Posted on September 13, 2019 by Sustainable Food News

Natural product industry climate action slumps in renewables, packaging

Number of companies quantifying emission cuts in Forests commitments falls to just 19%

The Climate Collaborative, the natural products industry’s initiative to mitigate the impacts of climate change, said Thursday in its second tracking progress report that fewer companies are implementing climate action in the commitment areas of renewable energy, packaging and transportation.

The Collaborative, a project of the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA) and OSC2, recruits companies to sign up for one or more of nine sustainability commitment areas: agricultureenergy efficiencyfood wasteforestspackagingpolicyrenewable energyshort-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), transportation.

Once a company registers its commitment, the Collaborative, working with NGOs, consultants and solution providers, direct companies – manufacturers, retailers, brokers, distributors, suppliers, etc. – to specific resources and identify actions they can take to implement their commitments.

To date, 435 companies have made 1,679 commitments such as integrating carbon farming into their supply chains, switching to renewable power, reducing the climate impacts of their packaging, removing deforestation from their supply chains, and engaging on climate policy, among others. CC said more commitments were made during August than in any other month since its launch in March 2017.

The second tracking progress report asked the 324 companies that made commitments before Dec. 31, 2018, where in the implementation process they are, whether they are quantifying emissions reductions, and for details on their progress. A total of 235 companies responded. See the results of the first tracking progress report.

Overall, 71 percent of responding companies are implementing climate commitments, compared to 66 percent in 2018, with the remaining companies either in active planning stages or still trying to determine how they will implement their commitments, CC said.

But just 45 percent are quantifying reductions in emissions as a result of their efforts, a 9 percent increase over last year. However, the number of companies quantifying emissions reductions in the Forests commitment actually fell from 30 percent to 19 percent.

Results from the nine sustainability commitment areas include:

Renewable Energy saw 69 percent of companies actively implementing the commitment, down from 75 percent in 2018. Plus, the number of companies quantifying progress fell from 70 percent last year – the highest level of measurement in 2018 – to 68 percent in 2019.

The number of companies implementing their Transportation commitments fell from 75 percent in 2018 to 65 percent this year. However, the number of companies quantifying emissions reductions through the Transportation commitment grew from 46 percent in 2018 to 62 percent in 2019.

The number of companies reporting implementing their Packaging commitment in 2019 fell to 71 percent from 75 percent in 2018. And, just 23 percent are quantifying emissions reductions – the same level as last year.

For the commitment area Agriculture, 62 companies, or 72 percent, have begun implementing the commitment on some level, and 47, or 55 percent, are making good or robust progress in implementation. However, just 27 companies, or 32 percent of respondents, are quantifying reductions, while 58 companies (68 percent), are not. The quantification tools companies report using for the Agriculture commitment area include Cool Farm Tool, Rodale’s Calculation, and General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Measurement Protocol.

Policy is the commitment area in which companies reported making the least progress, with just 60 percent having begun implementing the commitment, although that’s up from 51 percent in 2018. CC did not report numbers for quantifying emissions reductions through the Policy commitment.

The number of companies actively implementing their commitments in the Forests area, which asks companies to take steps to remove commodity-driven deforestation from its supply chain, is 69 percent, up from 63 percent in 2018. The number of companies quantifying emissions reductions in Forests fell from 30 percent in 2018 to 19 percent in 2019.

Food Waste is the commitment area in which responding companies are making the most progress, with 83 percent of these companies implementing the commitment, up from 74 percent in 2018. And 61 percent are quantifying reductions in emissions, up from 20 percent last year, which was the lowest of all nine commitment areas.

Companies are also making strong progress implementing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) commitments, with 81 percent implementing the commitment in any way, up from 50 percent in 2018, and just 38 percent are measuring progress, up from 36 percent last year.

On Energy Efficiency, 68 percent – same as last year – have begun implementing the commitment, and 59 percent are quantifying reductions, up from 43 percent in 2018.

New companies in the Collaborative include major retailers Thrive Market, Grove Collaborative, and Jimbo’s Naturally, and brands such as Barnana, a company upcycling bananas and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.

“At Thrive Market, our mission of democratizing access to healthy, natural and organic products drives every decision we make, and we know that scrutinizing every aspect of our supply chains is paramount,” said Jeremiah McElwee, Thrive Market’s senior vice president of merchandising and product development. “This means focusing on not only sustainably-minded packaging and regeneratively farmed ingredients but also the ethical treatment of workers and fair pay for all people along the way. We are inspired to partner with communities like the Climate Collaborative as we know the collective is far more powerful than the individual.”

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