AppHarvest increases B Corp score 15% in recertification, issues 2021 sustainability report detailing ESG progress

AppHarvest, Inc., a sustainable food company, public benefit corporation and Certified B Corp has announced its B Corp recertification score improved 15% over its original certification and published its 2021 “Fight the Food Fight” Sustainability Report measuring progress on its environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments. The “Fight the Food Fight” campaign is a call to action for consumers to join the company’s mission in creating a more resilient food system that delivers far more using far fewer resources for the wellbeing of people and planet.

B Corp Recertification
As both a Certified B Corp and a public benefit corporation, ESG issues are core to the AppHarvest mission. Since first becoming B Corp Certified in 2019, the company has increased its overall impact score to 95.4 – a 15% improvement. This increase came during a period of hyper-growth as the company went public, opened its 60-acre flagship farm in Morehead, Ky., and grew from a handful of employees to several hundred.

Key actions that helped boost the company’s recertification score include establishing a Board of Directors-level Sustainability Committee; tracking and reporting data for water, energy, carbon and waste; and ensuring the highest standard of health and safety are achieved.

“The increase in our Certified B Corporation score demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement, and I’m so proud the team achieved this while working to rapidly ramp up production and expand the farm network,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb. “Disrupting agriculture to build a climate-resilient, domestic food supply that is more sustainable for the next generation and beyond isn’t easy, but the B Corp validation is a symbol that we are committed to ‘Fight the Food Fight’ to provide good jobs and better access to nutritious fruits and vegetables while conserving the increasingly precious resource of water.”

The B Corp Certification is issued by B Lab, an independent non-profit organization that assesses a company’s entire social and environmental performance on more than 200 ESG topics. Certification is awarded to for-profit organizations that balance profit and purpose by meeting high standards in social and environmental performance, legal accountability and public transparency. An assessment must be completed every three years to maintain certification.

2021 Fight the Food Fight Sustainability Report
“Fight the Food Fight!” That’s the AppHarvest rally cry to build a robust, climate-resilient food system that’s better for both people and planet. It’s also the focus of AppHarvest’s third sustainability report detailing progress during fiscal year 2021 (January 1 to December 31, 2021) on the company’s three specific public benefit goals: empower individuals in Appalachia, improve the lives of company employees and the communities in which we operate and drive positive environmental change in agriculture. The report also discusses our approach to zero waste and actions we’re taking to reduce our energy and carbon footprint. The reporting in this report is in accordance with the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Content Index and SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board)’s agriculture standards.

Highlights from the report that illustrate AppHarvest’s substantial environmental and social impact include:

  • Hiring ~500 employees as of 2021 for certified living wage jobs in Central Appalachia and training them during COVID-19 while remaining safe.
  • Continuously ramping up production at our first facility to deliver more sustainably grown tomatoes to top national grocery store chains and restaurants.
  • Leveraging our closed-loop irrigation to use more than 90% less water than open-field agriculture while preventing runoff pollution of waterways in an era of exceptional water shortages around the world.
  • Dedication to Integrated Pest Management as our primary line of defense against pests and disease and innovating in this space to reduce pesticide use.
  • Progress on recycling and minimizing food waste.
  • Leverage real-time data to optimize our production capabilities and innovate sustainability measures.

“2021 marks our first full year of operations, and we can more clearly see the opportunities, challenges and the critical need to leverage controlled environment agriculture (CEA) as a solution to many of the obstacles threatening our U.S. food supply —drought, wildfires, flooding, ice storms, extreme temperatures and exceptional wind events,” said AppHarvest Chief Sustainability Officer Jackie Roberts. “With our long-term commitment to doing right by our broad range of stakeholders across the ESG spectrum, we will continue to bring a focus on ensuring domestic food security and the ability for CEA to accomplish that while providing good jobs in agriculture in areas of the country that need it most.”

The full sustainability report is available here.

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