10 September 2010 | Helen Gilbert
An online greenhouse gas calculator aimed at helping suppliers measure their carbon emissions has been developed by Unilever.
The Cool Farm Tool device, enables supply chain managers and individual farmers to input data they have access to in their daily jobs and use it to identify their total greenhouse gas emissions and work out ways to reduce them.
Information on fertiliser, livestock and land use (in terms of crops and soil preparation) can be typed into the calculator, which then tots up the emissions produced from these categories.
Farmers can then identify whether small changes to their agricultural methods – such as using a different fertiliser – will have an impact in reducing their overall carbon footprint.
The calculator took Unilever and the University of Aberdeen nearly a year to develop and follows a successful pilot with hundreds of farmers ranging from dairy farmers in the UK to tea producers in India.
So far, the tool has been adopted by PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer and Sysco, which distributes food to restaurants.
Christof Walter, Unilever’s sustainable agriculture research manager said: “We have developed software that measures our suppliers’ progress towards Unilever’s sustainability goals.
“The cool farm tool is embedded into this software and will soon become a mandatory part of our supplier development plan – where Unilever helps our suppliers work towards achieving these sustainability targets.”
Walter added that Unilever hoped to make the tool an industry standard by sharing it with other companies.