Stevia in 2020: PureCircle outlines vision for reduced calories and reduced emissions


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PureCircle's new sustainability goals for 2020

Related tags Soft drinks Carbon dioxide

Global stevia supplier PureCircle has introduced a range of sustainability targets for reducing carbon emissions and water use, as well as calories in global diets by 2020.

The company released an assessment​ of its carbon and water footprint in April last year, to find out where its biggest impacts were and what it should do next to reduce emissions and water use. This was used – in addition to a 2011 sustainability commitment – to set its 2020 targets.

Now, the company has said it intends to cut carbon emissions by one million metric tonnes, water consumption by two trillion litres, and calories in global diets by 13 trillion by 2020.

Speaking to FoodNavigator, PureCircle’s director of global marketing Ajay Chandran said that the company looked at where sugars were used most – carbonated soft drinks in particular – and how replacing sugars with stevia-derived sweeteners could reduce environmental impacts.

“We asked: how do you scale up production of a natural sweetener in a sustainable manner?” ​he said. “…And what can we do to help the food and beverage industry really reduce their impacts?”

For carbonated soft drinks, packaging is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a 2012 Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable study. But when it comes to non-packaging GHG impact, sugar contributes up to 55% of emissions related to carbonated soft drinks in Europe and up to 32% in the United States.

Therefore, the company reasons, a 30% reduced calorie drink sweetened with its stevia could reduce that product’s associated GHG emissions by 22% and its water footprint from added sugars by 26%.

Integrated supply chain

“We own our supply chain and control it very, very tightly, which allows us to reduce both emissions and water use,”​ Chandran explained. “…Farming, purification and extraction are all aligned – it’s absolutely critical in understanding where you are and in putting those goals forth.”

He added that the company aims to reduce waste and water and energy use from one year to the next, in ways that could be useful across the entire stevia industry. PureCircle intends to release formal documents later this year on its sourcing and agricultural policies.

“We have pioneered and developed technology to reduce water, but it also saves money,”​ he said. “We are part of the ecosystem itself and I think that is the best way to grow your business.”

Chandran added that food and beverage firms have their own sustainability standards – and the company’s efforts could help manufacturers to quantify and meet their goals.

“The best way we can make comparisons is through publically available information. We believe in transparency,”​ he said.

With that in mind, the company has made its latest sustainability report available online; it is available by clicking here.

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