In this time of climate crisis, it's become evident that companies must work harder to reduce the footprint on our planet to help slow or reverse the growing damage incurred by Mother Nature every day. As active participants in the remediation of carbon emissions, Alexandra Farms has been awarded the Carbon Neutral International Standard Certification from United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC).
One Carbon World, a non-profit organization launched by UNFCCC with the explicit goal of "reducing and compensating 20 million tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere," works tirelessly to support businesses for change. Alexandra Farms earned and maintains certification by proving a dedication to carbon neutrality every month.
Earning the Carbon Neutral certification from UNFCCC speaks volumes to the lengths to which a business will go to attempt little harm on the land it inhabits. Following all requirements, a UNFCCC certification confirms "comprehensive support" by the organization following verification and certification to the standards set, and it allows the company to proudly display a badge of commitment to the cause with industry partners and competitors.
On the left: A staff member waters the newly planted trees. On the right: A view inside of the garden rose greenhouses
Following a short checklist of requirements, Alexandra Farms met all measures required by UNFCCC with detailed accounts and proof of achievements through measurement.
The first requirement determines "Scope and Boundary" with support from a technical expert. Emissions sources, methodologies, and data collection procedures are explained by the expert, and an examination of previously collected data is discussed. This first step provides a detailed, measurable view of the company's carbon footprint and compatibility with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard, which is a set of gas emission measures and business transparency policies (specifically standards ISO 14064 and PAS 2060). These details are essential in determining significant emission best practices, which are then sent to an external independent party for validation.
"The most common approach for calculating GHG emissions is through the application of documented and approved GHG emissions conversion factors," Pilar says. "These factors are calculated ratios that relate GHG emissions to a proxy measure of activity at an emissions source."
In addition to reporting calculations with UNFCCC, Product Development Manager Pilar Buitrago says the farms also report detailed emissions to the Asocolflores Colombian Initiative for Carbon Monitoring and ICONTEC (Colombian Technical Standards and Certification Institute). She says, "Every month, we identify the direct and indirect sources of our production process that contributed to greenhouse gas emissions and support decision-making to minimize greenhouse gas emissions generated in the production process."
The total carbon footprint of Alexandra Farms submitted for consideration of certification was 1,150.43 tonnes of CO2e, which covers El Jardin and San Ignacio farms. CO2e is the measurement of metric tonnes of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas. To provide perspective, big oil companies such as Chevron emit CO2e in the billions each year.
To offset just one tonne of greenhouse emissions, it takes the growth of 31 to 46 trees and a maturity of at least one year each. To mitigate the carbon footprint left by production, Alexandra Farms plants trees to compensate for the negative impact planting, growing, watering, and fertilizing can leave on the earth. These actions to eliminate or reverse damage are also the second part of the requirements for certification set by UNFCCC.
The second requirement, "Reduce," introduces initial discussions to align on science-based reduction targets using mitigation tactics that increase efficiency and reduce costs. When we first applied for certification in 2021, Alexandra Farms planted 1,430 native trees around the perimeter of our facilities. In 2022 we planted an additional 1,450 native trees at our farms.
The third and final requirement to earn the certification, "Offset and Contribute," affords organizations an opportunity to showcase any current or future mitigation plans. Upon successful certification approval, UNFCCC connects companies with resources to collaborate and build upon sustainability and carbon reduction efforts.
"After earning our certification, we participated in carrying out our quantification of emissions with One Carbon World from England, and a monetary compensation was made in favor of environmental activities," Pilar confirms of our fulfillment.
In addition to reforestation, Alexandra Farms is taking additional steps to decrease carbon emissions, including reducing the consumption of nitrogenous fertilizers. "We have reduced our pesticide use by more than 60 percent with help from other methods, including composting and the use of beneficial insects to minimize pests. Our discarded plants, flower waste, and detritus are composted and reintegrated into the soil for fertilization. Water collection and fertilization in our reservoirs significantly reduce runoff and maximize the resources for continued lifecycles."
"We also use stored rainwater pulled from on-site reservoirs to hydrate our renowned blooms, and every drop of the recycled water in our hydroponic greenhouses is collected in channels surrounding the farms to return to the reservoirs and repeat the watering process. We're also investigating the use of solar panels to reduce electricity consumption."
"Our next strategy for GHG emissions management is through participation in meetings and workshops provided by Asocolflores and Colombian Institutions such as CAR (Colombian Environmental Authority)," Pilar notes. "We're always seeking to improve our process and generate compensation for the emissions of the corresponding period."
Alexandra Farms continues to strive for success in the industry while honoring the earth that provides the sustenance to grow their crops. "We will continue to make headway in cutting carbon emissions on our farms and seek new opportunities to mitigate any footprint. This is just the beginning of our impact."
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