First off, we didn’t calculate the climate footprint ourselves. They were done by a company called CarbonCloud. CarbonCloud’s model is based on twenty years of research and has been reviewed in connection with a wide range of scientific publications. It has been used by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and is also the basis for international cooperation — for example, with Princeton University and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Okay, now to the “how” part. The calculations are based on analyses of the various steps in the product’s “life”, in our case, from grower to grocer. These reports show the full method behind the climate footprint calculations that is the basis for our claim ”Oatly generates 73% less CO2e vs. milk, calculated from grower to grocer”.
It is a lot of work getting all the data you need to be able to do the calculations (they are detailed!) and it is a challenge to keep track of different transportation routes, packaging, warehouses, production sites and suppliers in a fast-growing company, but it’s definitely worth it. How else would we know that at this point (January 2021) the climate footprint for our Barista sold in the UK has changed and increased with 0.04 kg of CO2e since the footprint was first calculated in 2019? The Barista is now produced in our factory in the Netherlands (instead of Sweden), which means different energy source, different transportation, and different oats – all with different climate impact. Knowing this change of impact may seem unnecessary when talking about 0.04 kg of CO2e and one Barista product, but when multiplied by thousands of sold products, it matters. As an oat drink company, we have a relatively small climate impact, but everyone needs to reduce their climate impact, and in order to that, we need to understand what causes the impact.
Updating the climate footprint on pack can sometimes take longer, and we are still figuring out how often we should update all the calculations to make sure we catch and print any changes. We wish the numbers could be updated automatically, but until then, differences like 0.04 kg of CO2e, will not be updated in product’s footprints in real-time.
The result (and all the numbers along the way) make the climate impact more understandable not only for consumers, but also for people within our own company. It increases awareness and makes the climate issue a shared responsibility, not something that stays within the sustainability team. And isn’t increased awareness and shared responsibility exactly what we need if we are going to turn this climate crisis around? We definitely think so.