At the Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement conference in New York today The Carbon Trust, a UK non-profit tasked with reducing carbon emissions, presented alongside PepsiCo International. The two have worked together to calculate the carbon footprint of dozens of Pepsico products.
Pepsico got involved in footprinting its products in the U.K. in respose to rising consumer and business interest in the subject. Not only were consumers becoming “obsessed” with the idea, according to David Walker, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Pepsico, but Tesco, a crucial retail customer, was taking it very seriously as well.
Walker and Scott Kaufman of The Carbon Trust presented a case study of their work on Walker’s Crisps (potato chips). Walker emphasized the unintended communications complications that can arise from such a process. They found 80 grams of embedded carbon, for example, in a 34.5 gram bag of Walker’s Crisps. How do you explain that to consumers, Walker mused.
Because my post on the cost of carbon footprinting has been so popular with my readers, I took the opportunity to ask Walker about their costs of calculating carbon footprints. He cited a license fee that The Carbon Trust charges, which covers the costs to certify the footprint and confers the right to use the Carbon Trust logo. That fee, he said, ranges from $10,000 to $30,000.
Beyond that, the process of calculating the footprint is fairly labor intensive. Walker said it took about 150 person-hours to do a footprint analysis, simply too costly to do for all of Pepsico’s 6000 SKUs (products). This is a challenge that will affect any large consumer package good (CPG) manufacturer with a diverse product line. Both companies are seeking a more efficient and scalable process than the one they have now, which relies largely on spreadsheet models.
In recent months, probably a dozen of vendors, both ERP software companies as well as pure-play carbon footprinting software vendors, have stepped up to offer solutions to this problem, but there is a dearth of practical experience so far to attest to the value of those solutions.
If you have any case studies to share or other comments, please feel free.