Interesting article on the front page of the Business section of today’s New York Times. Andrew Martin reports that PepsiCo is scheduled to announce carbon-footprint numbers for its Tropicana orange juice later today.
That’s big news because it signals that global corporations like PepsiCo are paying attention to things like GHG emissions and carbon footprint analyses –and that they’re now moving those findings off the pages of their CSR reports and out into the public eye.
Sound like just more greenwashing to you? At this point, I’m not willing to be so harsh. According to the article, the data about the carbon footprint will be posted on Tropicana’s website, but PepsiCo has not yet decided if it will add the information to the juice carton.
After all, there is widespread acknowledgment (in boardrooms and even to some extent in the general public) that we’re all still searching for standards regarding sustainability metrics. Then, even when we do agree on certain standards, companies often apply these indicators in different ways. With so many variables in the mix, it’s wise for businesses today to use carbon footprint analysis as a means to identify areas to reduce emissions, but not as a marketing tool.
That may change as practices become more unified, but for now I’ll agree with Nancy Hirshberg, vice president for natural resources at the yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, who was interviewed in the article. .
“I’m thrilled that people are thinking about their carbon footprint, but to put a number on a package is misleading at best,” she said.
I’ll also note that PepsiCo found that a large portion of the carbon footprint of Tropicana orange juice was embedded in its supply chain. For instance, about a third of the total was attributed to the production and application of fertilizer used in growing the oranges.
Curious about the final number? According to PepsiCo’s calculations, each half-gallon of orange juice emits the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. As a point of reference, consider that a car that gets 20 mpg emits about a 1.0 pound of CO2 for each mile driven.