Horizon is upgrading its commitment to the environment with a stringent approach to its carbon footprint. It’s become more common for CPG companies to address this, with many working toward a carbon neutral goal.
When a company is carbon neutral, it either emits zero carbon into the atmosphere, or it equally balances its carbon emissions with carbon removal. A company that is carbon positive removes more carbon than it emits.
Known for its organic dairy products in the US, Horizon is now overhauling its supply chain to reach carbon positivity by 2025, and may be the first major dairy brand to do so. This will stretch ‘from feed to farm to table,’ president of premium dairy at Danone North America Domenic Borrelli told DairyReporter.
Funding on-farm practices
It will be a deep dive into Horizon’s entire business to determine where carbon can be reduced or eliminated, from its agricultural footprint and its processing, to its distribution and end products.
Borrelli said investing in Horizon’s more than 600 family farms across the US is a top priority in this effort and critical to the brand’s long term success. Since farming and livestock contribute nearly 10% of total US greenhouse gas emissions, Horizon will focus first on its farms.
The Horizon Farmer Investment Fund will provide $15m in the form of low- and no-cost loans to help with training, technology, and tools needed on farms for more sustainable practices.
Horizon hopes to improve regenerative soil health on farms, in which soil retains nutrients and water and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.
Farmers can also look deeper into cow diet, health and wellbeing to reduce cow’s production of methane gas. General farm improvements will also be analyzed, with manure management and energy use and efficiency.
Horizon will explore more options in renewable energy, implementing solutions in wind and solar. It said the fund will operate for a minimum of 10 years, initially allocating about $1.5m each year.
“The brand will optimize the energy and fuel that its farms use and announce partnerships in the generation of new renewable energy sources through Purchase Power Agreements,” Horizon said.
Ambitious goals and partnerships
Borrelli said Horizon is in the middle of completing a full life-cycle assessment of its carbon footprint, which will be the blueprint that helps it achieve the carbon positivity goal. It is also partnering with EcoPractices and the Organic Trade Association to collaborate on ideas and innovation and seek advice on Horizon’s practices.
Horizon is already two years into a five year study with EcoPractices that analyzes the soil of more than 11,000 acres of farmland across five states. It measures things like tillage, cover crops and crop rotation.
“Our plan is to share our learnings both on our life-cycle assessment as well as our soil health initiative - share them with the industry and the public, so we can help support others along the journey as much as we can,” Borrelli said.
Horizon has already begun the third-party certification process with the Carbon Trust in its first carbon neutral step. The brand looks to parent company Danone, which is aiming to become carbon neutral across all its brands and supply chains by 2050.