Wil Sillen's post

Wil Sillen

7 w

“Few people know how bad chocolate is for the climate”
By: Hannah van der Korput
When they found out at Hands Off My Chocolate that the CO2 emissions of milk chocolate are higher than chicken meat and palm oil, they were shocked. And so things turned. The brand now only sells vegan chocolate.
The numbers don't lie: producing chocolate leaves a deep carbon footprint. Kitty Smeeten, founder of Hands Off My Chocolate, calculated the impact with CarbonCloud. “Really shocking,” she warns. “To make 1 kilogram of milk chocolate, 5.9 kilograms of CO2 is released. That is almost as much as pork: the CO2 emissions there are 6.1 kilograms. The production of chicken meat or palm oil produces less CO2 than milk chocolate. So it is an extreme amount of what is being emitted.”

Vegetable chocolate
Because cow's milk is the main cause of CO2 emissions, Smeeten decided to replace it. “We now use rice milk. This results in a CO2 reduction of 35 percent, a considerable difference. The entire range has now been transformed into vegan chocolate.”

This does not mean that the brand only focuses on the vegan target group. Smeeten: “Actually just anyone who considers sustainability important. Few people know how bad chocolate actually is for the climate. Instead of not eating meat a few times a week, you can also take a bar that does not contain cow's milk.” This is why Smeeten has worked hard to get Hands Off My Chocolate on the shelf with all other chocolates. “Vegan is still too often seen as a diet and for that reason often ends up in a separate shelf. But I want to appeal to a wide audience and make vegan chocolate popular. Then it helps to be with all the other chocolate in the store. This way we can make more impact.”
Vegan flow
The production process of chocolate with cow's milk is not much different from the vegan variant. Still, there are some hooks and eyes. Smeeten: “What makes it difficult is that you have a different flow in the factory. You want as little contamination as possible with dairy products. Keeping that flow separate makes it complicated and expensive. You cannot clean chocolate with water, because chocolate is greasy. That is why every chocolate production line is rinsed with the same chocolate. If you want to produce vegan chocolate, you must also rinse with vegan chocolate beforehand. This is relatively expensive because less vegan chocolate is produced than milk chocolate.” Despite that, Smeeten wants to keep the price accessible. “We want to appeal to a lot of people and not become too expensive. The price has remained relatively the same, but a little less margin.”

Next step: cocoa
A controversial ingredient in chocolate is cocoa. A lot of forest is cut down to grow cocoa, which also leads to high CO2 emissions. Smeeten: “We are now working on making our cocoa fully traceable. If we know exactly where cocoa comes from, we also know what, where and how much is deforested. We are in the middle of that now and we want to take steps in that direction this year.” The cocoa from the earlier milk chocolate was traceable, but the vegan chocolate is not. “It is quite a complicated process to map and trace all flows,” says Smeeten. “Unfortunately, we can't do everything right right away. It can and should be even better. But I'm glad we at least started with Hands Off My Chocolate.”

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  • Tabitha Kimani

    6 w

    We have to think of how to sustainably produce the products and consider the carbon footprint for the sake of generations.

    Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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