In July, Ben and Jerry’s — one of the world’s largest ice cream brands — announced that it is committing to ensure all of its packaging, including the 1 million pint containers for ice cream it produces every day, doesn’t come from wood fibers sourced from the world’s most vital forest ecosystems. The policy — announced appropriately on World Rainforest Day — adds to its prior commitment to producing packaging completely free of petroleum-based plastic.

Yet in spite of Ben and Jerry’s leadership and 17 years after Walmart announced its initial sustainability goals, the larger food industry still lags significantly on climate action — it accounts for more than a third of global GHG emissions.

In fact, according to the World Benchmarking Alliance, only 26 of the 350 largest food and agriculture companies are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in line with the Paris Agreement, and 123 companies haven’t even set targets for reducing GHG.

Lack of awareness isn’t the problem — the industry knows there’s progress to be made. The food industry has publicly embraced climate action and sustainability with a series of large announcements, with ambitious benchmarks and strong commitments from household names, including NestleDanoneKellogg and Coca-Cola.

While this shift from plastics may appease consumers in the short term, the reality is that packaging sourced from trees will increase the logging of vital forests.

Further, there’s a business case for solving the problem. One global survey from Cargill found that 55 percent of participants said they are "more likely to purchase packaged food with a sustainability claim," a four-point increase between 2019 and 2022. Despite this, the talk isn’t translating into impactful actions and results by food companies. In a recent study, in which 1,000 largest publicly traded companies were assessed for ESG performance, only four food sector companies made it into the top 100 list.

Read the full article about protecting forests by Nicole Rycroft at GreenBiz.