The Natural Products Expo: Highlighting how more than 200 natural products companies are addressing the climate crisis

Natural Products Expo West

The third of 6 blog posts from inside by Ben Brown and Terry Gips from the Alliance for Sustainability (www.afors.org

Another equally pressing issue addressed throughout the Expo was climate change. Businesses, even in natural products, are often either directly a source of major carbon emissions themselves or are through their supply chain. The food industry makes up about 25% of all carbon emissions, making it the single largest polluter by supply chain of any industry. Given that, it can play a major role in addressing climate change, in addition to its marketing, education, philanthropic and policy efforts. 

In that regard, the Expo serves as a beacon of hope, presenting hundreds of companies working to integrate climate initiatives into their work. PCC Community Markets, the largest food co-op in the U.S., set ambitious climate goals, including carbon positive store operations, decreasing energy waste from refrigerator leaks by 50%, switching to 100% renewable energy, and eliminating petroleum-based plastics from their deli. They are now carbon neutral, have decreased refrigerator leak energy waste by 38%, switched to 100% renewable energy, and eliminated 80% of petroleum-based plastics. 

Organic personal care products company Badger has installed solar panels that cover its manufacturing energy and has a 97% waste conversion rate. New companies, like 12 Tides with their kelp chips, are centering their products themselves around sustainability – kelp being a highly sustainable, zero-input crop that helps sequester carbon from the ocean and provides a climate-friendly alternative to Doritos and Lays. 

Many companies are also focusing on their supply chain, where they often have a much bigger indirect effect. Global food company Danone, PCC, Badger, and others are focusing on this, which Danone calls its “value chain”. They are incorporating sustainability and carbon into their purchasing specifications and contracts, as well as taking on educational endeavors like PCC’s vendor summits. 

Though there are often financial and other hurdles in re-working operations and supply chains, with the help of organizations like the Climate Collaborative, businesses in the natural products continue to trend in a promising direction.

Next: How natural products companies are doing good while making money

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