As we make foods with a lower carbon footprint, it is important to us to measure our impact on the climate and the environment. We work with third parties to conduct detailed life cycle assessment (LCA) analyses, tracking every impact our foods have – from plant, to oil, to tub, to spread. These analyses look at ingredients, manufacture, transport and much more.
Environmental Impacts of Our Plant-Based Products
We worked with Quantis, an International Sustainability Consultancy specialising in Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs). They have conducted a range of LCAs for our products including Flora, Country Crock, Rama, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
We didn’t just do assessments for one or two products. In 2018, Quantis completed a large scale LCA covering 212 of our plant-based margarines and spreads sold in 21 different European and North American markets. We also use LCAs on an ongoing basis to help inform the development of recipes, packaging choices and product innovation.
From the research we know that the biggest impact in our own footprint comes from growing crops, which accounts for over 75% of our total carbon footprint. That is why we take action to ensure responsible and sustainable sourcing of our natural ingredients. See here for more details. We’re also tracking our other impacts including packaging. See here for our policy on packaging solutions.
Comparing Key Environmental Performance Indicators
Beyond our own footprint we also want to help people to embrace more sustainable food choices. One of the most important ways we can do that is by sharing what we are learning about the environmental impacts of different foods.
When Quantis completed their assessment they also analysed the impact of dairy butters across the same countries so that we can compare the impact of our products with dairy counterparts. We have learnt that across Europe and North America, our plant-based margarines and spreads have on average a 70% lower climate impact, occupy two-thirds less land and use less than half the water when compared with the same amount of dairy butter.
Compared with 1kg of dairy butter, the same amount of our plant-based margarines and spreads are responsible for 9kg less carbon dioxide equivalents or greenhouse gases, occupy 8m2 less land per year, and use 100 litres less water.
Background on the Study
An LCA is a systematic evaluation of environmental impacts resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, use of water, energy and land. It calculates the environmental impacts over the life cycle of a product, from raw materials to the product’s end-of-life.
Quantis follows a recognised methodology for their LCA’s that conforms to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards for public disclosure of results. The LCA Study was peer reviewed by an independent panel of three experts in topics such as LCA, agronomy and dairy production and has been published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.
A technical summary of the Study including details of the basis of our comparative claims can be found at this link.
People generally tend to underestimate the carbon impact of the foods they we eat. So we believe that informing and inspiring them people to choose foods that are not only healthier, but more sustainable, is a crucial step in the transition towards a more sustainable low-carbon food system. We should all be empowered to know the impact of the foods we choose to eat.
We have committed to introduce carbon labelling to 100 million packs of our plant-based spreads, margarines, plant-based butters, and plant-based creams by the end of 2021. The goal is to help consumers make informed decisions about the environmental impact of the foods they choose. We have already started rolling out carbon labelling on several of our packs.
Read more about our Carbon labelling policy here.