This animal-free food purchase won’t save the planet

Plant-based products, such as milk-free chocolate, promise sustainability benefits over the real thing, but neglect to account for the other aspects of the supply chain that generate greenhouse gases.

Okeefe T Headshot
.The CO2CO chocolate bar claims to be designed with sustainability in mind
.The CO2CO
chocolate bar claims to be designed with sustainability in mind
Terrence O'Keefe

I have been doing a lot of research on Net Zero pledges being made by food companies, including major poultry companies like Tyson and Pilgrim’s, and I stumbled across the CO2COA chocolate bar distributed by Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC. CO2COA is produced without any ingredients derived from milk. Instead, it uses vegetable oil as a fat source and whey protein produced by genetically modified microbes. The label does state that it contains bioengineered food ingredients.

When I visited the CO2COA website, I found that I could order a chocolate bar for US$1.99 plus tax and the shipping would be free. Because of my curious nature, I ordered one and figured I would buy a regular milk chocolate bar at the grocery store and do a taste comparison. After all, it is October and Halloween is right around the corner, and you can’t celebrate that holiday without a little chocolate.

Packaging Around Co2 Cos Candy BarI thought that the packaging was a little excessive for one chocolate bar, but at least no cow flatulence was released into the atmosphere in the making of this candy bar.  

I figured that my CO2COA bar would arrive in an envelope proudly made of 100% recycled fiber, but I was wrong. Instead, it arrived in in a cardboard box, with the bar surrounded by TemperPack ClimaCell paper-based insulating material, some additional paper for filler and two gel freezer packs. I like my chocolate bar in solid form as much as the next guy, but I do think this packaging was a little excessive.

I am not a sustainability expert, but I think in this case the packaging overkill that accompanied the CO2COA bar outweighed any possible reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because real milk wasn’t used to make the bar. I suspect that a little cow flatulence has less impact on GHG emissions than the amount fiber (from trees) that it took to make the packaging. I will recycle all of the paper and cardboard, so it won’t be a total waste, but the folks making CO2COA might want to rethink the method of distribution if they really want to save the planet.

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