US beverage association publishes beverage carbon footprints

The US Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) has finished research on the carbon footprints for 5 beverage categories – beer, bottled water, carbonated soft drink, spirits and wine, in Europe and North America.

The research is available on its website, together with boundary assumptions, emission calculation details, secondary data sources and impact analyses discussion.

The research is intended to identify those aspects of the beverage value chain that contribute significantly to the overall carbon footprint of a product and to evaluate the sensitivity of the carbon footprint to modifications in material or production practices such as packaging material selection, distribution logistics and recycling rates.

The carbon modelling and analysis contained within the reports is based, in large part, on data from BIER member companies through their independent business evaluations, such as life cycle assessments and greenhouse gas inventories.

“The category models being released today are a good example of how companies can work together to promote environmental sustainability,” said Robert ter Kuile, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, PepsiCo.

“This research will help PepsiCo, our fellow BIER member companies, our customers, and the broader beverage industry to identify new opportunities for sustainable business practices that conserve resources, reduce emissions and protect the environment.”

Japan-Indonesia peatland mapping system

A research project between Japan and Indonesia is working out how to estimate the size of carbon reservoirs in peat forests and monitor how carbon is moving, according to reports in the Jakarta Post.


The project is called “Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development” project.

It is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

The tropical peatland in Central Kalimantan has been recognized as one of the most significant carbon reservoirs in the world.

The system developed has been called an “Integrated Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system”.

Carbon Disclose Project report on 500 biggest companies

The Carbon Disclosure Project, a US non governmental organisation which gathers climate data, has released its annual report on the carbon emissions of the US’ 500 biggest companies, and the world’s biggest companies, based on data the companies have submitted themselves. The report was co-written by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Fewer than half of the global companies responding reported a decline in their emissions due to emission reduction activities (this distinction is made because emissions can decline for other reasons, such as reduced business activity overall).

The average of long term targets is about 1 per cent a year, which Price Waterhouse Coopers said is “drastically too low” when there have been estimates that society in general needs to reduce emissions by 4 per cent a year.

20 per cent of companies have adopted long term targets to 2020.

49% of companies stated that regulation is an important driver of corporate action.

“CEOs can’t make major investments decisions based on the grand statements made by governments in Rio and at climate summits. They need investment-grade policies,” said Jonathan Grant, director, sustainability and climate change at PwC.

“Governments have not translated their declarations in Durban into more ambitious legislation, or long-term emissions targets, at the national level. The low level of corporate ambition is probably a reflection of this.

“There is little sign of companies breaking the underlying link between economic output and emissions, but with many integrating climate change into their strategies, business will be in a better position to invest if policy issues are resolved.

There were 3382 company requests for information. CDP aims to get company investors behind it, so when it asks companies for information, it can say it is asking on behalf of investors.

The top ten US companies for carbon disclosure (which is not the same as the companies with the best carbon performance) are Pepco Holdings, NYSE Euronext, Wells Fargo, ACE, Eaton, Exelon, Autodesk, Bank of America, Lockheed Martin and Allstate.


North American supermarkets – measure carbon to reduce it

Sobeys supermarket of Nova Scotia, Canada, set a goal in 2008 to reduce its carbon footprint by 15 per cent and reduce the amount of waste in landfills by 30 per cent, in 5 years, which means by May 2013, according to a report in US publication Supermarket News.

It developed an online database tool which sent out carbon reports, initially every month but then changed to every year. The data was taken from electricity and gas bills.

After four years, it had reduced carbon footprint in stores by 9.4 per cent, in distribution centres by 22 per cent and on vehicles by 12 per cent.  The stores contribute 84 per cent of total emissions so there is still progress to be made.

The company is now fitting LED lights and glass doors on store units holding dairy products.

It found that 28 per cent of the carbon footprint comes from leaks of refrigerant, so this has been an area for targeting, moving to refrigeration systems which only use carbon dioxide as a refrigerant.

To improve vehicle emissions, it has reduced engine idling time, having vehicles sized to the volumes they need to carry, making vehicles more aerodynamic.

It uses heat from the refrigeration systems to heat water and air spaces. This provides 75 per cent of water heating in peak times.

To reduce landfill it has installed organic waste recycling units (composters) in 44 stores.

It is also charging 5 cents for a plastic bag to promote bag re-using.



Carbon Trust launches version 4.0 of “footprint expert”

UK carbon reduction consultancy the Carbon Trust has launched version 4.0 of its “Footprint Expert” software, which can be used by companies to calculate and report their carbon footprint, according to the internationally agreed standard PAS2050:2008.

Users can also compete their footprint assessment against the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol Product standard.

Users can gather their data once and the software can generate a report according to the requirements of both standards, so there is no duplication of workload.

PAS2050 is being developed by the British Standards Institution, whilst the GHG Protocol Product standard is based in the US.

The Sustainability Consortium, comprising 400 leading global retailers, manufacturers and consumer packaged goods companies, has voted to adopt the GHG Product standard.

You can use the software to produce reports with free text areas covering boundary setting, sources of uncertainty and reduction targets.

You can use the software as a basis for certification.

A 1-year licence for access to Footprint Expert costs from £1,500 plus VAT, with a renewal fee in subsequent years from £1,000 plus VAT.

2 day training courses are available.

Accountants need to work with others in carbon – Australian academics

Two Australian academics, Joanne Tingey-Holyoak (research associate) and Roger Burritt (professor of accounting), both of the University of South Australia Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS), have written an article on Australian discussion site “The Conversation” on involving accountants in carbon measurement.

They say that accountants need to collaborate with people from other disciplines, if they are going to be able to give clients what they are asking for, in the field of sustainability.
Accounting for carbon “requires thinking beyond discipline boundaries to incorporate elements of engineering, economics, law, and social and natural science,” they write.

Accountants also need “to create a new way of engaging with the broad issues facing business and society.”

“Accountants need to understand and engage with physical measures of carbon and carbon equivalent outputs from different processes that affect their clients – inputs to industrial processes such as furnaces, energy sources for driving production and service delivery, product based carbon footprints and carbon released when products reach the end of their lives.”

“Engineers have considerable expertise in this field.

“Accountants need to engage with and understand engineering metrics.”

“Similarly, economists have expertise in market pricing and in the provision of prices where markets do not exist.”

The writers interviewed 121 professional accounting firm managers in South Australia and they said they “perceive sustainability education as important when recruiting graduates for their intake,” they wrote.

“The [accounting] profession has to acknowledge the need for a wider skill set that incorporates understanding of the metrics of other disciplines,” they said.

“For example, water accounting – which manages both water shortages and pricing – requires engineering, science and other disciplines like meteorology, to develop sustainability measures.”

Oak Ridge Laboratory – understanding soil and climate change

Oak Ridge National Laboratory of Tennessee has developed a model to get a better measurement of how soil releases carbon dioxide, by tracking microbial processes in the ground.

The carbon cycle with soil starts with a decaying plant in the soil, or carbon rich materials from an animal.

The organic material is degraded by enzymatic reactions (decomposing). This releases carbon molecules which are absorbed by microbes for growth or metabolism, and eventually releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The carbon can end up being stored in the soil or released, depending on how fast the decomposition takes place.

Scientists think that if the temperature goes up, the ability of microbes to decompose carbon chains will change, and models need to reflect this.

It has also published a paper in Ecological Applications, the journal of the Ecological Society of America.

“Soil is a big reservoir of carbon,” says Melanie Mayes, co-author of the paper, who works at ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division.

“Most of the soil carbon cycling models in use today are so vastly simplified that they ignore the fact that decomposition is actually performed by microbes.”

The laboratory developed a model it calls “Microbial-Enzyme-mediated Decomposition” or MEND.

It measures how different types of carbon in soil react with extracellular enzymes excreted into the soil by microbes.

For the next six to eight months, ORNL’s team will run laboratory-scale experiments to ensure that the MEND model accurately represents the decomposition of carbon compounds in soils.

Eventually, team members hope to incorporate their model into the publicly available supercomputing program called the Community Land Model, a module used in the Community Earth System Model that helps researchers predict future climate change.

Highest and lowest carbon emissions in the UK by region

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has published CO2 emissions data for the entire country, divided into local authorities and regions.

For each of 406 local authority regions, you can see the emissions from “industry and commercial”, “domestic”, road transport” and “total”, for each year 2005 to 2010, and also the emissions per capita (per person). Units are in tons CO2 per person.

The 10 lowest carbon emission parts of the UK are:

Redbridge 4.1
Hackney 4.2
Lewisham 4.2
Harrow 4.3
Waltham Forest 4.4
Haringey 4.5
Gosport 4.5
Merton 4.5
Sutton 4.6
Castle Point 4.6

The 10 highest carbon emission parts of the UK are:

Cookstown 20.4
Falkirk 21.3
Rugby 24.0
Eden 25.4
High Peak 33.2
Rutland 35.6
Redcar and Cleveland 55.2
Neath Port Talbot 56.2
North Lincolnshire 62.9
City of London 157.6

The City of London is a bit of an anomaly because not many people live there!

Between 2008 and 2009 emissions decreased in nearly all regions, and since 2009, emissions have increased in nearly all regions – presumably due to economic conditions.

Data was gathered from electricity and gas bills, traffic data, and emissions data from large industrial sites.

Emissions from electricity generation was allocated according to where the electricity was consumed, not where it was generated (and CO2 emitted).

Aviation, shipping and military transport are not included, because there is no obvious region they should be allocated to.



Tanzanian costs of carbon measurement “very high” – article

An article in the Tanzania ‘daily news’ quotes an agricultural academic, Dr Eliakimu Zahabu of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), saying that the “costs of outsourcing carbon measurement and monitoring” for a carbon trading projects will be “very high”.

SUA has been helping people in Ethiopia to make money from carbon trading by not using their forests.

In order to earn carbon credits, a project has to determine the extent of ‘forest utilisation levels’ before the start of the project, and make sure that the forest utilisation is not transferred elsewhere (ie people actually stop chopping down trees, rather than just chopping down other trees instead).

Dr Zahabu said that carbon trading deals were “initially complicated for ordinary people to comprehend”.

Tanzania and Norway have made carbon trading deals with over $8m, under the “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” strategy.

The New Zealand beef industry has made a study of its carbon footprint.

“We see this study as making a valuable contribution to the global livestock production story and we will be contributing the results of this study to the FAO [food and agriculture organisation] work programme on environmental performance of livestock food chains,” says Ben O’Brien, General Manager Market Access, with Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Mr O’Brien said the New Zealand sheep and beef industry had made enormous progress in reducing its emissions during the last 20 years, mainly by producing more meat from less pasture.

“Compared to 1990, New Zealand sheep and beef farms now produce slightly more meat by weight, but from fewer animals,” he said.

Researchers estimate that this productivity improvement has reduced the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef and lamb by about 17% over that period, he said.

The study was funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Landcorp, and the Ministry for Primary Industries greenhouse gas footprinting strategy. Much of the data for analysis was supplied by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The study has created a benchmark for understanding where greenhouse gas emissions are occurring across the supply chain, including production, processing, transportation and consumption, he said.

“Differences in the footprint are largely related to the value of the types of cuts that are exported to different markets and the method of allocating emissions on an economic basis.

“The majority (over 90%) of emissions occur on the farm.”

O’Brien says the footprint varies depending on the type of farm ( 7.2 to 14.3 kg CO2e per kg live-weight), the sex and age of animals (7.3kg young bull to 16.0kg breeding cows), and whether or not calves from the dairy industry are used.

Overall the weighted New Zealand average GHG emissions from beef animals from sheep & beef farms2 was 10.5 kg CO2e per kg live-weight.

The emissions arising from transport to market are extremely low. Oceanic shipping is very efficient and this study shows it contributes just 1.1 – 2.7% of the total carbon footprint.

Dr Stewart Ledgard, the lead author of the report, said that until there was a globally-agreed methodology for ‘footprinting’, it was hard to assess how New Zealand’s footprint compares to others.

“We’re not aware of overseas studies with a comparable scope or level of detail in the methodology,” he said.