Mondelez International has made a public commitment to being ‘Net Zero’ meaning they are not, on balance, adding to Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
“Carbon neutral”, and “net-zero” among other words have become the lingua franca for chocolate companies who use ambiguous terms to explain their corporate policy to consumers. Many consumers, I’m certain, will have been misled by the gap between a common interpretation and the companies definition.
But Mondelēz makes reference to doing this in line with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and I confess to having never heard of this standard before.
It turns out that SBTi is a new initiative that launched just a week ago, but has the laudable goal of improving the transparency of companies climate-based announcements. It does this by setting a standard approach companies must follow:
- Commit: submit a letter establishing your intent to set a science-based target
- Develop: work on an emissions reduction target in line with the SBTi’s criteria
- Submit: present your target to the SBTi for official validation
- Communicate: announce your target and inform your stakeholders
- Disclose: report company-wide emissions and track target progress annually
To add some credibility to their programme, Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam, said:
The Net-Zero Standard gives companies a clear blueprint on how to bring their net-zero plans in line with the science, which is non-negotiable in this decisive decade for climate action. Because we are running out of time. Extreme weather events are occurring more frequently with greater intensity. We are also rapidly approaching critical tipping points. We have to bend the curve of emissions now. We have to create a net-zero world economy in just one generation. There is only one pathway forward, that involves rapid and deep emission cuts and additionally investment in nature-based solutions – which are absolutely fundamental.
In order to determine if the company targets are valid, they will need to be approved by their panel of experts. In addition, there is a guidance document on SBTi Criteria and Recommendations. I’ve attached it below.
In their press release below they disclose their specific targets, which is quite interesting. The target of sourcing 100% of their cocoa, for example, through the Cocoa Life programme implies the Cocoa Life programme is fully sustainable.
Abstracting themselves from their own sustainable initiative can create a perception of green credentials that are not necessarily proven.
The full press release is below:
Mondelēz International, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) today announced it is committing to a 2050 target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its full value chain. As part of its commitment, Mondelēz International has signed the Science Based Targets Initiative’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C, aligning its long-term emissions mitigation targets with the ambitious aim of limiting temperature rise in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Mondelēz International has also joined the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign to help build momentum towards a decarbonized economy. These commitments mark a bold step forward in Mondelēz International’s differentiated approach to sustainability that is helping drive lasting progress at scale and create long-term value for the business and its stakeholders.
“For the last several years, we’ve worked with the Science Based Targets initiative to reduce our emissions footprint and our announcement today will help accelerate our existing efforts to create a more sustainable snacking company,” said Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We’re transforming how we do business across our operations and with the suppliers and farmers we work with – from seeking to improve cocoa farming practices in West Africa to promoting regenerative agriculture in wheat fields in the Midwest United States.”
This new commitment builds on the company’s existing science-based targets set in 20201 developed to contribute to combatting climate change. Over the next two years, the company will lay out a time-bound plan including interim targets for its key emissions sources consistent with the 1.5°C protocol and will provide annual progress reviews for transparency as laid out by the Science Based Target initiative.
End-to-End Approach to Net Zero Target
Mondelēz International’s approach to ESG is designed with the goal of enabling the company to deliver lasting change at scale by prioritizing where it can have the greatest impact, focusing on innovative and measurable solutions, and collaborating to drive sector-wide transformation. The company will take an end-to-end approach in its aim to reach its net zero emissions target by focusing efforts across key areas and delivering against its existing goals and targets:
Sustainably Sourced Ingredients2 and Packaging:
- Source 100% cocoa volume for chocolate brands through Cocoa Life Program by 2025
- Source 100% wheat volume for EU biscuits through the Harmony Program by 2022
- Design 100% of packaging to be recycle ready by 2025
- Reduce overall virgin plastic use by 5% and reduce overall virgin rigid plastic by 25% by 20253
Mondelēz International Operations:
- Continue to convert global manufacturing electricity footprint to renewable energy
- Reduce food waste by 15% in manufacturing and 50% in distribution by 20254
- Work toward achieving energy efficiency for biscuit ovens and steam boilers
- Start replacing thermal fuels (e.g., natural gas, diesel, gasoline) with “green” alternatives
- Invest in new mobility concepts including electric and hydrogen trucks
- Reduce warehouse emissions at both owned and third-party facilities by converting to renewable energy sources
- Improve efficiency of distribution networks by optimizing routes, improving truck & container utilization, increasing intermodal solutions and reducing traveled distances
Building on Existing Commitments and Actions
“While we’ve already made significant progress, the road to net zero will require further transformation of our business as well as global collaboration across industries, sectors and landscapes,” said Chris McGrath, VP & Chief of Global Impact & Sustainability. “We will remain focused on leveraging proven models and available solutions, while at the same time using our scale and influence to help drive technical advancement, public-private collaboration and investment to incubate innovation.”
To date, the company’s continuous efforts to drive meaningful change at scale have led to significant progress in the sustainable sourcing5 of key ingredients and energy, water and waste reductions across company-owned manufacturing operations that the net zero target will build upon and accelerate. In the past year, the company made significant progress against, and exceeded many, of its existing 2020 and 2025 targets, including:
Sustainable Ingredients6 2025 Targets:
- 68% of cocoa volume for chocolate brands sourced through Cocoa Life Program
- 99% palm oil sourced from suppliers aligned to the company’s 2020 Palm Oil Action Plan
Environmental Impact 2020 Achievements7:
- 24% reduction in CO2e from manufacturing, exceeding the target of 15%
- 33% reduction in priority water usage, exceeding the target of 10%
- 31% reduction in total waste from manufacturing, exceeding the target of 20%