Member Spotlight: Carine Christophe

May 14, 2020 | BIER

Meet Carine Christophe

Name: Carine Christophe, Group Environmental Manager

Company: Pernod Richard

Connect with Carine on LinkedIn

Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.

My role at Pernod Ricard is to drive the implementation of our 2030 Sustainability & Responsibility strategy, Good Times from a Good Place, in particular the two pillars related to the environment which are Nurturing Terroir and Circular Making. The first one is targeting the transformation of our conventional agricultural approach to a more regenerative and sustainable one while contributing to preserve and increase biodiversity.  The second one is aiming at moving from a linear to a circular world through the management of water resources, packaging, and climate.

I have been working for Pernod Ricard since 2010. Initially, during the first years, I focused on developing an environmental strategy for the production sites and then later, extending it to the entire business.

How has the company’s sustainability program evolved over the years and what are your specific priorities for 2020?

Pernod Ricard’s early sustainability program focused primarily on production site efficiency but has evolved to include all our product life cycle from grain to glass. For 2020, we defined priorities and set targets for each of these aspects. Main priorities and achievements are described below:

  • Promoting sustainable agriculture. Over the years, we certified 99% of the vineyards operated by the Group to environmental standards, equipped 100% of them with a drip irrigation system, and reduced by half the synthetic agrochemical used.
  • Mitigating our impact on climate. So far, we reached a reduction of 34% of our carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2) in our production sites from FY10 to FY19 and increase the sourcing of renewable electricity to 75%. We recently submitted our science-based targets for 2030 which are now approved.
  • Minimizing water use. We reduced by 22% of the water consumed in our production sites, and set specific actions plan in countries where water risks are high.

2020 and beyond:

For 2030, we aim at bringing good times from a good place, creating a more convivial world, a world without excess, and we have set stronger targets in all these areas. I invite you to visit our brochure.

  • Since the launch of our new strategy last year, we have already made clear progress in specific areas. For example, in shifting the mindset from a linear to circular design for our packaging and POS. We recently launched sustainability packaging guidelines to achieve this ambition.

How do you feel being a BIER member will help you successfully pursue the key areas you are addressing in 2020?

Our membership to BIER helped us in several areas:

  • Deep dive in technical topics using the different guidance developed by BIER such as GHG emissions sector guidance, performance in watershed context, or decision guide for water reuse and recycling.
  • Sharing best practices and interacting with our peers during regular meeting or videoconference, exchanging our point of view, and the solutions we found to some of our challenges and scaling the knowledge from all members to create a common vision for the different environmental topics.
  • Collaborating together to make concrete actions such as the BIER watershed restoration project in Mexico
  • Joining forces to support our partners and stakeholders in the necessary sustainability transition and transformation

Name one of the practical solutions or best practices you learned in working with BIER and its members and why it was important to you and/ or your company.

One of the practical solutions I learned with BIER relates to regenerative agriculture practices. We gained clarity on the concept and how to engage our supply chain to implement these practices. It is important to me as I believe the transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture presents a major lever to mitigate climate change, restore soil, bring back biodiversity, optimize water use, increase ecosystem services, while also contributing to creating value for farmers.  It is important for Pernod Ricard across its business because the group sources its natural ingredients from over 285,000 hectares of land: Europe (grain, grapes), Asia (grain, aromatic plants), the Americas (sugar cane, grain, agave) and Oceania (grapes).

That is why we set ambitious targets related to agriculture and biodiversity:

  • 100% of our main agricultural raw materials certified according to sustainable agriculture standards by 2030
  • 100% of our key raw materials covered by projects addressing pressing sustainability issues by 2030 Piloting regenerative agriculture practices in all the vineyards we own by 2025, sharing this knowledge with 5000 farmers by 2030
  • 100% of our global entities having a strategic, measurable, biodiversity project in place by 2030.

Share a recent accomplishment of your company’s sustainability initiatives/achievements you are most proud of and why.

There are many sustainability accomplishments I am proud of such as reaching almost all our 2020 targets for our vineyards and production sites, committing to RE100, and also to the SBTs (in addition to the great work done by individual brands such as Absolut’s carbon neutrality). However, the one that I think is the most remarkable is the launch of our 2030 Sustainability & Responsibility strategy, Good Times from a Good Place, in April of last year. It addresses stakeholders’ expectations (consumers, investors, employees, communities, etc) across our entire business, from grain to glass, and directly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); it is ambitious and will, therefore, ensure the resilience of our business for the future. It will also support the transformation of our supply chains which is essential to bring shared value for all.

Some of our key 2030 targets related to the environment are:

  • 50% carbon reduction across our supply chain
  • 100% renewable electricity by 2025 for all our production sites and offices
  • An additional 20% water use reduction from FY18 to FY30 in our production sites
  • Achieving water balance in 100% of the water we use in production sites located in high water-stressed areas
  • 50% recycled content for glass and 25% recycled content for PET
  • Eliminating all promotional items made from single-use plastic by 2025
  • 100% of our packaging will be reusable, recyclable, biobased or compostable by 2025

If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be and how would you use it?

Definitely, it would be to empower all humans for the transformation of our model to build a resilient one. Indeed, whatever the functions you have in your company or the citizen you are in the world, you should be able to identify levers that will transform our society into a more resilient model and have the courage to implement them, thinking on a long-term perspective.

When you first joined Pernod Ricard, you were focused on an environmental strategy for a production site; however, since that time the focus has expanded to include the entire business. What was the catalyst that shifted the sustainability focus from a single production site to include the entire business?

The shift was generated out of measuring our broader impacts. Initially, we were looking at our production sites and evaluating our impacts. We then measured our carbon and water footprint that brought to light our bigger impacts than we initially had determined especially the impacts from our agricultural sourcing and packaging supply. From there we realized that measuring only production sites did not capture all of our environmental impacts for the full business. Now, we are integrating sustainability in all the departments in the business including finance, procurement, IT, HR, Marketing, etc.

Measuring our environmental impacts is key to empower all our business as well as our stakeholders in our sustainability journey and to raise their awareness so that they understand the role their commitment can play. Looking back, I remember when I joined Pernod Ricard, it was not uncommon for those in the company to think that we didn’t have so much of an environmental impact compared to other sectors such as cement, energy.

Measuring your impacts enables you to demonstrate and articulate facts, and communicate that information to all of the departments in your business with explanations as to why we need to look at that particular area of focus. If you don’t measure, you can’t say whether or not you have an environmental impact. By providing data, it offers insights into information and also an opportunity to take action. In essence, it shifts unawareness of a problem to one of empowerment.

Indeed, education and awareness play a fundamental role in the engagement of the entire business.  Explaining to each function the environmental impacts they were contributing to brought us to define a strategy ‘rom Grain to Glass’, so that we include the water used by the corn, barley, wheat we source but also the carbon emissions generated by the glass we purchase, etc.

We moved from sustainability being the sustainability department’s challenge to sustainability being integrated in all departments. Ultimately, it is a business conversation, not an add on. Environment and sustainability are an integral part of the business.

Packaging impacts every company to a certain degree. Can you share your insights from your experience in shifting from a linear design to circular design with your packaging?

This is very complex actually and it starts with thinking about the lifecycle of our product: looking at where they are sourced from, thinking about the most efficient design, checking materials recyclability, and understanding their end-of-life. Moving from a linear to a circular model means that you will reduce as much as possible your dependency on natural resources considering many other parameters such as product quality, consumer expectations, costs etc.

The shift to circular packaging requires a mindset change for our designers. To support them towards this journey, we clarified in our Global Sustainable Packaging Guidelines how they should take sustainability criteria into consideration when designing their packaging. These guidelines are based on 5 principles: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect, Rethink and each of these principles are linked to our Sustainability 2030 objectives.

The challenge lies however in the design of course but it also depends on the end-of-life of the packaging. Indeed, even if you designed a glass bottle that is light weighted, with the maximum glass recycled content, which is fully recyclable, it might end up in a landfill site!  For instance, the recycling rate for glass in the US is around 35% only which means that for the majority of the packaging we distribute in this market, the loop is not closed. This is why we set a target to contribute to increasing the recycling rate in our largest markets where the recycling rate is low. It is our responsibility to contribute to this. Another solution is to think of new ways of distributing our wines & spirit: reuse, bulk delivery in bars and restaurants etc and we will, therefore, pilot 5 new ways of distributing our wine & spirits in a circular way by 2030.

To sum up, we already demonstrated our long-term purpose, some of our brands being over 300 years old.  We will continue to ensure the resilience of our business and society and we acknowledge that this will require rethinking, transforming the way we do business. We are on a good way with our new 2030 strategy ‘Good Times from a Good Place’.

BIER Publications referenced in this interview:
Scaling Regenerative Agriculture: What We Can Learn From Innovative Beverage Companies
Context-Based Decision Guide for Water Reuse and Recycling

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
By BIER [crp]

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector. Formed in 2006, BIER is a common voice across the beverage sector, speaking to influence global standards on environmental sustainability aspects most relevant to the sector, affect change both up and down the supply chain and share best practices that raise the bar for environmental performance of the industry. By doing so, BIER is able to monitor data and trends, engage with key stakeholders, develop best practices, and guide a course of action for the future.

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