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Reuters Responsible Business USA 2024 Key Take-Aways

Last week Sugaright joined senior corporate executives in NYC to share how their companies are integrating sustainability across all functions of their business.

With sustainability reporting no longer optional, but now an SEC requirement for publicly traded companies, Reuters set a platform to discuss how businesses are embedding transition plans within their growth strategies to succeed in this new paradigm.

The food manufacturing industry was well represented by Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Mars, Unilever, Keurig Dr Pepper, Kraft Heinz, Beam Suntory, plus several food retailers.  These companies spotlighted how they are making the effective integration of sustainability across all functions fundamental to creating long-term business success.

Mandatory Reporting

As the SEC made the disclosure of Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions mandatory, collecting and acting on this data is critical to maintaining a competitive edge while meeting regulatory requirements. This data will be treated no differently than financial data. Greenwashing and greenhushing will be replaced by verifiable data.

Though the SEC did not include Scope 3 in their requirements, the EU and California have kept this metric. So most of these companies will continue to collect and report on Scope 3.

An interesting fact, 86% of large-cap companies are already publishing an annual sustainability report.

The Right Partners

As Scope 3 is often where most of the GHG emissions are generated, finding the right suppliers is critical to meeting long-term decarbonization goals. Sugaright has been busy measuring and verifying our GHG emissions and is proud to confirm that our refineries only use 15% of the energy of a traditional white granulated sugar refinery.

Many of the food industry executives spoke about how they are integrating their sustainability and procurement teams, so they have common goals.  No longer just about the cheapest price, but the best price ingredient with the best sustainability metrics will get the business.

Getting to Net Zero

Goals and timing varied from company to company, but most agreed that getting to zero will not be possible without technological breakthroughs or the purchase of carbon credits.

Perfect is the Enemy of Progress

Doing something is better than waiting for a perfect outcome that will never happen.  Improvement is incremental and requires the best use of resources over time. This sentiment was repeated many times. No more excuses.

Language is Changing

ESG has been untwined into two discrete initiatives:  GHG Reduction Goals and Social Responsibility.  Different departments with different responsibilities. The speakers did not shy away from addressing the political challenges that have created trigger words and phrases.

The consensus was to focus on values, science, and facts that drive actions and not let short-term fear and misinformation get in the way of long-term decarbonization goals.

Lean In, Listen and Educate

Lastly, this new era of business requires buy-in from all employees. Just as a safe company requires a culture of safety, a sustainable company requires the same grassroots culture. Educate how sustainability goals align with company goals: cost savings, brand, and human capital.  

One CSO said it well, “It may look like I have a small team, but actually my team consists of 2000 employees. All of them”. 

And we would add suppliers with shared goals to that team as well.

As a leader in sustainability, Sugaright aims to be that team member as we take action to preserve our environment for generations to come.

Thank you, Reuters for this opportunity for networking and shared learning.


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