Gousto Drives Real Corporate Impact in Carbon Reduction Using Altruistiq’s Sustainability Management Software on AWS
Gousto, a leading UK recipe box provider delivering eight million meals per month, was founded in 2012 with the idea of reducing food waste. While over time the company has expanded its definition of sustainability to include areas such as packaging, carbon emissions, and healthy outcomes, it struggled to collect and manage the data needed to measure its impact and identify strategic opportunities for change. To automate the data measurement, management, and exchange process, Gousto turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Altruistiq, a software solution that drives real corporate impact in carbon reduction and beyond. Now Gousto can calculate and mitigate its impact across the entire business, from suppliers to employees to customers, and plan for future efforts. To date, Gousto has cut plastic packaging in its boxes by 50% and maintained food waste levels below 1% in its facilities.
The Challenge: Locating and Identifying Each Customer
Sustainability is one of the defining issues of our time, and while the food industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts, many producers and retailers are taking steps to create a more sustainable world. Gousto, a pioneer in the recipe box industry in the UK, was founded in 2012 with the goal to minimize food waste. Today, Gousto is committed to thinking about sustainability more broadly by incorporating environmental and social decisions into business cases ranging from plastic packaging to healthier eating. In September 2021, the company announced it had completed the rigorous process to become a certified B Corp, meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors such as employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices, and input materials.
While Gousto believes strongly that advocating for sustainability is simply the right thing to do, there’s also a business case to be made. “Our focus on sustainability helps us meet customer demand, drive efficiency, attract and retain top talent, and engage investors,” said Hugh Lewis, head of sustainability at Gousto. “We’re focused on areas that are particularly important to our stakeholders, like carbon emissions and health.”
Measuring and managing impact is a data-driven process, and for Gousto, that involved spreadsheets and the support of ad hoc consultants. This approach resulted in time-consuming data gathering where the data itself was incomplete, covering only two of the three scopes measured by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
Because it took so long to gather data, it was only refreshed once a year, and the use of spreadsheets made it impossible to scale. “We wanted more real-time and accurate data to help us make better decisions,” said Lewis. “That’s what led us to investigate alternative ways of data measurement and management, which is what led us to Altruistiq.”
“It’s about the quality of the data and how that data flows between the platform and our business, and we have both with Altruistiq.”
- Hugh Lewis, Head of Sustainability, Gousto
The Ingredients for Impact Management
Altruistiq offers a sustainability impact management platform that enables organizations to automate data measurement, management, and exchange, identifying cost-efficient impact reduction initiatives. Built on AWS, Altruistiq’s SaaS solution helps customers transition from retrospective measurement and static sustainability reports to a live dashboard and decision-making environment. Altrusitiq takes advantage of three primary AWS functionalities: data security; flexible, region-based data storage; and data storage scalability.
To enable its customers to access and analyze the different forms of data it gathers, Altruistiq takes a DevOps approach to moving data into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). It uses data pipelines to ingest raw data from disparate sources. Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) provides the underlying orchestration and management infrastructure for these pipelines. The pipeline flow is built in Apache Airflow and instead of managing the flow itself, Altruistiq runs Amazon Managed Workflows for Apache Airflow (Amazon MWAA) on Amazon EKS. AWS Lambda provides the execution layer for the pipelines so that the Altruistiq team can run code without provisioning or managing infrastructure. The data in Amazon S3 is managed by Amazon RDS for PostgresSQL, and when it’s time to use it for analytics, Altruistiq relies on the Amazon Athena interactive query service.
Altruistiq integrates with customers’ key data systems—CRMs, ERPs, and others—to automate raw data collection, eliminating the need to enter data manually or conform to any particular data format. Once the data is uploaded, Altruistiq’s emissions calculation engine identifies specific areas of emissions across all three scopes of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Plug-and-play analytics make it easy for customers to browse, filter, and visualize data, and the platform’s proprietary abatement algorithm highlights opportunities for reducing impact. Finally, Altruistiq facilitates easy-to-share, tailored reports for internal and external stakeholders, including fully transparent, auditable reports that meet key standards such as CPD and TCFD.
Because Altruistiq is built on AWS using best-practice SaaS architectures, the platform is scalable, reliable, and resilient. “We believe in the power of a SaaS solution to drive customer value securely, cost effectively, and at scale, and we couldn’t do that without our partnership with AWS,” said Isobel Wild, growth analyst at Altruistiq. “As a growing company, we need to build trust with our customers, and working with AWS gives us the credibility we need.” AWS provides Altruistiq with access to native services that accelerate the delivery and improve the functionality of the platform. For example, AWS Glue, a serverless data integration service, makes it easy for non-engineers to develop data pipelines.
Altruistiq also chose to work with AWS because of AWS’s own focus on sustainability. In December 2021, AWS introduced a new Sustainability Pillar to help organizations learn, measure, and improve their workloads using environmental best practices for cloud computing. AWS’s commitment to sustainability extends to efficiency and continuous innovation across its global infrastructure, with a goal to power operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. In addition, AWS’s Custom Carbon Footprint Tool helps Altruistiq measure its own overall cloud processing footprint. “As aClimateTech, it is important to us to understand our own impact on the environment and have options to change and make improvements, such as moving to more sustainable data centers powered by renewables,” said Wild.
Tomatoes from Seville: Surfacing Counterintuitive Insights
After working with Altruistiq to establish its baseline in 2020, Gousto recently drafted new targets focused on decarbonization, one of the company’s key initiatives. The company is tackling decarbonization on two fronts: suppliers’ farming methods and the mix of recipes and ingredients it sells. “We’re surveying our suppliers to get a better understanding of their carbon footprint,” Lewis explained. “We’re also looking to see how we can use Altruistiq to help our suppliers make their practices more sustainable, which would improve our footprint as well.”
The company has surfaced insights using Altruistiq that allow it to reduce the carbon impact of its current recipes down to the individual ingredient. For example, Gousto discovered that sourcing tomatoes from Seville had a lower carbon impact than sourcing from the UK. Such insights help Gousto make more informed sourcing and recipe-development decisions.
“Having a cloud-based solution helps us scale to move beyond averages to develop a holistic view of the entire value chain, from our suppliers to our employees to our customers.”
- Hugh Lewis, Head of Sustainability, Gousto
Fueling Sustainability with Data
Since moving its sustainability measurement and management to the cloud, Gousto has saved money, improved efficiency, and increased scale to include Scope 3 emissions, the indirect emissions created by both the upstream and downstream activities of an organization’s value chain.
The company found that working with Altruistiq was less expensive than using consultants and employees for data input and management tasks, with the added benefit of more complete, accurate, and timely data collection. “It’s about the quality of the data and how that data flows between the platform and our business, and we have both with Altruistiq,” noted Lewis. “Collecting data through integrations ensures it’s both accurate and up to date, so we can use it in ways that are meaningful to us as a business.” With real-time data, Gousto can better identify and optimize those initiatives that will have the greatest impact and more effectively allocate precious resources.
With Scope 3 emissions representing around 99% of Gousto’s emissions overall, the company needed a solution that could scale to handle the vast amount of primary data required to measure them, as well as other factors beyond carbon: pollution, water use, biodiversity, and health outcomes. “Having a cloud-based solution helps us scale to move beyond averages to develop a holistic view of the entire value chain, from our suppliers to our employees to our customers,” said Lewis.
The Recipe for a Greener Future
Gousto has calculated that a weekly recipe box reduces carbon emissions by 23% compared to buying the same food at a supermarket. In its own facilities, Gousto has reduced food waste to less than 1% and cut plastic packaging in its boxes by 50%.
Going forward, Gousto is focused on a sustainability goal in which every meal leaves the world better off. “Food production and distribution are responsible for a lot of negative environmental impacts, but they can also be responsible for future solutions,” concluded Lewis. “We know that there are direct correlations between our sustainability efforts and our business growth, and we believe that sustainability should be central to any forward-thinking business.”
Gousto is a pioneer in the recipe box industry in the UK, delivering eight million meals each month. As a certified B Corp™, Gousto has set a sustainability goal of making sure every meal leaves the world better off.
Altruistiq’s software solution delivers impact intelligence in carbon reduction and beyond for large businesses that see more than ‘just’ reporting as the goal.
Published July 2022