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Pioneering Program to Reduce Shea Supply Chain Emissions

Beiersdorf, AAK and First Climate implement a project for climate-efficient cooking in Ghana and Burkina Faso

Beiersdorf, in partnership with the Swedish plant-based oil specialist, AAK, and First Climate, has developed a forward-thinking carbon insetting project in Ghana and Burkina Faso. The project reduces emissions from the shea supply chain. Shea butter is an important raw material for cosmetic products.

Since 2019, Beiersdorf has introduced several initiatives to support and empower women in Ghana and Burkina Faso. As part of its Responsible Sourcing program, the company has set itself the goal of supporting 10,000 West African female collectors of shea nuts, an important resource in the Beiersdorf supply chain. Initiatives include the planting of new shea tree seedlings, trainings for women to enable them to set up so-called Village Savings and Loan Associations for enhanced entrepreneurial activities as well as trainings to enable local women to build safer, more energy-efficient cookstoves. This year, Beiersdorf has taken a next step in their commitment by adding a carbon insetting component to their initiative: Together with First Climate and the certification body SustainCERT, the company set up a program to actively reduce GHG emissions in its own shea butter supply chain.

Climate protection as a carbon insetting measure in the Beiersdorf supply chain

The new insetting program focuses on the treatment process of the shea nut kernels. Before they can be further processed, the germination phase must be interrupted by boiling the shea nut kernels. Previously, this was done by the women on simple three-stone fires, but through the initiative of Beiersdorf and AAK, with the support of the Global Shea Alliance, improved energy-efficient cookstoves can be used for the treatment of the shea nut kernels. Being around 2.5 times more efficient than traditional cooking over an open fire, the stoves reduce the firewood requirement and the associated emissions enormously: With a total of 11,000 cookstoves produced and used, the overall expected emission reduction – including private use of the cookstoves – amounts to approximately 53,000 metric tons over a period of five years. A total of 2,890 metric tons are expected to be reduced through the more efficient processing of the shea nut kernels alone within the same period.

First-ever carbon insetting project with new methodology

“Carbon insetting is a relatively new concept,” explains Syed Talal Raza Shah, who is responsible for the management of the project at First Climate. “In contrast to classic certified climate protection projects, or so-called offsetting projects, insetting projects address emission reductions within the value chain of a company and thus contribute directly to lowering the company's carbon emissions.” While carbon offset projects have been developed since the 1990s, the concept of insetting was set up in 2008. So far, only a handful of supply chain interventions globally have reached certification status.

As a partner of Beiersdorf, First Climate prepared the necessary project documents and consulted on the implementation of the program that recently successfully completed the validation process through SustainCERT. This validation confirms that the project design is in line with all relevant standards and guidelines and that it can enter the official verification phase. It is the first project ever to achieve this under SustainCERT’s new value chain intervention program that is specifically designed for the certification of insetting projects.

Sustainable development benefits

In addition to direct emission savings, the project generates a variety of additional socio-economic benefits which the project participants and the local environment benefit from directly. One such benefit is that the health risks associated with smoke inhalation are substantially reduced. Because of the more efficient combustion processes in the improved cookstoves, significantly fewer pollutants are released. In addition, families participating in the project can significantly reduce their use of firewood, which also has the positive effect of reducing dependency on local forests in Ghana and Burkina Faso for fuel supply.

Climate protection out of responsibility

Minimizing its carbon footprint is an important component to Beiersdorf's CARE BEYOND SKIN Sustainability Agenda. In addition to the commitment to ambitious climate targets and an operational emission reductions goal of 30% absolutely by 2025 vs. 2018, the company also aims to reduce its supply chain (scope 3) emissions to the same extent. With the new cookstove program, Beiersdorf has become one of the ”early movers” in this area of corporate climate protection.

“Our commitment to climate protection is a central part of our commitment to our consumers, society and the environment. That is why we take responsibility for the emissions from our business activities, including our value chain emissions. With the development of the carbon insetting program, we also want to contribute to reducing the emissions caused by our business activities in our shea supply chain. At the same time, it is very important to us that with this project we can make a positive contribution to the preservation of an intact environment and to the improvement of the living conditions of the local communities,” says Julia Beier, Responsible Sourcing Manager at Beiersdorf.

Photo credit: AAK AB, all rights reserved.



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