Climate Change is a major threat to everyone on our planet, and we feel it every day as the Gulf of Maine warms faster than 99% of the earth’s oceans. Luke’s Lobster is committed to doing our part to slow the effects of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. As a first step, we and our partners at Island Institute conducted a third party assessment of all the emissions in our lobster and crab supply chain. You can see a breakdown of those emissions in the graph below. Now we know our biggest opportunities for improvement, and are researching and implementing innovations that move our industry closer to carbon neutral.
Carbon Footprint Assessment
- One major source of emissions from bait is the fuel used to go catch small fish like herring and menhaden (pogeys) to be used as lobster bait. A solution is to use the byproducts of fish caught for human consumption for bait, like tuna heads or redfish racks. The fuel to fish those species would be burned anyway and this keeps the byproducts from going to waste.
- A second source of emissions from bait is transporting the bait from where it’s caught or salvaged to the wharf where it’s used. To solve that, we can focus on sourcing bait as locally as possible, and also transition to electric trucking for transportation.
- An immediately available solution to reduce emissions from boat diesel is to swap in 20% recycled biodiesel, taking salvaged used cooking oil from restaurants like ours and turning it into fuel that can be used in a boat engine without having to make any alterations. Our lobstermen partners at the Tenants Harbor Fishermen’s Coop trialed this fuel and found that it reduced the carbon footprint of the lobster caught by 43,000 lbs. in six weeks..
- In the long term, lobster boats will eliminate emissions by powering their boats with electricity or hydrogen fuel. We are currently planning a pilot of hybrid diesel/electric lobster boats, fully electric outboard engines, and wharf-side electric fast charging.
- Wharves can use less electricity to achieve the same results by making their equipment more efficient. The number one example is by better insulating the walls and floor of the coolers where they store bait–the up front cost of better installation pays for itself quickly with savings on electricity.
- Wharves can also generate their own renewable power! Installing solar panels on the roofs of wharf buildings or on the property can generate all the power the wharf needs, and help to power electric boats and vehicles in the future. Cranberry Island Fishermen’s Coop installed solar panels in 2019 and hasn’t paid an electric bill since. Panels will be installed at Community Shellfish and our own wharf at Portland Pier in 2022.
- The biggest source of emissions from processing is the natural gas that heats the boiler. In the short term, we are continuing to improve that boiler and steam piping to make it more efficient, so more of the fuel used is converted directly to steam in the cooker. Long term, we are researching how to use lobster waste products to generate our own fuel.
- The second biggest source of emissions in lobster processing is cooling and refrigeration–the network of ice makers, compressors, and evaporators chilling and then storing product in refrigerators and freezers. We have eliminated these emissions by purchasing 100% renewable energy, but we are still making cooling more efficient by installing phase change material so the compressors don’t have to work as hard and investigating more energy efficient equipment throughout the plant.
- We move live lobster from wharves to our plant, and cooked lobster meat from our plant to our shacks and retailers, in refrigerated diesel trucks. Companies like Volvo are currently manufacturing electric trucks to do the same job with no emissions–we plan to pilot at least one of these trucks and the charging infrastructure necessary in the next two years, and to replace more of our own and our trucking partners’ fleets as the technology becomes affordable.
- There is no way to get some of our online market products to doorsteps around the country quickly enough without air transportation. Since we can’t control the fuel airplanes use just yet, we are buying carbon offsets so that 100% of emissions from our online market shipments are carbon neutral.