Evian, a subsidiary of Danone, introduced its first carbon-neutral bottling facility as part of the company’s plans to become 100 percent carbon neutral by 2020.
Located in Evian-les-Bains, the state-of-the-art bottling plant is fully powered by renewable energy sources, including hydropower, and is certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust.
Emmanuel Faber, Danone’s owner said that the company is spent $336 million on the project.
He explained that the project was realised by working closely with all local stakeholders in its natural water cycle upstream, its labour pool and its logistics network downstream.
The new production line of the site will be producing 72,000 bottles per hour, all of which will be 100 percent recyclable.
In an interview with TriplePundit Véronique Penchienati, President of Evian said: “We will be the first brand in Danone to be carbon neutral, so we are a pilot in this adventure”.
She added: “This is only the first step, but it is a very important one. It creates pride among our employees, partners and customers, and it motivates us to go even further to reach our 2020 objective”.
Regarding the 100 per cent neutrality target she commented: “To meet our goal, we need to increase all of our efforts and work through the entire lifecycle of our product and our bottle — from conception, to production, to shipping and to the end of life”.
The company also aims at offsetting carbon emission caused by the transportation of Evian across the world by expanding rail transport and by promoting biogas.
Danone is switching from roads to rails, operating its own private terminal with trains departing every four hours.
Approximately 60 per cent of the site’s production is shipped by train, and the company aims to increase that to 90 per cent, which is claimed to reduce emissions by 75 per cent.
The company is also working with farmers in the region of Evian to collect waste for biogas energy.
The announcement from the company triggered criticism that packaging water from the French Alps and transporting it around the world causes unnecessary environmental damage.
In a phone interview with The Star Mr Faber commented: “I’m aware, and more and more consumers are aware, that transporting water is not ideally what you’d like to do”.
“If you want to build a model that’s sustainable, you need to deal with this reality.”
Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of Global Footprint Network, an Oakland, California-based think tank, argued that Danone’s move will put pressure on other water brands to follow, but still questioned the initiative.
“Often it is environmentally absurd to sell bottled water when tap water is cheaper, better, and far less energy-intensive”.
Mrs Penchienati commented: “We believe that we have a role to play in promoting healthy hydration everywhere, but we need to do it in a responsible way. That’s why we’re doing all of this, because we are aware of the impact that we have”.
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