Table of Contents
A Note from Antoine, Director of the Alter Eco Foundation
How We're Fighting Climate Change (Yep, We're Going There)
An Update on our 2020 Packaging Commitment: The Finish Line is in Sight
2020 RESULTS: Regeneration from Soil to Shelf
Want to do Your Part?
A NOTE FROM ANTOINE
Alter Eco Foundation
2020: From Awakening to Rising Stronger Together
Last year, we experienced a pandemic that has so far resulted in the loss of 550,000+ American lives and millions more globally. Additionally, we saw political upheaval, marches against systemic racial inequalities, and countless extreme weather events — including massive forest fires in Alter Eco’s home state of California. We witnessed firsthand our farming partners struggle to put food on their family’s table after the pandemic froze some of the cocoa supply chain.
Through this turmoil emerged hope, and even more importantly, an awakening. Exploitation of natural resources and income inequality are often prevalent in societies experiencing turbulence. 2020 is now the hottest year on record (NASA) and the pandemic has thrown more than 70 million new people under the poverty line (World Bank). Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked. Agriculture and food supply chains are at the source of these issues. Agriculture is one of the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide (EPA), and small landholders and indigenous peoples across the globe are disproportionally affected by climate change, seeing their revenues and ability to feed themselves decrease with every degree increase (UN).
So how are we — Alter Eco — doing our part? We believe in climate justice and trust that the transition to green business practices (like our Foundation’s work in regenerative cocoa) will bring opportunities to reduce poverty and inequality. On a more micro level, we believe you must ‘Check Your Eco’. In other words, accountability is key. This report serves that purpose for us. But it’s not just a report, it’s a compilation of small actions that we take every day, from finding better ways to grow cocoa to reduce our carbon footprint, to holding ourselves accountable for Justice-Equity-Diversity-Inclusion in our daily interactions as a team.
We believe chocolate can help leave the planet in better condition than we found it – all while making people pretty happy along the way. Read on to find out how we’re proving it out.
HOW WE'RE FIGHTING
Sustainability is the word of the moment – but let’s be honest – it doesn’t go far enough. Why would we want to sustain a broken system? We must rebuild and regenerate.
There's a better way. And it's possible to achieve it.
Agriculture is responsible for roughly a quarter of global carbon emissions (EPA) and a third of Alter Eco’s emissions. Equatorial crops like cocoa and the people who grow them are already being, and will continue to be, disproportionately impacted by global warming. We’re on track to see global temperatures rise 1.5°C by 2050, but temperature increases will not be uniform across the globe (NASA). South America – where cocoa grows – will experience extreme heat on more days (NASA).
Scientists at the F.A.O. and U.N. are warning that we have just 60 years until fertile soil disappears if we don’t change our agricultural practices (UN / FAO). This means we won’t have cocoa in a few decades if we don’t transition to a more environmentally-sustainable and equitable supply chain.
In October 2020, we launched The Alter Eco Foundation, to advance the industry’s efforts. This foundation provides funding, training, and other resources needed to help our farmers transition from monoculture to a form of regenerative agriculture called dynamic agroforestry.
What is Dynamic Agroforestry?
WAIT, HOLD ON.
Dynamic Agroforestry is the opposite
of industrial farming.
SEE THE DIFFERENCE?
Dynamic agroforestry not only benefits the land, but also the farmers who live and work on it. Our cocoa forests provide a diverse set of crops for our farmers to sell and eat so they are not solely dependent on the cacao crop. These forests also provide protection from the elements – sun, wind, dust. Lastly because these ecosystems work together in harmony, they require less water, fertilizer, pest management, and labor once mature.
Dynamic Agroforestry is
One ecosystem at a time.
Okay, back to the Alter Eco Foundation.
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 9 sustainability reports, including this one.
Provide necessary resources to help all farmers in our supply chain transition from monoculture to dynamic agroforestry
the number of Alter Eco’s cacao farmer co-ops in Ecuador already using the dynamic agroforestry model (that’s equivalent to 900 acres!)
the number of Alter Eco’s cacao farmer co-ops that will transition to dynamic agroforestry in the next 5 years (that’s 1,650 acres!)
how much carbon sequestration will increase per acre from converting cacao grown in monoculture to agroforestry on our partner farms in Ecuador (that’s equivalent to the emissions of 30 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!)
THE FINISH LINE IS IN SIGHT
First, let us be brutally honest. We didn’t reach our goal of 100% compostable and recyclable packaging last year. Figuring out how to make packaging recyclable and compostable was harder than we anticipated!
That said, we’re still committed to the goal. This commitment, plus an extra years’ worth of learnings will help us reach our goal by the end of this year. Here’s what we’ll achieve by the end of 2021.
Removing shrink wrap from the outside of our bulk truffle boxes during shipping.
Replacing all landfill stickers and bags with compostable and recyclable ones on our smaller truffle boxes (10ct and 6ct).
Transitioning our truffle wrappers from industrial compostable to backyard compostable. This will mean you can compost your wrappers in your home compost/garden!
Transitioning our quinoa bags from landfill to compostable. (We did already launch a compostable bag for this line in the past, but because of supply issues, we had to switch back to landfill for a time.)
We won’t stop until our entire supply chain is zero-landfill.
FROM SOIL TO SHELF
We are Certified Climate Neutral. That means we achieve net zero carbon emissions through these 3 steps:
Step 1: Measure
We measure our carbon footprint in detail each year. Currently, the vast majority (>70%) of our emissions come from cocoa farming and logistics. Knowing this helps us know where to focus on reductions.
Step 2: Reduce
We are currently working to reduce our emissions primarily through improved agricultural practices and logistics efficiency.
Step 3: Protect, Plant, Restore
Since our supply chain practices do currently emit more carbon than they inset, we offset emissions by protecting and planting trees, and transitioning our farms to dynamic agroforestry.
With the partnership of Pur Projet, we protected 360,000 trees in 2020.
In 2020, we worked with Pur Project to plant 1,000 trees. During the holidays last year, we planted a tree for each holiday gift set our consumers purchased from our website.Thank you again for giving the gift of trees!
We are helping our farmers transition from monoculture to dynamic agroforestry on their cacao farms. 400 of our farmers have been trained in agroforestry.
Compared to monoculture, this means 2x trees per acre, with up to 15 different species of trees and plants per acre. 900 acres of our farms using agroforestry, expanding to 1,650 by the end of 2021.
As always, we continue to work with small scale farmers paid fair trade prices. Our 2020 fair trade impact by the numbers:
We pay 30% above the fair trade price paid to most cocoa farmers
We’ve paid a fair trade premium of $168,000
We’ve purchased a total of $4,150,000 in fair trade ingredients
FORTALEZA & UNOCACE CO-OPS Calceta & Guayaquil, Ecuador
ACOPAGRO CO-OP Alto Huayabamba, Peru
Raw Cane Sugar MANDUVIRÁ CO-OP Arroyos y Esteros, Paraguay
Vanilla Beans MANANARA CO-OP Madagascar
Carbon Neutral Reforestation Project ACOPAGRO CO-OP Amazon Rainforest, Alto Huayabamba, Peru
Cocoa Butter CONACADO CO-OP Dominican Republic
San Francisco de Marconis,
We go beyond fair trade – in addition to simply paying a premium, we help farmers develop long-term solutions.
One of the goals of The Alter Eco Foundation is to address the income and quality of life disparity we often find with small-scale farmers, struggling to make a living and feed their families from the revenues of one main crop, even under fair trade programs. Dynamic agroforestry models require that farmers plant and tend to a variety of plants, not just cacao.
This includes bananas, mangoes, various types of legumes, and more. The farmers can then sell these crops in their local markets to supplement their income, or consume these crops themselves.
Additionally, these thriving agroforestry systems, once mature, require less inputs (both in terms of water, fertilizers, and physical labor) and provide shade and cooler air. Both benefitting the farmers’ and families’ quality of lives.
Here’s what we accomplished in 2020:
Diverted 13.2 million truffle wrappers from the landfill. Our truffle wrappers are made with birch and eucalyptus leaves, and printed with non-toxic ink.
Never threw out excess product that was created by swings in consumer buying patterns due to Covid-19. Instead, we partnered with food waste reduction programs to ensure no product was ever wasted.
3 steps to get a handle on and
reduce your personal carbon footprint
To know where to start,
know where you are.
Audit your lifestyle and calculate your carbon footprint with an online tool like the Ecological Footprint Calculator from the Global Footprint Network.
RESULTS FROM THE ALTER ECO TEAM
MAI SAETERN, Senior Accountant at Alter Eco
"I was pretty surprised that food was my biggest carbon consumption category."
CORINNE GENTILE, Sales Manager at Alter Eco
"I try to be so conscious in my everyday choices – I don’t even own a car, buy local produce, produce little trash and food waste, eat a lot of vegetarian meals. But then the flying brings it way up."
CEO at Alter Eco
Identify where you can make a difference, in a way that fits your lifestyle.
Use your results to maximize your impact. Making commitments and taking small steps towards them daily is a meaningful way to live more sustainably. Be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound in your goals.
"I think the action I plan on taking is lessening the amount of meat that I consume in my diet. I eat meat almost everyday so maybe I can limit it to 2-3x a week instead."
MAI SAETERN, Senior Accountant at Alter Eco
"One commitment I can make is running the heater less! We will just bundle up more. Another commitment is I am going to buy some carbon offsets on my east coast trips."
CORINNE GENTILE, Sales Manager at Alter Eco
"During this pandemic, we’ve seen working remotely work better than we ever thought possible. I’ll be sticking to virtual meetings as much as possible to avoid excess travel."
MIKE FORBES, CEO at Alter Eco
Commit to one and
outline a game plan.
Think through the choices and opportunities you have to live more sustainably each day. Practicing mindfulness will help you build a game plan for how to respond when future decisions arise and prepare you to make positive action a habit.
YOU GOT THIS!