Our commitment to reducing our company’s environmental impact here at Stonyfield is embedded in our four-part company mission: Healthy Food, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Healthy Business. And with keeping the health of the planet that high on our company’s list of business priorities, we’ve been measuring our carbon footprint for years, but always through a 100% manual, labor intensive process that required a healthy dose of estimating. But now thanks to groundbreaking new software, Stonyfield is able to track and measure our actual amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions automatically with a real-time carbon footprint tool. This innovative tool touches all of Stonyfield’s MAP (Mission Action Program) teams by accurately measuring the climate impact of every single ingredient and material used in making our products.
What’s so important about measuring a carbon footprint in real-time? Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are produced throughout a product’s life cycle, from farm to spoon in the case of yogurt. Being able to measure actual GHG emissions–otherwise known as “carbon footprinting”–is a crucial step for a company like Stonyfield to be able to assess the impact of those emissions and then take action with specific efforts to reduce them. This new system of real-time, more accurate measurement of full life-cycle emissions will go a long way toward helping Stonyfield reach our 2012 carbon footprint reduction goals, and making progress toward our long-term goal of not only becoming 100% powered by renewable energy, but also reducing the footprint of our supply chain and operations as much as humanly (and bovine-ly) possible, as long as we exist. That’s a lofty goal – we’ll need powerful tools to get it done, and our new carbon tool can provide the insight into the hidden places where our carbon emissions can be reduced.
Sure, measuring the full life cycle of all Stonyfield products in real-time allows us to get a more accurate assessment of our carbon footprint, but it’s more significant than that. With the use of our new carbon footprint tool, Stonyfield is building a new model for greater transparency, growing consumer awareness and creating a corporate culture where innovation and sustainability are inextricably linked. We already believe that organic food is better for the environment and your health, but that’s not enough for Stonyfield – we are always pushing the envelope to offer products that are the absolute best choice for you, your family and the planet. To this point, companies measuring carbon footprints have typically reported a small amount of their actual GHG emissions, and have been unable to report the more challenging areas addressed in Stonyfield’s new software. Our carbon footprint tool allows us to be immediately aware of the climate impact of our products.
How does it work? The carbon footprint tool analyzes three areas of our greenhouse gas emissions: carbon emissions from fuel we use in our business operations and in the manufacturing of our yogurt; the energy we purchase, such as electricity used at the plant and in company offices; and the emissions from sources and processes the company doesn’t control but are related to the business, such as production of ingredients like organic milk and fruit. This last category is the most difficult to measure, and most companies don’t choose to hold themselves accountable for these kinds of emissions. The majority of Stonyfield’s carbon footprint is in our raw ingredients – most importantly our milk – which comprises about 50% of our products’ footprint.
The software is tied into Stonyfield’s production and inventory system, so as soon as materials like ingredients and packaging) are used to produce a batch of yogurt, the tool automatically attaches carbon footprints to each material. That means that we now have the ability to measure the footprint of an individual cup of Stonyfield organic yogurt! Following the footprint, stepping into the future Stonyfield’s environmental impacts stretch beyond GHG emissions. That’s why soon the tool will be able to start tracking our water footprint, or all of the water usage involved in making our products. Water is a vital resource to our business and to the planet, and being able to trace our water usage all the way back to the farm is another important piece of taking responsibility for a Healthy Planet. In countries like Europe, companies are even starting to put carbon footprints on their products so consumers can make better buying decisions when they compare what they want to buy.
Here in the United States carbon footprints aren’t part of most consumers’ decision making process yet, but we believe carbon footprinting is a crucial step for businesses taking control of their carbon emissions. While many companies are actively trying to measure their carbon footprint in order to see where emission reductions need to be addressed, there are still many which are not taking these important steps. As a consumer, you have the ability to tell the companies you support that you want them to do more to reduce their impact on the environment. You can also choose to support the companies which are already making strides towards lowering their carbon footprint. A great place to start is Climate Counts, a non-profit organization which scores companies based on their efforts to operate more sustainably and reduce their climate impact.
We’re working hard here at Stonyfield to reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment, but there are some things you can do in your personal life as well.
There are also tools that you can use to calculate your own personal carbon footprint, like this Household Calculator from our friends at Native Energy. Being able to see where your greenhouse gas emissions are coming from can help you work to reduce your own carbon footprint and your impact on the environment.
What are some things that you’re willing to do to reduce your personal carbon footprint?