Each month we tell the story of one company, exploring how and why it has chosen to prioritize climate action. To learn more or be considered for a future story, email us at [email protected]m.
For Guayaki, climate change management starts with forests. The organic beverage company has been promoting carbon drawdown from rainforest-grown yerba mate for 20 years. It also has a mission of stewarding 200,000 rainforest acres and creating 1,000 living wage jobs in the U.S. and South America by 2020.
Guayaki has built on its longstanding forest stewardship by making all nine climate action commitments through the Climate Collaborative in 2017, broadening its commitment to reversing climate change.
This month, we spoke with Gretchen Grani, Regeneration & Sustainability Cebadora (the term for a mate server) at Guayaki, to learn more about its climate action initiatives.
Why does Guayaki prioritize acting on climate change?
Climate action has become even more of a priority for us in 2017 given our politics, climate-related chaos, and the recent atmospheric carbon dioxide reading of 410 ppm. We also know more now about the potential of global regenerative food systems and soil carbon sequestration to reverse climate change.
Can you share examples of some of your projects?
Guayaki is leading on regenerative agriculture with its rainforest-sourced yerba mate and Market Driven RestorationTM model, which is unique in its whole systems approach. The approach covers rainforest protection and restoration, producer livelihoods and training, food sovereignty and women’s leadership, fair trade, and community stakeholder engagement.
Through our co-participatory partnerships, we’ve helped protect and restore 130,000 acres of South American Atlantic rainforest and created almost 900 living wage jobs. Those rainforest acres store a lot of carbon, so we sequester more than twice the carbon emissions emitted from our overall processing, packaging and transportation.
Another area where Guayaki is innovative with climate action is in transportation. We decided to take control of a portion of our product distribution (direct store delivery) where we thought we could make a difference. We created the Yerba Mate Co. (YMCO) a couple of years ago and now deliver to 18 cities in the United States.
YMCO has a fleet of 36 all-electric vehicles, including 33 Chevy Bolts. It also has 23 fuel-powered vehicles but is actively looking to replace them. Our fleet is over 61% electric, and we continue to build the fleet with the electric vehicles that are currently available while also working with several manufacturers to demonstrate demand for electric vans and trucks. As these vehicles become available we are replacing our gas-engine vans and trucks with the goal of becoming a 100% Fossil Fuel-Free Fleet.
We also engaged CH Robinson (an expert in supply chain management) to track the CO2 emissions from distribution shipments for which we contract directly. We recently requested greater transparency into the monthly carbon reports they provide us. As a result, they are working to change their order process to show shipment consolidation. Greater transparency could yield new opportunities for load consolidation improvements. So far this year, we’ve saved 33 metric tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) by choosing US EPA SmartWay carriers for our orders.
We continue to offset 100% of our web order shipping through the UPS Carbon Neutral Shipping program. We’ve offset 38 metric tonnes of CO2e since starting the program in April of 2016.
What are some positive outcomes you’ve seen from your investments in climate action?
Beyond the obvious effects of reducing our impact, we’ve had good feedback on our climate action efforts from multiple stakeholders. With our carbon calculator, we educate stores on how much carbon they sequestered through their orders. Students that we reach out to through our Student Ambassador Program really enjoy the carbon calculator, as well, and many universities and students have reached out to Guayaki over the years to collect data for case studies.
“Climate change is real and human activities continue to drive more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As business leaders it is imperative that we come together to implement the existing tools that can draw down carbon from the atmosphere, teach each other and drive climate policy that prioritizes drawdown. The Climate Collaborative is a crucial element for bringing us together because we all need to act together to drive change at the scale we need and quickly.” Chris Mann, Guayaki CEO
You can learn more on Guayaki’s website here.