Global sustainability standard announced in Moscow

Bill Bruce10 Apr 2008 (Updated 1 Feb 2009)

Carbon Action Plan label detail
Carbon Action Plan label detail

A plan to provide beverage companies, and their suppliers, with a common worldwide scheme for carbon footprint measurement was launched at the InnoBev Congress in Moscow on 10 April

At the InnoBev Global Soft Drinks Congress in Moscow on 10 April, a groundbreaking new plan is being launched to provide beverage companies, and their suppliers, with a common worldwide scheme for carbon footprint measurement. It also enables audited results to be combined with other environmental information in a consumer friendly form on product labels, if desired.

This innovative approach has been developed as a joint venture between two world leading industry advisers – food and drink industry consultancy, Zenith International Ltd, and food safety and standards organisation, NSF International. They are working closely with Trucost Plc, an international environmental research provider recognised by Defra (the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

The Carbon Action Plan (CAP), unlike other schemes, will be global, will extend carbon footprints right up to the shop shelf and will cover a range of sustainability ratings. Zenith Chairman Richard Hall explained: "For the first time anywhere in the world, we have proposed five key genuine green rating scores to go beyond carbon footprints. These are:

• the amount of renewable energy used • the percentage of recycled material in the packaging • the number of water litres used to make 1 litre of product • the extent of a company's carbon reduction in the previous two years and • the amount of carbon emissions verified as having been offset.

The CAP label design is based on ideas used for nutrition labelling so that consumers will understand them more easily. "This is still work in progress and we would welcome ideas for further improvement, but we believe we have already gone further than any other scheme available so far," Richard Hall added.

NSF Vice President - International Operations Koen Bontinck continued: "The great advantage of our Carbon Action Plan is that it builds on the work that most companies are already doing. NSF’s prime role is to check methodologies of measurement and independently verify company returns and claims."

The first CAP pilot was undertaken by leading UK bottled water producer Highland Spring. "It has been an exciting challenge for us," remarked its Technical Manager Bryan McCluskey. "We are assessing the environmental impact of our suppliers, including all our fuel and energy use as well as distribution and waste. As a result, we can see our total direct and embedded Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and can break them down by type and size of bottle. The biggest benefit of the CAP scheme is that we can now identify GHG hot spots in our supply chain - by managing them, we will reduce our carbon footprint with certainty."

The Carbon Action Plan will first be implemented across the bottled water industry and pilots are in the process of being established with leading companies in each continent. Soft drinks will be the next priority and the scheme will then be rolled out to other food and drink sectors.

A new not for profit organisation, the Carbon Action Plan Partnership, is being set up to monitor and develop the scheme. Its Chief Executive is Ian Hall, former Chairman of the UK Natural Mineral Water Association.

"We are convinced this is the right direction for companies who are genuinely committed to taking corporate responsibility for the environment,” explained Ian Hall. "On such a vital issue, there should be no half measures. It is a demanding and ambitious plan, but we now have a proven scheme that delivers actionable results.

"Companies can not only measure their carbon footprint, but plan how to reduce it. Consumers will be able to see these results in the context of wider environmental measurements and, without doubt, this will influence their attitudes and shopping behaviour. Access to an effective environmental reporting scheme is essential if the beverage industry is to demonstrate to customers, employees, shareholders, governments and the media that it is meeting the challenge of global climate change. The CAP Partnership uniquely meets this global need.”