As a global ingredient and solutions provider, Tate & Lyle is reliant on crops, plants and natural resources to operate. We are acutely aware of the threat posed to the world’s land, water and air by modern day production and consumption, in line with our purpose – Improving Lives for Generations – we are committed to robust, urgent action backed by science to protect our planet’s natural resources for the benefit of future generations.

When, last year, we began the process of setting new 2030 environmental targets, we could not have anticipated the onset of a global pandemic, which is upending global markets, touching lives the world over, and reshaping the way we live and work. While the impacts and legacy of Covid-19 are yet to be fully understood, there is no doubt that the climate emergency the world is facing into remains the main threat to our shared future.

As we embarked on setting our new climate change, water and waste reduction targets, we kept asking ourselves, “In a decade’s time, will we look back and feel as though we’ve done enough?” Fast-forward to mid-2020, and while the business landscape is markedly different, the scale of the climate challenge is unchanged. Recognizing the inherent risks of delaying action, we published new commitments to reduce water use intensity by 15% and beneficially use all of the waste we generate by 2030, and to eradicate coal use in our operations by 2025, while continuing our support for sustainable agriculture. 

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

To make a meaningful reduction to greenhouse gas emissions, we committed to lowering CO2e from our on-site energy consumption (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by 30%, and emissions coming from our value chain (Scope 3 emissions) by 15% by 2030. We have committed to setting science-based targets, which means they are in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to slow down global warming. Choosing to set absolute targets for greenhouse gas emissions rather than intensity targets (a reduction per unit of production), and pursuing science based targets, set the right level of challenge for our business, and represents a meaningful contribution to wider efforts to tackle climate change. 

Scope 3 targets are the new frontier for businesses and particularly difficult to set and measure progress around, as they involve the members of our value chain, such as suppliers, customers and distributors. We source more corn than any other agricultural raw material to produce our sweeteners, texturants, fibers and industrial products, and corn production is by far the largest source of our Scope 3 emissions. 

Smarter Farming

Farming communities have a long history of taking action to protect the environment, but they have not had the tools to give them full visibility of the impact of their actions. The acceptable industry standard sees growers using data collected from 10% of their acres to report on their environmental impact and to make decision about their entire acreage. They use select conservation practices such as cover crops and existing precision ag tools to do this.

To help growers target their efforts and measure their progress on their entire acreage, we partnered with Truterra LLC. (formerly Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN), a conservation solutions provider and part of a large farmer-owned cooperative, to develop a sustainable agriculture program. Our program leverages Truterra's cutting-edge technology to give growers insight into the impact the adoption of conservation practices would have on both the environment and their own profitability. The program enables companies like ours to have full visibility to data on 100% of the acres so that we can become better partners in supporting their conservation journey. Our customers can also access these insights to achieve their own sustainability goals.

Under this first-of-its-kind program, we are supporting participating growers to make data-informed decisions about their farms, with acre-by-acre insights to optimize their business and drive environmental improvements in greenhouse gas emission reduction, nitrogen efficiency, erosion, and soil quality.

In 2019, after a successful pilot program, we enrolled 1.5 million corn acres into our sustainability program, which is equivalent to our global, annual corn procurement volume. We are heartened to see early results that show we are already having a positive impact and, alongside our wider sustainability program, we are optimistic that we will make a difference for our communities where we operate and the planet we share.

Although the future is uncertain, and Covid-19 remains a real threat in our society, we believe that we can tackle climate change through greater collaboration, innovative technology, and science-based action. And one thing is certain: We can’t afford to wait. 

Anna Pierce is director of sustainability at Tate & Lyle.

About Tate & Lyle: 

Tate & Lyle is a global provider of solutions and ingredients for food, beverage and industrial markets.

Tate & Lyle operates through two global divisions, Food & Beverage Solutions and Primary Products, supported by the Innovation and Commercial Development and Global Operations teams. Food & Beverage Solutions is focused on growth by building leading positions globally in the categories of beverages, dairy, and soups, sauces and dressings. Primary Products is focused on delivering steady earnings and generating cash.

Food & Beverage Solutions consists of: Texturants, including speciality starches; Sweeteners, including low- and no-calorie sweeteners; and a Health and Wellness portfolio comprising mainly speciality fibres; and Stabilisers and Functional Systems, which are bespoke ingredient blends that ensure foods retain their structure.

Primary Products consists of high-volume sweeteners, industrial starches and fermentation products (primarily acidulants).  It also sells co-products from the corn milling process as animal nutrition.

Tate & Lyle is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol TATE.L. American Depositary Receipts trade under TATYY. In the year to 31 March 2020, Tate & Lyle sales totalled £2.9 billion. For more information, please visit or follow Tate & Lyle on Twitter or Linkedin.