Submitting a Science-Based Target for High Growth Company Riverside Natural Foods

Challenge

Submitting a Science-Based Target as a company that generates greater than 80 percent of emissions from product manufacturing, with revenues that are doubling every three years.

Client Goal

As a leading Canadian manufacturer of organic snacks and dog treats, Riverside Natural Foods has set an ambitious goal of achieving Net Positivity by 2035. One powerful tool to help achieve that goal is establishing a Science-Based Target (SBT), which converts ideas into plans and can galvanize company management with a singular focus.

Riverside’s SBT is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 42% by 2030, as compared with 2020 levels. This SBT falls into the 1.5oC category. With company revenues doubling every three years, setting this goal was especially challenging because 80% of Riverside’s emissions come from food manufacturing processes, which are on a trajectory to increase alongside growth in sales.

Science-based targets provide a clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce GHG emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth. Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. – ScienceBasedTargets.org

Learn more about SBTs in our Insight, “What Are SBTs and Why Should Your Company Have One?

Our Approach

In early 2020, we conducted a materiality assessment for Riverside Natural Foods. Of the nine material ESG topics identified in the assessment, reducing emissions represented the company’s greatest potential for overall positive environmental impact. As a manufacturing company, the majority of Riverside’s emissions (greater than 80%) come from its manufacturing facilities, which are presently powered by natural gas and electricity. Because SBTs are focused exclusively on emissions reductions, this goal aligned perfectly as an SBT.  

SBTs are independently verified by the SBT initiative (SBTi), which requires a target submission form requiring detailed information (see form here). Upon approval, SBTi requires annual public disclosure of progress toward the target. We guided Riverside through the process of developing and submitting its SBT, which involved a number of steps to ensure that the submission met all required criteria.

For a company growing as quickly as Riverside, developing its SBT presented a particular challenge in that rapid growth will correlate to a similar increase in emissions unless the company enacts drastic and ambitious emission reduction plans.

In documentation submitted to SBTi, Riverside established that in 2020, its Scope 1 (heating of food with ovens consuming natural gas) emissions totaled 935.81 tCO2e, and that its Scope 2 (electricity consumption for machinery and plants) emissions totaled 131.47 tCO2e. In its SBT, Riverside has committed to reducing these emissions by 30% by the year 2030, despite its projected growth between now and then.

Riverside has identified reduction action plans that will reduce GHG emissions by incremental amounts; however, the source of the major reductions required to meet the target have not yet been identified.  Building a knowledge base of new technologies that may be helpful in reducing emissions and experimentation with more sustainable energy sources will be considered, but this problem will take all the innovative thinking, teamwork and perseverance that Riverside has to solve one of the most difficult challenges Riverside has faced so far. 

“My sisters and I founded Riverside in 2013 with a triple bottom line philosophy right from the beginning, but as the company grew, decision-making became more complex. Sustainserv’s knowledge, expertise and experience has enabled us to be strategic about becoming a positive force for the future and help us fulfill our purpose: To inspire a healthier and more compassionate world.”

Nima Fotovat, President and Co-Founder

Results

In March 2021 Riverside’s SBT was approved by the SBTi. Along with this approval, Riverside Natural Foods is now recognized as “Committed” on the ScienceBasedTargets.org website, as well as the CDP and We Mean Business websites.

With an SBT formally in place, Riverside has taken an important step toward its long-term goal of Net Positivity by 2035. The SBT will serve as a distinct path and plan for achieving measurable change. As part of the SBT, Riverside has committed to publicly report on its emissions and progress against targets annually, a practice that will keep the target firmly on the radar of company leadership.



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