ClimateHound Launches First Carbon Neutral Certification for the Food and Beverage Industry
With roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains and now a headquarters in Austin, the startup is helping businesses step up for the planet
by The ClimateHound Team | 8min read
Whether you’re picking up a bottle of your favorite beverage or walking in the door of your favorite restaurant, you may soon see a logo featuring a friendly dog pointing toward the future of Planet Earth. Those are signs that the company has partnered with ClimateHound, the first science-backed, global certification for carbon neutral food and beverage businesses. The industry accounts for about 29 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and ClimateHound founder and CEO Palmer Fox wants to ease the path for every kind of food and beverage company to make good decisions for the future of their company, their customers, and the planet.
“Every choice we make, every day, as company leaders and as consumers, can help to combat climate change,” says Fox. “Reducing the industry’s impact will take effort and expertise, and we know that running a food and beverage business is incredibly demanding. ClimateHound is ready to be a sustainability partner who understands your industry-specific challenges and opportunities. We hunt carbon reductions and make carbon neutrality an easy decision that not only has a real impact on climate change, but can also enhance a business’s brand and communicate their values to customers.”
Why does the food and beverage industry account for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions? Creating food and beverage products requires vast amounts of water and energy, as does manufacturing cans, bottles, takeout boxes, and other packaging. Shipping burns incredible quantities of fossil fuels and produces carbon dioxide at a pace that natural factors, like forests, can’t keep up with. Food waste in landfills contributes to methane, one of the most damaging gases in our atmosphere. Even plane flights to connect with new distributors and markets, which can help to grow a business, will also grow its carbon footprint.
“We help our clients calculate, offset, and reduce their footprints year by year through carbon negative projects that directly affect the food and beverage industry,” says David Stone, ClimateHound’s head of product. Stone brings to his role a master’s in packaging science and experience as a lead UX designer for Nike and REI, focusing on enterprise apps and climate action in tech. With Fox, he has worked to create an intake and carbon footprint calculation process that addresses the specific needs of the food and beverage industry. "Specialization and detailed carbon accounting of emissions relating to scopes 1, 2, and 3 allow us to zoom in on the real and specific problems faced by our clients, and there is a lot of overlap among the operations and marketplaces for beverage producers, bars, and restaurants."
ClimateHound continues the entrepreneurial partnership of Fox and Stone, who also launched an app to streamline liquor orders and inventory management for bars and restaurants. The new startup draws on that experience as well as Fox’s personal journey. From a childhood on the Carolina coast to a bachelor’s of environmental design in architecture at NC State, Fox has always been passionate about choices that impact the natural world, and his decade in the food and beverage industry, including seven years as bar program director at celebrated Asheville restaurant The Bull and Beggar, gives him important insight on the needs of beverage producers, bars and restaurants, and more. These passions have come together in ClimateHound. Fox believes that good choices for the planet are also good business decisions for growing a company.
“A 2021 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications found that millions of Americans are ready to reward companies that are taking action on their environmental impact, but consumers struggle with a lack of information and clarity about which companies are taking significant action,” he says. “ClimateHound carbon neutral certification means a company is making choices to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they generate, offsetting their impact by funding projects and technologies that lower the level of these gases in our shared atmosphere, or BOTH. When you’re carbon neutral, you’re not adding to the planet’s warming – and you might even be helping to reverse it. This is the level of holistic transparency that we believe customers want.”
As ClimateHound launches, pioneering food and beverage businesses have stepped forward as early clients and partners. Many are from Asheville, North Carolina, a rising food and beverage community known for its breathtaking natural setting and for the commitment of its citizens to preserving that setting.
Eda Rhyne Distilling Company has received national attention for its Appalachian Fernet, Amaro Flora, and other products that couldn’t exist without a thriving ecosystem. “Through our sustainably foraged and farmed botanicals, we are trying to capture and celebrate the incredible biodiversity of Appalachia,” says co-founder Chris Bower, who serves on the ClimateHound advisory board and who stepped forward as the company’s first client. “Through our ClimateHound carbon neutral certification, Eda Rhyne is gaining perspective on our impact, which is the first step to identifying reduction strategies that are most relevant to our business practices.”
While ClimateHound grew out of Fox’s experiences and relationships in North Carolina, the company has hit the ground running in Austin, Texas, another community conscious of environmental issues. Josh Cliffords, founder and CEO at FreeWater, a ClimateHound certified carbon neutral company, is also pioneering a new kind of entrepreneurship. “Freewater is the world’s first free beverage company,” Cliffords says. “Our water is free because the packaging is ad space that pays for the water plus a 10 cent donation to build water wells for people in need. We will never use plastic bottles but recognize that aluminum and boxed water has an impact, too, and ClimateHound is helping us mitigate those emissions.”
Fox says that his company’s goal is to make carbon neutrality an easy choice for the food and beverage industry. ClimateHound believes that every food and beverage business can find the right combination of reductions, offsets, and other actions to achieve carbon neutrality. Fox says, “Individual action by company leaders and business owners is vitally important, but we’ll see an even bigger impact if we act collectively. Food and beverages have always brought people together, and now the industry has an opportunity to create a global community of businesses and consumers who want to make a difference for the planet and for our shared future.”
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Read on for more ClimateHound launch partners!!!!
Distilleries and wineries and breweries, oh my!
Oak and Grist Distilling Company
Down the road at a distillery in Black Mountain, Oak and Grist Distilling Company is making award-winning gin and North Carolina’s first single-malt whisky – and making great choices for the planet. Founder and Head Distiller William Goldberg says, “Distillation is a resource-heavy process, and you can't manage what you haven't measured. As a community-oriented business, it's critical that we take the steps to manage and protect those resources for the health of our business and our neighbors."
plēb urban winery
The Asheville producer is committed to honoring local grapes–and fighting human-caused global warming. Executive Manager Lauren Turpin says, “We became a biodynamic and organic grower/producer in 2016 because it matters to both us and our customers that plēb is working hard to be a good caretaker of the planet. Now ClimateHound is helping us close the gap to full carbon neutral certification, as we continue to implement reduction strategies through responsible growth. Certification to neutrality is a critical element of our holistic commitment to environmental responsibility.”
Sutler’s Spirit Co.
“Our brand has its roots in the first American Revolution, and we’re excited to be a part of the next one: transforming our collective relationship to the climate and the environment,” says Scot Sanborn, founder of the Winston-Salem distillery that takes its inspiration from the rebellious spirit of the distillers who supplied Colonial troops, “Partnering with ClimateHound is a statement about our values as a company and our belief that there’s no challenge too great for our customers and our country to tackle together.”
Cellarest Beer Project
"Even as a brand-new brewery, being carbon neutral was one of our top goals – environmental responsibility is part of our DNA, right down to our energy-efficient equipment – but we had so many priorities to juggle,” says Mark Goodwin, co-founder and Head Brewer at the Asheville business focused on barrel-rested beers.
Harrison Fahrer, co-founder and General Manager, adds, "We're thrilled to partner with ClimateHound. Through the straight-forward, custom-tailored approach they’re developing for our small business, we can reduce our impact on the environment we draw so much inspiration from."
Lost Grove Brewing
Since they opened their doors in 2017, Lost Grove Brewing has prioritized community, sustainability, and quality in everything they do. Every pint of Lost Grove beer, from IPAs to ambers, to sours and stouts, represents an intention to continually find new ways to give back and reduce their impact. At the Certified B Corporation brewery and taproom in Boise, Idaho, employees make a living wage and receive time off for volunteer work and vacation, and they’re already reducing their footprint with solar panels, waste reduction, and local sourcing.
General Manager Kylie Bolland says, “We have always been committed to going carbon neutral, and we were excited to find ClimateHound, a company that specializes in working with and understanding the beverage industry. With this partnership, we are on a path to help us achieve our sustainability goals that have always been important to us."