Achieving carbon neutrality will soon become the new norm as companies commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. What’s involved in reaching that milestone within a narrower, more demanding timeframe is of considerable interest.
Food group Danone is ahead of most and announced on Wednesday that its facility in Wexford is the first baby-formula production site in the world to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust, an independent climate change and sustainability consultancy.
The French-owned multinational employs 350 people at the plant manufacturing baby formula including the Aptamil, Cow & Gate and Nutrilon brands for consumers in 41 countries.
The actions it took to achieve carbon neutrality include sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity and using a biomass boiler powered by sustainable wood fuels. This has cut CO2 by 10,000 tonnes since 2010, a 70 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint. Remaining direct carbon emissions are offset and certified.
All waste from production or packaging is recovered with nothing going to landfill. It uses digital technologies to enhance efficiencies and sustainability performance, notably becoming a paperless site and using drones to monitor inventory.
It also supports “regenerative agriculture practices” through Origin Green, Bord Bia’s sustainability programme.
The company has reached the peak of its full scope carbon emissions five years ahead of schedule while a €2 billion climate acceleration plan is due to transform its agriculture, energy and operations, packaging and digital capabilities between 2020 and 2022.
Danone is also seeking to reduce the climate impact of its other baby formula production site in Macroom, Co Cork, which relies on natural gas for energy needs.
And, since last year, it is showing a carbon-adjusted recurring earnings per share that takes into account the estimated financial cost of absolute greenhouse gas emissions on its entire value chain – regarded as a transparent indicator on the path to decarbonisation.