Brands ramp up efforts for Earth Day

How P&G, Maple Leaf Foods, Bimbo, Harvey's and more are lessening their environmental impact.

The North Face

The North Face sets more ambitious environmental targets

The North Face has always counted itself among the more planet-friendly fashion brands, but this year it’s announcing several new goals and beefing up existing efforts with an eye towards being more impactful and actionable.

All of the top materials used for The North Face apparel will be recycled, regenerative or renewable by 2025; by 2023, 100% of the brand’s polyester and 80% of its nylon fabrics will be made with recycled content. This is based on where the company can have the most impact, as more than half of its carbon footprint comes from production. The North Face will also eliminate all single-use plastic packaging by 2025.

The company plans to launch a new, fully circular line of it most popular styles, made entirely from previously-worn materials and garments. That’s on top of existing initiatives to reduce waste, including its Lifetime Warranty (encouraging repair versus binning), Clothes the Loop program (letting customers donate used apparel for store credit) and the Renewed Collection (a line of refurbished outerwear, which consumers can now contribute to with their own previously worn apparel, beginning on Earth Day).

Finally, it will use its purchasing power to affect change outside of its own operations. It will place its “Exploration Without Compromise” seal only on the most sustainable products it sells in its stores and online: all apparel, equipment and accessories it sells must be made with 75% or greater recycled, organic, regenerative or responsibly-sourced renewable materials in order to receive the badge.


Maple Leaf Foods adds colour to Earth Day

In honour of Earth Day, Maple Leaf is launching Climate Change Colouring Kits, available for free online.

The book shows the impact of climate change in a family-friendly way, with messages like “Look at how beautiful our West Coast is. But, is that green algae in the water? Ew!… algae blooms can change the actual colour of our oceans and lakes.” Accompanying ominous crayon colours include: “Ocean Green,” “Grass Yellow,” “Forest Black,” “Sand Blue,” “Freshwater Brown,” and “Sky Orange.” 

Maple Leaf’s Climate Change Colouring Kits also offer tips about how to be more climate friendly, such as eating less meat. Maple Leaf says this climate education initiative, developed with agency partner Sid Lee, reflects its commitment “to become the most sustainable protein company on earth.”

Each colouring book (including packaging) is 100% recyclable and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified, and the crayons are made from eco-friendly soy and beeswax and come in a metal reusable container. To offset emissions, Maple Leaf invested in Hamilton’s AIM Environmental Waste Diversion Project, which converts organic residues from three municipal collection sites into compost products.

As part of its planet-first commitments, the company already donates 1% of its pre-tax profits to organizations to help remove barriers to food security, and Maple Leaf is also ratcheting up its plant-based offerings.


Harvey’s partners with Tree Canada on green initiative

Canadian QSR Harvey’s was among the first national chains to focus on sustainability and reducing waste in its restaurants. It was quick to introduce paper straws in early 2019 – today, 80% of all its packaging contains recycled material – and launched “Grow a Plant” in September the following year, providing a plant kit with every kid’s meal purchased in lieu of a plastic toy.

This year, the company has launched a national tree planting initiative with Tree Canada, a non-profit dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments. Starting today through to June 16, Harvey’s will donate a portion of proceeds from every transaction in restaurants, as well as delivery orders placed through Door Dash, to the organization, with the goal of planting 25,000 trees in 2021. If achieved, the initiative would help capture around 5,000 tonnes of CO2.

Bimbo to offset all of its Canadian electricity use

Known for its Dempster’s, Stonemill, Villaggio, Vachon and Takis brands, Bimbo is Canada’s largest bakery company, operating 16 bakeries, 14 distribution centres and 191 depots across the country. And now, electricity used by all of those facilities will be offset through a pair of new virtual power purchase agreements.

Power purchase agreements are a way for large companies to secure energy from providers at a preferred price, but virtual PPAs are a way to do that for providers that aren’t providing power directly to the company – the electricity is instead released into the local power grid. If the provider sells the power at a lower price, the company pays the difference, making VPPAs a popular way to establish renewable energy projects. It also gives companies unable to draw electricity from renewable sources a way to “offset” that consumption by making renewable energy available elsewhere.

Through 15-year agreements with global company Renewable Energy Systems, Bimbo’s VPPA will support the development of two wind and solar projects in southern Alberta, totalling 170 megawatts of installed capacity. Bimbo Canada will procure roughly 50 megawatts of renewable electricity from these projects to offset its consumption.


Budweiser gets closer to its fully renewable commitment

Labatt Breweries of Canada has established its own VPPA with Capital Power, supporting a new solar development in Alberta and helping to offset the electricity used in the brewing of Budweiser, Canada’s most popular beer brand.

The agreement will include approximately 51% of the energy generated by the solar facility, one-quarter of which will be bundled with renewable energy credits directly from the facility and the remainder with credits from projects elsewhere in Canada.

The VPPA is the latest effort by parent company AB InBev in its commitment to brewing Budweiser using 100% renewable energy by 2025. Since establishing the goal in 2018, 10 billion beers have been brewed using renewable energy, with investment of over $1 billion in related infrastructure projects.

P&G makes its laundry brands more recyclable

Recycling plastic is a tough thing. What might be recyclable in one town might not be in another, and the fact that recycling is its own business means that, if demand to buy used plastic isn’t there, plastic products end up becoming waste anyway, no matter what a local facility can handle.

To help get around this, P&G has brought a partnership with TerraCycle on an “Eco-Box Recycling Program” to Canada. Consumers can get a pre-paid shipping label to send in products and packaging from the Tide, Downy and Gain laundry brands that may not be recyclable in certain regions, such as the plastic dispensing cups, flexible plastic bags, nozzles and nozzle clips. The plastic is then melted down and molded into new products.

As a way to incentivize participation, every shipment of waste lets participants earn points that can be donated to a non-profit, school or charity of their choice.

The program is available to individuals, but given that shipping empty bottles every time a household runs out could be a tall order, P&G is also encouraging schools, offices and community organizations to sign up and run their own collection efforts.

P&G also launched the “It’s Our Home” campaign in the U.S. last week and in Canada on Monday, encouraging consumers to help contribute to a more sustainable world through small actions they can do throughout the home.