MISSISSAUGA, ONT. — Acknowledging the effect that the global food production industry has on the environment around the world, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. announced on Nov. 7 a significant step forward on its sustainability goal, as it becomes “the first major food company in the world to be carbon neutral.” The sweeping initiative is intended to be a part of the essential, transformative changes the company believes are required to slash global greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
By meeting the requirements of establishing Science-Based Targets, which has goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that parallel those of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Maple Leaf becomes the third animal-protein company that has met the stringent requirements of the Science-Based Target Initiative.
Michael McCain, president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf, said his company acknowledges that large-scale food production comes at the expense of essential natural resources, adding that the company is staking its future on operating as a carbon-neutral business now and moving forward.
“There is simply no more time to waste. The devastating impact of climate change on our planet must be confronted head-on by business leaders with decisive and immediate action,” he said. “The global food system must change dramatically if we are to sustainably feed the world’s growing population.”
On pace to meet its previously stated goal of reducing its environmental footprint by 50% by 2025, Maple Leaf has, in the past four years, reduced its use of electricity by more than 86 million kilowatt hours; cut its natural gas consumption by 4.3 million cubic meters of natural gas; and reduced its water usage by over 1.2 billion liters. Its commitment to setting Science-Based Targets means the company will reduce its use of natural resources more aggressively at its production facilities and throughout its supply chain. To offset any shortfalls to its carbon footprint reduction goals, the company is also investing in 10 “high-impact” environmental projects throughout North America to ensure its carbon neutral status is achieved.
“These projects support wind energy, recovering methane gas from landfills, composting and biomass programs to reduce methane emissions, and forest protection and re-forestry to conserve species and biodiversity,” according to the company.
The path to becoming the world’s first carbon neutral major food company is less about being the first and more about the company’s commitment signaling the urgency to other businesses, Mr. McCain said.
“Today’s actions are not just about being socially responsible; they are about survival,” he said. “Consumers rightfully expect business and political leaders to solve these problems and address the profound consequences of our climate crisis. Our announcement demonstrates that carbon neutrality and Science-Based Targets for emissions reduction are both achievable — and urgent. We hope our actions inspire food companies and businesses broadly to join us in the critical fight against climate change.”