Puratos and sustainability (2): carbon neutral in 2025

27 May 2019

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Puratos has committed itself to ambitious sustainability goals: the company has to be carbon neutral in 2025, and our water usage has to be fully in control by 2030. To reach these goals, Puratos has set up some very concrete projects. Franck Cassé, Environmental Sustainability Programme Manager at Puratos, tells us about the projects that are set up to reach carbon neutrality. “Any company can buy certificates and become CO2 neutral just by compensating. That’s not our way, we want to do more than that.”

Good for the people, the environment and the economy

In Puratos’ vision on sustainability, operations must become sustainable to have a future. And it can only be sustainable when everything you do is good for people, good for the environment and good for the economy. Every project has to meet all of these three criteria. “The Bakery Schools illustrate this. These schools were opened because we wanted to help those kids in the street and while developing skilled labour and tackling the education problem at the same time. The aim was to do something that makes sense to our employees as well as to customers. You can’t just give money away; it has to be meaningful. That’s the way Puratos wants to operate; everything we do must make sense both for the company and for the people and the environment. And we want to show leadership on this.”

Concrete actions leading to carbon neutrality

Globally, Puratos emitted 100,000 tons of CO2 last year. So what does Puratos do to become CO2 neutral in 2025? “CO2 comes from energy, which we consume on site. We take a lot of different actions to reduce our energy usage. 95% of our lighting is supplied by LED lights, we use high efficiency boilers, take care of cooling efficiency, manage the cleaning in a more sustainable way… we reduce everywhere possible.

But we still need energy. So we are using more and more sustainable energy. We’re now trying to bring wind turbines to our plants, which is quite a big statement, and it isn’t the easiest thing to do. When it concerns wind turbines, many people still have a ‘not in my backyard’-mindset. We see it as our job to change their mindset to ‘this is really important for our future’. ”

Capturing carbon by planting trees

Instead of merely compensating the carbon emissions, which could easily be done by buying certificates, Puratos chooses to plant trees. “Planting trees is an efficient way to capture carbon. We do this at the cacao plantations that are involved in our Cacao-Trace programme. Many farmers grow only one kind of tree: the cacao tree. But monoculture is dangerous in many ways: it’s bad for the soil, causing it to need more fertilisers and thereby increasing costs, and the plantation becomes very vulnerable to diseases. So what we do is convince farmers to start working via agroforestry: planting different tree species, like timber, galip nut or pomelo trees, between the cacao trees and in some case adding vanilla or pepper plants. We call these shade trees: the small cacao tree doesn’t like too much rain and sun and prefers to grow in the shade of other trees.”

The advantages of agroforestry

Both Puratos and the farmer benefit from this agricultural model combining shade trees with intercropping. The trees will capture CO2, helping Puratos to achieve its ambitious goal. The farmer benefits in three ways:

1. his cacao trees benefit from the shade, reducing disease outbreaks and increasing biodiversity to enhance cacao pollination, leading to an increased production

  1. he creates extra sources of revenue by selling the fruits

  2. the trees fertilise the soil, reducing the farmers expenses on fertilisers

This project is a combination of our objectives towards the planet and the Cacao-Trace programme of Puratos: they reinforce each other. “In our vision, this is a very sustainable project: it’s good for the environment to grow more than one sort of tree, it gives the farmers a better, more steady income, and it’s good for Puratos as it shows the farmers we’re in it for the long term, making them loyal partners to us. And of course it helps Puratos reaching its carbon neutrality goals.”

Planting 100.000 trees in 2019

In 2019, Puratos will plant 100,000 trees in – amongst others – the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico and Papua New Guinea. “Towards 2023, we aim to plant 300,000 trees a year. We need the support of the farmers for this: they are the ones that actually plant the trees. We support them technically with PUR Project (our partners) and financially, but they are in charge. And to be clear: our customers absolutely don’t have to pay for this. It’s a self-driven programme: the savings from improving our energy efficiency is paying for the trees but it is only made possible thanks to the long term partnership with Cacao-Trace farmers.”

 

This blog is the second part of a series of CSR blogs about Puratos and sustainability. Part 1 explains the vision of Puratos on how to become sustainable. In part 3, you can discover the actions Puratos has set up to reduce and control the use of water.