Maple Leaf has gone carbon neutral

The food company claims that setting new targets and investing in sustainability projects have reduced its net footprint to zero.

Maple Leaf Foods has announced that it is fully carbon neutral, which it claims makes it the first “major” food company to have done so.

Maple Leaf had previously set goals to reduce its water, electricity, natural gas and solid waste by 50% between 2015 and 2025. Today, it announced that it also set targets with Science Based Goals, a joint initiative between CDP, the World Wildlife Fund, the UN Compact and World Resources Initiative to set best practices for corporate climate initiatives, institutionalize their goals and analyze how effective they will be.

As part of its new Science Based Goals targets, Maple Leaf plans to to reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions – which cover emissions directly produced through operations and electricity it uses – by 30% between 2018 and 2030. Over the same period, it plans to reduce scope 3 emissions – which are produced in the supply chain, packaging and distribution processes – by 30% per tonne of product produced.

Maple Leaf’s progress on the environmental front so far – part of its efforts to be “the most sustainable protein company on earth” – has been done through things like a lighting retrofit program at all of its facilities, projects to capture excess heat produced by its equipment, partnering with companies that turn organic waste into energy and the development of a utility management system that allows it to track its energy usage.

To offset its remaining emissions, Maple Leaf has invested in 10 environmental projects, such as wind-powered energy, farms that reuse waste biomass for energy and projects that capture methane and other emissions from landfills. Full details of Maple Leaf’s past and future sustainability efforts are detailed on its website.

“Today’s actions are not just about being socially responsible; they are about survival,” said Michael McCain, Maple Leaf Foods’ president and CEO, in today’s announcement. “Consumers rightfully expect business and political leaders to solve these problems and address the profound consequences of our climate crisis.” McCain also said the global food system needs to change dramatically, and hopes the company’s actions will inspire others to take similar efforts.

Globally, 285 companies have set targets with Science Based Goals. After analyzing a company’s climate targets, the initiative then classifies them into one of three categories, based on which degree of global warming level the targets are consistent with: 2C, well below 2C, and 1.5C. Maple Leaf’s targets fall within the well below 2C classification.

Other meat companies that have already set targets with Science Based Goals include U.S.-based Tyson Foods (which is aiming for a 30% reduction in emissions between 2016 and 2030, putting it in the 2C classification). Other major companies that have set targets include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Danone, Nestle, Walmart, Kellogg, General Mills, AB InBev, Diageo, Molson Coors and Mars. Canadian companies that have set targets include Aldo (classified in the well below 2C category) and the Canadian National Railway (which has set targets within the 2C classification).