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Oppenheimer plans carbon-neutral Fresh Summit presence

John Anderson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Oppenheimer Group.

It can be said that having attained the wise old age of 153, The Oppenheimer Group knows something about sustainability.

However, John Anderson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver, BC-based company, was curious about how the company actually measures up, and so he engaged Canada’s leading carbon-management solutions provider, Offsetters. Through an inventory of Oppenheimer’s greenhouse gas emissions from its operations, the company could calculate its carbon footprint using the internationally recognized Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

“While stewardship of people, planet and business has been part of our culture for a very long time, I felt it was important to quantify the impact our operations are having on the environment,” Mr. Anderson said. “Now we have identified specific opportunities along our supply chain where a targeted reduction strategy will have meaningful impact.”

And as a symbolic first step, Oppenheimer has offset the emissions associated with its presence at the 2011 PMA Fresh Summit.

“We measured the greenhouse gas emissions associated with travel and accommodations, transportation of our booth, fruit, and materials, exhibit activity and entertainment related to the show,” Mr. Anderson said. “We reduced our emissions as much as possible, then offset the difference by contributing to projects that prevent the equivalent amount of emissions from entering the atmosphere.”

Beyond Fresh Summit, Oppenheimer is examining its supply chain, which moves products from over 25 countries to North America and dozens of global markets, and the company also is working with stakeholders to drive out waste while conserving energy and supporting communities.

“Understanding our greenhouse gas emissions enlightened us to the reality that as a fresh produce marketer with a global supply network of our scope, we have a significant opportunity for positive change,” Mr. Anderson said.

“We intend to consider every aspect, from the seeds we plant, the packaging we use, the transportation companies we choose and how we approach the market. We are committed to deliver more sustainable alternatives like Fair Trade- and Rain Forest Alliance-certified products and add some carbon-neutral options to our current climate-friendly portfolio, which includes “Sun Select” peppers, to help our customers and their shoppers grow greener with us.”

Mr. Anderson cited ground transportation as an area of Oppenheimer’s business that delivers a significant proportion of the company’s carbon emissions.

“While ground transportation is essential to our business, we were concerned about the impact trucks carrying Oppenheimer products have on the environment,” he said. “So we, and our third-party transportation providers, became members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smartway Partnership. Smartway can help us reduce the effect of our logistics network by achieving greater efficiencies.”

Oppenheimer plans to collaborate with growers and retail customers to identify areas where sustainable measures are possible and cooperative strategies can be deployed. The company’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent by 2013.

“Because we believe in transparency and want to be held accountable for our emissions and reduction strategy, we have voluntarily posted our inventory on the internationally recognized Carbon Disclosure Project,” Mr. Anderson said. “Many of our customers disclose their inventories on the CDP as well. It’s a way to publicly illustrate our commitment and keep our reduction strategies moving forward.”

A 5-percent reduction in emissions in two years is a lofty goal, but Mr. Anderson is confident. “At Oppenheimer, our ‘Expect The World From Us’ promise lives at the heart of everything we do,” he said. “It encompasses our expertise at growing the best fresh produce around the globe, our commitment to service that exceeds expectations and ultimately our respect for the planet that sustains us all. By having a tighter focus on sustainability than ever before, we are simply adding a new dimension to our brand promise and being true to our company’s heritage.”

The Oppenheimer Group invites visitors to its carbon-neutral Booth 2315 to join the conversation about sustainability and have an up-close look at its full range of fresh produce grown around the world.