Image of lush rainforest showing green plants in the front and a river and mountains in the back.
Alter Eco logo that shows a white circle with the words 'Alter Eco' in the center.

Sustainability

REGENERATION REPORT

2020

AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-L

Table of Contents

Illustration of a butterfly

A Note from Antoine, Director of the Alter Eco Foundation

Illustration of 3 circles, with one reading CO2 in the middle

How We're Fighting Climate Change (Yep, We're Going There)

Illustration of a check mark

An Update on our 2020 Packaging Commitment: The Finish Line is in Sight

Illustration of a plant with two leaves

2020 RESULTS: Regeneration from Soil to Shelf

Illustration of a smiley face

Want to do Your Part?

A NOTE FROM ANTOINE​

Director,
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. 

 

Regeneratively, 

Antoine Ambert 

 
 
 
AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-B

HOW WE'RE FIGHTING

CLIMATE

CHANGE

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.  

alternative

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

Image of a green palm frond
Image of a green palm frond
Image of a chunk of chocolate with almonds dipped in melted chocolate and salt on top of it.
AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-P
Blue speech bubble

What is Dynamic Agroforestry?

Green speech bubble

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. 

Chunk of chocolate with caramel pieces on top, and leaves behind it
Vibrant green leaves surround the outside of the image with some blue sky showing between the trees.

Dynamic Agroforestry is

WORLD REGENERATION.

One ecosystem at a time.

Yellow badge that reads 'YAY!' on top.

YAY!

Variety of green leaves to frame the end of this website section.

Okay, back to the Alter Eco Foundation.

GOALS OF THE ALTER ECO FOUNDATION

GOAL

Light brown badge shape to mark that this is goal number 1.

1

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. 

GOAL

Light brown badge shape to mark that this is goal number 2.

2

Provide necessary resources to help all farmers in our supply chain transition from monoculture to dynamic agroforestry 

Image of a female farmer in Ecuador cutting a cacao pod off of a tree
A farmer hangs onto a cacao tree to snip some leaves.

the number of Alter Eco’s cacao farmer co-ops in Ecuador already using the dynamic agroforestry model (that’s equivalent to 900 acres!) 

400

1000

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!)

138

METRIC TONS

(MT)

GOAL

Light brown badge shape to mark that this is goal number 3.

3

Make Alter Eco’s proven climate positive model available to the entire cacao industry 

2.5

GIGA TONS

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!)

Chunk of chocolate with green leaves behind it
AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-B

AN UPDATE

ON OUR

2020

PACKAGING

COMMITMENT

A light gray squiggle to mimic a finish line ribbon.

THE FINISH LINE IS IN SIGHT

A light gray squiggle to mimic a finish line ribbon.
 
AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-L

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. 

Box of 60 count sea salt truffles with an enlarged truffle in front of it and frond in the back.

Removing shrink wrap from the outside of our bulk truffle boxes during shipping. 

Boxes of 10 count salted caramel and classic dark truffles with leaves behind them.

Replacing all landfill stickers and bags with compostable and recyclable ones on our smaller truffle boxes (10ct and 6ct). 

2 single silk velvet truffles in front of a large monstera leaf.

Transitioning our truffle wrappers from industrial compostable to backyard compostable. This will mean you can compost your wrappers in your home compost/garden! 

A pouch of pearl quinoa next to a pouch of rainbow quinoa with a branch of leaves in the back.

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.) 

A light gray hand-drawn oval to circle the worlds 'zero landfill'.

We won’t stop until our entire supply chain is zero-landfill. 

AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-B

OUR 3
REGENERATION COMMITMENTS

 

FROM SOIL TO SHELF

 
Blue circle that has the words '1' and 'Climate Neutral' on top of it.
CLIMATE
NEUTRAL
1
Cutouts showing a branch of leaves next to a banana tree leaves.

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. 

PROTECT

With the partnership of Pur Projet, we protected 360,000 trees in 2020.

PLANT

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!

FARMERS TRAINED
EACH YEAR
150
Teal rectangle in a graph with the words 'Yearly Average' on it for 50 farmers trained yearly.
Green rectangle in a graph with the words '2021 Goal' on it for 150 farmers trained in 2021.
YEARLY
AVG.
2021
GOAL
50

RESTORE  

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. 

Cutout of banana tree leaves.
Brown circle that has the words '2' and 'Invest in Farmers' on top of it.
INVEST IN
FARMERS
2

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

World map showing Alter Eco's co-ops in 6 different countries.

OUR CO-OPS

Purple circle that has the words '3' and 'Eliminate Waste' on top of it.

1

Cocoa

FORTALEZA & UNOCACE CO-OPS Calceta & Guayaquil, Ecuador

White circle with pink border with number 2 in the center.

2

Cocoa

ACOPAGRO CO-OP Alto Huayabamba, Peru

White circle with blue border with number 3 in the center.

3

Coconut Oil

FTAK

Kerala, India

White circle with red border with number 5 in the center.

5

Raw Cane Sugar MANDUVIRÁ CO-OP Arroyos y Esteros, Paraguay

White circle with orange border with number 6 in the center.

6

Vanilla Beans MANANARA CO-OP Madagascar

White circle with green border with number 7 in the center.

7

Carbon Neutral Reforestation Project ACOPAGRO CO-OP Amazon Rainforest, Alto Huayabamba, Peru

White circle with dark blue border with number 4 in the center.

4

Cocoa Butter CONACADO CO-OP Dominican Republic

White circle with blue border with number 8 in the center.

8

Cocoa 

COOPROAGRO CO-OP

San Francisco de Marconis,

Dominican Republic

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.   

Purple circle that has the words '3' and 'Eliminate Waste' on top of it.
ELIMINATE
WASTE
3

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. 

Image of a single salted caramel truffle.
Image of a single sea salt truffle.
Image of a single classic dark truffle.
AE-RegenerationReport-2020-R2-Graphics-B

WANT

TO DO

YOUR PART?

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

White rectangle
Image showing Mai's ecological footprint requires 2.9 Earths.
Image of Mai smiling who has dark brown hair and is outside in front of trees.

MAI SAETERNSenior Accountant at Alter Eco

"I was pretty surprised that food was my biggest carbon consumption category."

White rectangle
Image of Corinne smiling who has light brown hair in front of a brick wall.

CORINNE GENTILESales 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."

Image showing Corinne's ecological footprint requires 2.5 Earths.
White rectangle
Image of Mike smiling who has a bald shaven head and standing in front of a brick wall.

MIKE FORBES
CEO at Alter Eco

Image showing Mike's ecological footprint requires 4 Earths.
Brown circle with an illustration of a finger pointing to a website page with check marks.
Illustration showing a finger pointing to a website page with check marks.
Green rectangle that has the words 'Step 1' on top of it.

STEP 1

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. 

White rectangle
Image of Mai smiling who has dark brown hair and is outside in front of trees.

"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 SAETERNSenior Accountant at Alter Eco

Simple brown line illustration of a sweet potato
Simple brown line illustration of a mango
White rectangle
Image of Corinne smiling who has light brown hair in front of a brick wall.

"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 GENTILESales Manager at Alter Eco

Simple brown line illustration of an avocado
White rectangle
Simple brown line illustration of a banana tree
Simple brown line illustration of a cacao pod
Simple brown line illustration of a leaf
Simple brown line illustration of a leaf
Simple brown line illustration of a leaf
Simple brown line illustration of a leaf
Simple brown line illustration of a leaf
Image of Mike smiling who has a bald shaven head and is standing in front of a brick wall

"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 FORBESCEO at Alter Eco

Brown circle with an illustration of a target with an arrow hitting the center of it.
Purple rectangle that has the words 'Step 2' on top of it.

STEP 2

Illustration of a target with an arrow hitting the center
Brown circle with an illustration of two jars on top of it.

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!

Blue rectangle that has the words 'Step 3' on top of it.

STEP 3

Illustration of two jars next to each other
DanielGorostieta-AlterEco-NutButterBombs

THANK YOU for embracing
Alter Eco as we work towards our mission to pioneer a

FULL CIRCLE APPROACH TO EATING, FARMING, AND DOING BUSINESS
and to inspire others to do the same.