31 May, 2021
Montes del Plata is carbon negative
At a time when the world is seeking to become carbon neutral, Montes del Plata contributes by being carbon negative: it captures more greenhouse gases than it emits, contributing to mitigate global warming, according to its Carbon Balance report.
Although 2020 will be remembered as the year of the Coronavirus, it had another particularity that made it possible to appreciate the magnitude of a disaster that is developing more slowly, almost invisible due to the urgencies of the pandemic but with more dramatic long-term consequences. It was the warmest year on record in human history, along with 2016.
Climate change, unlike our lives in COVID-19 times, is not on pause. The increase in the planet's average temperature is already causing severe storms, heat waves, episodes of drought, human displacement and melting glaciers, problems that will only accelerate if urgent global action is not taken.
Although the Paris Climate Agreement, signed by 190 countries, has set various targets for reversing this situation by 2100, the time to act is today, not tomorrow. And doing so requires learning to erase our tracks.
Erasing footprints to keep walking
We all leave an impact on the world. What we consume, the way we travel, what we manufacture, the activities we do, the way we dispose of waste, all contribute to generating emissions that have an impact on global warming. This is called our "carbon footprint", which is our contribution to the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere and that year after year increase the Earth's temperature. The most important of these is carbon dioxide, known as CO2, which is used as a unit to measure emissions of different gases.
Just as an individual can choose to reduce or neutralize his or her carbon footprint, either by using more environmentally friendly transportation, cleaner energy or planting trees that capture carbon, the same is true for companies. The larger they are, the greater their impact and their social responsibility to mitigate these effects.
Although estimates had been made at different stages of the production process, Montes del Plata, in order to determine the carbon balance throughout its value chain, commissioned a specialized consultant to prepare a report based on the company's own data and national information, following internationally recognized guidelines1.
When using a calculator is a good thing
Calculating the carbon footprint is similar to placing various items on both sides of a scale. On one side, the factors that contribute to emissions are weighed, and on the other side are those factors that contribute to removing or storing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In the case of Montes del Plata, for example, the use of fossil fuels in all of the company's activities (such as transportation, planting, harvesting, loading, road construction and industry) was calculated, as well as the emissions produced by third-party livestock grazing on Montes del Plata's land. On the other hand, the carbon captured by forestry plantations (45,000 trees, an essential tool to mitigate climate change, are planted by the company every day) and by the native forests that Montes del Plata preserves on its land was analyzed.
From the very conception of the project, decisions were made to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. For example, timber supply in Montes de Plata is provided through a bimodal system (combining land and river transport), which saves thousands of truck trips and prevents the release of more than 15,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. The timber arriving at Punta Pereira on each barge trip is equivalent to 170 truck trips on the roads.
In addition, the plant generates clean, renewable energy that is used by the plant itself, significantly reducing the consumption of fossil fuels (non-renewable) in the industrial complex. The project to generate energy from renewable resources was admitted by the United Nations through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a procedure provided for in the Kyoto Protocol.
Less is more
The more negative the result of the emissions minus captures equation, the more positive it will be for the environment. What was the outcome of the balance for Montes del Plata? In both 2018 and 2019, the company captured more greenhouse gases than it emitted. The difference was especially notable in 2019, where the net negative balance was 1,969,859 tons of CO2.
To fully understand what these numbers mean and the favorable impact they have on the environment, it is useful to draw some comparisons with the emissions figures produced by very different sources: the most popular mode of transportation, our capital city and a massive global event.
For example, the amount of CO2eq that Montes del Plata captured in 2019 is roughly equivalent to:
-the emissions from 42% of Uruguay's vehicle fleet in that year.
-the emissions from 52% of the city of Montevideo according to the latest GHG inventory.
-broadcasts of almost four Olympic Games (based on the one held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016).
Looking back, and not only at the years analyzed, the study shows that the forest mass of Montes del Plata has captured, during its years of growth, about 30 million tCO2, enough to neutralize the emissions of the entire Uruguayan automobile fleet for more than 6 years.
The company will continue to measure its carbon footprint over time as part of its commitment to contribute to climate change mitigation. This permanent measurement will be conducted as part of a carbon management strategy.
Today Montes del Plata is carbon negative. This means that it has a surplus of greenhouse gas capture, something beneficial not only for Uruguay but for the planet, a commitment to the future that began to be forged yesterday.
About Montes del Plata
Montes del Plata is a forestry-industrial company founded in Uruguay in 2009 dedicated to the production of Eucalyptus pulp.
Its pulp is produced in a state-of-the-art industrial complex near Conchillas, in the department of Colonia, which also generates renewable electricity.
It has more than 160,000 hectares of its own forest plantations and as part of agreements with local producers distributed in thirteen departments of the country, which are integrated with native forests and other natural conservation areas.
From the production of seedlings in its own nursery to the export of cellulose, Montes del Plata involves more than 6,500 people throughout its production chain.
About Agustín Inthamoussu, author of the Carbon Footprint Report
Agustín Inthamoussu is a Forestry Agronomist with a Master's degree in Business Administration and Euroforester studies from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
He is currently an independent consultant specializing in climate change and sustainable development. His experience includes national and international projects and consultations.
His work for the World Bank has led him to develop climate change mitigation actions with nature-based solutions. He is also a member of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Climate Change for the review of greenhouse gas inventories.
He has conducted evaluations of national and sub-national strategies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programs and sustainable forest landscape initiatives in the Americas, Asia and Africa. He provides advisory services to private companies on climate change, carbon footprint and projects for the generation of carbon credits.
1The guidelines of ISO 14.064-1: 2006 and the GHG (Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard) were used as a reference. You can find more information at https://www.iso.org/obp/ui#iso:std:iso:14064:-1:ed-1:v1:es and https://ghgprotocol.org/corporate-standard