Field-level tracking, monitoring, and verifying emissions from cultivation of any crop allows us to better understand the impacts we have on these fields. Impacts can range from nitrous oxide emissions to soil organic carbon. By having a better understanding of these metrics, we can drive sustainable change by incentivizing good practices and reducing the reliance on the negative practices.
Understanding where the fuel came from and how it was made is more than just a simple handshake task today. SAF users need to know exactly what land was used to grow a crop or what restaurant used cooking oil came from to be able to fairly mitigate the risk of the bad actors in these systems, whether it is deforestation ties or fraudulent used cooking oil, these risks must be reduced. Even then, once we understand where the fuel came from, there is an additional demand to understand who claimed the use of that fuel and who claimed the carbon reduction of these fuels, and how are we ensuring that that carbon accounting does not allow double counting?
For some of the most common SAF pathways today, the producers make both SAF and renewable diesel from the same facilities. This means the carbon accounting inherent to SAF is very near that of renewable diesel systems. One of the SAF pathways that has the largest volume of fuel produced today is through the HEFA pathway, which utilizes lipid feedstocks, which can range from used cooking oil to palm oil. Due to the risk of deforestation, and fraud in these systems, there needs to be a means to verify what is claimed on a proof of sustainability document is more than just someone verbally saying it is sustainable, we need to check it. By leveraging technologies like satellite imagery, and machine learning, we can reduce the risk of deforestation and fraud within these systems today.
Many of us don’t think about how some of the natural gas we buy could be different from the natural gas our neighbor buys, but the process to produce and obtain natural gas can vary drastically from system to system, with some systems having extremely negative environmental effects. What if instead, we could show the differentiation to consumers in a transparent, immutable way? Then we could allow consumers to decide whether they are willing to pay slightly more to encourage good environmental practices to continue and force the bad actors to make the same choices.
Market segmentation is far from new, especially in the consumer food market. Today, you can buy vegan, gluten-free, free-range, non-gmo, and the list goes on. “Sustainable” is quickly becoming one of those labels, but there is very little data to support what that means. Systems that are built around claims that aren’t transparent and verifiable have the risk of reducing the creditability of the entire industry. Sustainability and carbon reduction are too important to people and our planet to have its credibility questioned. We need robust, transparent systems that truly incentivize good behaviors that help us combat climate change.
There have been many impressive innovations in consumer-packaged goods including the increased use of bioplastics and reducing the amount of plastic needed overall or even paper alternatives. However, understanding the environmental impacts of some of these possibly more sustainable innovations is far from easy. For CPG for example, water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, recyclability, and more can all affect the overall sustainability profile of a product. While one part of the profile may have a smaller footprint, it could make another part of the profile higher, and it is not reasonable to expect consumers to understand all the effects, let alone to be able to make informed decisions based on these profiles. At Verity, we are working to build transparency around many of these metrics to allow consumers to make better decisions about the products they use every day.