Alpro and WWF pilot new nature-focused science-based target scheme
A pilot project has been set up to take science-based targets to the next level and "respect planetary boundaries" by WWF and food and drink firm Alpro.
The scheme, commissioned by WWF and food and drink producer Alpro, claims to look at how companies can reduce their environmental footprints based on the earth’s capacity - rather than “general sustainability principles”.
The approach, which project leader Jorien van Hoogen from the WWF described as “going beyond simply aiming to minimise impact” includes a consortium of research institutes, coordinated by sustainability consultants Metabolic.
The project, dubbed Setting Science Based Targets for Nature, examines the environmental impact of parts of Alpro’s almond and soya supply chain. It provides recommendations on how Alpro can keep within the safe environmental limits set by the Planetary Boundaries framework.
Sustainability consultant Brian Shaw of Metabolic said: “Establishing assessment methodologies – with as robust a scientific approach as possible – is relevant to the sustainability efforts of all industries.”
The project developed methodologies based on measuring the company’s footprint – and specifically biodiversity, with Alpro’s almonds delivered from farms located in Mediterranean forests, woodland, and scrub which are under threat - below the critical tipping point of 10% vegetation cover, according to the Natural Intact Vegetation index.
But the study found specific areas on assessed farms are situated in relatively high vegetation cover, meaning one approach Alpro could positively impact the environment is to create corridors of biodiversity on farms, thereby increasing connectivity with surrounding natural habitats.
The pilot scheme also looked at how water was used by the company and the relevant ecosystems impacted. It assessed the freshwater balance of a water basin, showing how a river system came under strain during the summer, and the insight helped craft the firm’s science-based targets for water on the farms.
It also discovered that performance in one area is linked to impacts on other boundaries elsewhere, such as organic farms, did well on water efficiency and carbon emissions – but produced less yield per hectare. Trade-offs were considered such as alternative fertilisers and irrigation changes to mitigate the impact.
The news follows the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) latest firm, Royal DSM joining those who have set 2030 science-based reduction targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The SBTi will publish an update to its target validation criteria in April, in a bid to encourage more businesses to set ambitious carbon reduction aims in line with a 1.5C pathway. A key change is that a “well-below 2C” pathway will become a minimum requirement, up from the current 2C criteria.
Only four companies – BT, Carlsberg, Tesco and Pukka Herbs – have set verified targets in line with a 1.5C pathway to date.