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When Canadians buy a can of soup, they know what they get. Producing chunky soup, for example, involves filling a can with chunks of meat, vegetables, pasta or other ingredients and pouring in broth before it’s weighed and capped. But what happens to the leftovers? An audit of Canadian food producers by Enviro-Stewards shows that food – in one case 13 tonnes of meat per year – is left on conveyor belts during product changeovers.

What’s more, traditional economics often assign this food a dollar value that only considers the cost of disposing it, says Bruce Taylor, president of Enviro-Stewards. “When disposing a tonne of food waste costs about $100, why worry about such a negligible amount? However, if we look at the proper value of the food – and account for all the resources that have gone into producing it (about $10,000 per tonne for meat) – the importance of making sure our systems run more efficiently becomes obvious.”

Interventions at the food production stage could significantly reduce the environmental impact associated with food waste, he explains. “Rather than primarily looking at how we manage food waste with digesters or composters, for example, we need to find ways to not waste food in the first place.”

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If we look at the proper value of the food – and account for all the resources that have gone into producing it – the importance of making sure our systems run more efficiently becomes obvious.

— Bruce Taylor - President of Enviro-Stewards

When Enviro-Stewards recently studied 50 food-production facilities across Canada, it found annual average savings of $230,000 per factory. For Mr. Taylor, this proves that resource efficiency can increase profitability and help to protect jobs. “And if we placed the amount of food saved in grocery bags and lined them up side by side starting at Toronto’s CN Tower, the line would stretch all the way to London, Ontario,” he says. “And with about 30,000 homeless people in Canada, the food saved from the 50 factories could provide each of them with 500 meals per year.”

Globally, a third of all food is wasted while one-ninth of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, says Mr. Taylor. In addition, food production accounts for 26 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 70 per cent of global freshwater is withdrawn to be used for agriculture, according to UN data.

Enviro-Stewards’ full-spectrum assessments and implementations focus on prevention and resource conservation, he says. “If you want different outcomes, you have to change the system – and that change might be procedural or technical, or both.”

This systems’ approach has earned Enviro-Stewards much acclaim, including seven Clean50 awards, B Corps “best for the world” classification in every category they were measured, an international Energy Globe award and a Global SDG Award.

“As the only Canadian company with a Global SDG Award, we are especially pleased to get it in the category of partnering, since this really reflects what we are trying to accomplish,” states Mr. Taylor. “Focusing on individual goals in isolation can damage other development goals, but collaborations can be designed to simultaneously benefit all of the SDGs.”

Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.

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