As a team we’ve reflected on the recent COP26 summit, and feel disappointed, as I’m sure you are too, at the extent to which the commitments have fallen short of what is needed to put the climate fire out. For our industry in particular, we’re feeling incredibly frustrated at the lack of attention given to the food industry and the potential positive impact it can have in the fight against climate change.
Whilst we as a company can’t pretend to be experts in the field, we do know that we have the potential to use our business as a force for good. We therefore thought it a fitting time to talk about our recent move into the world of carbon neutrality.
The term ‘carbon neutral’ has become a lot more common in recent times, and not without its fair share of criticism as it’s no secret that going carbon neutral can be used by companies as a greenwashing veil and can result in business as usual, or even increases in emissions by buying more offsets.
When jumping on the carbon neutral train, it would be useful for companies to explain the reasoning behind their journey; including why they believe it’s worthwhile and fitting with the company's ethos, comparisons to the industry norm, and what they’re doing to further reduce their footprint. Being carbon neutral is by no means the end of the story, it should instead be viewed as the beginning of a process of continuous improvement. So here I am to do just that - to explain why we jumped on the train, and what our plans are to lower our carbon footprint. (I’ll try to keep it as fruity as possible - apologies it’s slightly dry).
A carbon footprint of a product (in our case, a jar or tub of honey) is the amount of carbon produced throughout its life cycle. To calculate ours, a ‘cradle to customer plus waste’ approach was used. Emissions from the following lifecycle stages were accounted for: extraction and pre-processing of the honey and packaging, production, supply chain of the product as well as any relevant disposal emissions for the honey and its packaging. All relevant greenhouse gasses were calculated, and where necessary and appropriate, carbon equivalents were calculated for improved comparability. Our footprint was then visually represented by a pie chart (which I’ve popped at the bottom of this post) with the following sections: packaging, raw materials, inbound logistics, electricity, outbound logistics, end of life, and general emissions so we can easily understand where the majority of our emissions lie, and therefore focus our attention there when creating a roadmap to reduce our emissions. (Technical part over)
We found it challenging deciding how best to offset our footprint, as we’d prefer to finance projects close to home, where we could experience the effects of our investment. However, as this wasn’t possible at the time of offsetting
For example, we’re working closely with Plantlife to increase the amount of pollinator habitat through the creation and maintenance of species rich grasslands. These habitats are efficient at locking carbon into the soil, and we were therefore hoping we could use this project as a way of offsetting our footprint. However as there’s still a lack of research into exactly how much carbon they sequester, it’s difficult to quantify how much land would be needed to offset. Whilst the research catches up, we’re offsetting via a forest protection project in Brazil - link to it here. We chose this project because of the variety of socio-economic benefits which align with our company, such as offering beekeeping training as a way of reducing hunger and supporting SDG2.
Another option we’re exploring which is closer to home, is the possibility of purchasing carbon credits from farms involved in the Mootral project. In a nutshell, dairy cows are fed a supplement based on a combination of garlic and citrus extract which significantly reduces their methane emissions. This generates carbon credits which can then be sold!! So fingers crossed we can get involved with that project as sustainable farming is something we’re passionate about here at BBH.
In the coming months we’ll be creating a roadmap to reduce our carbon footprint - so keep your eyes peeled as we’ll be sharing this soon.
For more information on our carbon footprint, here’s a link to our Climate Partner tracking ID.
Carbon footprint breakdown of a 227g jar of honey