Leading Sustainable Organizations
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Do you have examples of how the [Stonyfield sustainability] changes have made the enterprise more sustainable? A gallon of milk has the same carbon footprint as a gallon of gasoline. What actions can materially reduce this footprint?
Turner: Clearly, you’ve just made the case for deep supply chain engagement, which we are very focused on. Simply by virtue of measuring our impact comprehensively, we recognized that we needed to attack enteric emissions on farms – essentially the methane-creating cow burps – and the transportation of finished product to the customer.
Our Greener Cow project, which we started in 2009, has shown very promising results in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions that can result from a diet of feed that’s more appropriate for cows: namely a grass-based rather than a grain-based diet. With the critical pasture requirement for organic milk – Stonyfield only uses organic milk – we’re already in a leadership position here at Stonyfield, but we want to go further to make sure that we can see the full potential of an effort like this.
We also have worked hard to optimize our business for rail, and between 2006 and 2010, we logged over 400,000 miles of rail transport in getting our yogurt to Western markets. Rail uses eleven times less fuel than trucks, so we’re already significantly reducing the impact of getting our products to market. We’ve become incredibly passionate advocates in trying to get other businesses to take advantage of the opportunities we have. It’s real impact and real costs that we’re avoiding. It takes commitment and focus – which as you might imagine scares some companies away – but for us, it’s just how we do business.