An encouraging award for Danone
This is a ratings agency with a difference. It is not interested in a borrower’s ability to make loan or interest repayments, but instead analyses and classifies companies based on Environmental, Social and Govern-ance (ESG) criteria.
The Vigeo agency was set up in 2002 by Nicole Notat, former Secretary-General of the French Trade Union Confederation, the CFDT. After a merger in 2015 it changed its name to Vigeo Eiris and has become one of Europe’s leading experts on responsible performance.
The French organisation carries out an annual review of global corporations and highlights international best practices. As part of this, it has recognised Danone for its « responsible management of environmental factors in the supply chain ». According to Vigeo, the group is a company « whose commitment to protecting the environment is among the most advanced in the world. » It is also a leader in its own sector, the food in-dustry.
1,300 companies scrutinised
The evaluation method was devised in 2002, and it is used to evaluate 1,300 different companies based on the commitments made by their ex-ecutive boards and the management processes put in place to achieve these objectives. The Vigeo study also examines all the indicators that allow companies to avoid violating conventions, social norms and inter-national environmental standards, whether on the part of their suppliers or throughout the supply chain.
Key objectives for 2020
The award given to Danone by Vigeo Eiris recognises the company’s long-term commitment. It has positioned itself as a player in the fight against climate change and taken steps to ensure that the supply chains in all its divisions (Early Life Nutrition, Medical Nutrition, Fresh Dairy Products and Waters) integrate « responsible » criteria in their purchasing practices. An example of this is the work being done in the milk sector. In 2002 Danone founded the SAI (Sustainable Agriculture Initiative), which brings together some 50 food chain stakeholders in order to promote sustainable agriculture.
Last year the group introduced 10 new sustainable agriculture criteria for evaluating its partners’ dairy operations. Another example relates to one of its key resources – water. By 2020, Danone plans to complete the group roll-out of a new tool for measuring its water footprint, and it has also committed to achieving a 20% reduction in consumption linked to industrial processes between 2010 and 2020.
Towards a circular economy
« Plastics, water, milk – these are all essential resources for us, and we have decided to organise these resources, not only in the supply chain but also in cycles », explains Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone. « Becoming part of the circular economy will be one of Danone’s key transformations over the next 5 to 10 years in order achieve these objectives. »
A packaging project has already been launched. Danone is already favouring the use of recycled materials – more than one quarter of its primary and secondary packaging is now made from recycled materials, rising to 77% for its cardboard boxes – and it is keen to continue improving packaging collection and recycling.
Danone has set itself a clear goal – over the next 14 years it will achieve growth that is sound, profitable… and sustainable. The group is taking action to achieve this, notably through its Zero Net Carbon programme, an action plan for reducing its carbon emissions and, in the long run, contributing to the development of a low-carbon economy.