Burnbrae Farms has long recognized the opportunity to reduce agriculture’s environmental impact; that’s why the forward-thinking egg business has been investing in energy-saving technologies and renewable energy sources, including solar power. In 2019, the company completed construction of Canada’s largest solar-powered commercial layer hen farm in Woodstock, Ont., part of Burnbrae’s commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its operations, reduce energy use, and lower its carbon footprint across the business. The farm is completely off the hydroelectric grid, is energy efficient, and has been a commercial success. The company is currently building its second solar farm in Lyn, Ont.
Burnbrae has also worked with Bullfrog Power (a Canadian green energy company) since the early 2000s, and currently markets specialty eggs with this program. According to the company, part of Burnbrae’s strategy has always been to offer consumers choice. Eggs from these green energy-powered operations are marketed under the newly developed Green Valley Farms brand name. Says the company: “We are very conscious of our environmental impact and we know that, increasingly, business strategies and environmental consciousness are only to become more closely aligned.”
Since 2017, Danone has been led by its “One Planet. One Health” motto, reflecting the idea that the health of the planet and the health of its inhabitants are closely interconnected. “It is increasingly clear that our global food system requires a more sustainable path forward,” says Isabelle Rayle-Doiron, general secretary & general counsel, Danone Canada. “At Danone Canada, we make decisions that take the long-term interests of future generations into consideration to benefit people and the planet.”
To live up to its motto, Danone has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Danone Canada has made significant changes to its supply chain, including switching its plant-based long-distance deliveries from trucks to train; partnering with retailers to increase payloads; and opening a new distribution centre in Mississauga, Ont. that’s closer to many of its customers. Danone Canada also advocates for regenerative agriculture practices by building relationships with various stakeholders to improve soil health, animal welfare and empower new generations of farmers. To that end, Danone brand Silk is partnering with the New Acre Project, led by ALUS Canada, to support the management and restoration of 90 acres of farmland in seven communities throughout Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. It also prioritizes the circular economy: it’s committed to making 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 and to incorporating an average of 50% recycled material into its packaging, and is a founding member of the Circular Plastics Taskforce and a signatory of the Canada Plastics Pact.
As it aims to address the economic, environmental and social impacts directly linked to its activities and products, Conagra Brands has launched initiatives in four areas: good food, responsible sourcing, better planet and stronger communities. Key goals and successes so far include making 100% of plastic packaging renewable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. In 2018, Conagra introduced Healthy Choice Power Bowls, which feature a serving bowl made from plant-based fibres. By using plant-based fibres instead of plastic, the carbon footprint of manufacturing the bowls is reduced by 50% to 70% across select product lines. Conagra is working with suppliers and other stakeholders to improve the treatment of broiler chickens by 2024, and have a 100% cage-free egg supply by 2025; and the company’s national recycling solution for Angie’s BoomChickaPop via TerraCycle Canada allows consumers to recycle their typically non-recyclable packaging, free of charge. Conagra has also committed to reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030. And the Hunt’s tomato facility in Dresden, Ont., cleans and recycles water used to process tomatoes into farm irrigation water, supporting conservation throughout the supply chain and regeneration of local watersheds.
“We strive to nourish the planet by sourcing raw ingredients and packaging materials responsibly while generating less waste for disposal, reducing energy use and water use, and helping preserve our forests and other resources,” says Michael Fazio, director of sales & Canadian lead of sustainability at Conagra Brands.
Sustainability has been a core value at Kruger Products for more than a decade—the company launched its first formal five-year sustainability strategy in 2010, called “Sustainability 2015,” which eventually evolved into “Sustainability 2020.” Key achievements during that time included installing the first biomass gasification system in Canada’s pulp and paper industry; being the first Canadian tissue manufacturer to earn Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification; achieving ISO50001 Energy Management Certification from the Bureau de normalisation du Quebec; and being named one of Canada’s Best 50 Corporate Citizens by Corporate Knights. The company reduced its energy consumption intensity by 15%, reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%, and reduced its water consumption by 37% (vs. 2009 levels).
“When we began our formal sustainability journey more than a decade ago, we understood that sustainability is a commitment that requires ongoing dedication, continuous improvement and investment,” says Steven Sage, the company’s vice-president, sustainability. With that in mind, Kruger has now launched a whole new sustainable development strategy called “Reimagine 2030: transformative growth and sustainable innovation.” A 10-year plan, this strategy has been developed to evolve as the business grows, and features new targets in areas where Kruger can make the most impact—fibre, plastic, climate change and water. These targets include: to utilize 100% third-party certified fibre; to reduce Scopes 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 25%; to reduce water consumption by 50%; and to reduce virgin plastic packaging in branded products by 50%. “Our business depends on natural resources, so we have always prioritized the environment,” says Sage.
Canadian dairy giant Lactalis was already using its organic waste materials as nutritional fertilizer for local field crops. But when the company realized the process was still contributing to wastewater pollution, energy consumption, and disruptive odours and noise to neighbouring communities, a better plan was introduced.
After consultations with community and local stakeholders, Lactalis Canada launched a four-year project to implement a new $18-million wastewater treatment plant in its facility in Winchester, Ont. Completed in 2020, the plant features a state-of-the-art system that concentrates and dries organic material present in the facility’s wastewater in a closed, climate-controlled building. It also houses a clarifying system to further clean water discharge.
Along with reducing odours and noise, the new plant has reduced energy consumption by 35% and significantly improved the quality of wastewater. This major investment is also expected to drive other sustainable initiatives in the community, while acting as a model for improving wastewater quality in Lactalis plants across Canada. “Lactalis Canada is honoured to receive Canadian Grocer’s Impact Award for Sustainability, which demonstrates our leadership and commitment to building a sustainable future and underscores the importance we, as an industry, must place on responsible and sustainable business practices for our collective success,” says Mark Taylor, president & CEO, Lactalis Canada.