Magnifyer showing CO2 label on oat drink pack

What are CO2e numbers and what are they doing on Oatly cartons?

Sometimes webpages like to answer their own question with another question: Did you know that roughly one-third of global human-caused greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system?* Yeah, 1/3. As in like 33%. From our perspective, it seems pretty obvious that we humans need to transform how we produce and distribute our food in order to combat some of humanity’s greatest challenges across climate, health and lifestyle. And since consumer choice plays an integral role in shaping our food system, we believe people should have access to the information they need in order to make educated decisions about what they buy — and that information should absolutely include the climate impact of those products. All of which is why Oatly is committed to publishing our products’ climate footprints, expressed in kilograms of CO2e per kilogram of product, for everyone to see.

What is CO2e anyway?

So, a product’s climate footprint is intended to be the best estimate we can get of the full climate impact of something**, accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivation of the ingredients to its distribution to market. The climate footprint of our products is expressed in kilograms of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per kilogram of packaged food product.  
This unit of measurement considers the effect of different greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and so on. The calculation aggregates the emissions into one single unit, based on how much of each of those greenhouse gases is emitted and their global warming potential (GWP) over a 100-year period, relative to carbon dioxide (CO2).
This all might sound super complicated and perhaps a bit confusing which is totally understandable. This is complex stuff. We’re trying to keep this as simple as possible but if you want to dive headfirst into all the science and learn more about how CO2e is calculated with our friends at CarbonCloud, head here!

Okay, but why stick it on the carton?

With an impending climate emergency on the horizon 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 their cart the same way they can see the labeling of fat, sugar, and other nutritional information?”. So, that’s what we are working on.  
The FDA mandates that food companies publish their products’ nutrition breakdown on the package to ensure that consumers can make the best purchasing choices for themselves and their families. Which is great! We love information and transparency. But, at Oatly, we believe that it's irresponsible to only tell consumers part of the story. We want to provide people with a fuller picture of a product’s impact — how it can affect both their personal health and the health of our planet. 

For CO2e labeling to make an impact, other companies need to show us their numbers too!

We didn’t put CO2e out there for consumers to see just for fun. We did it in more of a ‘We believe that consumer empowerment should be a law, if not a human right’ kind of way. But change doesn’t just happen randomly. Someone needs to lead the charge. So we thought, ‘Why couldn’t it be a small oatmilk company that paves the way?’ And that’s exactly what Oatly has started to do. First in Europe, and now here in North America.

Unlike nutrition labels, there is no common or mandated methodology for CO2e labeling, so this is where consumers come in — and by “consumers” we mean you, all of your friends, family, enemies, frenemies, neighbors, the writer of this sentence and pretty much everyone on the planet, in case that wasn’t totally clear. Consumers need to educate themselves on what is included in a product’s CO2e label calculation methodology, or it won’t be an apples-to-apples comparison. Oatly’s contribution to that education means clearly explaining what is and isn’t included in our methodology. While we are hoping to see a standardized methodology for product climate footprints, getting everyone to agree on that takes time. So, while we’re working on that, we decided to go ahead and declare the climate footprint of our products in the most transparent and complete way we think is currently possible (in kg CO2e per kg product) and then share more information about the calculations on this webpage. While writing it all out on our packaging would have been cool, as you can see, we would have run out of space. 

Yeah, having access to a product’s climate footprint is great but it’s hard to understand what it really means in isolation. Can you imagine being able to compare different products from different companies next to one another and see for yourself which ones have greater or lesser climate impact? Now imagine the difference each consumer could make with their dollars just by having that information clearly stated on every food package. Amazing. So you can probably also imagine why we are calling on other companies—big and small—to also show consumers their numbers by declaring the climate footprint of their products. Come on, companies, let’s go! 

Let’s get specific: How are Oatly’s product climate footprints calculated?

Each product’s climate footprint calculation is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach, with emissions calculated from cradle to gate, or as we like to call it “grower to grocer”. It looks a little something like this:  

Carbon footprint diagram showing the process from cultivating & milling to other ingredients, to packaging materials, to production and distribution to market.

In this system, a product’s life cycle includes the production of the agricultural inputs (oats, oils, etc.), transport, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution up until the product reaches the market. 
As you might have guessed, a lot of data goes into these calculations. It includes the following: 

  • Agriculture: Impact related to the agricultural production of ingredients (e.g., oats, oils, etc.). Among other things, this includes nitrous oxide emissions from soils, carbon dioxide emissions from the production and use of fuels/electricity for tractors and other farm equipment, as well as emissions linked to fertilizer and pesticide production and use in the agricultural processes. 
  • Transport: The emissions generated in transport of ingredients from field to mill, mill to factory, and between factories. As well as the emissions generated in distribution of finished goods from the factory to market, considering if the product is transported ambient, chilled, or frozen.
  • Processing:  Electricity and gas consumption for the manufacturing of oat base and finished goods like our milks or frozen desserts. 
  • Packaging:  Emissions related to the manufacturing and transport of packaging materials.

Keeping it all up to date along the way.

We collect data across our products’ life cycle stages from ourselves and our partners annually, and vet it thoroughly. To make sure the products’ climate footprints stay up to date Oatly will go through this calculation process every year or two. Because if, for example, there are significant changes in the supply chain (like changes in factory site, in factory energy consumption/sources, or in fuels used for long distances), that means the climate footprint could change. We are committed to continually updating the data behind our products’ footprints, meaning that the numbers can (and will) change over time. 
Of course, we couldn’t do all of this super complicated stuff alone. To calculate our products’ climate footprints, we currently use a highly accomplished, very scientific platform called CarbonCloud. It’s a platform dedicated to calculating climate footprints based on more than 20 years of scientific research. Once we model our products with our vetted data in CarbonCloud’s software, then run the analysis, the results are verified by CarbonCloud before they are published. Basically, all our work is being checked by people who really know what they’re doing. 
Still looking for more of the nitty gritty details? You’ve scrolled to the right place! Here’s a full list of the results for each of the US products we’ve calculated so far.

Table showing the results of our calculations so far.
Original Oatmilk Ambient 32 fl oz0.74CarbonCloudAugust 22, 2023
Original Oatmilk Chilled 64 fl oz0.58CarbonCloudAugust 22, 2023
Oatmilk Barista Ambient 32 fl oz0.75CarbonCloudAugust 31, 2023
Oatmilk Barista Chilled 32 fl oz0.73CarbonCloudAugust 31, 2023
Oatmilk Full Fat Ambient 32 fl oz0.78CarbonCloudNovember 3, 2023
Oatmilk Full-Fat Chilled 64 fl oz0.71CarbonCloudAugust 22, 2023
Oatmilk Low Fat Chilled 64 fl oz 0.58CarbonCloudSeptember 22, 2023
Oatmilk Chocolate Ambient 32 fl oz0.79CarbonCloudNovember 3, 2023
Oatmilk Chocolate Chilled 64 fl oz0.77CarbonCloudSeptember 29, 2023
Frozen Dessert Vanilla 16 fl oz1.3CarbonCloudSeptember 21, 2023
Frozen Dessert Chocolate 16 fl oz1.3CarbonCloudSeptember 21, 2023
Frozen Dessert Strawberry 16 fl oz1.3CarbonCloudSeptember 21, 2023
Frozen Bar Vanilla 3ct1.8CarbonCloudDecember 21, 2022
Frozen Bar Chocolate Fudge 3ct1.9CarbonCloudDecember 21, 2022
Frozen Bar Salted Caramel 3ct1.7CarbonCloudDecember 21, 2022
Frozen Bar Strawberry Swirl 3ct1.7CarbonCloudDecember 21, 2022
Soft Serve Vanilla 64 fl oz1.3CarbonCloudDecember 6, 2023
Soft Serve Chocolate 64 fl oz1.3CarbonCloudDecember 6, 2023

*All the climate footprints were verified by CarbonCloud on the calculation date.

Possibly Asked Questions (PAQs)


The calculations are made by Oatly’s LCA specialists in CarbonCloud, a climate footprint calculation tool. Basically, it is a platform dedicated to calculating climate footprints based on more than 20 years of scientific research. Once we create a model for our products in CarbonCloud’s software and populate the model with our data, we run the analysis, and the results are then verified by CarbonCloud's experts before they are published.  


Oatly measures the climate footprint of its products. So, what is the difference between a climate footprint and a carbon footprint? Well, the answer is tricky because the calculation is actually the same. The term ‘carbon footprint’ has become widely used, although it might mislead the reader by giving the impression that the measurement is only taking into account carbon dioxide emissions, when, in reality, a climate footprint takes into consideration the effect of different greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc., and simplifies the emissions into one single measure (CO2e). Some of those greenhouse gases, like methane, are more powerful warming agents in the short term, so it is important to include them in any calculation of climate impact.   


That’s the thing, isn’t it? Right now, a problem with these numbers is they don’t say much if there’s nothing to compare with. Like, is 1.62 kg CO2e per kg product 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. This is why Oatly is calling for mandatory the disclosure of climate footprint information on food packaging.  


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 “life cycle” emissions of a product.


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. Leaving these elements out of the calculation is a common practice when calculating climate footprints.


For more information on CarbonCloud’s climate footprint modeling process, go to


Each product’s climate footprint calculation is based on an LCA approach. An LCA can be used to estimate many environmental indicators such as climate change (measured in CO2e), eutrophication, land use, water use, and more. Our numbers represent one of those indicators: climate change aka climate footprint. Also, system boundaries can differ depending on the goal and scope of each calculation. Oatly’s climate footprint boundaries are “grower to grocer”, as explained above. Other LCA boundaries can include more (or less!) stages. There could also be different sources of secondary data (e.g. emissions for growing 1 kg of oats) and variations in energy system emissions that depend on the methodology and assumptions of each LCA database provider. Allocations for emissions between products can also vary across LCAs.


No. Absolutely not. 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! Doing these calculations and adding climate labelling to our products is just one part of a much larger set of pro-people and pro-planet initiatives 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. Simply click here and enjoy!