Climate Action Offsetter: American Licorice Company Makes Red Vines Green

June 5, 2017


1. Please tell us more about American Licorice Company and its sustainability goals

In 1914, the American Licorice Company’s factory began in a small rented space in Chicago. The Company’s first product was Black Licorice Twists. At the time, every metropolitan center in the country (except for the southern states) had at least one licorice manufacturer. All the licorice was sold unwrapped and was generally not shipped outside the metropolitan areas. Over the years, the company grew, expanding our production, distribution, and product line. In the 1950s, American Licorice Co. expanded beyond traditional black licorice and began producing Raspberry Vines, which later were renamed Red Vines® twists. And in 1990 American Licorice Co. expanded into the sour candy market with the Sour Punch® brand candies, which have become fan favorites.


At the heart of everything ALC does is the concept that we are investing in the happiness of our key stakeholders, including our people, communities, and shared environment.

While a simple message, it has lead us to do some tremendous things, and to dream even bigger than before.

We were excited to enter new partnerships with The Conservation Fund to protect forests, and we enrolled in the NIPSCO Green Power and Constellation NewMix® Green-e-Energy Renewable Energy Certificate Programs. These were big investments to get us to our goal of being carbon neutral for scope 1 and 2 emissions.

We are conscious how our manufacturing processes affect our environment and resources. One of those valued resources is soil from which everything grows. And as our company grows, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to help preserve this essential resource. That’s why we’re Zero Waste Gold certified at both of our manufacturing facilities, which means we’ve diverted 90% of our waste from landfills through reducing, reusing, and recycling. We track this diversion ratio monthly and hope to become Platinum certified soon by diverting 95% of our waste from the landfill.

2. How did American Licorice Company choose to incorporate offsets into its sustainability program?

While reducing our direct energy footprint is our first priority, we were bothered we were still emitting a substantial amount of greenhouse gas.

We have made two investments to offset our carbon footprint. We purchase carbon offsets from The Conservation Fund for Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions associated with the natural gas usage we have been unable to eliminate, and to offset the emissions from 100% of the electricity generation of both of our facilities, we also invest in Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) through NIPSCO’s Green Power Program and Constellation NewMix®. The RECs supplied are sourced from wind energy facilities located in the lower 48 states.

Combined, these investments resulted in approximately 12,400 metric tons of CO2 e offset in 2016.

3. What elements of the chosen offset projects were most appealing?

Our partnership with The Conservation Fund hits close to home with a lot of our associates who work at our Union City, CA plant. Our COO John Nelson believes “that corporations have a responsibility to offset their environmental impact, and by partnering with The Conservation Fund we are also getting to ensure that future generations of Californians and Americans will have beautiful forests to enjoy, like my family and I have throughout the years.”

Our 2016 offset purchase from The Conservation Fund supports conservation and restoration of the Fund’s Garcia River Forest, which spans 24,000 acres in Mendocino County, California. In addition to trapping carbon, these forests are safeguarding important biodiversity and wildlife, like the endangered northern spotted owl.


John Nelson also added, “Hopefully, as time goes by, all companies will take up the cause of conservation within their businesses, and join us in protecting the environment. I believe that, together, leaders in their industry and in their trades, will be a significant piece of the solution in solving some most urgent and challenging issues we face for our planet.”

4. How has American Licorice Company benefited from using offsets?

We hope by making these investments that our consumers and associates can take pride in the company they buy from and work for.

We love challenging and incentivizing our associates to improve sustainability practices at work and at home. We promote carpooling among our associates, have water usage reduction challenges and offer LED lightbulbs and water saving devices in our “ALC Store” to name a few.

5. What lessons have you learned from using offsets?

In early 2016 we performed an internal audit to calculate our carbon footprint to understand our environmental impact and determine if we could offset our carbon footprint. We are very excited to report our 2016 carbon emissions data to the Climate registry and have our data audited and verified by a third party.

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1 Comment

  • Sid Abma says:

    How efficient are the boilers you are using? Have you looked into Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery? Natural gas can be consumed to near 100% energy efficiency.

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