Over the years, Ben & Jerry’s has worked hard to reduce the environmental footprint of our company. In 2002, we began offsetting the carbon footprint from of manufacturing facilities with our Vermont-based partner, NativeEnergy. In 2007, we ran our first global warming advocacy campaign in partnership with the Dave Matthews Band. We've invested early and often in efficiencies throughout our manufacturing facilities, supply chain and Scoop Shops to increase energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint.
We recently completed an updated Life Cycle Analysis of our products that reveal the carbon emissions at each stage of our ice cream’s “life cycle”—from the farm to the end of life of the pint container. We’ve used the results to create a clear road map towards to reducing the footprint of our company, pint for pint.
We are also playing a significant role in supporting our parent company’s Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). The USLP is part of Unilever’s goal to become the global leader of the clean energy economy. It’s a blueprint for sustainable growth that aims to double the size of Unilever’s business while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact.
Unilever already purchases 100% of its electricity from renewable sources for all of its U.S. sites through renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are credits for using energy from third-party renewable sources. Unilever is taking its commitment to clean energy to the next level by pledging to go 100% clean energy globally by 2020 through a mix of 50% onsite and 50% offsite generation.
Here are five additional things Ben & Jerry’s is doing to combat climate change:
Located at our factory in the Netherlands, the Chunkinator is a magical machine (aka an anaerobic flotation reactor) that turns our ice cream bi-products into energy. The guts of this bio-digesting tank consist of 24 billion natural micro-organisms that transform waste and wastewater into biogas that turns around and powers the factory. To date, the Chunkinator has produced enough power to make over 16 million pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!
Believe it or not, cows play a part in climate change. The gas they spew from both ends, along with manure, releases a significant amount of ozone-depleting methane gas. Through a joint project with Green Dream Farm in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, and NativeEnergy, we have implemented a system that significantly reduces the amount of methane that enters the atmosphere. Over the course of 10 years, the project is estimated to have the equivalent of keeping 5,000 cars off the road for one year. It’s a pilot program we hope to implement at other Ben & Jerry’s Caring Dairy farms worldwide.
Offsetting in Reforestation
We care deeply about our suppliers, farmers, their families, their land and how our ingredients impact their lives. In addition to our continued work with Catholic Relief Services and the Sustainable Food Lab, we recently partnered with Pur Projet to explore agroforestry opportunities for our vanilla supplier. The project will work with the cooperative farmers to re-establish native trees to reduce erosion, provide necessary shade for their vanilla crop and offer opportunities for diversified agricultural projects.
Cleaner, Greener Freezer
Conventional refrigeration relies on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—one of the most common and harmful greenhouse gases. Ben & Jerry’s has led the charge away from HFCs by becoming the first company in the U.S. to test hydrocarbon refrigerants (which have already been used widely in Europe). It began in 2008 when we teamed up with Greenpeace to launch the Cleaner, Greener Freezer. Not only do these Ben & Jerry’s freezers chill ice cream using earth-happy hydrocarbons, they’re also more energy efficient than their HFC counterparts. It’s a win-win!
Activism & Advocacy
Ben & Jerry’s was built on a social mission and has advocated for a variety of causes, from marriage equality to GMO labeling to protecting the environment. Whether it’s joining the People’s Climate March last September or encouraging our fans in more than 35 countries to push leaders for real and urgent action on climate change, we’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by such a passionate bunch.