Mars, Cargill put nature regeneration goals alongside avoiding climate catastrophe

February 11, 2021 by  
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Mars, Cargill put nature regeneration goals alongside avoiding climate catastrophe Jesse Klein Thu, 02/11/2021 – 01:00 Over 1,000 companies have committed to science-based targets for climate change, but the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) thinks companies need to start making science-based commitments on nature as well as for climate. And they needed to start doing it yesterday. This has put sustainability departments of large companies in the position of having to build the plane while flying it.  “We feel like we need to start taking action today and start taking steps,” Heather Tansey, sustainability director at Cargill, said during a  GreenBiz 21  session this week on nature and regeneration. “We believe we can’t wait for consensus definitions to start making progress. So we’re doing those things in parallel.” To help, SBTN created corporate guidance that “sets a clear course of action to protect nature in line with science,” because companies want to take action.  “What we’re hearing from companies is: Tell me what to measure. How much is our fair share?” said Erin Billman, executive director of SBTN, during the session. You can’t stick an instrument in a bucket of palm oil and measure whether there was deforestation or forced labor in its supply chain. The guidance outlines best practices for conserving and regenerating healthy land, freshwater, oceans and biodiversity. During the session, with panelists from large agricultural companies Cargill and Mars, regenerative agriculture took center stage.  Tansey outlined Cargill’s BeefUp program, which concentrates on four pillars: reducing food waste; leaning on innovations; implementing regenerative agriculture such as no-tillage and crop rotation for feed sources; and sustainable cattle grazing methods.  “We, at our core, believe cattle can be a force for good when it comes to climate change,” she said. “Cattle can play a really critical role in North American contexts of helping to preserve nature and ecosystems in the west.” Kevin Rabinovitch, global vice president of sustainability at Mars, recognized regenerative agriculture is the new buzzword in sustainability . He emphasized that companies will have to carefully define what regenerative agriculture means while simultaneously creating programs that encourage regenerative ag practices that sequester carbon into the soil — practices such as no-till, crop rotation and biodiversity. Not all regenerative practices or ESG initiatives are created equal and not having an agreed-upon definition before starting will make determining the success difficult.  “Deforestation, or building carbon in the soil, or even social things like human rights and forced labor is not a product attribute,” Rabinovitch said. “You can’t stick an instrument in a bucket of palm oil and measure whether there was deforestation or forced labor in its supply chain. So they’re not product attributes, they’re process attributes. And frankly, that’s not the way commodity markets are designed and set up.” Billman’s solution is to focus on breaking down the silos among climate change, nature regeneration and social injustice and looking for co-benefits that tackle all the issues, not just climate ones. Without agreed-upon definitions, it makes it even harder for companies to prove they are making good on their commitments. According to all the panelists, the best way to make an impact and demonstrate to others that their programs are working is to create specific targets with specific timelines. There can be a visionary pathway in the longer term, but companies need tangible, measurable targets for the near term. “That’s where you should be having the really awkward, painful discussions about [having] a plan for how to reach that five-year target,” Rabinovitch said during the session.  Pull Quote You can’t stick an instrument in a bucket of palm oil and measure whether there was deforestation or forced labor in its supply chain. Topics Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Nature regeneration goals are the new climate targets for the sustainability departments of large companies.//Courtesy of Unsplash.

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Mars, Cargill put nature regeneration goals alongside avoiding climate catastrophe

How Cargill’s new science-based water targets go with the flow

July 27, 2020 by  
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How Cargill’s new science-based water targets go with the flow Joel Makower Mon, 07/27/2020 – 02:11 Cargill, the giant food and ag conglomerate, last week announced a new set of 2030 corporate water targets, the latest to do so among firms in its sector. But this was no me-too kind of endeavor. Rather, it put the company at the front of the pack, going well beyond its own operational footprint to engage its entire supply chain, and to do so using a novel science-based approach for water. Specifically, Cargill said that by the end of the decade it would restore about 158 billion gallons of water, reduce about 5,500 tons of water pollutants and boost access to safe drinking water — all in what it refers to as  priority watersheds , regions around the world where the company has a significant operational or supply-chain water footprint.  This isn’t small potatoes. Agriculture represents about 80 percent of freshwater use in the United States and about 70 percent globally. Ag also is a major contributor both to water pollution and climate change; the water sector, which includes the collection and treatment of wastewater, accounts for 4 percent of total global electricity consumption,  according to the International Energy Agency . Few food and ag companies have taken on the full measure of their water footprint the way Cargill seems to have done, and by using a science-based approach. “If there’s a more robust enterprise level ambition for water, I haven’t seen it,” said Jason Morrison, CEO of the Pacific Institute and head of the United Nations  CEO Water Mandate , who advised on the project. “This is a really impressive piece of work that they’ve done and a pretty ambitious commitment they’re making. It’s got a lot to it.” If there’s a more robust enterprise level ambition for water, I haven’t seen it. Cargill has made water commitments in the past, but they covered only the company’s direct operations, a relative drop in the bucket of the water needed to bring to market the $114 billion or so of products and services it sells each year. About a year ago, the company set out on a journey to understand its water risks relative to its supply chain and operations, explained Jill Kolling, the company’s vice president for global sustainability. “Where does water really matter for us in our business?” she explained to me recently. “And where should we really be putting our efforts?” The goal, she said, “was to come out of this and have some aspirational goals to work against and also to make sure we’re working where it matters most. So, having that strong prioritization, backed up by science.” Science-based targets have become de rigueur in setting corporate greenhouse gas commitments. In effect, they ask what level of carbon reductions represents a company’s fair share, given its contribution to the climate problem. It was inevitable that this approach eventually be applied to water. Indeed, for the past two years a group called the Science-Based Targets Network has been looking at how to apply such methodologies to  a range of environmental impacts , including  water . But water is unlike climate gases in several fundamental ways. First, water is inherently local, with droughts in some areas and a surfeit in others. With climate gases, any improvement anywhere in the world helps alleviate the global problem; not so with water. Water is also temporal, with conditions changing throughout the year and from year to year, based on both normal and abnormal climatic shifts. And while the aggregate amount of available water is important, so is its quality. Having millions of gallons of water isn’t helpful if it is toxic, brackish or otherwise unsuited for human use. Rivers of data In the case of Cargill, these and other factors were applied not just to its own operation, but also to its more than 250,000 suppliers, ranging from multinational corporations to single-family farms in developing nations. They provide the raw materials for everything from cocoa and cotton to salmon feed and sweeteners. Cargill already had dipped its toes into water issues. It has invested in such programs as the  Soil and Water Outcomes Fund , which helps farmers adopt soil health and water conservation practices. It also participates in the  Midwest Row Crop Collaborative’s efforts to support and accelerate sustainable agricultural practices in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, including on improving water quality across the Upper Mississippi River Basin, which supports nearly 44 percent of U.S. corn, soy and wheat production. Still another Cargill initiative is  BeefUp Sustainability , which focuses in part on restoring grasslands, which perform many ecosystem services including filtering water. To develop its latest commitments, the company turned to World Resources Institute, with which it had previously worked on water issues. The first step was to aggregate the data Cargill needed to prioritize locally relevant decisions. “We’ve got  globally comparable data on water risks that we help companies leverage in order to look at water risks to their supply chain, and now increasingly use that same data to help think through what an effective science-based target could look like,” Sara Walker, WRI’s senior manager, water quality and agriculture, told me. “They’re kind of our science partner,” Kolling said of WRI. “What they bring to the table is datasets, tools and scientists who are able to help do the analysis. It’s also good to have an NGO partner working with you to push you to be more aspirational. They’ve provided tremendous guidance through this.” “There’s quite a lot of good data out there,” explained Truke Smoor, director of water at Cargill. “But if you look at the number of companies who have said they want data for water quality and costs, for both operations and the supply chain, you see there are very few.”  600 billion liters — it’s insanely large. It’s more than the total amount of water that we use in all our operations.   That may be in large part because the available data isn’t always consistent across watersheds and borders. Smoor said that Cargill ended up “combining a global data set with a better data set for the U.S. to meet our needs. And now we have the data we need to help us prioritize.” The commitments Cargill settled on were stretch goals, Smoor said. For example: “Six hundred billion liters — it’s insanely large. It’s more than the total amount of water that we use in all our operations. So, we’re basically offsetting double our total water use in those priority water systems in the regions where it’s needed most.” Down on the farm In some ways, getting the data was the easy part. Working with farmers — from Big Ag behemoths to smallholders in far-flung economies — is another matter. Promoting change can be hard work, although some farmers are beginning to realize the need to adapt new kinds of practices to ensure the long-term viability of local water supplies. “I think farmers are starting to realize that it’s ultimately the consumer who’s starting to care more and more about this,” Kolling said. “Over the coming years, those pressures and those desires from consumers to want to know more about how their food was produced and having greater expectations, we believe it’s going to grow and will continue to trickle back to the farmer. I think some of those more resistant farmers may realize that this is the way things are going.” Most farmers aren’t yet feeling those market impacts, she said, but there are other compelling arguments for their linking arms with Cargill on water. “At the end of the day, farmers are businessmen and women,” Kolling said. Toward that end, her company is helping farmers understand the business case today for improving water management practices, ranging from improving soil health to ensuring community water supplies. “It helps us make the change we want to make for the environment and for social and economic reasons.” And, of course, there’s climate change. Specifically, its relationship to both water quality and quantity, as well as the role of farming in sequestering carbon dioxide, which, in turn, improves soil health. “Water is so critical for nature, for agriculture, for communities,” Smoor said. “And it has that synergies with climate change.”  For example, she said, “Look at soil health practices. They help in carbon sequestration and they help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That is tied to fertilizer use, water quality and runoff. So, soil health practices provide water quality benefits. And through increasing soil moisture, we actually make sure that more water can recharge, so you have improved water availability. They really go hand in hand, which is such a powerful thing. Through combining these, you have so many touchpoints, whether it’s through farmers or regulators or the community.” Pooling resources As with every sustainability issue, one company’s leadership action is but a start. It will take collective action to achieve global goals, but also to ensure each company’s efforts aren’t undermined. For example, Cargill’s water conservation efforts in a particular basin may be for naught if other companies, large or small, aren’t similarly engaged there. In April, Cargill  announced that it would contribute $2 million to the next phase of its partnership with WRI. The two entities said they will combine their expertise to accelerate the development and improvement of tools, including a new Water Management Toolkit, to enable companies to set science-based targets for water. The toolkit “will allow us to address shared water challenges and promote sustainable water use within planetary boundaries across the industry,” they said in a statement. Cargill is already making its methodology publicly available. “We’re hoping we can invite others — customers, competitors, whomever — to collaborate with us where their sourcing and focus may intersect with our same watersheds,” Smoor said. But companies seem to be uncertain about when to jump into the pool. “We’re getting a lot of questions from companies like, ‘Should I wait for better data or should I wait for the Science-Based Target Network to tell me what exactly to do?’” WRI’s Walker said. “We’re really trying to encourage companies to act now. I think Cargill is a good example of this.” On the other hand, Smoor said, companies can wait until — some day. “You can continue to analyze everything forever, and especially in water, with all the different aspects. You can get stuck in risk analysis. You can get stuck in needing better data. Our approach is, we’re starting now; we’re going to drive the change. We will validate if we are doing the right thing.” I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote If there’s a more robust enterprise level ambition for water, I haven’t seen it. 600 billion liters — it’s insanely large. It’s more than the total amount of water that we use in all our operations. Topics Food & Agriculture Water Efficiency & Conservation Science-based Targets Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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How Cargill’s new science-based water targets go with the flow

Cargill’s Jill Kolling on partnering with farmers to build more sustainable food systems

March 3, 2020 by  
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Jill Kolling, vice president of global sustainability at Cargill, says that it’s important for the farmers and ranchers it works with to be able to withstand the impacts of climate change. “Resiliency is important for our business as a whole,” Kolling says. “Nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way is now our purpose at Cargill.”

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Cargill’s Jill Kolling on partnering with farmers to build more sustainable food systems

Avery Dennison’s Deon Stander on the future and benefits of enabling traceability

March 3, 2020 by  
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Avery Dennison started off at the world’s first self-adhesive label 80 years ago. While it has continued to provide analog labeling solutions, the company has also transformed into provide digital solutions. “We’re thinking about solutions and ideas that will allow us to enable a digital future for all companies and supply chains as well,” says Deon Stander, vice president and general manager of retail branding and information solutions at Avery Dennison. Stander continued to explain that in the future, every item will have a digital identity.

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Avery Dennison’s Deon Stander on the future and benefits of enabling traceability

Tetra Pak’s Mustan Lalani on the company’s move toward a low-carbon circular economy

March 3, 2020 by  
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Mustan Lalani, global director of environmental policy at Tetra Pak, says a phrase coined by Ruben Rausing, the company’s founder, continues to guide its work. The phrase? “A package should save more than it costs.” Because we’re in climate emergency, Lalani says the phrase rings even more true than in years past, especially as Tetra Pak moves toward a low-carbon circular economy.

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Tetra Pak’s Mustan Lalani on the company’s move toward a low-carbon circular economy

Episode 208: Levi Strauss and corporate philanthropy, how to talk to CFOs

February 14, 2020 by  
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Plus, outtakes from GreenBiz 20 interviews with Dow CEO Jim Fitterling, Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, Cargill CSO Ruth Kimmelshue and youth activist Brian Mecinas.

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Episode 208: Levi Strauss and corporate philanthropy, how to talk to CFOs

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: ExxonMobil, Facebook headline a record-breaking fourth quarter

January 17, 2019 by  
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Plus, Cargill and the city of Philadelphia jump in with notable contracts.

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Clean Energy Deal Tracker: ExxonMobil, Facebook headline a record-breaking fourth quarter

Looking to fungi, spiders and other natural insect killers for less toxic alternatives to synthetic pesticides

January 17, 2019 by  
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New technologies based on natural chemicals are yielding more environmentally friendly ways to control pests that eat our food and harm our health.

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Looking to fungi, spiders and other natural insect killers for less toxic alternatives to synthetic pesticides

By the numbers: the economic, social and environmental impacts of ‘fast fashion’

January 17, 2019 by  
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Plus, what you can do about it.

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By the numbers: the economic, social and environmental impacts of ‘fast fashion’

Toyota charts cautious path to autonomous, electrified future

January 17, 2019 by  
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The Japanese automaker is moving slowly toward electric autonomous vehicles, despite its early lead in the hybrid market.

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Toyota charts cautious path to autonomous, electrified future

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