Oat Drink With Carbon Dioxide Equivalents
If you are wondering how we calculated that number and why you are in the right place!
The climate impact of our products is expressed in kilograms of CO2e per kilogram of packaged food product. The calculations are based on a life cycle assessment approach from farm to shop. In this case it means that we consider all steps of the life cycle from the production of agricultural inputs, through agriculture, transport, processing, packaging, and distribution up until the product reaches the shelf of the grocery store. So, the calculated climate footprint does not consider transport from grocery store to home or cooking of product, or disposal of the packaging.
It’s important to note that we are always working on improving and updating the data behind our product’s footprints, meaning that the numbers can (and will) change over time. The most recent numbers will always be found on our website, as changing a printed number on a packaging takes longer time than updating a digital one.
Third party verified
The calculations are made by our LCA-specialist in a tool based on a biophysical model that has been developed during more than 20 years of scientific accomplishments, owned by a company called CarbonCloud. After we done the calculations, CarbonCloud verifies them.
Eh…. climate footprint what?
All values are expressed in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), the same measure used by the UNFCCC and The European Commission, which converts the varying effects of different gases into the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) it would take to create the same greenhouse effect. In other words, you can compare a flight with a piece of meat or a sweater with a glass of oat drink (or maybe things that are more logical to compare, like two different meals or a trip by air vs. train).
What’s included in the oat drink calculations?
- Agriculture: Emissions related to the agricultural production of e.g. oats, rapeseed and other ingredients. Among other things, this includes N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions from soils and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from the production and use of fuels/electricity for tractors and other use of farm equipment. And emissions linked to fertilizers and pesticides are also included.
- Processing of Ingredients: Electricity and gas consumption in the mill (dehulling of the oats) and the rapeseed oil production facility.
- Transport of Ingredients: The transport of ingredients from field to factory and between factories.
- Oatly factory: Electricity and gas consumption in the oatbase and oat drink production facilities.
- Packaging: Emissions related to the manufacture and transport of packaging materials and packaging.
- Distribution: The distribution of the final product from factory to market. The calculations take into account that certain transports are cooled.
What’s not included — and why?
The production of equipment/machines and buildings is not included in the calculations, or product losses after filling. Nor are our employees' transport to and from their job or overall business activities such as research, product development, sales and marketing. The reason for this is that these greenhouse gas emissions are difficult to attribute to a single product and estimated to be very small in relation to the total “lifecycle” emissions “of a product”.
What about the product’s life after the shop?
The calculations include the steps from farm to shop. But we hear you. “Hey, this doesn’t cover the whole life of the product!” True, but what happens to the product after the shop step is difficult to figure out because we don’t know, for example, how it is transported by the consumer, and what distance, or if and how the packaging is recycled. So, when it comes to the climate impact of the product's after-shop life, you can make a difference yourself!
If you are interested in nerding out on detailed method reports, you can find some of our newest ones below
Why is this important?
About one third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system*. Actually, even if we stop using all fossil fuels today, the food system alone would push us over the Paris Climate Agreement target to keep global warming below 1,5 degrees**. So, it’s obvious that something should be done, and consumers can have an important role to play in it. But information about the climate impact of our diets, seems to be missing***.
So we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if it was easy for people to see and compare the climate impact of different products right in the grocery aisle before even deciding what to put in the cart?” But we didn’t just think it in a “It might be fun for us, as one small oat company, to declare the climate impact numbers for consumers to see” kind of way, but more like a, “We believe that consumer empowerment should be a law, if not a human right” kind of way. Because if you think about it, a requirement to show a food product’s climate footprint isn’t so different from the rules governing the labelling of fat, sugar and other nutrients. However, getting everyone involved to agree about how that could be done will take time, so, whilst we’re working on that, we’ve decided to declare the climate impact – shown as kilograms of CO2e - of our products on our packages or on our website.
What should I compare this to?
That’s the thing, isn’t it. Right now, the one problem with all these numbers is they don’t really say much as long as there’s nothing to compare them with. Like, is 0.38 CO2e really good or ridiculously terrible or somewhere in between? The solution, of course, is for more of the food industry to put their figures on the table — or preferably right on their packaging. Some of you might remember our “Show us your numbers” campaign, where we encouraged food companies to publish their climate footprints. We haven’t given up on that, so feel free to contact the food producers you’d like to compare us with and politely demand that they show us their numbers. You can blame this pushy piece of copy, if that helps.
In Germany, we decided to launch a petition to make mandatory climate labelling for food declarations a law. Since that is moving slowly, we’ve decided to work together with other the businesses in an alliance called “Together for Climate labelling”. You can read more here.
And while you’re waiting for the results of these, you might want to check out the "One Planet Plate" website created by the Swedish WWF together with researchers. It can give you a feeling of what numbers are reasonable. Their theory says the calculation for a sustainable weekly menu is 11 kg CO2e per person, which corresponds to about 0.5 kg CO2e per meal.
Okay, so now we can sit back and relax?
No. Absolutely not. Because while our products are more climate-friendly than many animal based alternatives, we want them to be even better. In fact, it’s exactly what we’re working on every day! So if you have some free time and want to become an expert about how we work (and the current status of it all), we have a sustainability report that’s just hanging around on the other end of our website, just waiting for you to read it. Just click here and enjoy!
* Crippa et al. (2021). Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Nature Food, 2(3), 198-209. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00225-9