Whether we like to admit it or not, almost all of us have a sweet tooth. And while there is nothing wrong with sneaking a bit of candy here and there, the environmental and ethical implications of candy can be staggering. Chocolate is grown in some of the poorer regions of the world displacing rainforests and sometimes only giving farmers pennies on the dollar for the efforts. We felt that with Halloween around the corner that we should take a look at some of the biggest candy and chocolate companies to see who is doing their fair share to be more sustainable.
Here is what we considered in our study:
We were curious if the company reported information pertaining to their performance in key environmental metrics such as energy usage, emissions, and water consumption. Also, we wanted to know if the company had clear goals in place to improve its environmental footprint. Lastly, is their information readily available pertaining to their sourcing, packaging, and logistics? Companies who reported more, high quality information got more points in this criterion.
Credible Eco-labels - Did not Qualify
For this criterion, we tracked environmental labels such as organic and shade grown and checked to see if the company had products that met these certifications. These eco-labels have environmental benefits associated with them and show a commitment to being eco-friendly.
In order to get points in this criterion, companies had to prove they were sourcing their chocolate in a sustainable way. This could include certain environmental initiatives, but could also include ethical labels such as fair trade. The stronger the commitment to sustainable sourcing, the more credit the company received.
Like many retail products, the food industry has only recently begun to address the environmental impacts of its packaging. We checked each brand to see if it has done things like utilize recycled material, utilize alternative materials, or if they have modified their packaging to use as few resources as possible (i.e. lightweighting).
Like all manufactured products, some companies are more resource efficient than others. We checked to see if the companies had efficient building design policies, sourced ingredients locally, or had any other initiatives that would serve to reduce their impact per unit of production. The stronger the company's commitment, the more points they received.
Renewable Energy - Did not Qualify
Lastly, we wanted to see which companies utilized renewable energy in their offices and/or production. We gave credit to companies who utilized a significant amount of renewable energy in their day to day operations.
Weights were set based off the relative importance of each criterion to a life-cycle analysis of chocolate production. Data was collected primarily from the companies themselves and a brand only received an scorecard icon if it achieved at least a score of 50% or higher for that criterion.