evian goes carbon neutral: 'The current health crisis provides renewed impetus to do more and create long-lasting change'

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Danone's mineral water evian goes carbon neutral globally

Related tags Sustainability Bottled water Evian

Danone natural mineral water brand evian has obtained global certification for becoming carbon neutral: the result of ‘years of ambitious reductions at every stage of the product life cycle’.

The brand announced its ambitions in 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris; and had already achieved carbon neutrality in the US, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and its bottling site in France. It has now received carbon neutral certification across all the countries where the brand has a presence.

evian has not achieved this overnight”​ said Shweta Harit, evian global brand VP. “The global certification follows years of ambitious reductions made at every stage of the product life cycle from conception to production to recycling.”

“This announcement comes at a moment when we are seeing, in real time, what can happen when we reduce our impact on the planet. Emissions are lower and pollution levels have dropped.”

What makes a brand carbon neutral? 

The certification to the internationally recognized carbon neutral standard PAS 2060 has been issued by the Carbon Trust. It has been achieved through carbon emissions reductions in three key areas: packaging; production and distribution.

In packaging, some of the initiatives evian has undertaken are:

  • Light-weighting: evian has changed its packaging so the end product is much lighter in weight. This has a significant impact on its carbon emissions. For example, the light weighting of the evian’s leading 1.5L format has led to a 17% reduction in the bottle’s carbon footprint between 1993-2018.
  • Use of recycled plastic (rPET): This can save up to 50% of carbon emissions versus a virgin bottle. To reduce its carbon emissions, evian has therefore ramped up its rPET rate over the last 10 years. Globally, 30% of its range is now made from rPET, while some bottles are now made from 100% rPET. Later this year the brand will launch a new range of “bottles made from bottles” using 100% recycled plastic (in both cases, 100% rPET excludes bottle and cap)

In production, evian's bottling plant in Evian-Les-Bains, France, achieved carbon neutrality in 2017 - the first Danone production facility and the largest food production site in France to do so. This was primarily the result of both a $280m investment into upgrading the bottling facility, in addition to the fact that it is 100% powered by renewable energy.

Between 2015 and 2019, there has been a 90% reduction in the carbon footprint at the bottling site (this covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, as well as indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the plant).

evian bottling palnt

With regards to distribution, 50% of evian’s volumes are shipped directly by train from the plant.

evian has also partnered with the Livelihoods Carbon Fund: which seeks to preserve and restore natural ecosystems and improve the lives of local communities. The plantation of 13 million trees acts to offset evian's remaining carbon emissions in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

However, Harit emphasizes that most efforts need to be directed at reducing carbon emissions in the first place: “While evian will maintain investment in carbon credit generation, its commitment to carbon neutrality is centrally underpinned with a priority to invest in continued carbon reductions.”

Challenges: transportation; and bottles and caps

The hardest part of becoming carbon neutral was the area of transportation, said Herit. “To achieve carbon neutral certification globally, we had to look at all the ways we distribute evian across many unique supply chains. We started with the US and Canada, and achieved carbon neutrality in those markets first, and used our learnings there to apply across other markets across the globe.

“Using train transportation was one way to reduce our carbon footprint, where possible. In the US, evian’s transport carbon emissions have been reduced by 13% between 2016 and 2018. Approximately 50% of evian’s volumes are shipped directly by train from the plant. To deliver to the UK for example, the train carbon footprint is now seven times lower than trucks.”

While coronavirus may be the top priority for most businesses at the moment, Herit says the crisis also highlights the importance of caring for the environment in the long term.

“The current health crisis provides us all with a renewed impetus to do more and create long-lasting change, and it has been heartening to see the world come together.

“This is just one milestone for us. Even with the challenges that this crisis imposes on our business, we look forward to announcing new initiatives later this year so that we can further drive down our carbon footprint and preserve the world’s ecosystem. We believe that climate change is a real threat both today and for future generations, so we must all act now."

evian also aims to become a circular brand by 2025, which means that all bottles will be made from recycled plastic and then recycled again. It excludes caps and labels, however.

“evian’s caps and labels are not made from the same type of plastic (PET/rPET plastic) that we use to make our bottles, but rather HDPE (caps) and OPP (labels) plastics," ​said Harit. "HDPE and OPP plastics are also recyclable and we encourage people to check local recycling listings and recycle all evian bottles in the correct stream. That being said, we thrive for continuous improvement and innovation to offer the best packaging solutions, and we are exploring possibilities to address this as part of our circular ambition.”

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