NIO Cocktails has decided to offset its emissions by supporting the Kariba REDD+ Project
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Nio cocktails – How to offset carbon emissions in the real world, examples from the beverage sector

What expedients are beverage companies implementing to offset emissions and how collaboration with dedicated companies leads to achieving neutrality

Carbon emission issues within food and beverage industry

Attention to carbon emissions is growing. The food and beverage industry, riddled with companies that are unethical in their work and relationship with raw materials, is among those causing the problems when it comes to emissions. Research done by Oxfam in circa 2014 and reported by Wired, report that the ten most influential brands in the food and beverage market (Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Pepsico and Unilever), emit an average of 460 million tons of CO2 each year.

No consumer is used to knowing the amount of carbon dioxide produced to manufacture, package and receive a product from the food or beverage sector. In recent years there have rarely been any indications or labels on the packaging of foodstuffs that show this data. Several brands, even established in the sectors mentioned, do not seem to have started initiatives capable of repairing this damage. On the other hand, companies are noticing a certain customer need and demand for greater attention to environmental issues; it therefore seems imperative to initiate a change in corporate sustainability.

For this reason, a series of companies have been created with the aim of helping, in the various sectors, the brands that want to try to reduce their carbon emissions. In this article we will analyze two different services related to the achievement of carbon neutrality of two beverage brands: Up2You, which is part of the neutralization process of Bio Cocktails, and Climate Neutral for Fetzer. In both cases, it will be a matter of analyzing not only the impact of sourcing raw materials, production and food manufacturing, but also the company as a producer through office work and its employees of carbon dioxide. 

Nio cocktails – Beverage brand’s perspective

One of the companies examined is Nio cocktails, a business created to allow people to drink pre-packaged cocktails of a certain quality. These are ready to drink at home or wherever the customer wants, without owning bottles of different spirits. There is no need for an experienced bartender to prepare the drink for you, explains the founder of the company, Luca Quagliano. Fetzer, on the other hand, is a more mature company that was founded in 1968 with the goal of creating and selling sustainable wine through a series of charitable initiatives and certifications such as B-corp.

In both cases, before arriving at carbon neutrality for the former and carbon positivity for the latter, companies made efforts on various fronts during and after production to create as little harm as possible to the environment. The examples made by Nio cocktail are relative to a short, medium and long-term plan regarding the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, followed by work on packaging to make it as harmless as possible. In particular, they are working on a packaging that is a mix of paper and plastic. The paper is FSC and recyclable whilst the fifty percent of the plastic is bio-based and the other fifty percent is from general plastic, making this material completely recyclable.

The Fetzer company focuses also on people, employees, offering scholarships, health fairs, volunteer opportunities, loan-facilitation and financial literacy programs; everything included in a diverse and inclusive environment. The company has also aimed to reduce water waste by up to twenty-five percent, through cloud computing that monitors. By using digital sensors, the humidity levels of the grapes and soil indicate the right amount of water which the vineyards require. Fetzer is also working on reducing the waste from its production, going so far as to recycle up to ninety-seven percent of that and certifying itself as zero waste.

Achieving carbon neutrality or positivity

Two different approaches are considered. Up2You offers a service of neutralization of emissions starting from the calculation of these and offering a platform that allows companies to independently activate the compensation plan they choose. Climate neutral follows a process that aims to issue a certification to the company. It specifies that in the first step of measurement, there are different levels which tend to add to direct emissions, such as gas you use to heat your office, and indirect emissions, such as extracting raw materials.

The second step for them is to purchase carbon credits to remove them from the atmosphere: one carbon credit removes or avoids one ton of carbon emissions. An additional proposed step is to reduce sufficiently to align with the 2030 goals. «Every production and sideline activity creates emissions of CO2 every day: from the production plant to the logistics of raw materials, ending with the shipment to the final customer. Often, however, we ignore that even small daily actions such as a video call or sending an email or commuting to work, emit CO2 into the environment», specifies Quagliano. Even if there are different methods of offsetting, the first step always results in the careful assessment of each involved supplier in the production of carbon dioxide by the company examined.

This can be seen through the methodology applied both by Up2You and Climate Neutral. The second step implies the offsetting and a third one about reducing the emissions which can be included. Regarding offsetting, both Nio cocktail and Fetzer are working on some projects that provide for this. In particular, companies, through an amount of money defined on the basis of their emissions, finance initiatives capable of reducing emissions globally. Through this step, the company becomes carbon neutral because it offsets exactly what it emits. Another next phase, which is what Fetzer has implemented, is achieving carbon positivity by choosing to offset more emissions than produced to create a net positive climate benefit.

Vineyards from Fetzer Vineyards have been completely converted to organic
Vineyards from Fetzer Vineyards have been completely converted to organic

Projects resulting from offsetting

As already explained above, offsetting is implemented through the payment of a fee that allows the financing of specific projects proposed by third party companies and chosen by the companies that request them. Some examples of projects that Climate Neutral has proposed include the forest conservation project in the Amazon, the water filtering project in India and a small-scale hydropower project in China. While the Fetzer brand does not directly specify the projects it invests in through offsetting, the Nio cocktail founder explains how the company could choose to adhere to certain projects.

At the moment, there are three active projects which make it possible to offset the emissions of 3,000 kg CO₂. The project currently active in Zimbabwe helps the local population to promote conservation activities in the forest area, which consists of mopane and miombo forests, as well as a variety of wildlife such as African elephants, lions and leopards.

The project in Zambia aims to protect more than 40,000 hectares of miombo forest while ensuring agricultural production on several hundred hectares. Lastly, the project in Uruguay converts degraded pastures into forests that improve soil health, also involving teachers, students and community members to raise awareness of the environment and native biodiversity. Each project covers about a third of the total to be offset and is explained through the Up2You website.

Lampoon reporting: offsetting in the beverage industry

Much of the work carried out for offsetting derives from the commitment of a third-party company capable of proposing a targeted plan of actions to offset emissions. This considered,  it results in a minimal commitment by the company to undertake this path and therefore easier to implement. No changes are required in terms of production or actions present in the routine of the company that decides to take this path. The subsequent and most challenging step, as Quagliano also hopes, would be to work from the starting point, trying to reduce emissions before offsetting and then rethinking the company’s action plan.

This project stems from the resulting offset across projects and initial emission reductions, as the carbon positivity plan of Climate Neutral shows. «To achieve this, we use renewable energy from rooftop solar panels to power our facility, supplemented by purchased wind, geothermal and other certified renewable resources… In 2019, we saved enough energy to power about seventy-three homes for a whole year through our renewable sources», states the Fetzer website. Other ways to reach a certain reduction of emissions can be achieved by replacing older machinery with electrical machinery. Another way is to diminish the distances between suppliers. One example, according to Fetzer, is by moving the purchasing from France/Italy to Chile. Another aspect to take into account is the option of obtaining a certification provided by both services mentioned.

On this, Quagliano expresses: «For some people, getting certified is more of a way to communicate that to the customer and the world, so that it can be translated into sustainability-related advertising. As important as this part of communication is for any company, surely the commitment of that is more relevant». However, certifications can become a guarantee of what the business is effectively doing and how it is acting according to established objectives. Carbon neutrality represents a first step towards a culture of responsible beverage production but following the Sustainable Development Goals without changing the status quo. As Quagliano explains, modifying processes from the inside becomes essential to undertake the next part of the journey.

Nio cocktails

A company founded in 2017 by Luca Quagliano e Alessandro Palmarin. The idea came about during a dinner with friends. The wanted to have ready-made cocktails at home without any effort and without needing the same variety of spirits that can be found at a bar.

Chiara Narciso

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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