Fairview’s journey towards achieving a carbon neutral footprint

The Fairview Cheesery in the Western Cape began its quest to achieve a carbon neutral status in 2009. Management says this was a response to the negative environmental effects of man-made climate change and because 75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are generated by businesses.
Now, Fairview Cheesery has been recognised by the Carbon Protocol of SA as the first carbon neutral cheesery on the continent.
A comprehensive assessment of its carbon footprint by Promethium Carbons revealed that the cheesery initially had an annual footprint of 1,743t/CO2e associated with the production of its cheese products.
The Fairview team thereafter embarked on an emissions reduction project to offset this footprint via emission avoidance and sequestration.
Under the guidance of Earth Patrol, a South African carbon management consultancy, the cheesery became involved in two primary carbon offsetting projects: planting trees on the Fairview farm, at local schools, an old age home and a park; and a project to install energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in the homes of Fairview farmworkers and in a number of areas across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng (including low income and subsidised housing areas and special needs centres such as old age homes, orphanages and shelters).
Furthermore, the cheesery erected solar panels to reduce energy consumption. An economiser was installed in the company’s factory. This involved the use of steam to heat water in the boiler which reduced boiler fuel consumption by approximately 130 litres a day.
Fairview’s owner, Charles Back, said the company is continuing its efforts to become a greener, more environmentally aware business.
“We will strive towards innovation and education in the interest of protecting the environment for future generations,” he said.
Fairview is a third generation family owned farm. Back says there is a strong relationship between those who own and work the vineyards and the land that provides raw materials.
The company had previously implemented various measures to ensure that farming and production practices were on par or even exceeded the standards set by local and international authorities, he said.
“South Africa is a country rich in natural resources and biodiversity, which is one of the key areas of attraction for international tourism. However it is also a country that has traditionally been strongly agriculture oriented and reliant.”
The key challenge going forward lies in managing the future sustainability of natural resources and biodiversity,  said Back.
Many groups within the South African wine industry have recognised this “challenge” and been pro-active in pursuing eco-friendly farming methods and practices.
Back noted that 10 of Fairview’s farms have Fairtrade accreditation. Fairtrade is an international organisation focused on ensuring equality and sustainability in agriculture in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The organisation promotes fairer trading conditions for small-scale farmers and workers.
In order to bear the Fairtrade logo products are required to meet stringent social, economic and environmental standards. Products are also required to undergo rigorous annual audits to ensure continued compliance.
Back selected Fairview’s most established and successful wine range to carry the logo – “and maximise the benefit to the community”.
“Goats Do Roam is our largest wine brand, established 15 years ago. It is well established and recognised in 35 countries across the world,” he said.
The Goats Do Roam 2013 range was the first of Fairview’s beverages to be produced using Fairtrade-certified grapes. A percentage of the funds generated from the sale of these wines will be put into various community development projects.
“Through this process workers learn, practice and acquire invaluable life, leadership and management skills – this is truly empowering,” said Fairview’s Fairtrade officer, David Loos.
Fairview is also a member of a South African initiative, the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW), which ensures that grape and wine producers are responsible for their immediate natural environment. The IPW involves an extensive set of vineyard and cellar standards that are regularly monitored by means of internal audits and/or independent auditing.

Nature conservation
In 2008 Fairview partnered with Cape Nature to implement a conservation management programme on the farm and surrounds.
The project commenced on the Paarl Mountain, where Fairview teamed up with the Working for Water social and environmental rehabilitation programme to clear an alien pine forested in an attempt to restore part of the mountain’s natural vegetation (predominantly fynbos).
Fairview’s alien vegetation removal efforts now also include the removal of major environmental concerns such as blue gum, port Jackson and black wattle (which grow across the neighbouring farms and surrounds).

The future
From the 2010 vintage onwards, Fairview wines all carry an integrity and sustainability seal.
“This certifies that we are committed to the agreed standards set by the four organisations involved,” says Back.
Fairview is committed to:
•    Upholding the standards set by the participating organisations.
•    Using environmentally-friendly products, in both its vineyards and cellars.
•    Continuing the eradication of alien vegetation both in agricultural and natural areas.
•    Planting indigenous grasses and plants in its vineyards to prevent soil erosion, improve soil condition and create corridors for the safe movement of natural fauna.
•    Reducing carbon emissions in its vineyards and cellars.
•    Ensuring safe working conditions for all its employees.
•    Continuing water conservation.
•    Keeping records of the indigenous fauna and flora on its property.
•    Continuing participating in similar initiatives among the business’s contractors.
•    Furthering education and training.
Fairview Cheesery: Tel +27 21 863 2450;
info@fairview.co.za; www.fairview.co.za