Warming in deepest parts of the Great Lakes could be irreversible

April 8, 2021 by  
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New research published in the journal  Nature Communications  shows that the deepest parts of the Great Lakes are warming up. While it has been known that global warming causes increased ice melting and rising ocean temperatures, little has been said about the impact of climate change on deep lake waters. The study found that the deepest parts of the Great Lakes have been seeing a steady increase in temperature over the past three decades. Researchers analyzed 30 years of data, including hourly temperature recordings in deep waters. The temperature readings at 500 feet below the water surface reveal a consistent increase. The researchers have established an average of 0.11°F temperature rise per decade in Lake Michigan’s deep waters. Further, winters in the region have become shorter over the period in question. Related: Nearly 1/3 of freshwater fish face extinction According to Eric Anderson, lead author of the study and a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the changes in deep water temperatures are affecting biodiversity . Species like whitefish and yellow perch are already facing detrimental impacts from the warming waters. “We can already see declines in reproductive success in certain species that time up with the increases we see in water temperature,” Anderson explained. In lakes, there are seasonal flows where warm water comes to the surface and cold water is pushed down. It is through this process that oxygen and nutrients are released to deep lake fish and other creatures. According to Anderson, rising temperatures affect this water cycling and, as a result, disrupt the food web. The warming could have far-reaching consequences to the ecology and economy of the regions around the Great Lakes. Currently, the tourism and fishing industries here provide over 1.3 million jobs and are worth $82 billion in wages, much of which could be lost. Meanwhile, millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, but warming can also cause an increase in toxic algal blooms. Unfortunately, the impacts on lake biodiversity and the economy of the region could be permanent. As Anderson explained, “Once we get past that point, we’ve affected things on an ecological level that aren’t necessarily reversible.” + Nature Communications Via Grist Image via David Mark

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Warming in deepest parts of the Great Lakes could be irreversible

Global warming is making crop storage costly for farmers

March 30, 2021 by  
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Global food storage is exposed to significant dangers following a rise in global temperatures. Farmers and food processor companies require foods to stay in their fresh state for several days, if not months, after harvesting. Most farmers store their food in spaces that do not require any special equipment. However, with rising global temperatures, these spaces are becoming increasingly delicate. One Michigan farmer, Brian Sackett, told the Associated Press that the rising temperatures in recent years have made food storage a problem. Sackett, along with other farmers in Michigan, produces the crops needed for about one-quarter of all U.S. potato chips. When farmers harvest their potatoes, they have to store them for a number of days before the crops are processed into potato chips. Related: Topsoil is disappearing from Midwest farms Sackett explained that he was forced to spend approximately $125,000 on a refrigerator that will help store potatoes . Higher temperatures cause farm harvests to spoil quicker than usual, making operations difficult for most farmers. For a long time, farmers relied on the cool air in Michigan to keep their potatoes fresh all the way until late spring. However, the period in which potatoes can be stored naturally is increasingly getting smaller. “Our good, fresh, cool air is getting less all the time, it seems like,” Sackett said. The new refrigerator on Sackett’s farm was produced by Techmark Inc., a company that engineers agricultural equipment. The company management said that due to increasing temperatures, farmers will have to rely on such technologies to keep their food products fresh. While refrigerators have long been used in farming to store produce, in a situation where natural storage is possible, operation costs are lowered. For farmers that must shift to refrigeration, such equipment could lead to a spike in food prices. “Whose pocket is it going to come out of? Probably the consumer,” said Courtney Leisner, plant physiology scientist at Auburn University. “There’s a big disconnect in our minds about the chain of events between the field and the grocery store and onto our plate. Just a few degrees can make all the difference in whether it’s economical to store the fruits and vegetables that we expect to have on our dinner table 365 days a year.” Via AP News Image via René Schaubhut

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Global warming is making crop storage costly for farmers

Toxic chemicals report card grades top retailers

March 30, 2021 by  
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When most people swing by the store to pick up a few items, they aren’t aware that they are basically entering a minefield of toxic chemicals. But the fifth annual Who’s Minding the Store? retailer report card reveals which major retailers are safer and which ones should probably be entered only after donning hazmat suits. Toxic-Free Future is behind the Mind the Store campaign . It’s been publishing chemical report cards since 2016, tracking the biggest retailers in the U.S. and Canada. This year, the report card evaluated 50 major retailers with a total of 200,000 stores across the two countries. Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected First, the good news. “Companies are implementing more comprehensive chemical policies and achieving greater reductions over the last five years,” according to the report. Nearly 70% of the 43 retailers graded in the last report, published in 2019, had improved their score by reducing plastics or toxic chemicals or improving policies concerning chemicals. Of the original group of 11 retailers included in the 2016 report card, their average grade improved from a D+ to a B-. Fewer retailers are failing. Nearly half the retailers failed in the 2018 report, compared to only about one-quarter this year. The greatest gains were in the beauty and personal care sector. Ulta Beauty raised its grade from an F in 2019 to a C-, and Sephora went from a D in 2017 to an A. This year’s report card added criteria for screening for certain chemicals that disproportionately affect women of color. Rite Aid, Target and Whole Foods Market are among the companies that have committed to screening for these worrisome chemicals. However, some retailers are still not making the grade. Twelve companies failed this year, due to exposing consumers, workers and the environment to harmful chemicals and plastics in products and packaging . The report named these companies to the the 2021 Retailer Report Card Toxic Hall of Shame: 7-Eleven, 99 Cents Only Stores, Ace Hardware, Alimentation Couche-Tard (Circle K, Couche-Tard), Metro, Nordstrom, Publix, Restaurants Brands International (Burger King, Tim Hortons, Popeyes), Sally Beauty, Sobeys, Starbucks and Subway. + Who’s Minding The Store? Image via Igor Ovsyannykov

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Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges

March 25, 2021 by  
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Banks are taking greenwashing to a whole new level. Despite climate-conscious PR, they are still putting their money toward financing fossil fuel projects, according to the new Banking on Climate Chaos report. In the last five years, while acceptance of climate change has gone more mainstream, the 60 largest commercial and private investment banks in the world financed the fossil fuel industry to a tune of nearly $4 trillion. At the same time, their glossy marketing promised things like “climate-conscious checking accounts” and “1% for the planet” credit cards. Despite some financial institutions pledging to achieve net-zero financed emissions, their strategies for doing so are vague. Related: #degrowth art series exposes greenwashing in the food industry “Banks are admitting that fossil fuel companies are major climate emitters, but they are taking no immediate steps to phase out the financing of fossil fuels across the board,” said Ginger Cassady, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, as reported by  Sierra Club . “Many of those banks are making 2050 commitments to align with the Paris Agreement when they need to act now on fossil fuels. Any bank that makes a ‘net zero by 2050’ policy commitment and then treats it as a license to continue with business as usual is guilty of greenwashing.” The Banking on Climate Chaos report (formerly called Banking on Climate Change) has come out annually since 2012, and it provides one of the most comprehensive looks at how the fossil fuel industry is financed. This year’s 157-page report covers big finance’s relation to tar sands oil , Arctic oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, liquefied natural gas, coal mining and coal power. JPMorgan Chase is the worst offender for five years running, according to the report. The bank directed $51.3 billion into fossil fuel projects last year. From 2016 to 2020, it lent or underwrote $317 billion to similar projects. On the plus side, JPMorgan Chase was slightly less heinous in 2020 than in the past and has pledged to bring its financing more in line with the Paris Agreement . Citibank came in as second worst, but was still 33% better than JPMorgan Chase. + Banking on Climate Chaos Via Sierra Club Image via Niek Verlaan

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Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges

Harp seals threatened by decreasing sea ice

March 25, 2021 by  
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The migration cycle of harp seals is greatly threatened following a significant decrease in sea ice cover in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. This year, the gulf has experienced its lowest amount sea ice since measuring began. The lack of sea ice poses a serious threat to harp seals, whose lifecycles start on the gulf and depend on its ice. Speaking to ABC7 , Jen Hayes, a National Geographic contributor, said that the absence of sea ice exposes the young harp seals to predators. “They’re evolutionarily designed for ice. They’re not designed to survive onshore,” Hayes said. “It puts them literally in the proximity of every predator out there. So yes, they’re in trouble.” Related: World’s largest Arctic expedition returns with grim news The Gulf of St. Lawrence is normally covered in about 90,000 square miles of sea ice between February and April. However, the situation has been quite different this year, with the shore barely showing any signs of ice. This year’s ice levels are the lowest since 1969 when they were first measured. The drastic drop in ice levels has also negatively impacted hotel businesses along the gulf. Most hotels rely on tourists who visit to watch the harp seals . The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a hotbed of harp seals from March to April. Ariane Bérubé, the sales director at the Château Madelinot hotel, told reporters that the gulf has witnessed a similar decrease in sea ice before. In 2010, the levels of sea ice on the gulf dropped significantly , affecting the normal migration of harp seals. “2010 was our rupture point,” Bérubé said “It was the first year we had to cancel. We had more than 350 people who had reserved and we had to try to explain to them what was happening. It was the first time since 1958 that we had no ice.” The decrease in ice has already happened a record five times in the past decade, and the situation seems to be getting worse. Aside from 2010, the gulf recorded low ice in 2011, 2016, 2017 and now 2021. The biggest worry is that if the seals do not find their way back to the gulf in three consecutive years, they may never return; they will change their migratory paths. While the harp seal population is not seriously threatened, the lack of ice could significantly affect their numbers in the future. It will also harm local businesses that depend on the seals’ return for tourists to observe. Via EcoWatch Image via Jooa

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Compelled to action: 5 sustainability trends impacting food retail

March 25, 2021 by  
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Compelled to action: 5 sustainability trends impacting food retail Heather Putnam Thu, 03/25/2021 – 01:30 Authors’ note: Ratio Institute taps Presidio Graduate School ’s students and alumni for sustainability research in the food industry. Through our partnership, we’re able to communicate to a broader audience about best practices in engaging with the food industry around sustainability.  Food retailers — supermarkets, neighborhood grocery stores and convenience stores — are the nexus of food production, distribution and consumption, bringing together the most pressing issues in our food system. They also have the most potential to drive changes for a more sustainable future. The food retail industry has remained behind in adapting to the realities of doing business in the era of climate change and rapidly changing consumer preferences. At the Ratio Institute, we’re dedicated to accelerating measurable sustainability and viability in food retail and have worked with more than 1,000 grocery stores and 20 grocery chains to create store-level and enterprise sustainability solutions that reduce costs, shift internal cultures and improve overall performance.  COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in our food supply chain, made consumers more aware of issues in the supply chain and changed the way customers use grocery stores. The pandemic meant many consumers reportedly changed how they shopped for food in 2020 : 40 percent shopped at fewer stores; 28 percent shopped more online; and a full 10 percent stopped going to stores altogether, according to data from the Food Industry Association. Food retail responded with accelerated innovation in parts of the business including online shopping and grocery delivery , the check-out process and product offerings. But the industry has been notoriously slow to innovate in response to other sustainability trends that affect its business. Below are five major trends that should compel food retailers to take more aggressive action to adapt to a shifting world. 1. Increasing public awareness and regulatory requirements regarding climate change The public is savvy about the impact of climate change on our planet, and consumer buying habits are aligning with this increased awareness. In line with this trend, evolving regulatory requirements meant to mitigate the impact of operations on climate change directly impact food retail. Primary to this regulatory drive are refrigerants. Traditional refrigerants including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been recognized for decades as contributing thousands of times more greenhouse gas emissions than carbon dioxide. Now, federal government regulations and 17 states have enacted or are enacting laws aimed at eliminating HFCs. Food retailers must get ahead of the regulatory curve and develop a strategy to phase out HFCs. Converting refrigeration systems to natural refrigerants including ammonia and carbon dioxide is a proven strategy to reduce the carbon footprint of retail refrigeration systems. The retail group ALDI Sud has converted to transcritical refrigeration systems in 1,496 stores across Europe, the U.S. and Australia, providing a roadmap for the rest of the industry to follow suit. The food retail industry has been notoriously slow to innovate in response to other sustainability trends that affect its business. While specific companies have invested in strategic energy efficiency or clean energy, the food retail industry has not had a wholesale reckoning with its climate change impact. Given the industry’s carbon footprint from energy consumption alone , there is ample opportunity to reduce energy usage and improve its bottom line. 2.  Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced It is not news to anyone that consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability-marketed foods such as organic, fair trade, sustainably harvested products such as seafood, and so-called “natural” foods. And recent research shows that shoppers are putting their money where their mouths are. This market segment grew from 14.3 percent to 16.6 percent of CPG dollar sales. Additionally, over half the growth in the CPG product category is attributed to sustainability-marketed products. Beyond this, consumers are more conscious of how their food is produced and the environmental and social impacts of producing it. The food retail sector can both satisfy its customers’ buying preferences and drive more sustainable food production in its supply chain by creating industry-wide product procurement guidelines and partnering with NGOs that focus on these issues. 3.  Growing awareness of food retail’s role in creating (or preventing) food waste Supermarkets produce 10 percent of food waste in the U.S., and the industry is just beginning to step up in response to tackling the issue. A 2019 report by the Center for Biological Diversity on U.S. supermarkets’ path to zero waste rated only three of the top 10 retailers an “A,” meaning they scored high on three metrics: commitment to zero waste; tracking and transparency; and waste prevention measures. Nonprofit organizations and programs are partnering with food retail to reduce its food waste, while others are implementing their own internal programs. The initiative 10X20X30 aims to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030 by working with 10 top retailers and their suppliers — Sodexo, Tesco and Walmart were among its founding partners. Kroger founded the Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation, while retailers such as Walmart have worked to clarify expiration dates on labels and reduce spoilage from farm to shelf. Additionally, other retailers have taken advantage of ugly or imperfect produce (that previously would be thrown away) to sell it at a discount. Why should retailers pay more attention to these programs? One, preventing food waste can reduce the burden of food production on land and water resources as well as help alleviate hunger in their immediate communities; two, to get ahead of increasing regulatory pressure to prevent large generators of food waste (read: supermarkets) from sending it to the landfill; and three, because it is good for the bottom line.  4. Growing awareness of the waste problem Along with food waste, consumers are increasingly interested in the global waste problem and are asking questions about who the biggest culprits are. Weekly trips to the grocery store put plastic packaging and single-use bags at the forefront of public consciousness, highlighting the role that food retailers play in addressing waste each time they visit. Following California’s example, eight states effectively ban either plastic or non-biodegradable single-use bags. In other states, counties and cities have taken the approach of imposing a charge for each plastic bag. While many countries have enacted plastic bag bans, the U.S. still has not moved to do so. Weekly trips to the grocery store put plastic packaging and single-use bags at the forefront of public consciousness, highlighting the role that food retailers play in addressing waste each time they visit. The grocery sector is also highly dependent on single-use plastic packaging, particularly in the case of consumer packaged goods (CPGs) sold in stores. Consumers are very concerned about the environmental impacts of plastic packaging, even as they prioritize convenience and quality. NGOs such as Break Free from Plastic are pressuring the industry to choose alternative packaging for prepared foods and in turn getting CPG manufacturers to do the same. The food retail sector can take a stronger stance by working directly with CPG manufacturers to use less plastic packaging on CPG products. 5.  COVID-19 has magnified social inequities among frontline food system workers The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities along racial and income lines. Exposure and death rates have been especially high among communities of color compared with the overall population, partly because frontline workers disproportionately are people of color. These are the people who are the underpinnings of our food system, who work to harvest, process, distribute and yes, sell our food to us at the checkout counter in the grocery store. Early on in the pandemic, grocery store workers did not receive the protections they needed , and since then, there has not been a universal move to treat them as frontline workers with all the protections this would entail. Some retailers, including Whole Foods and Walmart, began instituting mandatory mask requirements before states and the CDC issued guidelines for retail operations. Similar trends were seen in produce harvesting operations and meat processing plants. The industry can work with its suppliers to ensure that harvesters and processing plant workers are being protected where they work. The industry has ushered in advanced disinfection practices to protect workers and customers within the store environment, and this has created tension with its mandate to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in operations. Job loss due to the pandemic also has had an outsize effect on workers in the service industry as restaurants, retail and service operations have closed, aggravating existing food access issues in communities where these workers live. Food retail can play a role in helping these communities by creating or expanding programs to improve access to healthy food in local communities. Now what? The good news is that people are thinking about how to move food retail toward being a leader in environmental and social stewardship. Grocery chains such as Wegmans, H-E-B and Metro are investing in innovative programs. Nonprofit organizations and coalitions, including the Consumer Goods Forum’s Coalition of Action on Food Waste and the Food Chain Workers Alliance , are also rising to meet the need to drive the industry forward. Organizations such as Ratio Institute , founded to drive sustainability and operational excellence in food retail, are valuable partners that can offer insight and tools for retailers to make the jump. Finally, individual consumers can have an impact by learning more about sustainability measures retailers are taking, and choosing retailers, brands and products that align with their personal values.  To learn more about Ratio Institute, visit ratioinstitute.org or contact info@ratioinstitute.org . Join the conversation on LinkedIn , Twitter , and Facebook . Pull Quote The food retail industry has been notoriously slow to innovate in response to other sustainability trends that affect its business. Weekly trips to the grocery store put plastic packaging and single-use bags at the forefront of public consciousness, highlighting the role that food retailers play in addressing waste each time they visit. Contributors Aaron Daly Peter Cooke Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Retail Food Waste Waste Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  FG Trade  on iStock.

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Compelled to action: 5 sustainability trends impacting food retail

HelloFresh would like to clear the air on meal kits

March 22, 2021 by  
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HelloFresh would like to clear the air on meal kits Jeff Yorzyk Mon, 03/22/2021 – 02:00 Since the world was introduced to the first meal kit over a decade ago, the industry has matured in size and familiarity, but it also has endured notable criticism surrounding packaging and its perceived impact on the environment. Leading sustainability for a meal kit company, I am acutely aware of our weak points and an advocate for the benefits. Let me be the first say that as an industry, there is ongoing work to do to make meal kits the most sustainable food option. I have seen significant progress to this end — both in my company and the industry at large — from iterating on packaging needs to rethinking how to sustainably control temperature during transport. As head of sustainability at HelloFresh US, it is my charge to advance this standard. I also have observed firsthand how technology-driven innovation is disrupting the traditional grocery supply chain, opening new doors to reducing food waste and helping the world to think differently about how we source food. To channel that disruption for good — and to positively affect the environment — the meal kit industry must hold itself accountable to do better. To keep disrupting in pursuit of a more sustainable supply chain, we must continue making improvements to be part of the solution for a sustainable food industry. Here are the greatest areas for growth — and opportunity — I see for the meal kit sector: Packaging innovation must continue to challenge the status quo If there is one consistent critique against this industry, it is that meal kits developed a reputation for excess packaging. Providing consumers with the exact amount of ingredients for a recipe contributes to less food waste in the home — but tough critics point to pre-portioned ingredient packaging as wasteful. In truth, as with any e-commerce company, packaging in the early days of the meal kit industry was more deserving of this criticism and far less thoughtful than it is today. New industries often have unintended consequences while they seek to disrupt entrenched challenges of others. As an industry gains momentum and critical mass, it needs to address things that can become problematic at scale. For meal kits, packaging waste was one of those unintended consequences. Research continues to examine the whole life cycle of meal kits to understand the environmental impacts as it relates to packaging and food waste. Meal kits live where technology meets the traditional food system. HelloFresh benchmarks in comparison to supermarkets, where consumers typically get their groceries. Consider the grocery shopper and meal-kit customer who cook the same recipe. Retail shoppers do not see the packaging waste at each step of the supply chain before food arrives on shelves — many steps meal kits skip altogether as a streamlined direct-to-consumer model. Still, we must hold our industry to a high standard for sustainable packaging. Since the industry’s inception, meal kits have made strides towards reducing the overall amount of packaging, tracking what is used to the item level and exploring more sustainable and recyclable packaging. HelloFresh also has engaged to fight key problems related to packaging in the environment. Through a partnership with Plastic Bank , the company’s Green Chef brand collects and recycles ocean-bound plastic commensurate with every ounce of plastic in a customer’s box. At HelloFresh, we established a three-pronged packaging commitment: avoid, reduce and innovate. In the U.S., our teams have continued to minimize overall packaging and plastic. They also have introduced insulating liners that are curbside recyclable and provided consumer education on our website with step-by-step instructions. The responsibility lies with individual companies across the entire food system to invest dollars and resources against research and development to innovate on sustainable packaging methods. Creating a new supply chain is key to reducing food waste Meal kits live where technology meets the traditional food system. The logistical challenges this industry has solved for — particularly with respect to food waste and availability — are very different from how supermarkets stock and sell food. Technology has disrupted so many legacy industries. Why not the grocery model? The ReFED Insights Engine , a data and solutions hub for food loss and waste, reports 35 percent of all food goes unsold or uneaten, with at least 24 percent of the food supply ending up as waste. Reducing that by just 50 percent could create $73 billion in annual net financial benefit for the country, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 million metric tons and rescue food equivalent to 4 billion meals for people in need each year. Changing the way people eat takes more than improving how meals are prepared, just as reducing home food waste goes beyond pre-portioning ingredients to avoid unintended spoilage. It means creating a new supply chain and ensuring the sustainability of that model. Meal kits predict order volume with high accuracy, leveraging advanced analytics, machine learning and predictive tools. This consumer demand-driven pull model brings a new level of sophistication and efficiency to the supply chain, resulting in dramatic food waste reductions. Contrast that with the push model popularized in retail — stocking a variety of items to “push” to customers in standard volumes. This strategy frequently results in excess food waste both for retailers and in our homes. Can we not make the outcome of enjoying a delicious meal a more sustainable process? The direct-to-consumer business model is a sustainable evolution of the food system, targeting the functional output of a delicious, nutritious meal with laser-like precision. Employing a tech-based, high-efficiency approach to procurement is how HelloFresh limits food waste in its facilities to less than 1 percent of purchased ingredients. While it sounds like a simple enough job, the reality is that it’s much more difficult to do this at scale than anyone anticipated. Meal kits must continue to disrupt the established way of doing business. Sustainability in the modern food economy The direct-to-consumer business model is a sustainable evolution of the food system, targeting the functional output of a delicious, nutritious meal with laser-like precision. The pandemic has only accelerated the adoption of e-commerce food shopping. Homebound consumers put a premium on fresh food delivered to their doorstep —  92 percent of consumers plan to continue online grocery shopping . Yet the issue of food waste in the home remains, especially given that minimum volumes sold by retailers are often more than consumers need. Meal kits are recognized among the top two solutions for minimizing food waste in ReFED’s Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50 percent . Other players in the post-pandemic food environment can learn from how our industry leverages supply chain technology, predictive analytics and machine learning. Regardless of the channel, technology will be key to optimizing supply chains, managing inventory and building a more sustainable food system. The bottom line For its part, the meal kit industry still has work to do to make this business model the most sustainable it can be. Systems that monitor, measure and reduce transport packaging from suppliers — and to end customers — should be table stakes. HelloFresh must refine its technology to fight food waste in customers’ kitchens and in its own fulfillment centers. And as any good corporate citizen, the company must continue to reduce its carbon footprint from operations beyond the (notable) food waste benefits. All this work is happening every day. For progress and shortcomings alike, HelloFresh must set a standard for sustainability that suits the food system we all want to create — not the one we must leave behind. Pull Quote Meal kits live where technology meets the traditional food system. The direct-to-consumer business model is a sustainable evolution of the food system, targeting the functional output of a delicious, nutritious meal with laser-like precision. Topics Food Systems Circular Economy Packaging Food Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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HelloFresh would like to clear the air on meal kits

Legumes for Sustainable Food Systems

March 4, 2021 by  
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Even if most of us outgrow a childhood aversion to … The post Legumes for Sustainable Food Systems appeared first on Earth 911.

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Legumes for Sustainable Food Systems

Nearly 1/3 of freshwater fish face extinction

February 24, 2021 by  
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From hefty tuna to tiny anchovies, most of the world’s favorite fish species are found in the oceans . But in the recently published World’s Forgotten Fishes Report , 16 global conservation organizations make the case for looking after our freshwater fish as more and more of these species are threatened with extinction. Just over half of the world’s fish species are freshwater species, consisting of about one-quarter of all vertebrate species on Earth. But almost one-third of freshwater fish species face possible extinction. Since 1970, migratory freshwater fish have declined by 76%. What are known as mega-fish — weighing in at more than 30 kilograms — have declined by 94% in the same timeframe. These fish are critical to the food security and livelihood of hundreds of millions of people. Related: Shark populations have decreased by 71% in the last 50 years “Nowhere is the world’s nature crisis more acute than in our rivers , lakes and wetlands, and the clearest indicator of the damage we are doing is the rapid decline in freshwater fish populations,” Stuart Orr, WWF global freshwater lead, said in a statement. “They are the aquatic version of the canary in the coalmine, and we must heed the warning.” Habitat destruction, destructive fishing practices, invasive species, industrial pollution and hydropower dams are just a few of the threats freshwater fish face in their everyday lives, according to The World’s Forgotten Fishes Report. Even their eggs are in danger — illegal caviar poaching is one of the reasons sturgeons top the list of threatened fish. These giants are now on the brink of extinction after having survived since the days of dinosaurs. Meanwhile, critically endangered European eels, known for their mysterious migration pattern of swimming up to 8,000 km to spawn in the Sargasso Sea, may find their travels cut short, poached for the illegal wildlife trade. “Despite their importance to local communities and Indigenous people across the globe, freshwater fish are invariably forgotten and not factored into development decisions about hydropower dams or water use or building on floodplains,” Orr said. “Freshwater fish matter to the health of people and the freshwater ecosystems that all people and all life on land depend on. It’s time we remembered that.” + WWF Image via Geoff Parsons

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Paul Polman’s rallying cry for courageous leaders

February 15, 2021 by  
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Paul Polman’s rallying cry for courageous leaders Jean Haggerty Mon, 02/15/2021 – 02:15 In addition to having a devasting effect on lives and livelihoods, COVID-19 has been the biggest global disruptor in recent memory. It also has pushed us to a new moment of corporate leadership. “This is where the moral leaders [will] separate themselves from the greenwashers,” Paul Polman, global sustainability leader and former Unilever CEO, said in a GreenBiz 21 keynote conversation about what leadership means today. The scale and scope of the climate change, biodiversity loss and inequality challenges facing corporate leaders is extensive. “[We] need leaders who know that by investing in others, they will be better off themselves. But that takes courage,” said Polman, who in 2019 created Imagine, a foundation aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and stemming runaway climate change. It is now much cheaper to design right and invest in that. In the coming years, the speed and skill with which progress is made on these issues will be critical. With that in mind, Imagine is trying to help corporate leaders be more courageous. It does this by bringing together 20-25 percent of the CEOs from the same sector to drive system changes, Polman said. For example, in the food sector, Imagine is working with 30 companies on a project that involves looking at regenerative agriculture, setting up a common data bank and creating a joint labeling system. “Because they are together, they become more courageous, and because [you] have critical mass, governments want to work with you. [Also], civil society comes in, and you [can] form partnerships that lead to breakthroughs,” he explained.  Spend back better Governments already have spent $12 trillion to $13 trillion just to stabilize global economies ravaged by COVID-19. Many of these same governments are devising ways to reconstruct global economies by spending back better, addressing climate change and inequality along the way. During the last economic crisis, an opportunity to green the economy was missed. Only 3-5 percent of the money that governments spent went toward greening the economy, and in the years that followed, climate change worsened and inequality grew. “We don’t want to repeat that. It led us to this current crisis … It is now much cheaper to design right and invest in that,” Polman said. “People are starting to realize that the cost of inaction is now significantly higher than the cost of action.” Uneven COVID-19 vaccine distribution between developed and developing countries is a case in point. In addition to directly affecting lives and livelihoods, a new report commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation found that if governments fail to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, the global economy stands to lose about $8 trillion to $9 trillion. As much as half of this bill will fall to advanced economies, and economies and sectors with a high degree of international exposure will bear the brunt of these economic losses, the study said. Another shot The COVID-19 vaccine itself offers a lesson about the impressive speed with which humanity can deliver change. “We invented a vaccine within one year. We put communities together that rallied and filled in where others fell short,” Polman said. This, when combined with the coming of age of ESG investing, offers hope, but caution is essential. “Now there is a bit of euphoria, and we need to watch for it,” Polman said, underscoring that many issues are far from solved. Only about 10 percent of companies have climate commitments that are approaching seriousness, and nature loss needs to stop by 2030, he pointed out. To stay below a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase, continued development and progress on science-based targets is needed. The objectives for science-based targets for climate risk and for nature are closely related, but more granularity is needed and work still needs to be done, particularly on science-based targets for nature. Against this backdrop, Imagine, Conservation International and the Global Environment Fund are working with 65 fashion companies — representing about 30-35 percent of the fashion industry — to design a set of industry-specific science-based targets for nature. “I think that we will be able to do that very quickly for other industries too,” he added. The simple truth Ultimately, corporate leadership has to change because “less worse” is not an option anymore, Polman said. To be successful today, leaders need to be “systematic” thinkers. The work required to attack climate change and inequality is difficult, and these issues need to be solved at different levels and in ways that the current system was not set up to deliver. In light of this, today’s and tomorrow’s corporate leaders need to be purpose-driven, able to work in partnerships and equipped to think intergenerationally, Polman said. They also need to lead with a high degree of humanity and humility, he said.  A new crop of moral leaders who understand that the role of business goes beyond shareholder primacy is already emerging, he added. Now there is a bit of euphoria, and we need to watch for it. In the face of these transformational changes, corporate boards need to keep pace. They need to adapt, become more diverse and gain greater competency on climate risk issues, Polman said. Until recently, MBA programs were not producing the multi-disciplinary leaders needed to meet today’s challenges. Instead, programs were offering up “Milton Friedman on steroids,” he quipped. Last year was a wake-up call, but the real black swan revealed itself to be the lack of global cooperation. “And you can’t solve many of these global problems that we have [without global cooperation]. That is needed to redesign our economic system,” Polman said. Pull Quote It is now much cheaper to design right and invest in that. Now there is a bit of euphoria, and we need to watch for it. Topics Corporate Strategy Leadership GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Paul Polman at the 2014  One Young World  Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Stefan Schäfer, Lich

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Paul Polman’s rallying cry for courageous leaders

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