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Hershey Aims to Cut the Carbon Footprint of its Chocolate with New Science-Based Target Commitment

EDF, Hershey, science-based targets

Photo credit: Wendy Palmer

One of the world’s top chocolate companies shared new plans for reducing its impact on the planet – including committing to set Science-Based Targets. But what sets Hershey apart from its peers is not this commitment. It’s the journey behind how it got here.

Leading up to today’s announcement, a lot happened behind the scenes - data was collected, numbers were crunched and methodologies chosen. It required time, human capital and expertise.

But Hershey didn’t do it alone. The company hired a graduate student to help with the heavy-lifting that comes before a target can be set.

Updating climate targets to make bigger impacts

A lot of companies are joining the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi). And a lot more will. But there’s also a large group of companies that want to, and simply don’t know how. For this group, it’s a question of making the SBTi methodology align with their climate and business goals – like with Hershey.

The chocolate manufacturer set climate-related goals as part of its Shared Goodness program. Until today, these goals were the company’s blueprint for reducing its carbon footprint. But like many companies, the targets were not aligned with the most up-to-date climate science.

Joining the SBTi meant Hershey had to update its current greenhouse gas emissions goals to be in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre- industrial temperatures.

And on top of that, it had to be a smart business move.

Determine the company’s total environmental footprint

Harini Rengarajan, a Babson College graduate student and EDF Climate Corps fellow at the time, was hired to update the company’s current GHG emissions goals and determine whether setting a SBT was possible.

Before any target-setting could take place, Hershey first had to calculate the carbon footprint of its entire operations. The greenhouse gases that came from its own facilities, and also its Scope 3 emissions - the carbon emissions associated with supply chain and indirect activities. Scope 3 emissions often account for the majority of a company’s GHG emissions. And they’re also the most challenging to quantify.

Hershey’s current 25 X 25 goals, which includes reducing GHG emissions by 25% by 2025 compared to a 2009 baseline, do not include Scope 3.

This meant that a large amount of the company’s footprint was not accounted for. It also meant there was an opportunity to set more impactful goals and track performance, both internally and against its peers.

Use a two-part approach when setting a science-based target

Using her background in both engineering and business, and her experience in supply chain management and supplier engagement, Harini put together a GHG inventory that included Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

She did so by meeting with stakeholders across Hershey’s departments to collect data and to better understand the ins-and-outs of the company’s business operations. She then calculated emission factors specific to the company’s specialized set of ingredients and services.

Next, Harini began the modeling. She studied six SBT methodologies before arriving at the option best suited for Hershey. She identified a range of targets that would hit the company’s goals and business drivers. Using a combination of criteria, such as timeframe, level of ambition and internal alignment, she presented Hershey with a potential plan to develop a Science-Based Target.

Finding value in partnerships

Today, Hershey joined leading companies in committing the SBTi. By next week, more companies will too. Each one will have a unique journey as to how it got to the point where it could make that commitment.

For some, a partnership might be a key ingredient in getting there.

Congratulations to Hershey for hitting this milestone.

Daniel Hill headshotDaniel Hill

Daniel Hill is a Project Manager for the EDF Climate Corps team, which orchestrates an innovative fellowship program placing top tier graduate students in leading companies, municipalities and universities to build the business case for sustainability and energy efficiency.

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