest remote sensing technologies and databases are used to strengthen forest and biodiversity preservation
- Curbing carbon footprint via measurement of carbon emissions, their reduction as well as in- and offsetting
- 4C is a guarantee for your commitment to sustainable sourcing and traceable supply chains
- 4C logo increases visibility and supports claims to the final customer
To download the latest 4C brochure, please click here
What do system users say about 4C?
4C certification has been playing a major role in our Responsibly Sourced coffee journey, with its inclusive and farm-group-based sustainability approach enabling a scale that benefits a large number of farmers and suits well the size and breadth of our business.
Marcelo Burity, Head of Green Coffee Development, Nestlé (UK)
We have achieved greater credibility in both foreign and domestic markets, and we pay good prices for the producer’s coffee through market liquidity, which is often guaranteed through 4C certification.
Gabriel Miari, Coordinator Trader and Thamiris Bandoni Pereira – Responsible for Certifications, COCATREL (Brazil)
4C Services, its standard, and particularly its engagement for sustainable structures and processes on the ground is a relevant factor for Melitta as well as for the coffee sector as a whole
Stefan Dierks, Director Sustainability Strategy, Melitta Group Management GmbH & Co. KG (Germany)
Farmers have successfully applied good agricultural practices on their coffee farms and already experience multiple advantages of sustainable farming
Sustainable Team, SIMEXCO DAK LAK LTD (Vietnam)
Practical solutions are needed on the pathway to SDG 2 “Zero Hunger“. 4C in combination with the Food Security Standard (FSS) offers a practice-proven approach to identify the causes of food insecurity and to implement targeted measures
Dr. Rafaël Schneider, Deputy Director Policy and External Relations and Coordinator Food Security Standard (FSS), Welthungerhilfe
4C program has established sustainable, trustworthy, and fair coffee supply chains by applying strict criteria to economic, social, and environmental conditions for the production and processing of coffee.
Hideki Takeuchi, Corporate Executive Deputy President, Ajinomoto AGF, Inc. (Japan)
To see more statements, please follow the link.
4C is carrying out sustainability projects to achieve an additional impact on the environment and producer livelihoods.
Our signature projects include:
- Improving working and living conditions for coffee smallholders in Colombia
- Measuring, reducing, and in-/offsetting coffee CO2 footprint
- Improving Biodiversity in Coffee Landscapes in Vietnam
- Using digital technologies to ensure deforestation free supply chains
Further projects in the pipeline:
- Empowering women in coffee
- Enhancing soil health on coffee plantations
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