Maisie Greenawalt went to a conference on Carbon Footprinting & the Supply Chain. Whoopdeedoo!
Wot's the big deal? She took notes!
As VP of Bon AppÃ©tit (same folks who footprinted their cafeteria food), Greenawalt doesn't necessarily like conferences, yet this one was special. It came with 2 days in NYC, and attracted an intriguing mix of industry reps...from ConAgra to the World Bank, Nike to the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture.
Says Greenawalt, "overall, cows took a beating, packaging was shown to be somewhat of a red herring and I was impressed by the level of knowledge held by major manufacturers."
Here are some of the tidbits Greenawalt felt were worth writing down:
- Cadbury carbon footprinted their Diary Milk bar - 70% of the emissions are from the cows, and packaging accounts for only 1% of emissions
- Coke's largest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions comes from vending machines and coolers - not ingredients, transportation or packaging
- SmithKlineGlaxo says the biggest contributor of CO2e in their beverage products is sugar
- Starbucks store operations account for 81% of their footprint, packaging is less than 5%
- According to Nike, the "use phase" of running shorts has the biggest energy impacts - that means washing them over and over again takes more energy then creating them; next biggest impact is materials.
BTW, Greenawalt reports that "to carbon footprint one SKU, it took Proctor & Gamble 60 individuals, 16 departments, and over 600 hours internally not counting the work put in by their suppliers."
Still, says Greenawalt, "everyone seemed to agree that even good LCA has a margin of error of about 15%". Plus, LCA is best used to "measure potential improvements in the life cycle of a single product, not to compare two products in the same category to each other."
Says Greenawalt, "Oh yeah, and watch out, "waterprinting" is on the horizon", noting that "the CEO of Nestle was quoted as saying that any project that reduces water use should be undertaken regardless of ROI."
Oh, and, if you're having a hard time believing industry's "green" claims, checkout Futerra's Greenwash Guide.