Flea treatments are poisoning Englands rivers

November 19, 2020 by  
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Insecticides used to kill fleas are proving to be way too effective. The chemicals are poisoning English  rivers and killing bugs they were never meant to encounter, according to a new University of Sussex  study . The environmental damage extends to the birds and fish who depend on the poisoned bugs for food. “Fipronil is one of the most commonly used flea products and recent studies have shown it degrades to compounds that are more toxic to most  insects  than fipronil itself,” said Rosemary Perkins, who led the study. “Our results are extremely concerning.” Related: Ace Hardware boosts efforts to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides The researchers identified fipronil in 99% of the samples they took from 20 rivers. In addition, they found a nerve agent called imidacloprid, which was temporarily banned in the EU in 2013 and then permanently so in 2018. This toxic pesticide ingredient is commonly used in farming in many parts of the world as well as being used for flea treatments. Dave Goulson, one of the University of Sussex researchers, was shocked by the findings. “I couldn’t quite believe the  pesticides  were so prevalent. Our rivers are routinely and chronically contaminated with both of these chemicals.” He warned that using imidacloprid to treat one medium-sized dog for fleas contains enough pesticides to kill 60 million bees. How are these pesticides moving from Fido to the Thames? Researchers found the highest pesticide concentration just downstream from water treatment plants, indicating that the urban areas were the culprits, not the farmers. They believe that when people bathe their pets, it flushes pesticides into sewers and then rivers. Dogs that swim in rivers could also be responsible. If you’ve ever taken your pet to a veterinarian, it’s likely that the vet advised flea treatments. According to the  American Kennel Club , the dangers of fleas go beyond itchy skin, with the top three possible consequences being flea allergy dermatitis, anemia and tapeworms. About 80% of the U.K.’s 11 million cats and 10 million dogs receive treatment, whether or not they have fleas. Some environmentalists are saying that the environmental damage of insecticides should be prioritized over the blanket use of flea remedies. NRDC has some good recommendations for minimizing the environmental impact of flea treatment, including choosing oral treatments over flea collars, dosing for the correct weight of your pet, grooming your pets and cleaning your yard and  garden  in ways that will preempt pests to begin with. Read the organization’s full advice  here . Via  The Guardian and  Garden Organic Image via Joshua Choate

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Flea treatments are poisoning Englands rivers

How two companies are building systems to scale reuse, which is vital for a circular economy

November 6, 2020 by  
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How two companies are building systems to scale reuse, which is vital for a circular economy Deonna Anderson Fri, 11/06/2020 – 01:15 In the past few years, as consumers looked to cut down on plastic waste at the grocery store, more mainstream supermarkets turned to bulk shopping bins as a solution. But scoop bins quickly have become a thing of the past this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For MOM’s Organic Market, a chain of family-owned and operated grocers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States that has the purpose of protecting and restoring the environment, it was only a small adjustment. “[Our reuse] programs are all still in operation, and we’re minimally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alexandra DySard, environmental and partnership manager at MOM’s Organic Market, during GreenBiz Group’s clean economy conference VERGE 20 last week. The chain has taken an innovative tack: it’s still encouraging its shoppers to use reusable containers for all areas of its stores, but it’s changed the way the bulk shopping operates. While scoopable bins are off limits in its stores, the chain is using gravity bins (the ones pictured above), which have a pull-down lever to dispense food without its having any contact with a person’s hand. It’s easy to use and easy to sanitize. On the B2B side of commerce, there’s another opportunity for reuse. In 2017, when LimeLoop, an IoT solution for sustainable e-commerce shipping logistics, started, it was in response to the amount of waste caused by e-commerce. “Online shopping was resulting in huge waste piles,” said Chantal Emmanuel, CTO and co-founder of LimeLoop. Additionally, she said, the brands that LimeLoop was working with faced challenges in making the transition from in-store experiences to an online one. “We saw an opportunity to solve both of these problems through use,” she said. We knew that we had to have a holistic approach to this solution, because it’s not enough to just drop off 2,000 shippers to a retail company and say, ‘Good luck getting these back.’ In 2017, containers and packaging made up a significant portion of municipal solid waste (MSW), about 80.1 million tons (29.9 percent of total MSW generation), according to the EPA . Reuse can reduce the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators.  “[Reuse] is needed. It is possible. It is beneficial. It can be profitable, and it can work for all sizes of business, small, medium and large,” said Holly Kaufman, president of Environment & Enterprise Strategies, who moderated the session about advancing reuse. How to meet people where they are LimeLoop partners directly with retail companies and provides them with a set of reusable packages made from upcycled billboard vinyl and lined with recycled cotton. The partner companies are able to use those to fill orders in the same way that they would with a cardboard box or plastic poly mailer, except they’re reusable — for an estimated 200 uses — and include a prepaid return label.  When a person receives their package, they pull out the product, flip over the label and return the package by putting it into their mailbox. The package is returned to the retail company, which sanitizes it and then puts it back in rotation for another customer. “We like to remind people that it’s actually easier than recycling a cardboard box,” Emmanuel said. But for retailers, making sure the LimeLoop packages are actually reused also can be a challenge.  “We knew that we had to have a holistic approach to this solution, because it’s not enough to just drop off 2,000 shippers to a retail company and say, ‘Good luck getting these back,’” Emmanuel said, noting that they need the whole logistical system and supply chain technology to make sure that those packages get from point A to point B, then back to point A. “Otherwise, we’re creating more waste than we would have if we were using a disposable cardboard box,” she said. With that in mind, the retailers get access to LimeLoop’s software platform, which acts as an order management system and also as a tool for communicating directly with consumers.  Emmanuel said moving to such a reuse model demands an education process, because you need to let people know what to do with this packaging as it’s so different from a single-use cardboard package. Pushing the goalposts Back in 2005, MOM’s banned single-use plastic bags in its stores to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. That was nearly a decade before California became the first state in the United States to ban them. And in 2010, the grocery chain banned the sale of plastic flat bottled water in an effort to eliminate even more single-use plastic from its stores. In place of bottled water, it installed bulk water filling stations. We all know that there is actually no such thing as disposable — nothing’s disposable and ends up someplace, right? Everything goes somewhere. In addition to making these changes in its own stores, DySard said MOM’s is very active in local and federal advocacy and policy, by submitting testimony and attending hearings on plastics-related legislation. “I feel like that’s the direction that we need to go [if] we want to continue to grow this movement of reusables and really give it legs,” DySard said. Establishing a reuse program won’t be easy for every company Like the pivot that MOM’s had to make with its scoop bins during COVID-19 — as it works to open more locations, it is designing them to have mostly gravity bins — reuse models will need to be iterated. Emmanuel also shared a hiccup from LimeLoop’s first fleet of 500 shipping packages, which had a solid plastic envelope on the front of it to put the label in. She and her team didn’t realize that it’s customary for USPS to use permanent markers to mark on the labels. That wasn’t ideal. “I had to spend a couple of days literally just like popping out holes in the middle of the plastic so that they could start marking on the labels,” she said. For the next generation of its shippers, the company designed the packages in a way that USPS workers could mark directly onto the paper labels when they needed to. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but reuse is a practice worth working to improve and scale. “We all know that there is actually no such thing as disposable — nothing’s disposable and ends up someplace, right? Everything goes somewhere,” Kaufman said. “We want it to go where we want it to go. And not into the ocean, the soil and bits of them go into our bodies. “Even with dental and surgical equipment — those are the ultimate reuse. And if we can do those safely, we can certainly do all kinds of packaging safely.” Pull Quote We knew that we had to have a holistic approach to this solution, because it’s not enough to just drop off 2,000 shippers to a retail company and say, ‘Good luck getting these back.’ We all know that there is actually no such thing as disposable — nothing’s disposable and ends up someplace, right? Everything goes somewhere. Topics Circular Economy Design & Packaging Reuse VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  Rosie Parsons  on Shutterstock.

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The broken system that sends most food waste and organic matter to landfills

September 4, 2020 by  
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The broken system that sends most food waste and organic matter to landfills Jim Giles Fri, 09/04/2020 – 00:15 How about this for a series of maddening statistics? Landfills in the United States generate 15 percent of the country’s emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with a potential warming impact 34 times that of carbon dioxide. The single largest input into U.S. landfills is food waste, yard trimmings and other organic matter. Sending organic matter to composting facilities rather than landfills dramatically lowers emissions — in fact, expanding composting globally would avoid or capture the equivalent of around 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050 . Only 4 percent of U.S. households are served by a municipal composting service.  Most commercial food waste is also dumped, meaning that just 6 percent of all U.S. food waste is diverted from landfill or combustion.  In summary: This is crazy. We’re dumping the feedstock for a valuable agricultural resource in landfills, where rather than fertilizing crops it generates emissions that accelerate the climate crisis. I wasn’t aware of quite how broken this system is until I moderated a panel on composting infrastructure at Circularity 20 last week. (Video of the panel soon will be online — sign up for Circularity updates to get notified when that happens.) Afterwards, I called up my fellow moderator Nora Goldstein, editor of Biocycle magazine , in search of solutions.  Goldstein explained that most waste management firms are compensated for every truckload of material they send to landfill. This locks them into the existing model. Some firms might want to move into composting, but doing so would cause a double financial hit: Reduced landfill fees plus upfront expenditures for creating new composting infrastructure. That’s not going to look good in the next quarterly earnings. What can the food industry do to help fix this? Structural change will require government action such as California’s SB 1383 , which commits the state to reducing organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. ( Climate Solution of the Year , according to one industry publication.) But that doesn’t mean the industry can’t take smaller steps without outside help. I heard a bunch of exciting ideas in the panel, during my conversation with Goldstein and in emails I received after the event. Here are a few: Food waste producers should discuss what’s possible with local waste operations, said panel member Alexa Kielty of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Long-term collaboration between waste producers, local government and disposal companies enables the waste industry to invest in composting solutions. Do due diligence on contractors who offer organics disposal services, advised panel member Kevin Quandt of the Sweetgreen restaurant chain. To see why, read about Quandt’s tussles with less-than-honest contractors in this excellent Los Angeles Times story . Companies involved in the farming end of the food business should incorporate targets for compost use into their regenerative agriculture commitments, Goldstein suggested. Large composting facilities can take years to set up, but food waste producers can investigate smaller-scale options in the meantime, wrote Ben Parry, CEO of Compost Crew, an organics waste collector operating in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.  Speaking of small-scale solutions that companies could collaborate with, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced funding for 13 pilot projects to “develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction.”  I hope that list provides some ideas for how your organization can get involved in fixing this crazy problem. What did I miss? As always, I value your feedback. Email comments, critiques and complaints to jg@greenbiz.com .  Topics Food Systems Waste Management Waste Compost Featured Column Foodstuff 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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A historic farm is thoughtfully repurposed into an organic winery

July 23, 2020 by  
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On a mixed farm dating back to the 13th century in East Sussex, Rye-based RX Architects has repurposed a series of old farm buildings into the new home of Tillingham Winery, a natural and biodynamic wine producer committed to regenerative farming and ecological diversity. Set on approximately 70 acres of farmland, the organic winery has not only carved out spaces for wine production and tasting, but for visitor accommodations as well as teaching and artisan workshop spaces. Elements of the original architecture — the property’s various farm buildings include a traditional oast dating back to the 19th century — have been preserved and celebrated in the renovation. Located off of a winding lane in Peasmarsh, Tillingham Winery enjoys stunning panoramic views across the Tillingham Valley toward the Cinque Port town of Rye. To celebrate the views and the rich heritage of the site, the architects restored and re-clad the existing farm buildings with a mix of metal, concrete and timber with simple, robust detailing. The original galvanized metal and timber door was also restored; the massive sliding doors and large expanses of glazing frame views through the building to the courtyard and the landscape beyond. The mixed vine varieties are planted on the predominately south-facing land, while sheep grazing, agroforestry and camping are located across the other parts of the estate. Related: Silver Oak becomes world’s most sustainable winery In another nod to the site history, the architects sunk two large wine-making qvevri — large earthenware vessels used for fermenting, storing and aging wine — underground beside the open-sided oast in an area once used to lay the long strands of hops for drying. In doing so, the architects have not only created the first-ever qvevri cellar in the United Kingdom but have also highlighted the oast’s former agricultural purpose. The oast has also been repurposed into an 11-room boutique hotel for Tillingham. Guests have access to an onsite restaurant, a wine bar and bottle shop and an outdoor kitchen (formerly a dutch barn) for al fresco dining. + RX Architects Photography by Richard Chivers via RX Architects

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A historic farm is thoughtfully repurposed into an organic winery

Luxury apartments feature underground rec club and a massive green roof

July 22, 2020 by  
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The Excellenseaa 126 apartment complex is designed to create its own sustainable microclimate with a green roof and open spaces. Located in Surat, India, this luxury development houses 126 apartments within six 11-story buildings. Out of the 318,611-square-foot space, over 70% is landscaped, and the entire property centers around a large focal garden that stretches over 139,930 square feet. Apartments come in three different sizes, with layouts of up to five bedrooms and a private gym. About 80% of the plot is car-free , and vehicular movement is restricted to the complex’s perimeter and a basement car park available to residents. Each floor contains two apartments with a penthouse on top. Related: This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm One of the most impressive elements of this apartment complex is the design of its partially subterranean recreation club. The central garden sits on top of expertly landscaped angular planes with clean lines to add a touch of modernity to the organic elements. Take a closer look, and the garden is, in actuality, a green roof covering the complex’s partially submerged communal area. The club includes entertainment facilities, conference rooms, a grocery store, a medical center, multiple sports facilities and play areas for children of different ages. A variety of water features, trees and plants gives the entire space a natural feel while assisting in passive cooling . The green roof design helps to shelter the club from solar heat gain while simultaneously allowing natural ventilation and light to pass through. Apartments themselves are kept cool and sheltered by 900-square-foot cantilevered decks that help facilitate cross ventilation in the warm months. This aspect comes especially in handy, as the area experiences temperatures topping 95 degrees Fahrenheit for eight months out of the year. The complex also utilizes water recycling, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and solar paneling to reduce its carbon footprint . + Sanjay Puri Architects Photography by Mr.Abhishek Shah via Sanjay Puri Architects

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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste

June 17, 2020 by  
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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste Heather Clancy Wed, 06/17/2020 – 02:00 Food companies have a dual responsibility when it comes to waste reduction aspirations: optimizing their operations to minimize food waste while reducing the amount of other materials — especially the waste associated with packaging — sent to landfill. The aspiration for a growing number of them is “zero waste.” But meat companies that raise animals such as poultry, pigs, cattle and other livestock for protein also must take into account something else few widget, gadget or electronics makers need to worry about — how to manage water and materials contaminated by organic, biological waste. This work continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has rocked the meat supply chain and forced closures of facilities across the United States, according to the executives interviewed for this article. It also has complicated matters, as procedures around the expanded use of personal protective equipment were embraced to protect the health of workers and consumers. More precautions have meant more PPE, which usually has come in contact with biological matter that causes management challenges for recycling facilities. “The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse,” said Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability for well-known chicken purveyor Perdue Farms. Another vivid example: plastic that has been used to wrap meat, which cannot be sent to traditional facilities without first being decontaminated. “That’s the one material that we have not found the perfect solution for at this point, whether it be at a plant or at your home,” he said. That’s why the recent GreenCircle zero waste certification for Perdue’s harvest operation (industry parlance for a slaughter and processing facility) in Lewiston, North Carolina is noteworthy. The designation indicates that 100 percent of the waste stream at the facility is reused, recycled or incinerated for energy. That includes packaging scraps, chicken litter (which includes bird excrement, feathers and materials used for bedding), oils and personal protective equipment worn by the workers. For this particular facility, that translated into 8.3 million pounds of waste diverted during 2019, according to the company’s press release about the achievement. The zero waste certifications granted by some other certification bodies allow for up to 10 percent of waste to go to landfill — and still earn that label, Levitsky said. “We wanted to make sure if we go through this process …  it’s rigorous enough and that people feel when we say ‘zero waste to landfill’ that we’re doing every effort to get to that higher standard,” he said.  Perdue’s corporate-level waste goal calls for it to divert 90 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2022; it plans to have five more facilities certified by the end of 2022 (of about 20 meat production operations in total). The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse. Some measures Perdue uses to divert waste in Lewiston include composting for all the organic matter such as litter or shells from the hatchery and food waste from the cafeteria; refurbishing end-of-life equipment by sending things such as engines back to the original manufacturer; sorting of plastics, cardboard, metals and glass; turning spent grain into animal feed or feed additives; and sending some organic matter to an anaerobic digester for energy applications. A GreenCircle certification isn’t simply a matter of filling out a survey. It requires on-site auditing not just of the company hoping to earn the recognition but also of all third-party waste management organizations hired to reduce waste, said Tad Radzinski, certification officer at GreenCircle. (When GreenBiz spoke with him in early May, his team was sorting out how to accomplish this using virtual tools.) “The one thing we always do is push for continuous improvement,” he said. Perdue made changes over the past year about how to handle damage or broken pallets, based on information gathering during the GreenCircle auditing process, Levitsky said. Specifically, it discovered that the company it was sending them to wasn’t remanufacturing them as Perdue believed and instead was sending certain damaged ones to landfill. Using that knowledge, the Lewiston team now sorts those materials into its waste-to-energy dumpster. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Perdue Farms Close Authorship Generally speaking, zero waste strategies for animal protein companies don’t cover the meat, organs or bones of the slaughtered animals. Finding partners that can use those items is embedded into the core business strategy. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, for example, created the Smithfield BioScience division in 2017 to come up with solutions for using meat production by-products such as mucosa, glands and skin for medical applications.  From a corporate perspective, Smithfield’s commitment is to reduce overall solid waste sent to landfills by 75 percent by 2025. In the U.S., it plans to certify at least three-quarters of its facilities as zero waste by that time frame. (It has 35 of them.)  The designation calls for it to recycle or reuse at least 50 percent of the waste at a given facility. So far, Smithfield has certified 30 percent of its U.S. sites including its largest facility in Vernon, California, according to the company’s 2019 sustainability report released this week. The site required a proprietary solution for treating peptone waste associated with its production of heparin, used for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and medical device applications. The packaging conundrum One of the most difficult processes for any animal protein company is reducing the impact of packaging while complying with health considerations and the requirements of recycling organizations.  “Packaging is one valuable component within our supply chain where we are focused on reducing waste,” said John Meyer, senior director of environmental affairs for Smithfield Farms, in responses emailed for this article. “Smithfield has partnered with packaging suppliers to ideate, research and test emerging recyclable and sustainable product materials for future development and implementation.” Three examples of ideas that already have found their way into practice:  It changed the packages for its Prime Fresh line of pre-sliced delicatessen meats to look like the bags a consumer would receive from someone cutting them on the spot; these packets use about 31 percent less plastic than traditional offerings. It’s using product trays for the Pure Frame plant-based products made from 50 percent recycled materials. Its Omaha facility moved away from paper labels to printed film, saving more than four tons of waste annually. Silver Fern Farms, a New Zealand meat purveyor that specializes in beef, lamb and venison, permanently has removed close to 80 tons of plastic from its supply chain annually through a combination of measures, according to Matt Luxton, director of U.S. sales for the company. Silver Fern is New Zealand’s largest red meat producer; it started exporting to supermarkets in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in 2019.  One of the biggest changes was the shift to “consumer-ready” packaging that includes pre-trimmed portions, a process intended to help minimize food waste both at the retail point of sale (where meat is traditionally butchered and repackaged) and with consumers concerned about portion control.  “We have done a lot of research into what a consumer wants and what volume meals they are consuming,” Luxton said. Silver Fern is also using vacuum-sealed packaging that extends the shelf life of the meat for an additional 25 days, while maintaining health and hygiene standards, and it also has eliminated some plastic liners and opted for thinner gauge plastics for export. While the company is studying ways of using recycled plastics, it hasn’t been able to find a material that duplicates the shelf life it can achieve with options already available, Luxton said. Perdue also has been studying ways to package chicken in recyclable trays, an idea it borrowed from Coleman Natural, an organic meat company it acquired in 2011. While the idea works well for the organic brand, cost considerations kept the company from introducing it for the broader Perdue product lines.  “The problem with it is it’s more than double the cost of a foam tray,” Levitsky said. “And to put that cost into a conventional chicken product just would not be feasible … We’re trying to drive that cost down and are looking at other companies that can maybe produce that tray. But right now, the price is just so high for those recyclable trays that we have not done it.” Pull Quote The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse. We have done a lot of research into what a consumer wants and what volume meals they are consuming. Topics Food Systems Circular Economy Packaging Zero Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Smithfield Farms Close Authorship

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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste

Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

June 9, 2020 by  
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Recently opened in the Brazilian city of São Paulo and designed by local architecture and design practice VAGA, the Cajuí Restaurant offers a menu of vegan , organic and natural ingredients supplied by small farmers from different regions of Brazil. Cajuí was named after the native species of cashew found in the Cerrado biome grasslands in central Brazil. Lesser known yet right next door to the Amazon rainforest , the Cerrado biome encompasses almost 800,000 square miles of savannas and grasslands — roughly the size of Alaska and California put together — and is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. It is home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity, and many of the country’s indigenous people who live there rely on the ecosystem’s resources for sustainable livelihoods. According to the World Wildlife Fund , deforestation in the Cerrado is responsible for an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; this is the same amount that 53 million cars would emit in one year. Related: Modular materials make up an eco-friendly restaurant in Taiwan Cajuí Restaurant is the brainchild of plant-based chef and São Paulo-native Natalia Luglio, who wanted to open an accessible restaurant in her hometown that prioritized organic , local ingredients. The unique biome of Cerrado serves not only as inspiration behind the name but also as an inspiration behind both the menu and the ambiance. Because of this, the designers wanted to pay special attention to the vibrant interaction between color, light and material in ways that alluded to the Cerrado. The architects concentrated on creating ample natural light in between the exterior and the interior spaces by attaching an additional wooden structure to the body of the main building, which had been renovated. VAGA also added translucent roof tiles lined with organic jute on the ceiling so that the sunlight could shine through and influence the color depending on the time of day. The red pigment in the cement floor of the restaurant mirrors the color of the Cerrado soil. Large plant beds were added to the staff area to hold some of the ingredients used on the menu. To keep the construction as sustainable as possible, almost all of the waste generated from the renovation was reused for additional projects, such as the waiting area deck, floor leveling and the bamboo ceiling in the back of the building. + VAGA Photography by Pedro Napolitano Prata via VAGA

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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

May 21, 2020 by  
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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’ Heather Clancy Thu, 05/21/2020 – 00:46 The term “regenerative agriculture” has become two of the biggest buzzwords in nature-based climate solutions. But how many farms and food companies can say they follow both regenerative and organic practices? Canadian cereal and snack company Nature’s Path — the largest organic breakfast and snack company in North America — hopes to get more agricultural organizations focused on the nuances of those adjectives.  In March, its 5,000-acre Legend Organic Farm in Saskatchewan became the largest yet to be certified as part of the Regenerative Organic Certified program, organized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance . It’s one of just 30 farms operating with that label. The company created a limited edition oatmeal to draw attention to the certification, which it started selling on Earth Day. Because Legend follows organic farming principles, it already practiced many processes often mentioned as regenerative. The main change the farm made over the past two years to receive Regenerative Organic Certified recognition was stepping up its planting and investments in cover crops such as legumes to improve soil fertility and carbon capture, according to Nature Path founder and chairman Arran Stephens.     The idea, at least in part, is to set an example that other farms can follow. “My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it,” Stephens told me in late April.  Nature’s Path made the decision to seek the Regenerative Organic Certified designation two years ago, both to enrich its soil for the future and to continue differentiating its brand.  My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Legend is the only farm that the company owns outright; it is supplied by hundreds of independent farms, who should be able to command a premium from customers such as Nature’s Path for following these practices in the future, according to Dag Falck, the company’s organic program manager.  “It’s a great way to communicate that your organization is practicing on the highest level of organic,” he said. Some investments it took While it takes just one growing season to earn the Regenerative Organic Certified label — unlike the core organic certification, which takes three years to earn — a series of steps are required to participate, notably expanded soil testing capabilities. As part of the program, farms are required to measure levels of Soil Organic Carbon, Soil Organic Matter and Aggregate Stability. Nature’s Path is testing for all of those metrics, along with Active Carbon, Total Soil Carbon and the Microbial Respiration of CO2. While organic farming shuns the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it doesn’t preclude the use of new technologies or tools. Indeed, Nature’s Path is using a number of new information technologies as part of the program that could offer ideas for others. Among the tools that are playing a role: Tractors that are autosteered using global positioning satellite (GPS) data Satellite maps to monitor growth through the growing season Farming implements such as tine weeders and rotary hoes that help with weeding in preemergent phases while keeping the life within the soil; this allows the farm to reduce its tillage frequency and intensity A new recordkeeping system that can track specific crops back to the field; this is part of the traceability requirements for the certification The company doesn’t currently use precision agriculture technologies, but it eventually could play a role in mapping its soil carbon results, according to the company. According to the World Economic Forum, the average soil carbon level of most farmland is just 1 percent — far below the 3 percent to 7 percent levels they nurtured before being cultivated. It estimates that raising those levels to the low end of that range could sequester 1 trillion tons of CO2. Nature’s Path hasn’t disclosed its current soil levels, but is using this first season to establish a baseline. “We can’t say at this point what we have achieved,” Falck said.  Currently, soil has to be sent to a lab for test — a “fairly costly” process, Falck said, that can take from five to 10 days. The hope is to make more accurate in-person testing available as quickly as possible. Nature’s Path, based in Richmond, British Columbia, was founded in 1985 and became the first organic cereal production in North America five years later. The company is on track to achieve climate neutral status by September.  Pull Quote My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Organics GreenBiz Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off One requirement of the Regenerative Organics Certified label is a series of tests to gauge soil carbon content. Courtesy of Nature’s Path Close Authorship

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This Napa Valley winery has been farmed organically since 1985

May 5, 2020 by  
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Nestled on a gently sloping segment of land on the quiet, western end of St. Helena, California, Spottswoode Estate contains a remarkable piece of environmental history. The property became one of the first vineyards in the Napa Valley to farm 100%  organically  in 1985, eventually evolving into a leader in sustainable farming for the famous wine-growing region. In addition to being organic, the property is also solar-powered and biodynamic, all while producing world-class and sought-after vintages year after year. The family-run business has continued to inspire its peers to explore the sustainable farming practices it helped shape in the 80s. Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood The Napa Valley estate vineyard at Spottswoode was first planted in 1882. Just like many other historic vineyards and wineries in the area, Spottswoode survived Prohibition throughout the 1920s by selling grapes for use in sacramental wine. In 1985, the St. Helena property became the first winery in the valley to  farm  without the use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers, long before sustainability became popularized in wine marketing. In 1992, Spottswoode made history again by becoming one of the first wineries to earn CCOF organic certification. Since 2007, Spottswoode has committed to donating 1% of its gross annual revenue to supporting environmental causes with 1% for the Planet; it also became one of the earliest members of International Wineries for Climate Change. The 46-acre estate has added owl boxes, bluebird boxes, green-winged swallow boxes, bee boxes and year-round insectaries to maintain wildlife conservation  on property. The company works hard to ensure that the Spottswoode land works as its own living ecosystem while continuing to produce award-winning wine. In 2007, Spottswoode began installing solar arrays to offset its energy usage. Today the system has grown to offset 100% of its annual production and office-related energy needs and generates about 75% of its agricultural energy needs. In 2010, biodynamic farming through the use of cover crops and composting was introduced to the vineyard. The Spottswoode Winery was founded by Mary Novak in 1982, exactly 100 years after the original planting of the property’s vineyard. At the time, Mary was one of the first women to manage a major winemaking estate in Napa Valley. Since her passing in 2016, her two daughters have followed in her footsteps to run the winery as a female-led company, playing an important role in the environmental and  sustainable  practices that their mother instilled in the Napa wine industry. In 2017, Spottswoode was honored with the Green Medal Environment Award by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute and Napa Valley Vintners. Mary’s daughter Beth Novak was named chair of the Napa Valley Vintners Environmental Stewardship Committee in 2019. + Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery Images via Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery

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This Napa Valley winery has been farmed organically since 1985

Greenhouse gas emissions expected to hit record decline

May 5, 2020 by  
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While your home energy bill may have increased while you shelter in place, the planet’s overall energy use has taken a significant downturn. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) first quarter report, global carbon emissions could be down by 8% this year, the biggest drop the agency has ever seen. In the first quarter of 2020, global energy demand decreased by 3.8%, thanks in large part to lockdowns in Europe and North America. The report collected data for 30 countries from January 1 through April 14. The analysis concluded that countries in full lockdown averaged a 25% weekly decline in energy demand, while countries in partial lockdown averaged 18%. While your own energy bill probably won’t reflect this trend, reductions in energy use by industrial and commercial concerns far outweigh upticks in residential demand. “For weeks, the shape of demand resembled that of a prolonged Sunday,” the report said. In short, the longer and more stringent the lockdown, the better for Earth’s atmosphere. Related: 6 ways to save energy while sheltering in place “This is a historic shock to the entire energy world. Amid today’s unparalleled health and economic crises, the plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering, especially for coal, oil and gas. Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard-of slump in electricity use,” Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, said in a press release. “It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts, but the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.” Global coal demand fell by nearly 8% compared with 2019’s first quarter. Analysts attributed this to a mild winter, the growth in renewable energy sources and the pandemic’s hard hit on China’s coal-based economy. Oil demand was also down, falling nearly 5%. The extreme aviation slowdown accounted for much of the oil decline, paired with global road transport activity dropping by half. “Resulting from premature deaths and economic trauma around the world, the historic decline in global emissions is absolutely nothing to cheer,” Birol said. “And if the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis is anything to go by, we are likely to soon see a sharp rebound in emissions as economic conditions improve. But governments can learn from that experience by putting clean energy technologies — renewables, efficiency, batteries, hydrogen and carbon capture — at the heart of their plans for economic recovery. Investing in those areas can create jobs, make economies more competitive and steer the world towards a more resilient and cleaner energy future.” + International Energy Agency Image via Marcin Jozwiak

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Greenhouse gas emissions expected to hit record decline

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