Sustainability spotlight

evian’s journey to become Danone’s first global carbon neutral brand

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

evian’s journey to become Danone’s first global carbon neutral brand

Related tags Bottled water Carbon dioxide Evian

International natural mineral water brand evian recently became certified as a carbon neutral brand in the US and Canada, marking a ‘major milestone’ in evian’s journey to reach worldwide carbon neutrality by 2020. But with the impact of bottling, packaging and transporting water, how can evian achieve this?

As consumers move away from soda and pay more attention to health and wellness, the bottled water market is growing. In fact, Americans are now drinking more bottled water than any other packaged beverage – now outselling carbonated soft drinks by volume. 

evian’s global net sales grew by 8% in value in 2016, with its brand message focused around premium healthy hydration in the 140+ countries where it is sold. A key part of the brand’s identity is its source: a spring in the French Alps where water is ‘enriched with minerals through its journey through the rocks’.

Aspects of evian’s sustainability efforts include a focus on transport and packaging (together these represent 86% of its total carbon emissions); a new carbon neutral production facility in France; the goal of using 100% renewable materials for its bottles by 2030; and switching out shrink wrap for a special adhesive in multipacks.

In September, evian was certified as a carbon neutral brand in the US and Canada - bottles will start displaying the Carbon Trust certification seal in January. But how can a carbon neutral status be achieved when water is shipped some 6,000km across the Atlantic from its source in France?

Water transport

According to evian, water is transported in the most sustainable way – using more environmentally conscious transportation modes such as trains and ships for delivering water to North America.

“Nearly all (90%) of evian water bottles produced for the US and Canadian markets leave the bottling plant in Evian Les Bains by train,”​ Olivia Sanchez, VP of marketing for Danone Waters of America told this publication.

“100% of the bottles are transported from France to the US by ship – 30% of which are environmentally-efficient clean cargo vessels. We are committed to continuing development of multimodal transporting solutions to further reduce carbon emissions.”

evian says it achieved a 40% grCO2​/L reduction across the brand between 2008 and 2012.  

As defined by the Carbon Trust, a carbon neutral footprint is one where the sum of greenhouse gas emissions produced is offset by carbon credits. 

“We believe that it is the responsibility of every brand, big or small, to do as much as possible to reduce its impact on the environment. So, as a major global brand, evian has an active role to play. This isn’t just a feel-good approach, and we’re not simply talking about the environment because it has become a hot topic.” - ​Olivia Sanchez, VP of marketing, Danone Waters, America.

“Carbon Trust calculates carbon emissions according to the international standards (GHG protocol),” ​explained Sanchez.

Carbon Trust has done an audit of our calculating tools to ensure that the calculation methodology of our practices – from sourcing and packaging, to transport and offset programs – respect the international standards.”

For evian, achieving carbon neutrality has come through the combination of reducing emissions and the creation of 'credits' through projects such as the Livelihoods Carbon Fund - a program that plants mangrove trees to absorb carbon and produce oxygen. 

Plastic bottles and rPET commitments

evian aims to use 50% rPET for some packaging formats by 2020; and 100% renewable materials globally by 2030.

Sanchez says the North American market is leading in evian rPET usage, with 25% rPET in its bottles. 

“As a user of plastic packaging, evian aims to co-build a circular economy of packaging: from sourcing sustainable materials to creating multiple lives for plastic.

“Therefore, our R&D experts take into account the product's whole lifecycle from the design phase onwards. evian was the first global natural spring water brand in France to use recycled PET in 2008.

"We communicated at COP 21 our ambition to reach the 25% recycled PET by 2020 whilst always ensuring product integrity and evian’s high quality standards.

evian 4 pack

“We are strongly pushing our recycled PET roadmap and that will enable us to reach our commitment in North America by the end of 2017 –  three years earlier than planned.

"Our long term ambition is to offer 100% recycled material in all ranges, and to reach this we rely on our partners to help us reach that goal.”

Addressing the waste created from shrink wrap in multipacks, in 2016 evian offered its first multipack with no plastic wrapping in collaboration with NMP Systems GmbH, a German packaging company. Rather than using plastic to hold PET bottles, the No Wrap Pack (4x 1.25L) uses a special adhesive to bond PET bottles together. 

Carbon neutral production facility

evian new bottling plant

In September this year, evian opened its carbon neutral bottling site (pictured above), which is the largest food production site in France and Danone's first facility to achieve carbon neutral status.

It represents a €280m investment between 2011 and 2020 to complete the transformation of the site. The upgraded bottling facility is powered by 100% renewable energy. There are 10 linear production lines that have been chosen for agility and efficiency for multi-format production - the fastest of which can produce 72,000 bottles per hour. 

The facility also treats and recycles 100% of its waste. 

At a glance: evian sustainability projects

  • All bottles and caps are 100% recyclable
  • Packaging in North American will have an average of 25% rPET by the end of 2017 in North America
  • evian aims to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2020.
  • The new Evians Les Bains bottling plant is carbon neutral​and operates on 100% green energy.
  • The APIEME (Association for the Protection of the Evian Mineral Water Impluvium) was set up in 1992 to protect the evian source.
  • In 2016 evian inaugurated the Terragr’Eau methanizer, which converts 40,000 tons of organic waste every year from mountain farms into biogas for 1,200 inhabitants nearby, the equivalent of its annual bottling site consumption.
  • In 2014, evian created the Water Institute by evian to share scientific know-how on hydrogeological systems management.
  • Through nine projects built with the Livelihoods Carbon Funds and its partners, evian has helped plant 130m trees – mainly mangrove trees – in areas such as Senegal, India and Indonesia.

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