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World Wildlife Fund On Balance

  • Date: 05 April 2018
  • Author: Monica McBride, Senior Program Officer for Food Waste at WWF

Every year, about 1.9 million conferences are hosted in the US, and around 250 million people attend them. You’ve probably been to one yourself. These 250 million eager conference-goers are fed at least one meal a day using the now standard method of delivering large amounts of food to large amounts of people in a short amount of time: the buffet. This style of food service is now the norm for large hotels and conference centers because it is easy, fast, and efficient for the kitchen staff.

But what may be a perceived efficiency in one respect, is inadvertently leading to a much greater inefficiency: food waste. Some food is over-prepared and left unconsumed on the buffet, while more is piled high and left on guests’ plates, neither of which is safe to be repurposed or donated and must be thrown away. All the money, labor, and energy that went into making that food also goes in the trash, and that is not efficient.  

The problem is a troublesome cycle of expectations. Chefs and hotel owners assume, often correctly, that clients and guests expect a never-ending abundance of food and want to provide the best possible customer experience. This leads to an “insurance” production and procurement model for events, which adds a little extra at each stage of the flow of food through the hotel. The meeting planner adds a few extra guests to cover possible late registrations, the sales staff adds another 3% to ensure they are not responsible for food shortages, and the chef adds a little more to guarantee the buffet never runs dry. The aim is for someone who visits the buffet ten minutes before the end to have the same choices as the first person through the line. By providing this experience of abundance, the hospitality industry continues to waste precious resources including the land, water, and wildlife habitat that were sacrificed to produce all this delicious food, not to mention millions of dollars from their bottom line in food, labor, and even waste hauling costs.

However, with some simple steps and an eye towards prevention, the hospitality industry could save millions, while also re-educating guests about the value of food and pushing other industries to account for the true cost (value) of food. World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) recent partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), which focused on implementing food waste prevention strategies at ten hotel properties across the United States, proved small steps by dedicated staff can make a big impact. 

The tactics included training staff on food waste prevention techniques, redesigning menus, and incorporating new service and replenishment models to buffets. Did it work? Each of the ten properties saw at least a 15% reduction in food waste and 1-3% reductions in food costs over the course of just a four-month effort, showing it’s good for the bottom line.

Infographic Hotels FLW Business Case

Infographic taken from the Champions 12.3 report.

Champions 12.3 – the coalition dedicated to mobilizing action and tracking progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving global food loss and waste - also recently released a hospitality-focused business case for investing in food waste reduction. In their study, 42 hotels saw on average a 7:1 benefit-cost ratio from food waste reduction investments, plus a 20% decline in food waste. The business case for food waste prevention is clear – the average site in the study invested less than one percent of annual food sales in prevention activities and saw 7 times that amount in returns.

So, what’s the future of the buffet? Still abundant and delicious, but far more efficient using training, data, and improved communications along the flow of food.

How can you be part of that future? WWF developed a new platform called HotelKitchen.org. It contains an extensive toolkit for the hospitality industry that steps properties through establishing a Food Waste Task Force, developing a food waste prevention culture, and implementing waste reducing practices for buffets and banquets, along with a simple checklist, free training videos, and many additional resources.  

As of April 6th, WWF is expanding our hospitality food waste engagement globally, starting in Singapore where we are gathering participants from 6 of the larger hotel brands in the region along with partners from The Pacific Asia Transportation Association (PATA) and Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to discuss opportunities for food waste prevention, donation, and diversion at local and regional properties.  And we’ve got future convenings and workshops planned for Europe, South America, and China. Just like hanging your towel or declining daily room service is becoming an accepted norm, soon the wasteful buffet will be a thing of the past.

Hospitality is a global industry - wherever you may be located, if your property, brand or organization is interested in participating in future efforts, check out Hotel | Kitchen, sign-up and join the fight to reduce food waste. It’s good for the planet, and for your business.

  • Date: 22 March 2018
  • Author: John Marler, VP of Energy and Environment at AEG

This Saturday, March 24th at 8:30pm local time, millions of people and places around the world will turn out their lights in solidarity for the fight against climate change. This annual event, coined Earth Hour, is a time unite as a global community and re-commit to protecting our planet.

AEG, the global sports and entertainment company, is stepping up in a big way this Earth Hour. We caught up with John Marler, VP of Energy and Environment to ask how and why Earth Hour is a priority for AEG.

How is AEG participating in Earth Hour?

John Marler AEG

Each year our venues celebrate Earth Hour in a number of ways, from dimming lighting to engaging with guests and fans through Earth Hour-specific campaigns. This year we are taking it to the next level with our first ever AEG 1EARTH, AEG’s company-wide sustainability program, 2018 Earth Hour challenge, in which 20 of our most iconic venues worldwide will compete with one another to see who can conduct the most innovative and impactful Earth Hour campaign. AEG venues that are participating in this year’s competition include StubHub Center in Carson, CA, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY and International Convention Center, Sydney in Australia. Being that we are in the sports and entertainment industry, our venues are very competitive so we can’t wait to see the final results. We’ll be announcing a Gold, Silver, and Bronze winner the Monday after Earth Hour. Nothing like a little friendly competition!

Why does Earth Hour matter?

For me, it’s a very visible and tangible reminder of how grave the threat of climate change is to the things we take for granted, like lighting and other basic services. 

What are some ways AEG helps limit carbon emissions all year round? 

Reducing one’s carbon footprint is an “all of the above” endeavor. Almost 80% of our emissions are due to electric power usage, so we work hard to run our buildings more efficiently to minimize energy wastage. We also purchase renewable energy, both directly from suppliers and from on-site solar installations, and indirectly through renewable energy credits.

Eh pr

Join AEG and World Wildlife Fund in celebrating our planet this Earth Hour. Turn our your lights, join the conversation on social media using #EarthHour, or build out an event for your friends, family, or business.

  • Date: 20 March 2018
  • Author: Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste at WWF and Ron Cotterman, Vice President of Sustainability at Sealed Air

Globally, it is estimated that 35 percent of all consumable fish and seafood is wasted, and distribution and logistical challenges account for nearly 10 percent of supply chain losses. With one in nine people suffering from chronic undernourishment, and the demand for nutritious proteins on the rise, it's critical that we reduce waste.

At the recent Seafood Expo in Boston, Ron Cotterman, Vice President of Sustainability with Sealed Air Corporation, and Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste with World Wildlife Fund, led a panel to discuss how each entity from sea to fork plays a role in preventing food loss and waste. After the panel, Ron and Pete kept talking about the issue, here’s a look at that conversation:

Pete at Seafood Expo

Ron: We know that waste occurs all along the food supply chain. Pete, you’ve led national sustainability programs within the retail grocery sector. What are some of the key opportunities for reducing waste at the retail level? 

Pete: Any time you have waste, it represents a design flaw. This was my first time attending the Boston Seafood Expo and it reaffirmed my observation that there is significant emphasis on merchandising and product marketing displays in the seafood industry. We need to get creative and drive seafood sales without fish spoiling over ice. With so many of our oceans fully exploited and some near the brink of collapse, the way we sell seafood has to change. There is loss and waste at all points in the supply chain. If we were to redesign our system with zero tolerance for loss and waste, retail presentation of seafood would probably look very different – different packages, lower temperatures and a re-education to consumers on what “fresh” really is.

Ron: That’s a good point. “Fresh” can mean different things depending on where you are in the world. In many parts of Asia, live fish or fish on ice are still very common, but this leads waste in retail and in homes. In the U.S., consumers generally prefer thawed versus frozen fish and seafood. Still, retailers often report throwing out an average of 5 to 20 percent of all products from refrigerated cases. Whatever the preference, packaging and lower temperatures can make a big difference in keeping food fresher for a longer period of time.

Pete: That’s important because when you lose or waste fish and seafood, we have to remember that we’re throwing away wildlife caught from the ocean. When talking about farmed seafood, it represents a waste of the energy, feed and resources that go into growing that product, in addition to all the transportation and refrigeration costs.

Ron: The good news is that we’re seeing a lot of innovations and technologies that are making a difference. Better temperature control, better traceability and better pacakging solutions are a part of that equation. One of the challenges though is communicating that to consumers. What is WWF doing to help educate consumers about food waste?

Pete: As a starting point, WWF’s campaign is about getting everyone, both businesses and consumers, to understand the implications of food loss and waste. Wildlife habitat and the health of fisheries are in jeopardy due to pressure from the food system. WWF is sponsoring research looking at consumer waste patterns and seafood loss and waste throughout the supply chain. Waste has to be measured to be managed and all actors in the system should consider making more data transparent so that everyone in the value chain can learn from each other. When we measure loss and waste, we begin to understand the benefits and trade-offs of shelf-life solutions like better packaging and temperature control.

Ron: So it’s not just saying “food waste is a problem,” it’s also showing people how they can help resolve it. And there are plenty of benefits to resolving it, including economic benefits. Champions 12.3 surveyed 2100 organizations and found that for every dollar invested in preventing food waste, there was a $14 return on investment. Whether in foodservice, retail or the consumer's home kitchen, there are opportunities to save.

Pete: If we continue to tolerate food loss and waste, we simply won’t have anything left for future generations and a growing affluent population. The cost of inaction to my children and grandchildren is extremely high. From an environmental perspective, we are reaching planetary boundaries. If we can show people there are wonderful ways to enjoy fish and seafood in a highly efficient, waste-free and sustainable way, that’s a win for everyone. We need to challenge our consumer definitions of “fresh” and begin measuring our progress towards a system that can deliver high quality products to retail and food service customers while eliminating waste at all levels of the supply chain.

Listen to the recording of Ron and Pete’s panel “Combating waste in the global fish and seafood supply chain” from Seafood Expo.

This blog was originally posted by Sealed Air.

  • Date: 02 March 2018
  • Author: Lindsay Bass, WWF Manager for US Corporate Water Stewardship; Eliza Roberts, Ceres Senior Manager for Agriculture Water Stewardship

Cape Town, South Africa could run out of water in a few months, literally turning off the spigot for some four million residents. If a solution to the crisis is not found, social unrest is feared. Beyond the human rights concerns, the region’s vegetable, citrus, grape and nut growers may face shortages as 40 percent of Western Cape Town’s water is currently allocated to agriculture.

This frightening scenario may play out with increasing frequency around the world, as population growth, water pollution and climate change place further stress on dwindling water resources. Forty percent of water demand is unlikely to be met by 2030, according to a recent U.N. report, and the value at risk to business is estimated at $63 trillion. Food companies, whose supply chains rely on 70 percent of the world’s water, ought to be paying attention.

And some are, as evidenced by the significant growth in agricultural sustainability standards that in recent years have come to represent a key mechanism through which large multinational firms address their sustainability goals, including for water.

To spur further growth in this promising area, Ceres and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) created the AgWater Challenge, a joint initiative to help companies advance their sustainable sourcing strategies. Through the AgWater Challenge, Ceres and WWF work together with food and beverage companies to develop stronger, more transparent water stewardship commitments in agricultural supply chains.

Launched in 2016, with an inaugural group of seven companies — Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial Group, Hormel Foods, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, and DanoneWave (formerly WhiteWave Foods) — the AgWater Challenge is now open to new food and beverage companies seeking to embrace water stewardship beyond their four walls.

Companies that join the challenge receive technical support from Ceres and WWF (and other NGO partners) in analyzing water issues within their supply chains, and in refining or making new sourcing commitments that enable them to better address their risk. Participating companies benefit from the opportunities for peer-to-peer learning on best practices for managing water risks, setting time-bound goals and engaging with growers.

Among the commitments recognized by the AgWater Challenge in 2016:

  • General Mills completed a comprehensive risk assessment through which it identified eight high-risk watershed regions globally, including California. It pledged to develop water stewardship plans for these regions by 2025 by working with NGOs, farmers and other stakeholders.
  • Hormel Foods’ plans include the development of a comprehensive water stewardship policy with management expectations that surpass regulatory compliance for its major suppliers, contract animal growers and growers that supply animal feed.
  • Kellogg committed to responsibly source its global 10 priority ingredients by 2020 through continuous improvement for row crops via water and fertilizer use metrics. The company’s water sustainability efforts are supporting 17,000 agricultural suppliers, millers and farmers across 22 countries helping them optimize water use and enhance watershed quality.
  • PepsiCo committed to working with its agricultural suppliers to improve water efficiency within its supply chain by 15 percent by 2025 (using a 2015 baseline) in high water risk sourcing areas, with a specific focus on India and Mexico. PepsiCo’s AgWater Challenge goals cover all of its major crops directly sourced, such as potatoes, corn, oats and citrus, as well as other key commodities directly contracted and indirectly procured.

These companies’ commitments reflect their understanding that, as major global food brands, they can be a powerful and constructive force for scaling water stewardship, especially at the farm level — where the biggest footprint is by far.

And they’re not alone in seeing the rising risks to our water supply. Sixty-eight percent of companies believe that exposure to water risk could generate a substantive change in their business, operations or revenue, according to a 2014 Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report.

For food companies, sustainable sourcing is a smart strategy for mitigating water risk, and the AgWater Challenge is a resource for companies wherever they may be on their journey for water stewardship.

As Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills, put it, “The challenges facing our company and our planet are more pressing than ever, so we have to build resiliency in our supply chains to ensure that we can continue to serve the world by making food people love. Our ambition through the AgWater Challenge and all of our water initiatives is to lead by example and we hope to encourage others to do the same.”

To join, please contact Lindsay Bass, WWF Manager for US Corporate Water Stewardship or Eliza Roberts, Ceres Senior Manager for Agriculture Water Stewardship.

This article was originally posted by Sustainable Brands. Link here.

 

  • Date: 01 March 2018
  • Author: Raj Kundra, VP of International Finance

Deforestation is responsible for releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all of the world’s cars and trucks on the road today. And what’s behind most of that forest loss? The production of beef, soy, and palm oil.

Of concern to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), these practices force wildlife from their homes, drive soil erosion and water pollution, and disrupt climates locally and globally. They also threaten the stability of our food supply and pose financial, legal, operational, and reputational risks not just to companies but to their banks, as well.

Environmental degradation and climate change exacerbate difficult growing conditions, undermine agricultural productivity, and threaten to destabilize commodity supply chains. And when companies and their investors cannot see illegal or harmful practices within fragmented and opaque supply chains, it can put companies, including their lenders and investors, in legal and financial jeopardy. Less tangible but no less material, it can also damage brands.

While a growing number of banks are committed to protecting natural habitats and promoting environmentally and socially responsible practices among the companies to which they lend, the process is complicated and progress is slow. Fortunately, it may become easier thanks to a new tool from the Global Canopy Program and its partners WWF, Ceres, CDP, and Zoological Society of London.

SCRIPT (Soft Commodity Risk Platform) is a web-based platform that any financial institution can use to identify the business risks associated with financing unsustainable companies; understand and adopt corporate best practices for reducing deforestation associated with soft commodities; and effectively engage companies operating in soft commodity supply chains with step-by step guidance.

SCRIPT hosts two tools: one for benchmarking policy and another to assess portfolio risk. The former, which WWF developed with Global Canopy Program, enables companies to assess the strength and quality of their policy against 150 peer institutions (aggregated and anonymized to protect proprietary data and privacy) and to identify areas of excellence and opportunities for improvement. The custom analysis and subsequent guidance provides information financial institutions can use to quickly improve their policies or to promote areas in which they lead.

The risk tool enables companies to identify and effectively engage clients that are failing to mitigate their exposure to the risks associated with deforestation. With the tool, financial institutions can understand the exposure of their portfolio to deforestation risks, generate risk assessments for portfolios, with customizable criteria, and develop strategies tailored to the institution’s portfolio and issue areas for engaging with portfolio companies.

Financial institutions that make lending and investment decisions based on environmental and social risks and opportunities tend to generate long-term returns that are as good as or better than institutions that do not.

Fortunately, more and more investees and borrowers are taking action. According to the CDP, 87% of companies reporting to them have identified opportunities associated with addressing deforestation, and 73% report a commitment to reduce or remove deforestation from their supply chains. The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 suggests the investment opportunity will roughly total US$200 billion annually for deforestation-free investment and financing by 2020.

For financial institutions, there are more and more reasons to adopt more sustainable lending and investing practices. And with the advent of tools like SCRIPT that make such transitions easier, the excuses for not taking action are fewer and fewer.

  • Date: 20 February 2018
  • Author: Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste

GreenBiz is one of my favorite forums for professionals to gather and exchange ideas on sustainable business. It’s part modern grocery store, where one is immediately overwhelmed by the depth and quantity of amazing thinkers and presentations. It’s also part comradery, where you can reconnect with colleagues to salute the successes and lament in the failures of our work. I was invited to join an amazing panel talking about Cultivating Change in the Food System, from Farm to Fork. Food loss and waste has become a very hot issue, and for good reason. In terms of sustainably managing a planet, it is astounding to think we allocate the largest portion of our resources (e.g. energy, water, land) to producing food and risk the loss of all remaining habitat and biodiversity, just so we can waste one-third of it in the process. Finding a balance between nature and agriculture is one of the biggest issues of our time.

This year, as I arrived into Phoenix at the beautiful JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, I was immediately intrigued to learn more about how they were making this a zero-waste event in collaboration with GreenBiz. Specifically, how they were working to prevent, donate and divert food waste.

In November 2017, WWF and the AHLA, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation launched a new platform called HotelKitchen.org. The goal of this platform is to accelerate action within the hospitality sector, not just solve the problem of food waste. This can only be done if hotels and conference centers across the country (and globe) make the decision to run their operations a little differently.

I decided to put together a very quick video blog while I was attending GreenBiz, and self-publish an interview with the Executive Chef, Ryan Lamkin, at the Desert Ridge Resort and Spa. What I found was quite refreshing and frankly what is needed. Changing human behavior and re-aligning our norms and irrational expectations is a great recipe for accelerating the change. Kudos to the GreenBiz team, Chef Ryan and the new culture he’s building in one small corner of the world. Don’t stop, Chef. And to the rest of us, let’s keep lighting more small fires of change.

  • Date: 01 February 2018

The annual GreenBiz forum is just around the corner, marking the first major opportunity in 2018 for leaders across industry to come together and talk sustainability. Brainstorming innovative solutions that are good for business while protecting our planet is a top priority for WWF. At GreenBiz18, our WWF experts will be on stage discussing sustainability in business through a variety of lenses. Here’s a preview of who you’ll see and what you’ll hear from WWF:

Sheila Bonini (002)

Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement

What are you most excited to talk about at GreenBiz18?

I am excited to share the power of bold ambition on the part of business to help solve some of the world’s most pressing conservation challenges. For years, the traditional focus in sustainability has been to reduce the company’s environmental footprint. If we’re going to create real change at the scale that matters, companies need to go beyond zero footprint and make a positive impact. I am excited to see that companies are leveraging their influence to make a significant impact not just on their own operations, but across their value chain. That’s why WWF is working with Walmart on Project Gigaton – an innovative new program to avoid one gigaton of emissions across their supply chain by 2030. We’ll share more about this at GreenBiz, and hopefully inspire more companies to join us!

What are you most excited to learn more about at GreenBiz18?

Circular economy is a buzzword these days, and there is a surge in interest in marine waste. I’m so glad these important topics are coming to the forefront and am excited to learn about the innovative and practical approaches business is beginning to take to approach the problem. We waste valuable resources each day. To extend the life of our natural resources, we need to develop a global system to capture and reuse materials in the marketplace. I’m excited to learn how companies are committing to solving the problem differently – like the new commitments by McDonald’s and The Coca-Cola Company on materials and waste. If we all work together, we can develop a more sustainable global system around materials and waste.

Where to see Sheila at GreenBiz 18:

Sustainable Solutions: Collaborating for Climate Change - Plenary
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 11:55am
Grand Saguaro North & South

kerry

Kerry Cesareo, Vice President, Forests

What are you most excited to share at GreenBiz 18?

I’m excited to talk about what companies can do, beyond sourcing materials from responsibly-managed forests, to create what we call a “forest positive” future—one where enough forest land and the right quality of forest land is conserved. And I want to share how our unique collaboration with Apple in China, as well as Apple’s journey toward a closed loop supply chain, has helped advance our thinking on how to get there.

What are you most excited to learn more about at GreenBiz18?

I’m excited to learn what other companies are doing to set and achieve science-based sustainability targets, how behavioral economics principles can be used to advance sustainability, and what I can do to advance diversity and inclusion in the sustainability movement. 

Where to see Kerry at GreenBiz 18:

Growing a Successful Strategy to Conserve the World's Forests - Breakout
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 4:00pm
Grand Canyon 10

marty

Marty Spitzer, Senior Director, Renewable Energy

What are you most excited to share at GreenBiz 18?

There is incredible excitement surrounding We Are Still In, the movement of non-state actors to reiterate their commitment to the Paris Agreement’s goals, and I'm looking forward to sharing that with the GreenBiz community. For all the companies taking action on climate change, it's a great and critical time to add your voice to We Are Still In and the many states, cities, universities, businesses and faith groups pulling together in 2018 to demonstrate action. 

What are you most excited to learn more about at GreenBiz18?

I'm excited to learn about what’s cutting edge on the growing circular economy movement – a movement we must continue to advance to ensure we’re protecting our resources and our planet. 

Where to see Marty at GreenBiz 18:

Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 8:30am
Grand Sonoran H

We Are Still In - Plenary
Thursday, February 8, 2018 – 11:40am
Grand Saguaro North & South

pete

Pete Pearson, Director, Food Waste

What are you most excited to share at GreenBiz 18?

In today’s society, we waste an unprecedented amount of the food we produce – that takes a toll on our environment, our animals and even our wallets. It’s a problem we can solve, and one of the best ways to do so is to hear about accomplishments and advancements from friends and colleagues around the country. I look forward to adding to those conversations and creating new connections to generate new ideas for action.

What are you most excited to learn more about at GreenBiz18?

I’m excited to learn more about how sustainable food systems and sustainable agriculture is gaining momentum as a topic in the US and globally.

Where to see Pete at GreenBiz 18:

Cultivating Change in the Food System, from Farm to Fork - Workshop
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 1:30pm
Grand Sonoran J

  • Date: 30 January 2018
  • Author: Sandra Vijn

From almond milk to algae-based “shrimp”, alternative proteins are gaining favor among consumers who want to shrink their carbon footprint. Yet while most people aren’t ready to swap their steaks for seaweed, retailers and food service companies can improve their environmental performance by focusing on what animals eat.

Proteins are the building blocks of life and critical for survival, but they take a lot of resources to produce. There’s the land, water, and energy that the animals themselves require, plus the resources it takes to raise their food. About half of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow feed, and more than a fifth of all wild-caught fish is fed to farmed seafood. Unfortunately, this level of production is contributing globally to deforestation, climate change, water consumption, overfishing, and the decline in biodiversity.

To grow more feed crops under a business-as-usual scenario, we would need another 690 million acres of land, a mass larger than six Californias. Fortunately, a growing number of feed companies and those they supply recognize the threat and opportunity that the feed question represents. The feed industry, for example, is developing tools to assess the sustainability of feed crops, and several companies are implementing programs to reduce impacts related to deforestation, fertilizer use and climate change.

However, we need to implement a suite of solutions. Offering tools and a platform to collaborate, the Forum for the Future is bringing together animal, plant, and novel protein industries for the first time. In a new report, The Feed Behind Our Food, it urges retailers and food service companies to engage the companies in their supply chains, including feed producers, to accelerate progress on making feed more sustainable, and provides a step-by-step guide to take action.

Per the report, the threats of inaction are too great to ignore.

  • About 20 percent of the Earth’s vegetative surface suffers from declining productivity, potentially destabilizing the feed crop supply.
  • Prolonged droughts, more severe floods, migrating pests, and other ill effects of climate change will likely make crop supply and prices more volatile.
  • Because there is less and less available land for agriculture, we cannot rely on agricultural expansion to make up for lower productivity.
  • According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully exploited or overfished, rendering them unable to sustainably yield more seafood.

Beyond mitigating damage, however, companies can seize opportunities as well.

  • It is less expensive to shift production and sourcing practices slowly in anticipation of a crisis, than hastily in reaction to one. Companies with first-mover advantage can more methodically map out their strategy, conduct research, pilot new products and practices, diversify approaches and spread out risk, learning and adapting at each step along the way.
  • Because consumers increasingly demand transparency, companies that move on livestock feed can tell their stories first and build trust with their customers.
  • Companies that can source more sustainable feeds, including alternative feeds that are not as reliant on land, water, and depleted fisheries, will have more resilient supply chains in the face of climate change.

Consumer-facing retailers, food service providers, and feed companies together are in an influential position to drive the use of sustainable feeds among processors, traders, and producers. Just as they have been at the forefront of the deforestation-free movement, retailers and food service companies can also work with their supply chains to lead on feed.

So what should retailers and food service companies ask of their suppliers with respect to feed? The Feed in Our Food outlines criteria for sustainable feed production that:

  • Preserves critical habitat, advances soil health, and promotes biodiversity;
  • Minimizes greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Uses crops and crop byproducts that are inedible by people, such as grasses and silages;
  • Minimizes fresh water consumption and limits water pollution;
  • Does not contribute to the depletion of fish stocks;
  • Supports human rights and welfare, from workers to communities;
  • Promotes animal health and nutrition; and
  • Provides sufficient returns for feed producers and livestock farmers so they can sustain responsible practices.

Forum for the Future will develop an assessment tool for these  criteria over the coming months as part of the Protein Challenge 2040 Feed Compass project. We encourage all supply chain stakeholders that touch livestock and feed to get involved. There’s no better time to start than now. As each day passes, the opportunities shrink, and the costs grow.

  • Date: 16 January 2018
  • Author: Keith Kenny, Vice President, Sustainability, McDonald’s

Across the globe, companies like McDonald’s are playing a leading role in advancing sustainability. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s footprint stretches across more than 100 countries, 37,000 restaurants, serving more than 69 million customers a day. We are listening to our customers, stakeholders, and partners, taking action on the sustainability issues that matter most to them. We are uniquely positioned to collaborate with local communities to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. Studies show the world generates 1.3 billion tons of solid waste a year with the number expected to rise to 2.2 billion by 2025.  Pressure on the world’s forests and other natural systems will also increase as our global population grows. That’s why we are re-upping our commitment on packaging and waste reduction.

McDonald's is making it our goal to offer guest recycling in 100% of restaurants by 2025. We understand that recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary city to city and country to country, but we plan to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change.

McDonalds C9Text-Stakeholders SL 1200x1200

We will also continue our progress towards offering more sustainable packaging. By 2025, 100% of guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled, or certified sources, with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This expands upon McDonald’s existing goal that, by 2020, 100% of fiber-based packaging will come from recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs.  This new commitment addresses the remaining 20% of McDonald’s current global packaging that is made from non-renewable resources.

At McDonald’s, we’re always looking to improve. We are on a journey to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use. We will be working at and beyond our restaurants to increase recycling and composting and support cleaner communities. This means collaborating across industries and partnering with McDonald's operators, crew members and customers.

That journey began more than 25 years ago working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Since then we have continued to work closely with EDF as well as WWF and the Forest Stewardship Council, to constantly improve our packaging.

As of 2017, 50% of McDonald’s guest packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources. We’ve also made significant progress on fiber-based packaging and protecting forests through our 2015 Commitment on Forests focused on eliminating deforestation from our supply chain. As of 2016, 64% of McDonald’s fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources.

While we’ve made significant progress to reduce restaurant waste, we understand the challenges we face to achieve our goal. That’s why we’re working with leading industry experts, local governments and environmental groups, including WWF, to help us achieve our goals.

Achieving these goals is no easy feat, but we believe that setting ambitious targets drives faster change and we can’t do it alone. We will continue to use our scale for good and keep raising the bar on what it means to be a responsible company committed to people and planet.

  • Date: 14 December 2017
  • Author: Kerry Cesareo, Vice President, Forests,

On the surface, the production of natural rubber is as simple as the incision made in a rubber tree. The cut, made on an angle, is shallow and just inches long. A milky white liquid oozes from where the incision was made and slowly drips into a coconut shell attached to the tree. Once there is enough liquid to fill a large bucket, several straightforward steps are taken to turn the liquid into small sheets of rubber which are used to create hundreds of distinct types of products.

I was fascinated with the somewhat primitive nature of the process when I saw it in action in Myanmar a few weeks ago—as it juxtaposes the complex nature of the global rubber industry, which is growing quickly to keep up with the demand from people in the US and beyond for rubber products.

Natural rubber is used to make the tires that are on the cars or bicycles we use to get to work, planes and buses that take us to vacation destinations, and trucks that bring food to the stores where we shop. It’s what makes a soccer ball a soccer ball. It’s on doctor’s hands, when she wears surgical gloves, and on our feet, when we wear sneakers to go for a run.

And, yes, it comes from trees—something that most people don’t know, and I hadn’t thought about much until recently, despite many years working on forest conservation.

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An employee of the Myanmar Department of Agriculture teaches villagers in the southern Myanmar district of Tanintharyi how to tap rubber trees. © Hkun Lat

Rubber is an industry that will grow, in large part to keep up with the expected doubling of vehicles by 2050 (70 percent of the world’s natural rubber is used to make tires). But ensuring that the industry does so without having a negative impact on nature and people is a challenge. Already, unsustainable and illegal natural rubber production has emerged as a top threat to many forests of Southeast Asia, where climate and soils for growing rubber trees are ideal. Ninety percent of the world’s natural rubber comes from this region. The same forests that are habitat for elephants, tigers and other endangered species are being destroyed to make room for rubber trees.

Natural rubber production also is a grave concern for people in the region, as the industry is plagued by land grabs and poor treatment of its workers. And forests cleared to plant rubber are the source of livelihoods for millions of people.

It is a challenge, though, that a diverse group of actors from the public and private sectors, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are now rallying around so solutions can be put in place before it is too late. We have the advantage of learning from our work on palm oil, paper and other commodities. Sustainability standards for those commodities have been developed and producers are working to meet them.

A key lesson is to, from the get go, include farmers in the process of creating industry guidelines. This is particularly important in the rubber industry, as 85 percent of natural rubber is produced by approximately six million farmers, most who are operating at a small scale.  They are on the front lines, where the challenges related to farming are most evident, as are the solutions.

While in southern Myanmar—where a significant growth in rubber production is expected—my colleagues and I sat cross legged on a wooden floor as rubber farmers from a small village talked to us for several hours about their desire to protect the environment by planting rubber trees on degraded land instead of on land they clear in forests that have high conservation value, yet how hard it is to do so. They spoke about wanting to diversify their source of income to protect against volatility of rubber price. We listened, then talked collectively about solutions they are putting in place on their own and are eager to implement with help from WWF, the government of Myanmar, rubber industry leaders and others.

Just as important as engaging with small-scale farmers is engaging with leaders at large-scale companies. Companies that make tires are key, as they buy 70 percent of the world’s rubber and, therefore, have the financial power to influence production. Automobile makers also are key; a single company often buys 50 million new tires every year. These companies are critical to transforming the way rubber is produced.

Three of them already are doing so. In 2016, Michelin became the world’s first major rubber user to publish a comprehensive policy to ensure sustainable and responsible management of the natural rubber supply chain. Pirelli followed suit this year. Also this year, General Motors announced its intent to commit to sourcing sustainable natural rubber. Other companies are gearing up to do the same, thinking of creating policies that, among other things, prohibit destroying natural forests and infringing on human rights.

We are encouraged by what we are hearing—from the small villages of Myanmar to the large meeting rooms of corporate headquarters—and are hopeful it will quickly lead to a major transformation of the rubber industry. The role of NGOs and others within civil society in making this happen cannot be understated, as they provide perspective and technical expertise on conservation and social issues to ensure credibility and impact.

Stepping away from business as usual in the rubber sector would have a dramatic, positive effect on the world’s forests and local communities. It’s time to do so.

Photos:

© Hkun Lat

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