Darling Ingredients , Inc. – GHG Goals (2022)

Outcome: Successfully withdrawn following the company’s commitment to submit scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets aligned with 1.5 degrees of warming to the Science Based Targets Initiative by the end of 2024.

Whereas: In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advised that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to limit warming to 1.5° Celsius, prevent the worst consequences of climate change, and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In 2021, the UN reported that the world is “way off track” in its efforts to achieve these targets. Companies must therefore act rapidly to reduce emissions in line with these science-based goals. 

While Darling asserts its commitment to “reducing the direct climate impact of our own activities,” Darling’s absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions have increased in three of the last four years. Further, Darling’s emissions intensity is much higher than that of other feed and food products companies and renewable fuel companies. In 2020, based on CDP-reported scope 1 and 2 emissions and revenue, Darling’s emissions intensity was roughly twice that of ADM, three-and-a-half times that of Tyson, five times that of Bunge, and twice that of Nestle Corp.

Darling set a target to reduce energy consumption by 5% per unit processed by 2025, but does not plan to set emissions reduction targets until the end of 2023 and has no time-bound commitments to disclose or set reduction targets for its comprehensive Scope 3 emissions. Accordingly, Darling is among the high-emitting companies in Ceres’ Food Emissions 50 benchmark that fail to meet any of the assessed standards. If Darling is to accelerate emissions reductions consistent with global goals and climate science it must act quickly. 

Darling’s laggard performance on emissions reduction is inconsistent with its brand. Darling places sustainability at the heart of its corporate identity, asserting that it has been “devoted to combating the impact of climate change by repurposing bio-nutrients from the world’s food waste streams for over 139 years.” Chairman and CEO Randall Stuewe describes Darling as “the greenest company on the planet.” This inconsistency exposes Darling to reputational risk heightened by increasing focus on greenwashing.

Failure to anticipate regulatory changes and keep pace with competitors may pose material risks to Darling, including restricted market share, inability to meet government mandates, and reputational damage. 

Resolved: Shareholders request that Darling Ingredients adopt short, medium, and long-term science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, inclusive of emissions from its full value chain, in order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner and to effectuate appropriate emissions reductions prior to 2030.

Supporting Statement: In assessing targets, we recommend, at management’s discretion:

  • Consideration of approaches used by advisory groups such as the Science Based Targets initiative;
  • Adopting emissions reduction targets inclusive of all GHG Protocol-defined sources of Scope 3 emissions including from agriculture, land use change, and use of sold products that align with limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C;
  • Disclosing these targets to investors at least 180 days prior to the next annual meeting.

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