Have you wondered how much your morning glass of orange juice contributes to global warming?
PepsiCo figured that since public concern is growing about the fate of the planet, companies will be required to figure and disclose facts such as these. And orange juice seemed like a good case study.
PepsiCo hired Math experts to measure the emissions from energy-intensive tasks such as running a factory and transporting the juice cartons. Surprisingly, it turned out that the biggest source of emissions was simply growing oranges. Citrus groves use tons of nitrogen fertilizer, which requires natural gas to make and can possibly turn into a potent greenhouse gas when it’s spread on the groves.
The Tally on OJ’s Environmental Impact
The equivalent of 3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere for each half-gallon carton of orange juice. Now that the company has the info, how will they use it? PepsiCo execs have been debating on whether to cite this number in marketing efforts – would it make any difference and would consumers have any idea what it meant? This emission of carbon dioxide is known as a “carbon footprint,” and while most consumers have heard the term, they aren’t clear on what it means. PepsiCo also needs to figure out how to lower its carbon footprint on OJ. Until that time, would it be wise to promote that number?
PepsiCo is among a large number of companies that hope to get ahead of probable government directives and curb their energy use as prices and long-term supply grow less certain.
These companies also want to promote supposedly low-carbon products to consumers anxious about rising global temperatures; this type of labeling is already in use in Europe.
The companies that have taken steps to reduce carbon emissions include: Nike, Coca-Cola, BP and I.B.M. Yahoo!, Google and Dell are among the companies that have declared that they will become “carbon neutral.”
PepsiCo is one of the first companies that have provided an absolute number for a product’s carbon footprint, and now that they’ve found a way to find that number, it’s expected that disclosing specific environmental data will become a trend. Although the number is on the Web site, the company has not yet decided whether it will put the number on the OJ package.
Many companies claim to be green, but aren’t really. These companies are guilty of greenwashing, which is lying about the greenness of the company. This infuriates environmentalists, as well as companies that are truly green but are getting trampled by companies that only claim to be green.
Companies can apply the standards for determining a carbon footprint in any way they see fit, and they can decide how rigorous they want to be in counting emissions.
Right now, the numbers are practically worthless, according to some green experts.
But, it’s great that companies are thinking about the environment and reacting to the public’s environmental concerns, but until there are carbon footprint standards across all industries, and identical processes in place to determine the numbers, it might be best to leave the specific numbers out of marketing.