Impact & Sustainability

Interview with Ahmed Alaa Hassan

Part 1

about Ahmed Alaa Hassan

Ahmed is an Environmental Manager at DCarbon Global, a leading consultancy in the MENA region in the field of Sustainability and Climate Change. I have more than 5 years of experience helping a wide spectrum of clients from different sectors in their transformation journey to reach the triple bottom line of their operations through assessing the potential climate and sustainability risks they might face and setting mitigation plans for them.

about Ahmed Alaa Hassan

Ahmed is an Environmental Manager at DCarbon Global, a leading consultancy in the MENA region in the field of Sustainability and Climate Change. I have more than 5 years of experience helping a wide spectrum of clients from different sectors in their transformation journey to reach the triple bottom line of their operations through assessing the potential climate and sustainability risks they might face and setting mitigation plans for them.

Impact & Sustainability in the alternative protein Market

How does the production of traditional protein sources compare to Alprotein in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and land use?

The environmental impact of protein sources varies dramatically. While traditional protein sources, particularly red meat, leave a significant footprint, Alternative protein offers a stark contrast. A 2020 study by the University of Oxford revealed that beef production generates 20 times more greenhouse gases (GHG) than peas, a common green source of protein. This isn’t just an isolated example.

Animal agriculture is significantly contributing to climate change, responsible for 15% of global GHG emissions. This puts it on par with the transportation sector, a major source of concern. However, replacing conventional protein sources with alternatives presents a powerful opportunity to mitigate this impact. Studies predict that by 2030, alternative proteins could reduce emissions by 0.85 Gt CO2e, equivalent to decarbonizing most of the aviation or shipping industries. This is a substantial impact that cannot be ignored.

Furthermore, beyond CO2 emissions, we have the potent greenhouse gas, methane. Animal agriculture is a major source of methane, with a shorter atmospheric lifetime but 29 times the warming potential of CO2. Reducing methane emissions has a faster cooling effect, providing an additional climate benefit from adopting alternative proteins.

In essence, alternative proteins offer a double win for the climate: reducing CO2 emissions and accelerating the cooling effect by tackling methane. This makes them a crucial tool in combating climate change, offering a significant and actionable solution with tangible benefits.

In addition to climate change and GHG, animal agriculture requires vast areas for grazing, feed production, and waste management, whereas Alternative protein utilizes significantly less land, and in the case of Alprotein, they are using deserted lands requiring no deforestation and contributing to ecosystem preservation and requiring less land footprint.

Water consumption also tells a similar story. Traditional meat production is a major strain on freshwater resources, which is a major issue in a water-stressed country like Egypt or MENA region in general, while Alternative protein requires considerably less water, and Alprotein is using Brackish water in their operations alleviating pressure on this vital resource.

Can you quantify the potential positive impact of Alternative protein on mitigating climate change?

Quantifying the precise environmental impact of any product, including Alternative protein, is a complex endeavor. Accurately measuring the lifecycle impact involves various factors, from resource use during production to transportation and potential waste generation. Additionally, the emerging nature of alternative protein technologies and evolving production methods add dynamism to the equation. However, transparency and data availability from all actors in the supply chain are crucial for comprehensive assessments. Despite the challenges, studies estimate that widespread adoption of alternative proteins could reduce global food system emissions by 25-50%. While the specific impact of alternative protein depends on factors like production practices and compared protein source, its potential to reduce emissions and conserve resources is undeniable.

Can alternative protein production be more geographically flexible and less susceptible to disruption than traditional animal agriculture?

Yes, alternative protein production offers greater geographical flexibility compared to traditional animal agriculture. Several factors contribute to this:

  • Climate independence: Animal agriculture is heavily dependent on specific climatic conditions, making it vulnerable to climate change disruptions like droughts and extreme weather events. Alternative proteins can be grown in various climates and even indoors, making them more adaptable to changing conditions.
  • Reduced land requirements: As mentioned earlier, alternative proteins demand less land, allowing production in areas unsuitable for traditional animal agriculture. This flexibility can be crucial for countries with limited land resources or facing climate-induced land degradation.
  • Decentralized production: Unlike concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), alternative protein production can be decentralized, with smaller-scale facilities closer to consumers. This reduces transportation emissions and strengthens local food systems, making them less susceptible to disruptions affecting centralized production hubs.

What are the current challenges and limitations in assessing the full environmental impact of alternative protein sources?

While the potential of Alternative protein is undeniable, acknowledging the challenges in assessing its environmental impact is crucial for continuous improvement. As mentioned earlier, accurately measuring the lifecycle impact of any product is inherently complex. The evolving nature of alternative protein technologies further adds to this complexity. However, transparency and collaboration hold the key to overcoming these challenges. By ensuring transparency in sourcing and production practices, Alprotein can build trust with consumers and stakeholders. Additionally, collaborating with sustainable farmers and suppliers throughout the supply chain is essential for minimizing environmental impact. Finally, embracing third-party certifications adds credibility and allows for independent verification of sustainability claims.

What are the potential challenges and risks relating to sustainability and climate change associated with the growth of the alternative protein industry?

While the potential benefits of alternative proteins are significant, some challenges and risks need to be addressed:

  • Sustainability of ingredients: Some plant-based alternatives rely on ingredients with environmental concerns, such as soy or pea protein. Sustainable sourcing and diversified ingredient sources are crucial to ensure the industry’s overall environmental footprint remains positive.
  • Energy consumption: Processing alternative proteins can be energy-intensive, requiring careful consideration of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient production methods.
  • Land-use change: While requiring less land than animal agriculture, some alternative protein production, like cultivating plant-based ingredients, might still lead to land-use change, requiring careful planning and responsible land management practices.

How does Alprotein compare to other emerging alternative protein options in terms of its environmental footprint?

The exciting world of alternative proteins offers various options, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Compared to plant-based alternatives like soy, Alprotein may have a lower water footprint and require less land due to depending on advanced AI models to enhance the operations and resources efficiency. While insect-based protein offers similar environmental benefits, consumer acceptance remains a hurdle. Ultimately, the “best” option depends on various factors, including consumer preferences, production processes, and specific environmental concerns. However, Alprotein stands out for its potential scalability, versatility, and its ability to address the growing global demand for protein in a sustainable manner.

Looking ahead, what innovations in the alternative protein industry hold the most promise for further reducing environmental impact?

The future of sustainable protein is brimming with exciting possibilities fueled by continuous innovation. One groundbreaking technology is cellular agriculture, often referred to as lab-grown meat. This technology promises to revolutionize protein production by creating meat directly from animal cells, potentially eliminating the need for traditional animal agriculture altogether. Imagine enjoying a juicy steak without the environmental impact! While still in its early stages, cellular agriculture holds immense potential for minimizing environmental impact and meeting the growing global demand for protein.

Another promising avenue is precision fermentation. This technique utilizes microorganisms like fungi or bacteria to produce protein-rich ingredients with minimal environmental footprint. The possibilities are vast, ranging from creating meat alternatives to developing novel protein sources for diverse applications. Imagine delicious and nutritious plant-based burgers or dairy alternatives produced through fermentation, further diversifying the sustainable protein landscape.

Beyond these specific technologies, continuous improvement in existing methods like Alprotein’s production is crucial. By optimizing energy use during processing, ensuring sustainable sourcing of all ingredients, and conducting regular life cycle analyses, Alprotein can further reduce its environmental impact and solidify its position as a leader in the sustainable protein revolution.