Gassing Sales with Carbon Footprint

May 27, 2021

Will a low "carbon dioxide equivalent" spur consumers to buy non-dairy ice cream?

“I’d like a hot fudge sundae, with whipped cream, nuts and no more than 1kgCO2e.”

The people at The Urgent Co. hope that will be a consideration, if not expressed in those exact words, that will drive people to their Brave Robot line of dairy-free ice cream.

Urgent is now putting carbon footprint numbers on cartons of Brave Robot. It’s expressed in what has become a standard measure: kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, or kgCO2e. Basically, this measures all greenhouse gases that are used in the production and packaging of a product and equates them all with carbon dioxide, in terms of how much they contribute to global warming. For example, methane is deemed as 25 times worse than carbon dioxide, so any methane in the formula gets multiplied by 25.

Urgent claims that a pint of Brave Robot has a kgCO2e of 0.76, which it says is 34% lower than the average dairy ice cream. It’s supposedly the equivalent of driving 1.9 miles in a passenger car.

Well, as I’ve written before, I have my doubts about the whole concept of “carbon footprint.” But if you want to tout your sustainability bona fides, I guess that’s as good a place to start as any. And it’s a sound marketing strategy, if only because consumers who buy plant-analogue products tend to be more concerned about the environment than average.

So good luck to The Urgent Co. and Brave Robot. May they have more success getting consumers to pay attention to carbon footprint than the food industry as a whole has had in getting them to pay attention to calorie counts.