British Sugar certifies carbon footprint with new method

By Gavin Kermack

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British sugar, Carbon dioxide

The UK’s British Sugar has become the first sugar company to use a new method to certify the carbon footprint of its granulated sugar.

The firm is one of a group of over 20 companies which have implemented the new PAS 2050 method for calculating the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of products. Other food manufacturers pioneering the scheme include Cadbury, Muller, Pepsico and innocent, as well as Associated British Agriculture and several supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Co-operative.

Climate change and its association with carbon emissions have become a hot topic in recent years, with consumers and businesses becoming increasingly aware of their potential impact on the environment.

British Sugar and its consumer arm Silver Spoon spent the last six months assessing their GHG using PAS 2050, which shows that its homegrown granulated white sugar produces 0.6g of carbon dioxide (CO²) per gram of product.

A company spokesperson told FoodNavigator.com that as this is a new “farm to fork” ​method of measurement, previous figures for CO² production were unavailable, but that over the last two years British Sugar has reduced energy usage for production per tonne of sugar by 19 per cent.

British Sugar managing director Gino De Jaegher said: “We believe these results place us firmly among the best performing European sugar manufacturers… We will continue to seek further reductions in our carbon impact and play a leading role in the creation of an efficient and sustainable sugar industry.”

Sarah Arrowsmith, managing director of Silver Spoon, added: “As a responsible supplier, we remain committed to reducing our carbon emissions and we are now looking to assess the PAS 2050 footprint of our cane sugar.”

Getting the message across

Although British Sugar was unable to provide information on any other carbon-reducing initiatives it may have, both companies are planning to launch new areas of their websites with details of this, along with explanations of the footprinting method.

British Sugar told FoodNavigator.com that many customers that use its sugar as an ingredient in their products are interested in information on its carbon footprint and that it will directly provide them with this information. Whether or not these companies will themselves make this information available to consumers is up to them.

However, this may be a wise move, with market research suggesting 67 per cent of consumers saying they are “more likely”​ to buy a product with a low carbon footprint. In research conducted by supermarket giant Tesco 97 per cent of respondents said they would actively seek low carbon products if they were as cheap and convenient, with 35 per cent saying they would buy them even if this were not the case.

Figures released by the independent UK government agency the Carbon Trust suggest that 65 per cent would be more likely to buy a product with a label indicating the supplier’s efforts to reduce carbon, and 72 per cent saying that it is important to show the actual number of grams of carbon on the label – regardless of what the emission is.

Crisp manufacturer Walkers, which recently introduced a carbon reduction label on its crisp packets, said that research showed this move made 44 per cent of consumers feel more positive about the company.

PAS 2050 is the world’s first standard method for calculating the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of products and is a joint development between the independent government agency the Carbon Trust and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

PAS 2050 was published yesterday by BSI British Standards.

Related topics: Market Trends

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