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A NOTE FROM ANTOINE
Alter Eco Foundation
Change must happen now.
Early this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts from the United Nations, released their annual report (IPCC). Their findings are undeniable: immediate, drastic action is necessary as the impacts of climate change are happening faster and at a larger scale than previously understood. In March 2022, the coldest location on the planet, East Antarctica, saw temperatures 70 degrees warmer than normal. This historic record left scientists in shock.
The IPCC also demonstrates that rising temperatures following current trends have the potential to expose up to 3 billion people to severe heatwaves and bring up to 20% of all land species to a high risk of extinction. Our cacao farming partners in Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Peru have already been exposed to severe droughts in the past few years, impacting yields and making resources like water scarce, ultimately reducing their income and ability to feed their families.
There’s hope! Like Alter Eco, thousands of companies have pledged Net Zero emissions, including a fifth of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies (ECIU) and more than 500 B Corps (B Corp). The UN has asked the world to aim for net zero emissions by 2050 which would help limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era levels (UN). At Alter Eco, our biggest emitters are growing cacao, moving ingredients around the world (freight) and packaging. In this report, you’ll see us focusing our reduction efforts in these 3 areas.
Growing cacao via regenerative agriculture has multiple benefits, starting with providing the tools farmers need to become resilient as the climate changes. Regenerative agriculture has the power to reverse climate change, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere into a regenerated soil. Alter Eco believes all chocolate should use cacao beans grown in dynamic agroforestry, a regenerative farming model – the mission of the Alter Eco Foundation.
Freight using clean energy exists and with work, we can adopt it. Our distribution partners are making progress, from solar powered fleet to the use of more climate-friendly refrigerants. We appreciate their continuous efforts to improve our industry’s overall carbon footprint.
Finally, the use of plant-based compostable packaging instead of fossil fuel plastics, as we’ve used for our truffles since 2013, contributes to lower emissions both at the material source and at end of life. We encourage every food business to explore a transition away from fossil fuel plastic towards solutions with lower carbon footprints.
Alter Eco believes that there’s hope among the alarming stories we’ve seen in the past few years. We also believe that chocolate can help leave the planet in better condition than we found it – all while helping all of us escape once in a while as we indulge in a sweet bite.
HOW WE'RE FIGHTING
Regenerative Agriculture is
We believe . . .
One ecosystem at a time.
is the opposite of industrial farming.
SEE THE DIFFERENCE?
farmer livelihood depends on the price of a few crops
susceptible to drought and pests
farmer livelihood is secured by a variety of crops & improved working conditions thanks to shade
builds resilience to climate change
That’s why we started The Alter Eco Foundation in 2020.
GOALS OF THE ALTER ECO FOUNDATION
Build industry and consumer awareness of soil regeneration, carbon sequestration, farmer livelihood, and the chocolate supply chain
Thank you for reading! You are an important part of the solution.
To date, we’ve released 11 sustainability reports, including this one.
Provide necessary resources to help all farmers in our supply chain transition from monoculture to regenerative agriculture
the number of Alter Eco’s cacao farmers in Ecuador
already using the regenerative agriculture model (that’s equivalent to 900 acres!)
the number of Alter Eco’s cacao farmers that
will transition to regenerative agriculture in the next 4 years
how much carbon sequestration will increase per acre from converting cacao grown in monoculture to regenerative agriculture on our partner farms in Ecuador (that’s equivalent to the emissions of 18 passenger vehicles for one year!)
Make Alter Eco’s proven climate positive model available to the entire cacao industry
CO2 that could be sequestered from transitioning the entire cocoa industry to dynamic agroforestry (that’s equivalent to 27 million cars off the road every year for 20 years!)
As we grow, we are committed to maintaining our core values. In 2021, we took a big step forward in doing so by developing our Sustainability Guidelines.
FROM SOIL TO SHELF
We are Certified Climate Neutral. That means we achieve net zero carbon emissions through these 3 steps:
Step 1: Measure
In 2021, the vast majority (>70%) of our emissions came from cocoa farming and logistics. Knowing this helps us know where to focus on reductions.
Step 2: Reduce
Transition to regenerative agriculture – Regenerative agriculture removes carbon from the atmosphere. We are working on estimating how much carbon we are removing for each acre of land that is transitioned.
Change up transportation – We are working to significantly reduce air freight, which emits 40x more CO2 than ocean freight. We’re also looking into adding a new distribution facility that is closer to areas of the country that are far from our current facility.
Swap in more plant-based packaging – More plant-based packaging would reduce CO2 emissions both at material sourcing (plant-based versus fossil fuel) and end of life (compost versus landfill).
Step 3: Offset & Inset
Since our supply chain practices currently emit more carbon than they inset, we achieve our Carbon Neutral status by various offsetting and insetting projects.
OFFSET VIA NATURE & TECHNOLOGY BASED PROGRAMS
The transition to regenerative agriculture and the ensuing ability to inset carbon takes time and investment to achieve. For now, we must offset much of our carbon emissions through different nature-based (planting trees outside our farms, forest conservation) and technology-based (building solar panels) programs.
INSET VIA REGNERATIVE AGRICULTURE
In 2021, 232 of our partner farmers were trained in regenerative farming practices, in addition to the original 400. Now we’re working with them to ensure proper management to complete the transition to regenerative. Our goal was to expand regenerative to 1,560 acres by the end of 2021, which we achieved.
TOTAL FARMERS TRAINED
As always, we continue to work with small scale farmers paid fair trade prices. Our 2021 fair trade impact by the numbers:
We pay 30% above the minimum fair trade price required to pay to cocoa farmers
We’ve paid fair trade premiums of $256,000
We’ve purchased a total of $5,000,000 in fair trade ingredients
UNOCACE & FORTALEZA CO-OPS Guayaquil & Calceta, Ecuador
Cocoa & Cocoa Butter COOPROAGRO & CONACADO CO-OPS
Vanilla Beans MANANARA CO-OP
Cocoa & Cocoa Butter
ACOPAGRO CO-OP Alto Huayabamba, Peru
Regenerative Agroforestry Project
Raw Cane Sugar MANDUVIRÁ CO-OP Arroyos y Esteros, Paraguay
Carbon Insetting Reforestation Project ACOPAGRO CO-OP Alto Huayabamba, Peru
In 2021, our partner farmers* have:
their yield of cacao, on average
Saved anywhere from $300-$1,000
on fertilizers due to increased soil health
Increased their incomes by 20-30%
with the sale of additional crops on their local markets
Reported improved working conditions
thanks to increased shade and humidity
*Based on reports from dynamic agroforestry project at Unocace only
Here’s what we
accomplished in 2021:
Removed stickers that end up in the landfill from truffle packaging
Transitioned truffle wrappers from industrial to backyard compostable
(14.5 million truffles diverted from landfill!)
Removed all shrink wrap used when shipping products to distributors and retailers
We introduced “PCR” (Post-Consumer Recycled) packaging
DID YOU KNOW?
Only 9% of plastic gets recycled (EPA) — that’s why we decided to focus on recycled plastic (already in the system) over recyclable (virgin plastic).
We believe that sustainability needs to be sustainable to actually do it – to incorporate it into our lives for the long term.
The good news is, we’re all part of one big ecosystem, so the same things that are good for our bodies and minds are also good for the planet. During Earth Month this year, join us in raising awareness and taking action to care for mind, body, and soil.
After all, Sustainability Starts with Self.