Wednesday, July 15, 2020

All milk should be carbon neutral

With carbon prices rising, farmers have been squealing about farmland being converted (or rather, restored) to forest for carbon farming. And meanwhile, Fooodstuffs has started selling carbon-neutral milk:

Carbon-neutral milk – where the product's greenhouse gases are offset by carbon credits – is coming to a supermarket fridge near you.

The just-launched New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square brand, Simply Milk, costs a little extra. A 2-litre bottle from New World will set you back $4.00, compared to the Value brand bottle at $3.38.

For the extra 62 cents, you’ll be contributing to native reforestation in Kaikoura, a hydro power plant in India and energy-efficient cook stoves in Bangladesh. The certified carbon credits are provided by ToitÅ« Envirocare.

Which sounds good, and it will certainly let people vote with their wallets. At the same time, Foodstuffs is overcharging. As the article points out, each bottle of milk creates 2.1 kg of carbon-dioxide-equivalent of direct farm, transport and processing emissions, which they offset at 4c / kg (or $40 / ton). And if you stick that on a value bottle of milk (because that is literally what this is: value milk with a different label, a higher price, and a spreadsheet behind the scenes to track how much they need to offset), Foodstuffs seems to be charging an extra 54 cents. And they're doing it because they have decided that offsetting your emissions is a premium product, to be used for extracting profit, rather than a basic obligation in a warming world. Shouldn't they be doing this for all their milk instead? Shouldn't Fonterra be doing it, and building carbon neutrality right into the base of the supply chain?

Still, its a start, and I'll buy it to try and send the market a signal to offset more. But I'm still annoyed that they're being so greedy about it.