Greenhouse gas accounting considerations for the sugarbeet industry.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon footprints are a growing area of focus for many economic sectors in the United States. The carbon footprint of products may influence how environmentally conscious consumers spend and lenders invest their money. As a result, many industries are pivoting their messaging to incorporate environmental initiatives involving reductions of GHG emissions. Food product manufacturers using beet sugar are requesting GHG information from their supply chain to define and improve their carbon footprints. Developing a carbon footprint through GHG accounting is not a standardized procedure and will vary between industries and from facility to facility depending on the activities that occur. However, sugar beet processing facilities across the country have some common practices and activities that can be considered when developing a carbon footprint. The sugarbeet industry is also unique from other industries due to their common structure as a cooperative of growers, including both agricultural operations and processing. GHG accounting is separated into scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Scope 1 emissions are those directly from the operations. Common scope 1 emissions in the sugarbeet industry include factory fuel combustion, vehicle emissions, agricultural practices such as fertilizer application, and carbon sequestration from crop growth. Scope 2 emissions are from third-party electricity suppliers. Scope 3 emissions include downstream and upstream sources such as GHGs from fertilizer manufacturing or transport to the end users. The methodology for developing a carbon footprint for the sugarbeet industry is reviewed. Developing scope 1, 2, and 3 activities is the first step in developing a GHG accounting protocol for a facility. Site-specific emission factors and inputs are ideally used to develop a GHG inventory. Site-specific emission factors may be based on stack testing, material balances, or analytical results. Inputs may be based on accounting or other facility operational records. If site-specific data is not available, calculations may be completed based on available literature from sources such as the International Panel for Climate Change, Environmental Protection Agency guidance, or other studies and literature. As a facility develops and tracks its GHG inventory, the information may be used to provide carbon footprint information to consumers, develop marketing materials, and identify sources for GHG reductions.