Danone’s carbon reduction collaboration with SAP has additional cost, recruitment and retention benefits


Most of the news these days is around energy efficiency wins, so it makes a welcome change to hear a pure carbon reduction story from Danone.

In 2008 Danone set very aggressive carbon reduction goals for itself. It decided to reduce its carbon emissions 30% by end of year 2012. This was a deliberately ambitious aim because it meant galvanising everyone in the company to become involved, if the aim were to be met. On a call with Danone CIO Jean-Marc Lagoutte last week I learned that Danone have already passed their 30% target – an impressive achievement.

How did they do it? They used a combination of information and incentives. On the incentives front, 30% of every plant manager’s bonus was made dependent on carbon reductions. While on the information front, Danone rolled out a carbon calculation and management system which made the full lifecycle carbon emissions of every aspect of every one of Danone’s 35,000 products readily available.

Danone teamed up with SAP to co-innovate on this project. SAP was an easy choice according to Lagoutte because Danone was already an SAP house, so the majority of the data their carbon system would need was already in their SAP system. It has now been rolled out to the majority of Danone’s affiliates and should be in all of them by 2013. Danone is hoping that this will become a standard offering from SAP so that it will be covered under SAP’s standard maintenance contract. SAP in turn have said that they do plan to offer the solution to new customers.

Next steps for Danone, said Lagoutte, include calculating the water footprint of its products, the effect on biodiversity and when labeling standards have been reached, making that information available to consumers.

Internally in Danone, a carbon master has been appointed for every country business unit. The carbon master is in charge of carbon reductions for that business unit. Making one person per unit responsible and arming them with the information the need to affect that change was obviously critical to the success of this program (that and the incentivising of the plant managers to ensure buy-in).

I asked Jean-Marc if it were just the carbon footprints’ of their products ingredients which were considered but he said that no, it was everything in the lifecycle, including their suppliers’ carbon footprints and the packaging. In fact, several of the carbon reduction wins that Danone achieved came from reductions in packaging. Four packs of Danone yoghurt sold in France had a cardboard surround. This has been done away with, for example, with a consequent carbon footprint reduction.

Other changes were to substitute the PET used in plastic bottles with a mix of recycled plastic and bio-plastic (from cane sugar). This change reduced the carbon footprint of Actimel bottles by 70%.

As well as reducing Danone’s carbon footprint, this project is also saving Danone significant costs on several fronts. PET was one of the most expensive ingredients which Danone used. Substituting bio-plastic, not only reduces Danone’s carbon footprint, but saves them money as bio-plastic is cheaper. Other packaging reductions also lead to easy cost and carbon reductions.

Also, this project led to Danone’s needing to revisit all their processes, many of which hadn’t been examined in quite some time. This re-assessment identified inefficiencies and led to many reductions and simplifications of processes.

And because all purchasing contracts had to be re-negotiated with a carbon dimension, all of Danone’s suppliers had to sell themselves once more to Danone. This led to big improvements in the supply contracts.

Finally, the carbon reduction program generated a lot of internal pride in Danone around the company’s goals and achievements. This has led, according to Lagoutte, to significant recruitment and retention benefits for Danone.

A win for the planet, a win for SAP and several nice wins for Danone!

Photo Credits Tom Raftery and sashafatcat


Any questions for Carbonetworks CEO Michael Meehan?

Photo Credit Marcus Ramberg

Carbonetworks have developed an incredibly full-featured, online, carbon strategy platform.

This application generates or takes in carbon footprint information, normalizes the carbon data across all of a company’s facilities and then monetises it so companies can think of their carbon as either an asset or a liability on the balance sheet.

But Carbonetworks then goes the next logical step and gives companies access to their marketplace where they offer fully verified offsets as well as a network of other reduction options so companies can have a diverse spread of carbon reduction investments.

Carbonetworks CEO is Michael Meehan and I will be chatting to him tomorrow and podcasting the conversation.

If you have any questions you would like me to put to Michael during the discussion, please feel free to leave them in the comments of this post or email them to me ([email protected]).


How to make a hosting company carbon neutral РRen̩ Wienholtz of Strato

Photo Credit <


Episode 4 of the GreenMonk Podcasts – 36 mins 28 secs

My guest on this podcast is Strato’s Executive Director for Information Technology and Innovation Rene Wienholtz.

Strato are Europe’s second largest hosting company and Strato are also carbon neutral! Amazingly they achieved this without buying any offsets. How did they do it?

Listen to René explain it.

Here are the questions I asked René and the approx. times I asked them:

Can you tell us something about your own background first and who are Strato? – 00:34

If I heard you correctly you are now the largest hosting company in Europe? – 02:28

You guys are a bit like RackSpace in the sense that you don’t do co-location, you rent space on your servers, id that right? – 02:38

You mentioned that you decided to re-architect the setup in Strato and reduce your carbon footprint, was this for environmental reasons or business reasons? – 03:34

Questions from readers:

Jiri Ludvik
what percentage in carbon reduction they achieved by each of the step you mention? – 05:48

Do you use underfloor plenums as well to direct the air to the cold aisles? – 21:47

Can you talk to us too about the energy savings you are getting from buying CO2 free energy? – 25:44

Have you negotiated a set price from your clean energy supplier for a set period? – 29:36

Can you tell me how long this price is guaranteed for? – 30:15

Have you had any independent 3rd party certify that you are carbon neutral? – 30:27

More questions from readers:

Jim Hughes
Has the carbon saving had a real cost benefit? Or have the lower power costs been exceeded by the premium for carbon neutral electricity? – 31:42

Would you recommend other hosting providers take the same route? – 32:53

Do you think environmental awareness is an area where European hosting companies have a head start over the US? – 34:47

Download the entire interview here
(33.4mb mp3)


Carbonetworks and the open carbon platform

Carbonetworks Carbon Balance Sheet Screenshot credit Carbonetworks

I wrote a quick blog post about Carbonetworks the other day when it was announced they secured $5 million in series A financing.

I made the mistake though of assuming their software was a simple carbon accounting solution. It goes well beyond that.

Yesterday, in a phone call with Carbonetworks co-founder, President and CEO Michael Meehan, I discovered that their offering is a full carbon strategy platform.

The app is an online app and according to Michael, Carbonetworks has about 180 subscribers in 23 countries. The app at its most basic helps companies understand what their carbon footprint is, and then helps the companies translate that into a financial bottom line. The app helps companies see what options they have to reduce their carbon footprint and helps them create a carbon strategy from a managerial perspective on how to proceed in the carbon market.

The app can normalize carbon data across all of a companies facilities, and then monetise it so companies can think of their carbon as either an asset or a liability on the balance sheet! This is a clever approach which will change how companies look to their supply chain, or how they approach investments, for example.

Then when you get to the reduction space, Carbonetworks helps there too. Carbonetworks has what they call their marketplace where they offer fully verified offsets as well as a network of other reduction options so companies can have a diverse spread of carbon reduction investments.

Where this gets even more interesting and the reason I called Carbonetworks a platform is because they are currently working on opening up their API so that other companies can use their backend. if they pull this off, they will be the first to market (that I have heard of) with an open platform like this.

If you had programmable access to an online carbon platform like this, what would you do with it? Think of the mashups you could create!