How can a company play its part in tackling the climate crisis without engaging its entire workforce and supply chain?
The answer is that it can’t. Tate & Lyle’s sustainability team partners with colleagues across our global organisation, from manufacturing to commercial, to find ways to minimise our carbon footprint and that of our customers, and to protect the environment. Caring for our Planet is one of the three pillars of Tate & Lyle’s purpose – Transforming Lives through the Science of Food – and here three colleagues share how sustainability has become a part of their day job.
Food scientists supporting sustainable customer strategies
“Participating in sustainability workshops is one of the ways we partner with our customers around responsible production, including with cross-functional teams, such as nutrition, regulatory, and marketing, alongside sustainability colleagues,” explained Paula Vicentin, Tate & Lyle’s Tech Service Manager in Brazil. “We collaborate to propose a ‘full solution’ that enables them to develop a long-term roadmap to having a more planet-friendly portfolio.”
Bringing consumers along on the journey
“With product innovation, we often recommend a stepped approach where the brand brings their consumers along on a journey of gradual change, supported by consumer education to boost understanding around why the changes are needed,” Paula continued. “This is as true for more environmentally friendly mainstream products as it is for healthier foods and drinks.”
Setting a suitable pace for success
"Despite the growing range and increased application of plant-based ingredients such as coconut, rice or oat milk used to replace cow’s milk in chocolate, in many cases, animal-derived ingredients will continue to play a key role in much loved branded products for the foreseeable future,” Paula explained. “For some customers, we are helping them create ‘hybrid’ product portfolios, which switch out certain animal-derived ingredients, but in a way that maintains the functionality and eating experience that consumers love and at a pace they will accept. Of course, we are also bringing our broader solutions know-how to bear to look for opportunities to reduce sugar, fat and calories or fortify with fibre to deliver a full solution for on-trend products,” Paula concluded.
Procurement teams and their opportunity to drive progress
“We talk regularly to our suppliers about our sustainability goals and challenge them to bring forward ideas and new technologies that we can consider and pilot,” explained Matt Delp, Tate & Lyle Regional Category Manager (Packaging, Labour & Services) at Tate & Lyle.
Using influence to spark innovation
“To take ideas forward, it’s about talking to the supplier, understanding the possible impact on our processes and those of our customers, and seeing whether it’s a good fit,” Matt continued. “We’re open to doing things differently and testing out new ideas so we can unlock new opportunities and drive progress on the sustainability agenda.”
Catching up with colleagues on climate
“We also speak regularly to teams within our business, such as plant engineers, who often come forward with ideas for planet-friendly improvements they’ve identified,” Matt added. “It can be as simple as stacking packaged ingredients (‘bulk bags’) more efficiently to use fewer transport containers, reusing and repairing transport pallets for our industrial customers, or assessing more sustainable options for our consumable packaging.”
Helping farmers while hitting targets
“We have environmental leads, both globally and in our Sagamore plant in Lafayette, Indiana. At Sagamore, I’ve helped support a partnership with a local farm, BioTown, with whom we recently finalised a new long-term agreement, which will see the farm receive additional ‘useful’ waste from our facility,” Matt explained. “They use most of the organic matter left over from the production processes for composting and to feed the farm’s anaerobic digester to create biogas, a renewable fuel to power the farm and local community.”
“Through this partnership, we’re helping Tate & Lyle meet our goal to beneficially use 100% of our waste by 2030, and have helped smash our interim goal of beneficially using 75% of our waste by 2025. This is what living our purpose looks like,” Matt concluded.
Commercial colleagues supporting action on climate
“Sustainability is a major focus area for the customers I support, and I know this is a trend across the commercial team that’s here to stay,” explained Chris Bartlett, Director Global Accounts at Tate & Lyle.
“Every customer operates differently. In some cases, they ask partners like Tate & Lyle to share general information on our efforts in a range of areas. These include our support for sustainable agriculture, ideas for environment-friendly projects, such as how we can help them to replace animal-derived ingredients with plant-based ones, or changes in how we transport our products to them,” Chris continued. “Others prefer a conversation with our sustainability lead so they can hear directly how we can help them to deliver on their commitments such as Scope 3 (supply chain) greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”
It’s not just customer sustainability teams that Tate & Lyle engages with around these topics. “For some customers, sustainability is a recurring theme with every team we engage with,” Chris explained. “We speak regularly with customer’s technical, purchasing and supply chain teams, all of whom can challenge us to help them meet individual team goals that ladder up to the delivery of broader company commitments. It’s not the norm yet but this is where it’s going in our sector and it’s impressive to see.”
Find out more about how we are caring for our planet by visiting, Caring for our Planet
* 91% of waste is beneficially used, as outlined in the Annual Report 2022