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Pathway to success

Bord Bia’s ‘Pathways to Net Zero’ makes carbon emissions reporting mandatory for Origin Green members

Origin Green, Ireland’s national food and drink sustainability programme, recently published new procedures and guidelines that put carbon emission targets on a mandatory footing for food and drink manufacturers as the sector seeks to accelerate its contribution to the Programme for Government’s aim of carbon neutrality by 2050. 

This marks a significant shift for the Origin Green programme and will see member companies go beyond reductions of energy-related emissions, to include a more comprehensive assessment of their entire carbon footprint, including value chain emissions which incorporates all indirect emissions (scope 3) associated with food manufacturing such as freight and travel.

Martin Hofler, Sustainability Partnership Manager at Bord Bia, explains the importance of addressing indirect emissions. “Traditionally, when we think about emissions from companies, we think of energy emissions, their use of oil, gas and other fossil fuels. However, we are seeing across the food and drink sector that a significant portion of their emissions can come from their supply chain: purchased goods and services, waste disposal, use of sold products, and transportation and distribution.

Article appeared in issue 3, 2021

“There are also emissions associated with the raw materials that companies source from their supply chain, such as their food and drink ingredients. They all have an embedded carbon footprint that we are asking companies to measure and address.

“When we look at scope 3 emissions around raw material sourcing, there is a desire for the purchasers to look at how they can engage with their supplier base to help them to make reductions, whether it is through knowledge transfer programmes or co-investing in better technologies within their supply chain. We have a number of Origin Green companies that have supported carbon neutrality projects overseas, as well as supporting global suppliers to reduce emissions.”

In order to drive impact at a large scale, Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) is initially introducing this mandatory carbon emission target to Origin Green members with a turnover greater than €50m. Companies must conduct baseline assessments this year to determine emissions targets from 2022 onwards. These plans will be reviewed, monitored annually, and independently verified by international specialists Mabbett.  

According to Bord Bia, the interest among companies has been very high, and close to 150 food and drink companies attended the ‘Pathways to Net Zero’ launch. To support this new development, Bord Bia has prepared comprehensive guidelines for companies on how to decarbonise their operations and their supply chains. The advice on net zero target setting and implementation is based on the United Nation’s ‘Measure, Reduce, Compensate’ model. This model encourages everyone in society to take action to help achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

The ‘Pathways to Net Zero’ builds on several Origin Green initiatives already in place, such as the Origin Green Sustainability Charter which members sign up to requiring them to set and deliver on clear sustainability targets as part of their five-year sustainability plans with a specific focus on raw material sourcing, manufacturing process and social sustainability. These plans are also monitored annually and independently verified by Mabbett.

Speaking about the ‘Pathways to Net Zero’, Origin Green Director, Deirdre Ryan said: “Accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon economy by 2050 is required to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Business leaders are now shifting their focus from what is achievable to what needs to be done, and there has been increasing interest among Origin Green companies wishing to reduce emissions within their own operations and also along their supply chain. In developing the ‘Pathways to Net Zero’ framework, which sits alongside other key independently audited initiatives, we are providing Irish food, drink and horticulture businesses with the practical know-how to not only set ambitious carbon reduction targets, but more importantly, to make the changes necessary to achieve them.”

Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia CEO, added: “Our €13bn food and drink export industry has established a hard earned, global reputation as a leading producer of high-quality sustainable food and drink. Maintaining this reputation, which must continue to be evidence-based, is more important than ever in the face of continued global trading volatility. But, not at any cost. We acknowledge that Ireland’s agri-food sector needs to do more, and faster. Origin Green has, and will, continue to deliver impact by providing a co-ordinated national approach to reducing emissions across the supply chain as a part of the Irish Government’s wider Climate Action response.”

 

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard provides requirements and guidance for companies and other organisations preparing a corporate-level GHG emissions inventory. Initially published in 2001 by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), this standard is widely accepted by businesses as the international norm.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol carefully defines emissions according to three scopes:

Scope 1: Accounts for the Direct GHG emissions that occur from sources that are owned or controlled by the company, for example, burning of fossil fuels (natural gas, kerosene, heavy fuel oil) in company-owned or controlled vehicles and boilers, leakage of refrigerants and so on.

Scope 2: Accounts for the Indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased energy consumed by the company, for example, grid electricity, acquired steam, heat and cooling.

Scope 3: Optional ‘catchall’ reporting category that allows for the treatment of all other indirect emissions, for example, business travel and freighting goods.