From its origins as a single ice cream parlor in Vermont in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s has grown to become a much-loved global brand. An important part of the company’s success has been its relationship with its customers, built around a shared set of economic, environmental and social values.
To support statements such as “Ben & Jerry’s is on a mission to make great ice cream that respects the farmer and their farmworkers, the planet and the cow”, the company works to continue to ‘walk the talk’ on corporate social responsibility.
Solving the problem of corporate carbon emissions
With a long history of reducing its environmental impact, improving its energy efficiency and campaigning for social justice, it was important for Ben & Jerry’s to also cut its carbon emissions to minimize its impact on global climate change.
As a manufacturer, the company can exercise a high degree of control over carbon emissions from its own operations (scope 1 and 2 emissions); however, it relies on the energy- and emissions-intensive dairy industry for a large part of its supply chain. How could Ben & Jerry’s reduce its scope 3 emissions whilst also meeting social impact goals?
Offsets are the solution
The dairy industry as a whole has a large GHG footprint. Manure accounts for 10 percent of U.S. emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas which, by weight, causes far greater warming effects than carbon dioxide.
Many individual farms, such as Green Dream Farm in northern Vermont which supplies the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery and which Ben & Jerry’s relies on for milk supply, are too small to afford the investment in innovative technology required to cut their emissions.
Certified carbon offsets enable organizations to provide finance to carbon reduction projects that would otherwise not happen. Ben & Jerry’s worked with NativeEnergy to design a carbon offset project to help small farms in Vermont treat their manure to improve on-farm sustainability.
The resulting Green Dream Farm Methane Reduction project is an innovative, low-tech solution that removes the equivalent of almost 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from farm emissions.
NativeEnergy saw an opportunity to develop an innovative project that could reduce emissions whilst also providing a range of other benefits. If the liquid and solid manure is separated and the solids are dried, the emissions can be greatly reduced; however, this solution is too costly for small farms to implement onsite.
This project will help manure separators. The solid matter produced by the process can be used as bedding for the cows, which will save the farmers the cost of buying sawdust or other bedding materials. Another third of the dry material from the farms can be composted and sold as bagged soil, to provide an additional source of income.
Socially progressive offsets improve Ben & Jerry’s social responsibility
The main goal of this project was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but the project will also result in additional social and community benefits, including reduced discharge of excess nutrients into soils and waterways and added economic stability for small farms.
Ben & Jerry’s early seed funding was essential in getting this NativeEnergy Help Build project launched, and the resulting certified carbon offsets help Ben & Jerry’s reach their emissions reduction goals by taking emissions out of their supply chain.
Along the way, the relationship with their dairy suppliers has been strengthened and the sustainability of the supply chain is assured. Going forward, Ben & Jerry’s and NativeEnergy have implemented a program to identify, evaluate and implement new emission reduction projects on farms across Ben & Jerry’s activity chain. With this, Ben & Jerry’s has another great social responsibility story to share with its customers worldwide.
With the right partnership, your valuable, respected brand can tell a similar story.
Contact NativeEnergy and share your vision with the world!