Last month, Bend, Oregon-based ready-to-drink cold brew and other plant-based beverage maker Riff launched what it advertised as being the nation’s first carbon-neutral energy drink.
The certification was achieved through Carbonfund.org, a New York State-based nonprofit that funds numerous third-party-certified renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects on behalf of businesses that purchase carbon offsets.
Additionally, Carbonfree.org maintains a Carbonfree Product Certification program, through which the Riff Energy+ line of beverages can now lay claim to certified carbon neutrality.
Made in Bend by Riff, which launched in 2017 before last year landing a $2.5 million seed funding round from numerous investors, the Riff Energy+ drink line offers numerous flavors of a sparkling beverage made with upcycled cascara, the dried outer fruit portion that is removed from coffee beans during processing and is typically either discarded or composted at the place of production.
Riff Co-Founder and CEO Paul Evers told DCN that the company currently has three different suppliers of cascara in various forms, including whole fruit and concentrates.
In order to meet Carbonfund.org’s certification standards, Riff was required to carry out a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the product. Incidentally, Riff had previously been involved in two university-led reports in 2020 addressing the Energy+ drink: an LCA led by the researchers at the University of Oregon; and an environmental impact study on cascara at Oregon State University.
“Riff Energy+ is very, very close to being inherently carbon-neutral solely based on the diversion of cascara from becoming food waste,” Evers told DCN. “The certification did require the purchase of carbon offsets, but those only account for 0.1% of our revenue. With enhancements to our packaging in the near future, we’re seeing the ability to maintain the certification without the purchase of carbon offsets.”
Evers noted that it’s likely that the company’s other beverage products could meet Carbonfree.org’s carbon neutrality requirements, although for now the Energy+ line is the only one bearing the certification seal.
“It’s resonated with consumers and retail buyers in powerful ways,” Evers said. “And, being the first energy drink in the U.S. to achieve this brings us a lot of pride as a small brand based in the PNW. The certification is a leading banner for us.”
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