Carbon Hackathon, solving challenges 


After four months of gathering data, sharing best practices and holding group discussions about initiatives to further reduce the carbon intensity of Danone’s operations, some 70 Danoners and 20 external partners gathered finally in Paris on 6 and 7 October. Their goal is to give a boost to five projects relating to manufacturing, packaging, logistics and milk supply challenges in order to roll them out by 2020. We take a look back at the results of the Climate Change Challenge, which involved Danone teams from the four corners of the globe and those we call ‘Carbon Masters’.


In June, around a hundred Danoners from around the world started an unusual race: the Climate Change Challenge. This unique initiative came from a genuine desire for the group to reduce its 2008 carbon intensity levels by 50% by 2020. The challenge was set out in Danone’s Nature 2020 strategy, which was adopted in 2014.

« To date, we have already achieved almost 42% in reductions. You might think that achieving the remaining 8% would be easy, but therein lies the challenge. To reach 50%, we need to put in even more effort and research work than we have so far, » explains Lucas Urbano, Nature Manager for Danone.

The aim is to motivate and involve teams so they seek out best practices and share them

« So to get the ball rolling again, we dreamed up the Climate Change Challenge. The aim is to motivate and involve teams so they seek out best practices and share them. This way we can push the boundaries and imagine innovative, break-through solutions that can be replicated in Danone’s various CBUs (Country Business Units). This challenge culminates in the Hackathon in Paris on 6 and 7 October, » adds Pascal Lachance, Sustainability and Environment Department Manager for Danone Canada.

The key to innovation: group emulation

Participants undertook a process to create an original project based on cooperative innovation. Countries and geographic regions, such as the North America region, set up teams of people with varied profiles: members of the Environment, R&D and HR departments, engineers working in factories and Carbon Masters.

« Carbon Masters act a bit like catalysts. They get people together and organize idea sharing opportunities. Their role also involves collecting and distributing the required data, firstly for discussions and then to develop the chosen project. Carbon Masters are particularly important for understanding the CO2 calculation, » explains Pascal, who steered the challenge and formed Canada’s teams.

This work is supplemented by vital information provided by management teams regarding funding opportunities and R&D information on technical feasibility.

The brainstormed ideas, final project proposals and resulting business plans all fell within the general scope of intervention previously identified by the group. Six sectors were identified in which crucial drivers could be implemented to achieve the carbon intensity reduction goal: factory energy consumption, weight reduction of packaging, impact reduction of materials used for packaging, packaging end of life and recyclability, logistics and milk supply.

« In the North America region, we had four ideas. In the end, we chose a project to improve our products’ end of life, » adds Pascal, Danone Canada’s Sustainable Development expert.

[…] over 70 Danoners, some 20 external experts and teams from around the world.

Following that intensive group work phase, the Hackathon Carbone is definitely a highly-anticipated event. Designed to be a project accelerator, the Hackathon has involved over 70 Danoners, some 20 external experts and teams from around the world (Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, China, Canada, Belgium, Mexico, Italy, the Netherlands, USA, Poland and more) coming together for two days of co-working, debates, creativity workshops and prototyping sessions.

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