Why do we calculate Harmonica’s greenhouse gas emissions?

Why Do We Calculate Our Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Climate change is not a distant threat; it’s already part of our lives. Each of us contributes to it, so we decided to find out exactly how and by how much. By understanding our greenhouse gas emissions, we can see where we stand and how we can improve. But first, let’s cover some basic concepts:

Why Is the Climate Changing?

The sun is the main source of energy (heat) for our planet. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act as an insulating layer, similar to how plastic traps heat in a backyard greenhouse. Water vapor is the most common and important natural greenhouse gas, followed by carbon dioxide (CO₂). Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth’s average temperature would be around minus 18°C. Thanks to greenhouse gases, the average temperature is about plus 15°C, making life possible.

However, since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has significantly increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some of these gases, such as CO₂, remain in the atmosphere for a hundred years or more. This upsets the Earth’s energy balance and leads to global warming.

Experts from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believe that to keep the Earth habitable („a climate compatible with human life“), we need to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2°C and aim for 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. We must also achieve carbon neutrality by the end of the century. The Paris Agreement, ratified by 195 countries (including Bulgaria), sets these targets. It’s time for action by each of us and every organization.

What Is CO₂ Equivalent?

The main natural greenhouse gas is water vapor (H₂O), followed by carbon dioxide (CO₂). Human activity involving fossil fuels emits additional CO₂, methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O), and gases containing fluorine. Each of these gases has a different impact on the climate based on how much energy it can absorb and how long it remains in the atmosphere. „CO₂ equivalent“ is a measure used to compare the impact of different gases. We use CO₂ equivalent to sum up and compare the total impact of all greenhouse gases from our work.

Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Geographical Distribution: In 2022, China was the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Together with the United States, India, the European Union, Russia, and Brazil, these nations are responsible for 61.6% of global emissions. Historically, the US is responsible for 20% of all emissions since the Industrial Revolution, followed by China (11%), Russia (7%), Brazil (5%), and Indonesia (4%).

Per Capita Emissions: The USA ranks first with emissions of 17.6 tons CO₂ eq. per person per year, followed by Russia (13.3 tons), South Korea (12.6 tons), Iran (10.8 tons), and Japan (9 tons). India ranks 10th with 2.5 tons per person per year.

Sectoral Distribution: Power generation, transport, industry, and construction are the major sources of greenhouse gases. Agriculture and food production also contribute significantly.

What Is the Situation in Bulgaria?

As part of the European Union, Bulgaria is pursuing ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Our country is committed to the EU’s Climate and Energy Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Additionally, Bulgaria seeks to increase the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. Like other EU Member States, Bulgaria also aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Significant changes are ahead in the industry, energy, and transport sectors.

Currently, Bulgaria’s carbon footprint is relatively low compared to other European countries, but there’s still much work to be done to meet global and European climate commitments.

Why Did We Decide to Measure Our Emissions?

At Harmonica, we don’t just want to make food; we want to make a difference and lead by example. We know that every decision and action impacts the environment, which is why we decided to assess our carbon emissions.

We operate transparently and want our customers to be aware of our efforts. Although laws only require large companies to conduct such measurements, we chose to do so to set an example for others, identify our weaknesses, and find areas for improvement. This knowledge will bring us closer to our mission of providing real food and genuine care for nature.

How Did We Measure Our Emissions?

Choosing a Specialist Agency: To ensure accuracy and objectivity, we turned to the experts at Wind Of Change, a Bulgarian decarbonization agency (with common ownership) with whom we have previously worked.

Comprehensive Scope: We included all activities for which we have data—from raw material extraction to packaging, energy, and fuels, and product use by the end customer. We aimed for the clearest possible picture.

Data Collection and Analysis: We used up-to-date databases such as ADEME and CarbonCloud to determine emission factors.

Accurate Calculations: We worked with a high degree of precision to minimize errors and data uncertainty.

Scope 1: Direct Emissions – 68 tonnes CO₂ eq. (5.5%)

Direct emissions are those generated directly from our operations, mainly fuel for our cars and trucks. In 2023, our emissions from this scope were 68,000 kg CO₂ eq. We also include emissions from synthetic hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) emitted from the air conditioners on our refrigerated trucks and in our buildings.

Scope 2: Indirect Emissions – 7 tonnes CO₂ eq. (0.5%)

Indirect emissions arise from electricity consumption for our office and warehouses. These amounted to 6,700 kg CO₂ eq. in 2023, significantly reduced as we switched to a renewable electricity supplier (thanks to Toki’s Green Plan).

Scope 3: Indirect Value Chain Emissions – 1,340 tonnes CO₂ eq. (94%)

This scope includes all other indirect emissions that occur in our value chain. Raw materials are the primary source of these emissions, followed by packaging, inbound transport, and product use (in-store and home refrigeration). The total for Scope 3 is 1,212 tonnes CO₂ eq.

In the 2023 calculation, we have not included emissions related to the energy required to manufacture our products, outbound transport, staff travel, and company operational activities.

You can view the detailed report with all the data here.

Understanding these emissions helps us identify where we can make the most significant improvements to have a meaningful impact in the future. By knowing where our emissions are coming from, we can now plan how to reduce them.

What Are We Doing to Reduce Our Emissions?

  • Choosing Suppliers:

Across all activities—from farms to processors, printers, and transport companies—we prioritize those who understand and take steps to reduce emissions, such as choosing clean energy sources or reducing waste. Should we choose wafer cartons from a printing company with on-site photovoltaic power or from one using grid power?

  • Product Solutions:

When developing a new product, we make a lot of choices, such as sourcing raw materials and selecting packaging. Each of these decisions has a carbon footprint that we consider in the early stages of product development. Should we buy peppers from a gas-fired greenhouse 150 km from Sofia or from an open-air farm 1,000 km away? Can we extend shelf life to reduce waste?

  • Cleaner Transport:

Emissions influence the choice of vehicles for retailers or refrigerated trucks for deliveries. Our priority is to use shared transport because it’s the most optimal solution. We are working hard on optimizing logistics to reduce the number of trips required for deliveries and distribution. If a truck takes goods to a warehouse in Plovdiv, can we find another task for it to avoid an empty return trip?

  • Intelligent Route Planning:

We use route planning software to minimize mileage and optimize deliveries. Should we load Ovcha Kupel first and then Krasno Selo or vice versa?

  • Raw Material Selection:

When measuring emissions, we found that cultivation methods also impact the emission factor. When cows are raised in barns and pastures, and their feed is grown on the farm, emissions are significantly lower than on farms where the feed travels long distances and cows are always confined. Einkorn from Sakar or oats from Finland?

  • Packaging Solutions:

We continually look for new packaging solutions made with recycled materials that are fully recyclable or biodegradable. Plastic, aluminum, or glass?

  • Team Training:

We ensure that everyone on the Harmonica team understands our priorities and challenges to make informed decisions that reduce emissions. Most of our colleagues have undergone Climate Fresco training (again with Wind of Change). Climate and biodiversity are frequent workshop topics.

  • Marketing and Communication:

Climate change responsibility is a key part of our communication strategy.

  • Engaging Customers and Suppliers:

We work with our partners to promote low-carbon practices throughout the supply chain.

  • Supporting Climate Initiatives:

We actively participate in and fund climate projects and initiatives.

At Harmonica, we understand that each of us has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Through these measures, we aim not only to reduce our carbon emissions but also to set an example of responsible and sustainable business behavior because we believe that together we can make a significant difference, and the time to act is now.

We are ready to assist any organization looking to measure and reduce their emissions. Contact us.

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