Exclusive: Stonyfield Farm Footprints 150 Products, Across Entire Lifecycle
The organic yogurt maker tells Environmental Leader it has completed implementation of a “real time” proprietary software tool, developed by Danone and SAP. The system, which has been validated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, covers all of Stonyfield’s suppliers and every stage of product life from farm to spoon. This includes raw material production, manufacture, transportation of raw materials and finished products, storage by retailers and consumers, packaging and end-of-life disposal.
Danone has said that by the end of the year, the tool will be present in 40 of its business units, covering about 70 percent of its revenues and over 35,000 products. Through using the system, Danone says is on track to meet a goal of a 30 percent emissions reduction from 2008 to 2012.
So far Stonyfield Farm’s results show emissions breaking down as follows:
- 52 percent from milk production
- 3 percent from non-milk ingredients
- 13 percent from manufacturing
- 10 percent from packaging
- 8 percent from distributing products
- 6 percent from transporting ingredients and packaging
- 7 percent from refrigeration in stores and homes
- 2 percent from disposal
Under the system, products get footprinted daily. When a production order is issued using Stonyfield’s installation of SAP enterprise resource management software, the carbon tool gets flagged and starts calculating the carbon emissions of the requested product. “We might be the only company in the US that actually does this,” the Stonyfield’s “carbon master,” Mary Fischer, says.
Suppliers don’t have direct access to the tool – instead, if the company changes suppliers, Fischer alters inputs to reflect new farm-to-factory mileage or other changes. A handful of people feed into the tool on a regular basis from every department, including procurement, logistics and utilities. As well as expanding carbon tracking across the product lifecycle, the SAP system also streamlines a process that used to be based on unwieldy spreadsheets, according to vice president of sustainability innovation Wood Turner.
And Danone is already working to expand the tracking tool into water footprinting. The parent company has completed a farm-based water study and is working with lifecycle consultants Quantis to validate water usage factors. It hopes to have that part of the tool ready next year.
Turner says that as currently used, the tool supports Stonyfield’s decision to move its environmental focus from energy to GHG emissions, and to make that a key performance indicator, tracked monthly. The company says it’s not ready to report individual footprinting results, and doesn’t yet publish total GHG metrics separate from the Danone Group, but Turner says Stonyfield has seen a “very positive trend” against its greenhouse KPIs this year. The subsidiary has a goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy, and offsets all the CO2 emissions generated by its facilities’ energy use. Its past environmental achievements include an 11 percent drop in facility energy and GHGs from 2007 to 2010, saving $2 million; a 46 percent reduction in transportation GHGs from 2006 to 2010, saving $7.6 million; and a 39 percent cut in solid waste from 2007 to 2010, saving $450,000.
Stonyfield has about 470 employees and made $360 million in sales last financial year.
Fischer says the tool gives the company more insight into manufacturing losses, which were previously measured only as a dollar cost. Some items’ losses might have a higher carbon footprint, even if those losses aren’t higher in dollars, she says.
But the company hasn’t decided whether it will communicate carbon footprints on product labels. “What doesn’t happen so much is consumers calling our business to say, ‘Can you tell us the GHG emissions of this cup of yogurt versus that cup of yogurt?,’” Turner says. “We’d like to see customers really care about the GHG emissions of the products they buy and push Stonyfield and companies we compete with to look at these issues very carefully.”
Picture credit: Stonyfield Farms
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