Canadian Food Industry Targets Waste Reduction

A new report on waste in Canada’s food industry calls for a collaborative, coordinated approach that includes businesses and consumers to reduce waste. An estimated 30-40% of all the food produced in Canada is wasted.

The report asserts that because businesses tend to focus narrowly on the waste of food products, it overlooks the waste of energy, water, labour, and productive capacity. Where efforts are made to reduce food waste, they tend to emphasize waste diversion, particularly recycling. Far more effective is waste reduction, which eliminates waste diversion costs before they arise.

Although consumers are the greatest source of food waste, the report states that one of the main barriers to  preventing food waste at source were the attitudes and behaviour of management and staff. Developing an Industry Led Approach to Addressing Food Waste in Canada was commissioned by Provision Coalition (a national association of food and beverage manufacturers), and written by Provision Coaliton, Network for Business Sustainability at the Ivey School of Business, and Value Chain Management Centre. See a summary at: http://www.provisioncoalition.com/blog/blogdetail/Industry%20Collaboration%20Needed%20To%20Tackle%20Food%20Waste%20Challenge%20in%20Canada. The full report is at: http://www.provisioncoalition.com/assets/website/pdfs/Provision-Addressing-Food-Waste-In-Canada-EN.pdf.

 

For a recent article on the “food waste hierarchy” and the growing international concern about food waste, see the Food Climate Research Network at:  http://www.fcrn.org.uk/research-library/waste-and-resource-use/food-waste/food-waste-hierarchy-framework-managing-food-surp. The authors argue for a distinction between food surplus and food waste, and advocate a hierarchy of action, beginning with prevention, followed by re-use, recycle, recovery and finally, disposal.

On its 20th Anniversary, Criticism of NAFTA for Environmental, Economic Damage

A new report from the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians and others, condemns the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for failing to improve economic and environmental conditions for most Canadian, American, and Mexican citizens.

According to the report, exports from Canada to the U.S. increased by 200 percent from 1994 to 2008, yet wages stagnated. Further, NAFTA contract obligations for oil encouraged development of the oil sands, while alternative energy sectors suffered, and NAFTA restricted Canada’s ability to regulate oil sands emissions. Pollution increased in the U.S. due to growth in dirtier manufacturing sectors, although employment in American manufacturing dropped overall.

In Mexico, small farmers were unable to compete with large-scale, export-oriented intensive agriculture. Many failed in attempts to improve profits by converting carbon-sequestering forest to arable land. While the mining industry in Mexico did enjoy a boom, smallholders lost out to associated industrial pollution. Wages in the maquila manufacturing sector near the U.S. border simultaneously stagnated, even as operations and pollution levels grew.

Other environmental impacts noted by the report include a significant jump in North American greenhouse gas emissions, unsustainable water use, and the rippling effects of NAFTA clauses that provide corporations with legal avenues to challenge environmental regulations, such as Lone Pine Resources’ ongoing lawsuit against Canada over the Québec fracking moratorium (see our previous report at: https://workandclimatechangereport.org/2013/11/22/fracking-company-suing-for-lost-profits-in-quebec/).

See NAFTA: 20 Years of Costs to Communities and the Environment at: http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/main-page/new-report-reveals-environmental-costs-north-american-free-trade-agreement-environmental-d, and “NAFTA Report Warns of Trade Deal Environmental Disasters” from the Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/nafta-environment_n_4938556.html.

Extreme Climate Events Threaten Australian Agriculture, Cities

A report by Australia’s Climate Commission, released in March 2013, states that “There is little doubt that over the next few decades changes in extreme events will increase the risks of adverse consequences to human health, agriculture, infrastructure and the environment”, with key food-growing regions across the southeast and the southwest, and cities in the southeast especially at risk. The report calls for deep, immediate cuts to carbon emissions as the only way to reverse the trend.   The Climate Commission is an independent advisory group established by the Australian government in 2011 to provide Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about climate change. Read The Critical Decade: Extreme Weather Report at: http://climatecommission.gov.au/report/extreme-weather/.

How Sustainable are the Supply Chains of Multinatonal Food Companies?

Oxfam America released Behind the Brands on February 25th, the most recent update to their GROW campaign, which seeks to increase the transparency and accountability of the “Big 10” food and beverage companies in the world. The report is a scorecard which examines company policies in seven topics critical to sustainable agricultural production: women, small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change, and transparency. Nestlé and Unilever scored highest for their policies; Associated British Foods (ABF) and Kellogg ranked at the bottom. The other companies measured were: Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), and PepsiCo. Read Behind the Brands at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/files/behind-the-brands-briefing-paper-final.pdf