Earlier today, PepsiCo announced that it is launching a new pilot program to reduce the carbon footprint of its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice.
About a year ago, the company released results of a lifecycle analysis (LCA) it had completed on the juice. That data, compiled in partnership with the Carbon Trust, revealed that each half-gallon of orange juice emits the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. (Need a point of reference? Consider this: Burning one gallon of gas creates 20 pounds of CO2.)
By completing the LCA, PepisCo also discovered that the largest single source of carbon emissions in the production of the drink came from the growing process. Specifically, about 35 percent of Tropicana Pure Premium’s carbon footprint derives from fertilizer use and application in the orange groves.
So now, Tropicana is going to team up with one of its long-time growers, SMR Farms in Bradenton, Fla., to test two lower-carbon fertilizers. If successful, the company estimates that this change could reduce the total carbon footprint of Tropicana Pure Premium by as much as 15 percent.
One of the fertilizers in produced by Yara International, the world’s largest fertilizer producer. It has a much lower environmental impact than other conventional fertilizers, because it is manufactured with proprietary technology that reduces nitrous oxide emissions by up to 90 percent. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nitrous oxide has approximately 300 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide.
The other fertilizer is made by ERTH Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toronto-based Outlook Resources. This one achieves a lower-carbon footprint by using locally-sourced, carbon-neutral raw materials–such as food waste and agriculture waste–rather than natural gas. As a result, it avoids unnecessary carbon emissions from both natural gas and raw materials’ transportation.
Will using either of these alternative fertilizers significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with the agricultural production of oranges?
Unfortunately, we won’t have a clear answer to that question for quite awhile. PepsiCo says the new study will last up to five years, because it needs to match the maturity cycle of orange trees.
However, the results of this pilot program may be worth the wait. PepsiCo says the new findings could have a big impact on a variety of agricultural practices, and that it will monitor early indicators of success with researchers from the University of Florida so that any findings can be shared with other growers to reduce the carbon in their systems, too.
“We’ve been using our new environmental technology to produce lower-carbon fertilizers with great success,” says Sandro Pippobello, director of Premium Offerings for Yara North America. “In addition to our fertilizer production technology, we’re excited to bring our expertise in plant nutrition to a project that has the potential to both improve agricultural practices associated with orange production and make a positive contribution to growers’ profitability. With PepsiCo’s support, we have an opportunity to make significant breakthroughs in several critical areas: the environment, crop quality and profitability.”
For more information on PepsiCo’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of Tropicana Pure Premium, watch this video: