PepsiCo, which has been calculating the carbon footprint of its Walkers Crisps potato chips in the UK since 2007, revealed some of the secrets behind its methodology in a recent article at MarketingMagazine.
Martyn Seal, Sustainability Director of PepsiCo Europe, said that the carbon footprint must include all steps of the supply chain to be effective.
PepsiCo Europe worked with the Carbon Trust to develop the carbon footprint of Walkers Crisps, which carry the Carbon Reduction Label. Since then, it also has put the label on 1 kilogram packages of Quaker Oats, as well as Oatso Simple Original and Oatso Simple Golden Syrup.
The first step is to develop a map showing the stages of the supply chain, from growing raw materials to making the product to getting it on the shelf and finally disposing of the packaging.
Second, evaluate the energy consumed at each stage and convert it into the amount of emissions associated with each stage, finally adding up all these elements to determine the carbon footprint of each unit sold.
In the case of Walkers Crisps, PepsiCo revealed that raw materials accounted for 53 percent of the emissions, followed by manufacturing (34 percent), distribution (10 percent) and disposal of used packaging (3 percent).
Seal said the most notable finding was that the majority of the emissions happen outside the scope of Pepsi’s operations, meaning that it must work with suppliers or raw materials and distribution partners to most effectively reduce the product’s carbon footprint.
In doing so, PepsiCo was able to reduce the carbon footprint of Walkers Crisps 7 percent from 2007 to 2009, saving about 4,800 tons of emissions. The company had originally hoped to cut the footprint by 3 percent.
A standard bag of Walkers Crisps has 80 grams of associated emissions, Seal said.
Seal “absolutely” encourages other firms to conduct carbon footprint analyses.
“By footprinting our products and better understanding where the ‘hot spots’ in our supply chain are, we’ve been able to develop a targeted carbon reduction strategy,” Seal said. “Our experience has proven that introducing the Carbon Reduction Label, and making a public commitment to reduce carbon emissions, is a powerful means of galvanising action throughout the business.”
In the UK, about 52 percent of those polled said they were more likely to buy a product carrying the Carbon Reduction Label, Seal added.