Case Study: Burgerville Restaurants

Carbon Footprint of Burgerville Beef

The Holland Inc., parent company of the Pacific Northwest burger chain Burgerville, has served its community over the past 50 years. During that time, the practice of doing business locally has been extraordinarily important to the company. More recently, the burger chain has taken steps to actively measure and implement sustainable business practices. One such initiative, implemented in 2004, was the decision to source all beef products from Country Natural Beef (CNB), a cooperative of ranchers that has worked for 25 years to establish a transparent and responsible supply chain. While The Holland Inc. knew that purchasing sustainable beef products was less impactful on the environment, the company didn’t have metrics to support this decision.

“We wanted to differentiate the environmental impact of our beef, and based on the numbers continue to work with internal stakeholders to build a truly sustainable supply chain,” Jack Graves, Chief Cultural Officer of Burgerville.

Recognizing that this purchasing decision helps to position Burgerville as a sustainability leader within the industry, the organization wanted to assess the environmental impact of this decision so it could confidently report back to internal stakeholders.

The Holland Inc. turned to Ecova for help. The team of carbon experts set out to determine the unique characteristics of Burgerville’s beef supply chain as compared to conventional beef production practices, and to evaluate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from the retailer’s beef product.



A review of existing life cycle assessments revealed a focus on the quantification of impacts from conventional beef production practices, analyzing only a limited number of aspects of the beef supply chain. In order for Burgerville to make truly informed decisions they needed a full assessment utilizing data particular to the retailer’s regional and sustainable practices. To meet this need, Ecova’s approach was to collect data specific to every step of the Burgerville beef value chain, from ranch to processing facility to final disposal of the burger wrapper, inclusive of over 80 processes.

A multi-phase strategy was put in place. To calculate the annual GHG emissions resulting from the Burgerville beef value chain, Ecova followed the Publically Available Specification (PAS) 2050, the carbon accounting industry’s premier and most recognized product carbon footprinting methodology. Additional guidance was gained from the ISO 14000 series, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publications, and the GHG Protocol. While these standards were useful in establishing the methodology required to calculate carbon emissions, they do not provide the specific metrics needed to meet Burgerville’s initiatives. In order to fully assess Burgerville’s entire supply chain process, Ecova utilized its carbon management expertise to conduct additional primary research to obtain data inclusive of each aspect of Burgerville’s beef supply chain.

The analysis included calculating the emissions resulting from the following components of the beef value chain:

  • Production of supplies
  • Utility usage
  • Soil management
  • Manure management
  • Enteric fermentation
  • Transportation
  • Waste disposal
  • Waste usage



Ecova’s strategic insight was instrumental in selecting the appropriate methodology and obtaining the level of detail needed to conduct a comprehensive carbon footprint of Burgerville’s beef. The results of the assessment included the GHG emissions breakdown for each aspect of the beef product’s supply chain, and the total emissions for each patty of beef. In addition, Ecova provided Burgerville with actionable recommendations for reducing energy usage and GHG emissions relating to the beef value chain, offering analytics aimed at supporting strategic sustainable initiatives. “Leveraging Ecova’s holistic approach to assessing our product’s environmental impact positions Burgerville well to continue to be a sustainability leader in quick service restaurant industry,” says Jack Graves.



The comprehensive analysis conducted on the Burgerville beef product created tremendous opportunity for the organization, demonstrating their deep commitment to sustainability and strengthening their position as a thought leader. “The work Ecova accomplished revealed a level of complexity and variability we had not anticipated,” Jack Graves, “The work presents extraordinary opportunities as we continue to work with our supply chain in enhancing the sustainability of our products.”

The assessment provided metrics which support The Holland Inc. in strengthening relationships with stakeholders, including their sustainable supply chain.

“The work undertaken by Ecova added significant depth to our supplier relationships and provided deep data transparency, enabling Burgerville to differentiate our lower impact product in the marketplace.”

The organization is now using the results of this assessment to develop best practices in collaboration with their beef value chain, while simultaneously supporting ongoing research that will benefit all of its partners and stakeholders.

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