“Co-Founder of UK’s My Emissions Dives Into Carbon Labelling Shift, Success Stories, and Environmental Impact”
Matthew Isaacs, the co-founder of My Emissions, the UK-based emissions calculator and carbon labeling startup, shares insights on the company’s transformation from a recipe-focused platform to a partner for restaurants and food manufacturers. In this exclusive interview with Green Queen, Isaacs discusses the methodology behind measuring a product or dish’s carbon footprint and highlights some of their successful case studies.
Originally conceived as a tool to attach carbon labels to online recipes during the lockdown, My Emissions has evolved significantly since its inception. Co-founder Matthew Isaacs describes it as a means to reduce their carbon footprint initially, using food blogs and recipes as a practical starting point.
However, the founders soon recognized the pivotal role that food companies play in reducing emissions. They drew parallels between carbon labeling and nutrition labeling, understanding the potential for regulatory changes. Today, My Emissions collaborates with over 75 companies and participates in Defra’s initiative to standardize environmental reporting and labeling in the UK.
The Significance of Carbon Labelling
Carbon labeling, with roots dating back to 2006 when the Carbon Trust introduced the Carbon Reduction Label, has gained prominence. Leading retailer Tesco initially adopted the label in 2007 but withdrew it later due to rising costs and limited industry interest. Today, there’s a growing call for mandatory emissions labeling.
My Emissions is among several companies, including CarbonCloud and Planet FWD, aiding businesses in adapting to this shift. They calculate greenhouse gas emissions and label products transparently for consumers.
Isaacs emphasizes the importance of My Emissions in providing quick access to data for individuals and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. Their unique selling point lies in the quality and speed of insights provided to clients.
Calculating GHG Emissions
My Emissions measures the total greenhouse gas emissions of restaurant dishes and food products, offering a carbon intensity score measured in emissions per kilogram of food. The score is then converted into an intuitive letter rating system from ‘A’ (Very Low) to ‘E’ (Very High).
The company’s methodology considers emissions from the entire production process, from farming and processing to packaging and transport, capturing a significant portion of a food’s carbon footprint. Isaacs highlights their reliance on leading emissions databases like Ecoinvent and Life Cycle Assessments adhering to ISO 14040 standards. They also gather primary data from clients, such as energy data from manufacturing and distribution information.
While their database initially focuses on European values, they are actively expanding it to include data for the US and Canada, aiming for consistency across the sector.
Success Stories and Impact
My Emissions has partnered with an array of brands and restaurants, including THIS, WNWN Food Labs, Better Nature, Camile Thai, and Just Eat. For example, with THIS, they compare emissions from plant-based meat products with conventional counterparts. The FSC Group, which manages café offerings for major companies, has had over 250 products assessed to reduce their climate impact and introduce carbon labeling.
They also collaborate with smaller brands, such as artisanal vegan cheese maker Honestly Tasty, to identify emissions hotspots and suggest low-carbon alternatives.
The timeline for assessing a product or dish depends on data availability and project scope, but My Emissions aims for quick insights delivery. They have recently streamlined the process by enabling clients to add products directly into their accounts, reducing turnaround times significantly.
Business Model and Fundraising
My Emissions operates on a subscription-based model, starting at £780 per year for up to five products or 50 dishes. Prices scale based on the scope of work and features unlocked. The company raised £400,000 in funding in May 2022, bringing their total investment to £550,000, allowing them to expand their team and enhance their product.
While challenges persist in measuring the carbon footprint of ingredients in the global supply chain, My Emissions remains committed to providing accurate data and promoting carbon labeling’s potential to influence consumer behavior positively. Isaacs highlights the need for standardization and accurate data to build trust in carbon labels and emphasizes the importance of working towards this goal in the coming decade.