What Sustainability Means to Vega
At Vega, we believe that creating a better world starts with us. We know that our commitment to sustainability must be integrated into everything we do. From the quality we demand in our supply chain and the way we package our final product, to our company culture and values that guide our team, sustainability is a key ingredient that ensures we can continue to fulfill our mission to empower the world to thrive. That’s why we developed a sustainability program with ambitious goals and priorities, and why we’re proud to share it with the world.
Vega’s sustainability plan addresses our commitment to responsible business practices that challenge us and communicate our commitment to leadership with our consumers. It also addresses our commitment to better ingredient sourcing and supply chain optimization; reducing our waste and emissions; and to creating a culture that promotes corporate social responsibility and stewardship for the health of our planet and our local community.
COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES
We believe that growing a sustainable business requires awareness for the development and delivery of our premium products. We start by sourcing quality ingredients coming from plants grown in ways that help support and, even improve the health of the soil they are grown in. We also ensure that we are supporting the wellbeing of the people who are growing or sourcing those ingredients, and the communities that they rely on. Throughout the development of our products, we work with partners who share our same commitment to sustainability, and develop rigorous procedures and standards to guide both of our work.
At Vega, we also seek external certifications that set ambitious sustainability targets and connect us with other businesses that are making it a priority to improve the health of the planet. These certifications also help communicate our commitment to sustainability with our consumers. This means a consumer can be confident they are purchasing a delicious product that is not only good for their health, but also good for the planet too.
Demonstrating our Commitment to Sustainability
Vega is Proud to be a Part of the B Corp™ Movement
B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified overall social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. These standards distinguish the B Corp community as leaders and are governed by the nonprofit B Lab®, who exists to serve, inspire, and empower a global movement of people using business as a force for good™. In April 2018, Vega’s parent company, Danone North America became a certified B Corporation®. Gaining this certification will provide a tool to benchmark and continue to improve on social and environmental performance in the years to come, as well as connecting the Danone North America family to a thriving community of inspiring businesses around the world. Learn more about the B Corp Community and Danone North America here.
Vega Supports Sustainable Farming and Community Improvement
100% of the cocoa used in Vega® chocolate flavored shakes and bars is Certified Sustainable through the UTZ mass balance system. This certification program ensures ingredients have been sourced with care for the people and the planet. UTZ farms create better living conditions and environmental stewardship by requiring farms respect human rights and protect natural resources. These practices result in better crops that produce higher yields with lower costs, which means more profit for farmers. Learn more about UTZ here: https://www.utz.org/
Vega Supports Sustainable Palm Kernel Oil
Vega is committed to sourcing only certified sustainable palm kernel oil (CSPO) for our bar coatings. We purchase it through a mass-balance system developed by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO is a stakeholder organization dedicated to promoting the sustainable development of palm oil. This program addresses increasing global food demand, while supporting affordable food prices, poverty reduction, and the protection of communities, workers, and environment. Learn more about the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil here: https://www.rspo.org/
COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE FARMING
Developing premium products at Vega means sourcing quality ingredients that support our sustainability goals. As a company that relies heavily on farms to produce healthy fruits and vegetables we believe we can greatly reduce our impact by setting goals to support sustainable farming practices that protect the land and the communities that support it. This means continuing to grow our portfolio of Non-GMO Project verified and Certified USDA Organic products, including the launch of Vega One® Organic All-in-One Shake in the United States in 2018. It also means pursuing cutting-edge certifications setting high-bar standards for ensuring soil health and ecological land management, better animal welfare, and fairness for farmers and workers.
COMMITMENT TO REDUCING WASTE
We believe that to be a company truly committed to sustainability, we need be concerned not only with the ingredients that go into our products, but must also look for ways we can reduce waste throughout the supply chain. At Vega, we are proud of the innovative ways we reuse and recycle materials. Being a part of the Danone North America family of brands also allows us to look outside of our own company’s operations and work with our sister brands to find even greater efficiencies.
Demonstrating our Commitment to Sustainability
Vega Starts a Sustainable Packaging Revolution
It takes just one change to start a revolution. When we learned in 2013 that 71% of our carbon footprint came from packaging materials, we knew something had to change. So, in 2013 we made a change (this time not a small one!), to be the first in our category to switch from virgin HDPE plastic bottles to 96% post-consumer recycled plastic (4% colorant). These tubs are also fully reusable and totally recyclable. Five years after implementing this change[annotation]For the time period of 2013 – 2015 + Forecast year of 2018 volume.[/annotation], we measured our impact. We were able to achieve these incredible results:
- Diverted 3,058 tons[annotation]Data analysis by Terra Stewardship Sustainability Consulting Group (terra-stewardship.com)[/annotation] of plastic from the waste stream.
Made into Vega bottles stacked end-to-end, that’s a stack 645 times the height of Mount Everest.
Saved 3,651 tons[annotation]Data analysis by Terra Stewardship Sustainability Consulting Group (terra-stewardship.com)[/annotation]of CO2– 63% less CO2 greenhouse gases than virgin plastic.
This much CO2 could fill 4,633 parade balloons, making a balloon-only parade 52.7 miles long.
Used 195,270 million BTUs[annotation]Data analysis by Terra Stewardship Sustainability Consulting Group (terra-stewardship.com)[/annotation]less energy–7x less energy than virgin plastic.
That’s enough energy saved to run 1,847 average detached single family homes in America for a year.
We were so motivated by the positive results we were seeing that knew we had to pay our investment forward for the greater good. We offered to share all of our PCR secrets with any company interested in making the switch and have been delighted to see other brands – including some of our other competitors and store brands of our major retail partners – are now using PCR for their nutrition powder bottles.
You can learn more about the recycled plastic used in our tubs and the energy, CO2 and landfill space we’ve saved in this blog post: https://myvega.com/blog/packaging-sustainability/
Vega Works with Earthbound Farms to Reduce Waste
At Vega, we love us some greens! Not only are greens a great source of vitamins and minerals, they also taste great in a salad or a smoothie too. Unfortunately, because of the perishable nature of fruits and veggies, a large amount of produce never make it to our plate and end up in the compost or landfill instead. In fact, a report released in 2016 found that roughly 50 percent of all produce becomes waste in the US – that’s approximately 60 million tons (or $160 billion) of wasted produce every year[annotation]Goldenberg, S. (2018). Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests. the Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/13/us-food-waste-ugly-fruit-vegetables-perfect?CMP=share_btn_tw[/annotation].
Earthbound Farms®—our sister brand and the largest producer of organic salads in the US[annotation]Earthbound Farm included in sale of WhiteWave Foods to French company for more than $12 billion. (2018). Benitolink: San Benito County News. Retrieved 10 April 2018, from https://benitolink.com/earthbound-farm-included-sale-whitewave-foods-french-company-more-12-billion[/annotation]—faces this challenge every day. Sometimes the baby greens that make up some of their organic salads get too big to be considered ‘baby greens’. Other times greens get stranded because of changes in orders from their customers, leaving them headed for the compost heap.
With the launch of new Vega One® Organic All-In-One Shake, Vega and Earthbound Farms, saw an opportunity to work together to prevent some of those greens from being wasted. Proudly green, Vega One® has ingredients made from Earthbound Farms® organic greens, made up of a combination of romaine, oak leaf, lolla rossa, and tango. The exact ratio depends on the season, and what’s available from our friends at Earthbound Farms®. Because of this, we’re happy to announce that 400,000 kg of baby greens will be diverted in 2018 to Vega® products.
Vega Donates to Prevent Waste
In 2017, Vega donated 15,000 kg of short-dated products to charities. Short-dated products are still within their expiration date but cannot be sold to customers. By donating these products, we are able to provide nutrient dense foods to people in need and also divert a large amount of product that would have ended up in the garbage. Vega donated to the following charities in 2017:
- Quest Food Exchange
- Utah Food Bank
- Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN
COMMITMENT TO REDUCING EMISSIONS
By choosing to produce only plant-based products, Vega lives our commitment to providing sustainable food for you, for the planet, and for our world community. Plant-based proteins in general require less arable land, water and fossil fuels than their animal based counterparts. Worldwide, livestock is one of the largest contributors to environmental problems, due in part to deforestation, overuse of fresh water, and emission of greenhouse gases.[annotation]ited Nations Environment Programme (2012). Growing greenhouse gas emissions due to meat production. Accessed 6/5/13 from http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP-GEAS_OCT_2012.pdf[/annotation] Conservative estimates indicate that animal proteins can require up to:
- 6 times as much land
- 26 times as much water
- 5 times the fossil fuels as plant-based proteins.[annotation]Reijnders, L., & Soret, S. (2003). Quantification of the environmental impact of different dietary proteins. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Accessed on 2/13/14 from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/664S.full.pdf+html[/annotation]
If our planet is going to support 9 billion people, we need to eat more plant proteins while reducing our animal intake. Even though eating more plant proteins is a great start in reducing our carbon footprint, Vega is committed to reducing our impact throughout our business.
Vega Makes Efficient Distribution a Priority
In 2017, the Vega logistics team implemented measures to increase the efficiency of our shipping routes by shipping direct to customers and double stacking our shipments on some routes. As a result, we reduced our total emissions by 20,000 tons of CO2.
Vega Creates Packaging that Helps Reduce Emissions
Since 2013, the emissions produced to make our plastic resin were reduced by 63% by changing our packaging to post-consumer recycled plastic HDPE. This works out to saving 3,651 tons3 of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases emissions that would have been produced with virgin plastic in the five years since we made this switch.
Vega Reduces Emissions at Vega HQ
In order to reduce emissions produced by our staff working at the Vega offices in Burnaby, BC we provide incentives for biking and taking transit to work. In 2017, 26% of our staff at Vega HQ took advantage of this benefit. We also work with Bullfrog Power to offset our office’s energy by making sure that every kWh of electricity we use is offset by a renewable source that is pollution free.
COMMITMENT TO BETTER PEOPLE
Sustainability is something that is woven into everything that we do as a member of the Vega team. From the way that we share food together to the materials that we’ve used to build our thriving office space, sustainability is an essential part of our company culture. We bring this to life as a team through our no-waste kitchen and smoothie bar where we share plant-based meals together. During a recent office expansion, we took every opportunity we could to use recycled materials in the design of the new space, including a new wall created entirely out of recycled doors from our old office space. We offer green incentives, benefits and challenges, and many of these initiatives are spearheaded by staff.
Vega Empowers Staff to Live & Work More Sustainably
Vega is committed to better people through a better planet. In order to create a workplace that has less impact on the environment, we have created a number of initiatives that encourage and reward our team to make more sustainable choices, while also having a little more fun while we’re doing it. Here’s a few of our favorite green initiatives:
- Vega offers 1 day per year to dedicate to a cause of their choice. Many of our staff take this opportunity to give back to charities and organizations that are supporting the environment
- Plant-based hot and cold lunches, as well as our stocked smoothie bar are available to our staff every day
- Kitchen waste reduction program (recycling, composting, and bulk food orders)
- Organic produce available to staff through Chef’s produce bags and lunch program
- Annual Plant-Based Challenge encourages staff to commit to a plant-based diet for 30 days
- Incentives for staff choosing to leave their cars at home and walk, ride their bike, or take transit to work
We know that creating a better world starts right here. And we’re glad to have you along for this journey. Tag #VegaTeam in your next sustainability post so we can follow along.