It is widely known that Cobram Estate extra virgin olive oil is good for you, but it has been again recognised as good for the planet too. Cobram Estate has been named on the Australian Financial Review’s Sustainability Leaders 2023 for the second year in a row in the category of Agriculture & environment, which celebrates companies making real progress in tackling sustainability challenges while also delivering business value.
Joint-CEO and chief oil maker Leandro Ravetti is thrilled with the accolade and says the Cobram Estate team have been working for more than 25 years to ensure the business is as gentle on the planet as possible.
“At Cobram Estate we firmly believe that the food we eat and how we produce it will determine the health of people and the planet. Increasingly we are becoming aware that the dominant diets currently consumed globally are not nutritionally optimal, lead to large increases in diet-related diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, and are major contributors to climate change and environmental damage. Olives as a crop, when managed like ours, and extra virgin olive oil as a product, are perfectly positioned to play a critical role within the sustainable production of food and the adoption of sustainable and healthy diets”.
One of the most significant ways sustainability is embraced at Cobram Estate is its zero-waste approach.
“When you look at our operations, only 0.1% of our operations’ output ends up in landfill,” says Leandro. “Everything is used, recycled or upcycled. Branches pruned from the trees are mulched and returned to the soil as organic amendment. Leaves are used to produce our Stone & Grove olive leaf teas or Wellgrove olive leaf extracts. Even the olive pits are separated from the rest of the pulp left after pressing the extra virgin olive oil and used as a renewable energy source with the remaining flesh composted as fertilizer or used for stock feed.”
The company is also able to take this one step further. It recently received a grant from Sustainability Victoria to support the development of a new waste handling system at its olive mills that will use a combination of recycling technologies to de-water the olive pomace and extract valuable components from the waste. This project will deliver an estimated 65% reduction in the volume of the waste material it processes, together with lower greenhouse gas emissions and the creation of new commercial products.
“But it’s not just zero waste we’re concerned with, although that’s obviously very important when it comes to sustainability,” says Leandro. “We’ve also studied our carbon footprint and improved biodiversity across our properties.”
Interested in better understanding the carbon footprint associated with the production and delivery of its olive oil products to market, Cobram Estate Olives have completed two independent evaluations of its baseline carbon position across their entire Australian operations. Both assessments revealed that carbon sinks identified on Cobram Estate groves both in the below and above ground biomass, entirely offset the emissions associated with growing and marketing the olive oil leading to a net removal of approximately 4kg of CO2 per litre of olive oil produced and sold. In other words, Cobram Estate is able to sink more carbon than it emits with the studies identifying several opportunities to further improve on this position.
Cobram Estate is also strongly focused on land system management and minimising biodiversity loss at its properties. More than 1,300 hectares of remnant native vegetation has been fenced off on Cobram Estate land to protect it. Forty-metre buffer zones have been established between native vegetation and irrigation areas, of which 25 metres have been revegetated with native flora. Cobram Estate has also developed a wetland that prevents saline water from entering the Murray River and, as a bonus, is an incredible habitat for wildlife.
In a recent announcement, Cobram Estate Olives have also signed an agreement with the non-for-profit Carbon Farming Foundation to develop over 1,000 hectares of native reforestation projects in previously cleared land of our properties that were unsuitable for olives amongst other projects.