George Clooney and his empty coffee cup

by | Sep 29, 2022 | News

George Clooney’s latest appearance in Nespresso adverts is raising eyebrows due to the actor’s noticeably empty cup.

From an 1976 idea on a simpler way to make the perfect cup of coffee, Nespresso has become one of the world’s largest and most well-known coffee companies. The coffee capsule Nespresso’s main claim to fame is making espresso accessible to people who don’t want to buy an expensive espresso machines or don’t have time for the complicated and at times messy business of making the perfect shot.

The like-ability of George Clooney has also helped.

Clooney first became the face of the Nespresso brand in 2006, which was a considered a revolutionary move at the time, as back then celebrity endorsements were normally reserved for luxury products like perfumes or watches. The collaboration has since led to many ads.  Clooney, meanwhile has been a co-partner of, and shareholder, in Nespresso since 2013.

Nespresso is largely owned by Nestlé, the huge Swiss multinational food and drink processing conglomerate with over 8,000 brands and a deeply troubling track record regarding pollution, child labour, mislabelling and more.

However, the dark past of its parent company has not stopped Nespresso from putting a lot of energy into its own sustainability.

Back to Clooney’s empty coffee cup. The clue is that Nespresso’s latest campaign and Clooney’s 16th for the brand, is officially launching on October 1, which is International Coffee Day. The new ad is all part of the brand’s latest campaign to raise awareness of climate change’s impact on coffee production.

The new Empty Cup campaign features Clooney holding an empty coffee cup as a symbol of the risk facing many coffee growers around the world, of which over 140’000 work directly with Nespresso. Currently, 60 percent of wild coffee species are endangered and 50 percent of the land used to grow coffee today could be unviable by 2050.

Fine-grade Arabica is particularly vulnerable to weather shocks. Empowering farming communities to protect their land against weather shocks while simultaneously combatting the causes of climate change is critical to the future sustainability of high-grade coffee. Nespresso says it is doing this through regenerative agriculture: an approach that has the potential to not only reduce global agri-food emissions but to increase rural resilience against climate change impacts. In 2003 with support from the Rainforest Alliance, Nespresso launched the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program, aimed at helping coffee farmers build resilience.

“The threat of climate change is real and coffee farmers are on the front line. It’s vital that we empower these communities to build financial and environmental resilience, so that they not only survive but thrive and prosper”, says Clooney. “But this is about more than coffee. Climate change is not something that a single company or even an entire industry can fix. It requires urgent, bold action on a global scale. The stakes are high.”

“Having recently been globally certified as a B Corp certified company, Nespresso has showcased its commitment to long-term change and celebrating coffee as a force for good,” says Stefan Vermeulen, Nespresso New Zealand Managing Director. “New Zealand is undoubtedly a coffee-loving nation, and while The Empty Cup showcases just one example of what we stand to lose should we not take climate action seriously, there are far greater and more serious consequences for our future. At Nespressowe understand that we must act to protect coffee and coffee communities globally against climate change. This has been the basis of our approach for 20 years, and now we’re going even further.”



Some New Zealand sustainability initiatives include:

  • Nearly 1,000 capsule recycling points across New Zealand from florists to post shops, with 100% of customers having access to a capsule recycling solution thanks to Nespresso NZ Post Recycling Bag. For more information on coffee capsule recycling, head to Nespresso’s website.
  • Nespresso aluminium coffee capsules that are recycled with Nespresso are sent to a specialist recycling plant based in South Auckland. There, the aluminium is separated from the residual coffee. The coffee is sent to an industrial composting facility to be transformed into compost, while the aluminium is recycled and sent back to the aluminium industry to produce new aluminium products.
  • Coffee grounds are repurposed for use at local orchards and gardens, as well as in Garden to Table schools to empowering Kiwi kids to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal kai.


Guillaume Le Cunff, Nespresso CEO, says “Regenerative agriculture has the potential to make farming part of the solution to the climate crisis. It is an approach which doesn’t just take from the land, but actually heals nature and restores balance. Nespresso is pioneering this transition, but we need to do more. We’re calling on entities – both private and public – to take action that will make a tangible difference.”

Santiago Gowland, Rainforest Alliance CEO, says “Almost a quarter of emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land use. We urgently need swifter action to address climate change and changing the way we grow our food must play a big part. The good news is that transitioning to regenerative agriculture can reduce the impact of farming and sustain our global food system for future generations.”


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