Farm to Fridge and Beyond

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What sets us apart from other dairy and farm products is that we don’t just only measure emissions on the farm, but we measure the whole journey of our product. We use a farm to fridge approach, which means we measure the emissions emitted from all parts of this journey and beyond to ensure we counter emissions whenever possible.
In this article, we'll explain how Neutral conducts its farm to fridge approach as well as all the scientific considerations and measurements we make.
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Obsessively measuring carbon emissions

At Neutral, when it comes to measuring the carbon emission of our products, we are obsessive. We take pride in being driven in our measurements because we believe it’s essential to be transparent about carbon emission reduction. Our journey of obsessive measurement begins with employing a life cycle assessment (LCA) to understand our emissions and where we can start to make an impact in reducing them.
We use a cradle-to-grave approach for our LCA, which means we account for all on-farm activities as well as processing, transportation, packaging, retail operations, waste, and disposal. This approach is highly comprehensive. The on-farm activities can range from fertilizer to cow methane burps and energy use. In our LCA, we even measure and include small details like the energy waste associated with the opening and closing of the refrigerator, the gas it takes to drive to the grocery store, and the little bit of milk left in the carton that gets tossed out from time to time.
Our LCA is done by Dr. Greg Thoma, who has spent his career studying the environmental footprint of animal agriculture. His work on determining the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk by visiting over 300 U.S. dairies was adapted to resemble the footprint of Neutral’s milk supply chain more closely.
The Neutral LCA results show that 72% of the product emissions occur on-farm. So that’s where we are focusing the majority of our carbon reduction efforts — on the farm, working with farmers to realize emission reduction projects.
Recently, we’ve committed $1,000,000 with our partners at FarmRaise to increase funding for carbon-reducing projects on farms through 2023, and we don’t want to stop there. The goal is to have every farmer implement sustainable farming practices so we can solve the climate crisis and for families and individuals to take climate action without having to leave the grocery aisle.
Neutral partners with family-owned dairies in the Pacific Northwest, finding forage modifications cows love and reducing methane output. Tannin-rich forage grasses planted in cow-grazing pastures are methane-busting and delicious.
Neutral partners with family-owned dairies in the Pacific Northwest, finding forage modifications cows love and reducing methane output. Tannin-rich forage grasses planted in cow-grazing pastures are methane-busting and delicious.

Neutral’s Offsets and Insets

Implementing a carbon reduction project on a farm and witnessing the climate benefits is not instantaneous; these processes take time.
To accurately assess the effectiveness of a carbon reduction project, we must account for the emissions before and after its implementation. At the conclusion of each year, Neutral’s scientists calculate the total product footprint and subtract the verified emissions reductions/removals achieved through the project. Any remaining emissions are then addressed through the utilization of verified offsets.
Using offsets to achieve carbon neutrality is not the end goal for us, but they do enable us to bring carbon neutral products to consumers now. Offsets aren’t here to solve the climate crisis completely, because only real and lasting climate action can do that. Think of it this way — offsets are the ambulance ride to the hospital, and climate action is living a healthy lifestyle that would avoid these ambulance rides.
With offsets covering the emissions that we cannot reduce, we also develop insets. Insets are verified reductions or removals of greenhouse gas emissions that occur within the supply chain or supply shed of a product, but the main takeaway in the difference between inset and offset is that insets directly address supply chain emissions (a.k.a. scope 3 emissions).
At Neutral, we develop insets that are real, additional, permanent, and independently verified by a third party. Decarbonizing agriculture by helping producers is our reason for being, and thus developing insets is where we spend the lion’s share of our time and resources. Our goal is to eliminate the majority of Neutral’s carbon footprint via insets.
Neutral purchases all of its offsets from the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), which is a leading verifying body and registry of carbon offsets. CAR works to ensure that offsets on their registry are real, additional, permanent, verifiable, and enforceable. The offsets Neutral purchases are from dairy methane digesters, which trap methane emissions that otherwise would have been released into the atmosphere and can be used as a renewable natural gas fuel source.

Neutral is Certified Carbon Neutral

Farms are at the heart of our mission to radically transform agriculture, and we continue to focus most of our efforts on carbon reduction there. At Neutral, everything from our climate claims to the greenhouse gas reduction projects we conduct with farmers, are independently verified by a third party on an annual basis. Specifically, we hire global climate advisory firm SCS Global to audit our analyses, and continually ground our work in the best available science and most accurate math.
While many carbon claims are self-reported, being certified means that our carbon claims have passed a stringent set of requirements defined and verified by independent standard bearers. Our most recent certification from SCS can be found here.
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Stay in touch with Neutral by following our We Don’t Have Time page, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our newsletter here.
Tell us in the comments what our next article should be about!
  • Tabitha Kimani

    49 w

    Your commitment to operate sustainably and control your carbon foot print is to be emulated world wide.

    • Rebecca Allen

      49 w

      The easiest and fastest way to slow the Earth's warming is to stop breeding cows, dairy cows included. Since we are heading to tipping points, the sooner we go vegan, the better. Let's give back 43% of Earth's ice free land (43% is used to feed animals according to IPCC data) back to nature

      • Sven Nilson

        50 w

        Important and interesting work you do. I think there are interesting connections and cooperation opportunities with the Swedish company Wapnö Gård. The company has its own farm dairy and is very good at its circular work. Also interesting is Kalset milk with organic operation and its own electricity production through its biogas.

        • Israel Okeyinka

          50 w

          Very easy to learn how you track your emissions. Keep it up. We are getting closer

          • Adam Wallin

            50 w

            Thank you for being transparent about how you measure your emissions and where you need to take action to reduce them! Do you show these numbers on your milk cartons, or is there any other way for consumers to easily find the numbers?

            • Munene Mugambi

              50 w

              This is a great way to keep track of emissions

              • Marine Stephan

                50 w

                Very interesting to read. Do you have more specific examples of insets you're using/developing?

                • Sarah Chabane

                  50 w

                  Super interesting, I hope more dairy companies would start being inspired by your practices! Could you explain what dairy methane digesters are? I am not sure I understood super well

                  • Kevin

                    50 w

                    This is incredibly amazing..keep up the good work

                    • Ingmar Rentzhog

                      50 w

                      Keep it up. I hope diaries around the world copy your concept. @arla !

                      • Ford Brodeur

                        51 w

                        Fascinating to learn all the processes that go into measuring and offsetting emissions on farms!

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