Putting the Squeeze on Carbon Emissions

By National Gardening Association Editors

Over a year ago, PepsiCo partnered with the environmental auditing firm Carbon Trust to determine the carbon footprint of its Tropicana Pure Premium? orange juice. Much to their surprise, the biggest contributor to this footprint was the fertilizer used in growing the orange trees. Approximately 35% of the carbon emissions from the production, distribution and packaging of the juice came from the production and application of the inorganic fertilizers used. Clearly, this was a good place for PepsiCo to start in their effort to the find innovative ways to develop more environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

To that end, PepsiCo has begun a long-term pilot study with one of its long-time growers in Florida, testing two alternative low-carbon fertilizers. Traditional inorganic nitrogen fertilizers have such a large carbon footprint because enormous amounts of natural gas are used in their production. It's estimated that agriculture accounts for 5% of the world's natural gas consumption. One alternative fertilizer being trialed, made by Yara International, the world's largest supplier of mineral fertilizers, reduces its carbon footprint through a proprietary process that cuts its emission of nitrous oxide, an extremely potent greenhouse gas, by 90%. The other fertilizer being tested, manufactured by Outlook Resources, uses locally sourced carbon-neutral materials such as food and agricultural waste instead of natural gas to reduce its carbon footprint.

As this study goes forward with the maturity cycle of the orange trees, PepsiCo and University of Florida researchers will monitor results. If successful, this change in fertilizer use could result in an overall reduction of Tropicana's carbon footprint by 15%. It's great to see a big company using its resources to develop sustainable agricultural practices that reduce carbon emissions. Hopefully, PepsiCo's efforts will lead the way for other growers to adopt more environmentally-friendly ways of growing crops. And perhaps it will encourage those of us who garden at home to do the same by enriching our soil with locally made compost and green manures.

For more information on PepsiCo's pilot program to reduce Tropicana's carbon footprint, go to: PepsiCo.

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