Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 17, No. 12, September 17, 2013
Honoured Reader Edition
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Our feature topic in this issue is sustainable restaurants. There are not too many themes in corporate social responsibility that do not have an impact on restaurants, especially large chains of "quickserve" restaurants. CSR issues include the links of food service to obesity and other health impacts e.g. through highly-processed food, sugar, salt, fats, indoor air pollution due to tobacco smoke now mostly banned in North America, corporate profit taking while paying less than a living wage, waste including food, packaging, litter, unsustainable food sourcing e.g. cutting of the Amazon rainforest, building design, equipment energy and water inefficiency. GallonLetter has chosen just a few of these for review in this issue.

In reading our sustainable restaurant section it is interesting to note how many sustainability issues affecting restaurants also affect other human activities: fats down the drain, sustainable seafood, recycling or banning of polystyrene foam, sustainable initiatives at Tim Hortons, and so on. We think that you will find this feature interesting even if you never go near a restaurant, and who does not go out to eat or to have a beverage at least occasionally?

In other articles we summarize a not very surprising letter from the Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada to President Obama about Canada’s trustworthiness on climate change, an upcoming event called The Six Minute Environmental Lawyer (no, you cannot become an environmental lawyer in six minutes!), and the new Statistics Canada Waste Management Industry Survey.
The first part of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on the Physical Science Basis of Climate Change is expected later this month. This may form the basis for our feature topic in our next issue. Other sections of the IPCC Fifth Assessment report will follow: the Synthesis Report in October, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability in March, and Mitigation of Climate Change in April. Appropriately timed issues will address these reports if we consider their content warrants. If not, our next issues will include discussion of some general environment and sustainable development issues of interest to the business and public interest communities.


It is time to get tough with retail, event and institutional managers who make a pretence of recycling and composting. Recycling bins, composting bins, and food service ware labelled as recyclable or compostable are becoming ubiquitous in quickserve restaurants, food courts, outdoor events, and in hotels and other types of institution yet if one takes a quick look behind the scenes one very often finds that the contents of recycling bins are mixed in with the garbage and that compostable food service ware, cups and plates, go out with the garbage. In many locations the items that are actually intended to be collected for recycling, cans and bottles, are only a very small percentage of the items actually used within the establishment (think especially hot cups but often also cold cups).

In case any of our readers are still confused about this, recycling only works if used packaging and products are sent to a facility where recycling takes place. Slightly less obvious but equally important is that compostable items do not compost in landfills. The environmental benefits only arise if compostable materials are kept separate from the regular garbage stream and sent to a composting facility that is designed to process them properly.

Making false claims of recyclable or compostable on consumer products is an offence of misleading advertising under Canada’s Competition Act but do not expect the federal government to put too much effort into prosecuting offenders, though some effort would be most welcome right now.

GallonLetter suggests that it is time for provinces and municipalities to empower health and bylaw inspectors to enforce regulations against those commercial and institutional establishments who claim to be recycling and composting packaging and products through bins in their establishments but which are not actually doing so. We would suggest heavy fines which go to a dedicated environment fund, to compensate in part for the environmental damage caused by the rubbish that they claimed to be recycling but which actually went to landfill, plus a mandatory sign to be put on all doors or gates to the facility until an effective recycling or composting program is in place: “This facility has been caught claiming to recycle or compost your waste materials when we were not actually doing so. We promise not to get caught a second time because we will compost and recycle.”

Colin Isaacs
Editor, Gallon Environment Letter




From sustainable building materials on the outside of the restaurant to practices for the front of the house such as updated lighting in the bar and asking before serving water in the dining room to back of the house practices such as utilizing more energy efficient appliances, the new initiative called Conserve by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association seeks to sell a sustainability education program. Whatever useful information there might be is mostly unavailable to the public but the Conserve program is linked to a US National Restaurant Association program which freely provides information to both restauranteurs and the public. As is usual with many industry associations with greening programs, CFRA also lobbies against regulations and policy initiatives which might lead to improved conservation but at a cost to their members.

Bright Ideas for Sustainable Best Practices

Tips from presentations at the 2013 National Restaurant Association show in Chicago highlight some of the sustainable best practices which restaurants can incorporate into their operation. Examples include:
  • Collaboration for Local Food: Rick Bayless, owner-operator of Chicago restaurants such as Frontera Grill, developed a no interest loan program to encourage farmers to grow local food with "some kind of Chicago flavour". The farmers repaid the loans with product. The development of the local farms reduced amount of fuel for transport and provided more organic food and also led to more local farmers' markets.
  • Design: Advice is to choose the right equipment, tailoring ventilation and lighting, choosing Energy Star qualified equipment, grouping the hottest appliances under the same vent and designing employee training and work practices such as developing a start-up/shut-down schedule to save energy - not every piece of equipment has to be on all the time.
  • Recycling: Starbucks coffee cups may be the focus of attention, but Jim Hanna, the company's director of environmental impact said recycling is most effective when adjusted to local providers. While cups are most of the packaging waste, packaging waste is only a small part of the company's footprint. NRA and the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute have created the Food Waste Reduction Alliance to reduce food waste and increase donations to food banks. While recycling and composting are seen as good things, as with many of the other socially and environmentally responsible initiatives restaurant operators "must balance being ethically grounded with profitability."
  • Food choices. Brandon Tidwell, Darden Manager of Sustainability, highlighted the challenges of supplying sustainable seafood in times of increasing demand. Darden operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Capital Grille and is developing new supply chains through aquaculture and menus which feature bycatch which would otherwise be wasted.
  • Food waste: Hilton Worldwide operates 2,500 restaurants and bars. Jennifer Silberman, VP of Corporate Responsibility, said the hotel has goals to reduce food waste as well as delivering excess food to soup kitchens, food banks and other community agencies. Food at buffets is particularly vulnerable to being wasted so changes have been made, for example, at buffet breakfasts perishable foods is put out only as needed.
  • ROI on energy and water efficiency can exceed initial spend. For Ted Turner's chain of restaurant Montana Grill, the switch to LED lighting saved more than 3 times the initial investment due to lower electricity bills over two years.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Climate friendlier operations and menus of a Swiss canteen company are intended to provide a model to improve sustainability in the gastronomy sector. The program, One Two We, to serve climate friendlier menus won SV the national Zurich Climate Prize.

SV says its climate-friendly meals are due to a number of factors:
  • evaluating and optimising purchasing, transport, range of food and operations.
  • keeping meat on the menu because of its nutrition and being a "culinary delight" but 1 kg of beef emits 17 kg CO2 so vegetarian alternatives are offered as 1 kg of seasonal veg emits less than 1 kg CO2.
  • preferring seasonal products; air transported foods are served only in rare exceptions
  • offering meals with the ONE Climate logo  several times a week: no air freight, no meat, as few vegetables from heated greenhouse and meals from seasonal ingredients.
A collaboration between the LCA consultancy ESU-services Ltd., the canteen operator SV Group and the WWF in Switzerland resulted in a life cycle study of the environmental impacts of the food purchases of the company. Nutrition accounts for about a third of a Swiss household's greenhouse gas emissions. Several thousand food items were analyzed based on the company's purchasing quantities in order to analyze the environmental impacts of the food supply for the canteen operation. The paper reviewed the GWP (global warming potential) expressed per meal (the total purchases of food divided by total meals delivered in a year). The life cycle includes production, processing, packaging, transport to the canteen and the operation/meal preparation at the canteen.

On average, a meal served in the canteen has a GWP of 4.1 kg CO2-eq. Agriculture production accounts for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions, processing 8%, packaging 2%, transport 5% and operation of the canteen (cooling, cooking, etc) 25%. The GWP of the total food supply used annually is 35% due to meat and poultry, 15% dairy, 14% fresh vegetables and 14% convenience food.

Some improvements in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved by:
  • Reducing the amount of fruit and vegetables grown in heated greenhouses and transported by air. GWP of fruit and vegetable depends on the production, origin and means of transport. For example, fresh broccoli from Switzerland from May to October has 0.6 kg CO2-eq per kg while fresh broccoli grown in heated greenhouses and transported from Spain and Italy has 7.2 kg CO2-eq per kg. Fresh Swiss broccoli frozen for off season use has GWP 0.7 CO2-eq per kg.
  • Optimizing canteen operation includes reducing the amount of food waste and improving energy efficiency (cooling, lighting, cooking and ventilation).
  • Reducing the average quantity of meat per meal by offering vegetarian meals or meals with lower amounts of meat per serving.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The Marine Stewardship Council is conducting a final consultation on its fishery standards to October 26, 2013. Seafood from MSC certified fishery can carry the blue MSC ecolabel.
Although some countries such as the UK have a number of restaurants listed by the MSC as carrying the blue ecolabel, some countries have only a few. In Canada, Bento Sushi is the only restaurant chain listed.

Bento Nouveau Ltd announced in September 2012 that 124 of its restaurants in Loblaw banner stores achieved MSC Chain of Custody Certification making it the largest restaurant chain in North America with such certification which traces seafood products to ensure that the fish is from MSC certified fisheries. Plans are to expand the certification to more Bento Sushi locations bringing the total to 300. The company runs "grab and go" sushi bars in shopping malls, supermarkets and food service facilities with brands Bento, Bento Express and Bento Sushi. "We believe our guests expect we will do the right thing so they can enjoy great tasting and affordable sushi and feel good that their decision to do so is actually helping to support sustainability." said Frank Hennessey, president and CEO, Bento Sushi in the press release last year.

GallonLetter expects that MSC is encountering difficulties because of the criticism that many of the so-called sustainable fisheries aren't sustainable for reasons such as wasteful bycatch or overfishing. As more fish stocks get depleted, alternative stocks are often captured instead and it may look like the alternative stock is in good shape for a while. For example, our dentist sends wellness tips in a newsletter which suggested that squid (calamari) as a good choice for healthy omega-3 fats and "is a good choice environmentally - generally abundant and caught in ways that don't harm the ecosystem." Indeed some fish stock commentators say the squid fishery is intrinsically sustainable because squid reproduce rapidly. Other researchers say that the squid stock is just starting to get more heavily harvested and may not be "immune to the tragedy of the commons." It reminded us of the vignettes on Canadian history featured on television: one was on the discovery of the cod fishery off Newfoundland by Jean Cabot in 1497. Returning to Europe, he says, "fish enough to feed this kingdom (…) until the end of time." In 1992, just about five hundred years later and definitely not the end of time, the Government of Canada announced a moratorium on commercial cod fishing, which reopened again for a few years and then closed again with only faint glimmer of hope for cod stock recovery.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


An FAO report on the commercialization of insects as food identifies several products:
  • Chapulinas or grasshoppers are a common street food as well as being available in small town and more expensive restaurants such as in Mexico e.g. steak with chapulinas sauce. Some grasshoppers may not be safe to eat as they have high levels of lead.
  • Buqadilla a spicy chickpea dish with about 40 percent lesser mealworms is a snack under development for the Dutch market.
  • Cambodian spider, a kind of tarantula, are fried and sold in restaurants in the capital Phnom Penh. The demand is so high that .collection may lead to the spider's extinction although collectors blame farmers for clearing land and destroying the forest habitat.
  • A range of edible insects are sold as street food especially in southern Africa and Southeast Asia where the inexpensive food makes a greater contribution to economic well-being and nutrition than commonly estimated.
Compared to meat for direct consumption by humans or as feed, insects may provide some environmental benefits such as:
  • Insects can help in times of protein shortage as they provide high nutritional value with low emissions of GHGs. If insects replace grains as feed for livestock, then the grain can be used for human food.
  • Insect rearing takes relatively little technical knowledge equipment or land so even very poor people can participate.
  • Insect biomass as feedstock for fish and animals can be combined with sanitizing waste and composting.
  • Sustainable harvesting of insects requires preservation of the habitat encouraging more conservation to enhance the abundance of the insects.
  • Pesticide use could be reduced if some of the insect pests are collected for food or feed.
Even if Western consumers accept the idea of eating insects, there is a lot to be done to set up a regulatory system to ensure the insect biomass is safe, free from contamination and of high and consistent quality. If more insects get transported globally, risks such as threats to biodiversity due to uncontrolled releases of invasive species have to be prevented. Insects are a novel food which require assessment for risks. In some countries, where certain species have been safely used for a long time, a case could be made that the insect is not a novel food.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


What seems a relatively small thing is a stumbling block for restaurants in their efforts towards sustainability. The handling of FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) is an example of how environmental improvements are often achieved (or fail to be achieved) through a combination of factors including technology, policy and regulation. practices and human behaviour. Grease traps which separate the liquid waste stream into sediment (brown grease) which settles to the bottom, fats/oils (yellow grease) which floats and water which flows into the sewers need to be installed and then maintained e.g. pumped out and cleaned; often enough that is a task left undone. The terms grease trap and grease interceptor are sometimes used interchangeably or sometimes the grease trap means a smaller installation under the sink.

Some cities have weak sewer bylaws relating to restaurant grease. For example, Hamilton, Ontario, requires new restaurants to install grease traps under the building code but older restaurants are not required to have them although they are supposed to meet limits of grease in wastewater, something which in practice seems to be difficult to enforce. A recent survey of restaurants in different areas of the city found 40% in one case didn't have functioning grease traps and in another more than 50%. GallonLetter’s editor, involved with sustainable initiatives with some restaurants, has also found that even if there is an installed grease interceptor, some operators dump the grease down a drain not connected to the trap or find other innovative ways to avoid costs associated with using it. Apparently the stories about the London, UK Fatberg (a 15 ton piece of grease the size of a bus blocking a part of the ancient London sewers in August) also makes a good story for the City of Hamilton's environmental enforcement to promote a stronger bylaw requiring all commercial food facilities to install grease traps. Installation per restaurant is estimated to cost up to $3000.

Edmonton Updates Sewer Bylaw

About 200 sewer blockages occur in Edmonton a year mostly due to FOG costing about $1.2 million to keep the sewer clear. Blockages can cause property damage due to wastewater overflow. Improper disposal of FOG can cause physical hazards such as danger of slipping and unclean conditions (insects and rodents, odour) which can jeopardize the food operation's license. This year Edmonton's Drainage Bylaw No 16200 was amended to reduce the oil and grease limit from 800 mg/L to 500 mg/L. Among 21 US and Canadian cities, the old limit of 800 mg/L was the highest limit. A lower limit reduces maintenance cost associated with the sewers. FOG includes food scraps, meat fats, lard, cooking oil, batter and margarine, sauces and more. The bylaw also allows the City Manager to require that food operators comply with a code of practice. The bylaw requires all commercial and institutional food facilities to install and maintain a grease interceptor on all plumbing fixtures that discharge FOG. A guide provides best practices for handling FOG in commercial establishments.

When about 25% of the interceptor's liquid depth is full, a commercial cleaning service or vacuum truck pumps out FOG which must be disposed of to landfill, composter or wastewater treatment plant digester. Yellow grease e.g. used for frying food, is recyclable. There is a CSA Standard B481.4-07 Maintenance of Grease Traps which does not recommend chemical agents, enzymes, bacteria, solvents, hot water or other agents to flush FOG through the interceptor.

 Various practices to keep a FOG-Free Kitchen, in which staff should be trained, can reduce the load of waste on the interceptor and "green the drain" including:
  • Wipe off oils, salad dressing before rinsing or washing dishes and discard in designated waste containers
  • Don't flush solid food down the drain but put in trash e.g. leftovers from plates, coffee ground, tea leaves
  • Use a strainer on the drainer to prevent solids from going down the drain
  • Scrape solid grease from exhaust systems into waste containers
  • Oily and greasy water should be disposed of only through the interceptor not an outside drain which flows directly into the river
  • Floor drains should be connected to the interceptor and have strainers. Both drain and strainer should be cleaned regularly
  • Use up cleaning products; don't pour them down the drain.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


"It was not that long ago when restaurants actually paid to have their used cooking oil (UCO) picked up and "disposed of". Now those restaurants have competition from aggregators to not only collect their UCO, but to get paid for the collection." wrote Nate Burka, risk manager at FCStone which provides financing for feedstock for biodiesel plants, in the US-based Biodiesel Magazine this summer. Biodiesel processing technologies are available to produce biodiesel entirely from grease and fats. It is a lot simpler to collect vegetable oil from soybeans than from fats; as long as the crops are good, vegetable oils will likely be used to fill increased demand for biodiesel but the gap in price between fats and soybean is closing with fats less discounted than they used to be.

The Canadian Renewable Fuels Association web site says that when biodiesel is made from waste feedstock such as cooking grease, the positive net energy ratio is 14.5 units of fuel for every unit of energy consumed. A number of biodiesel plants in Canada have the capacity to use multiple feedstocks including yellow grease.

The Canadian federal government apparently is not intending to expand the federal biofuel mandate for fuels which is ethanol at 5% and biodiesel at 2% but production of biodiesel in Canada is currently insufficient to meet the mandate. One of the larger biodiesel plants, run by Biox Corporation in Hamilton, Ontario, has capability to use fats for producing biodiesel but shut down for some time. It used to send most of its biodiesel to the US but a recent agreement with Shell to meet the Canadian biodiesel mandate is said by Biox to redirect its production to Ontario and Quebec.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Food waste associated with home gardening may create so much guilt that it may stop home food growers in their tracks. Although we support local farm products, one thing GallonLetter's editor doesn't frequent much is local restaurants. As soon as we are closer to home, the "Restaurant at Home" is the one that exerts the pull. In season, which is extended with an unheated glasshouse, we go out and pick some ingredients for many meals, from winter kale, spring asparagus and rhubarb, through summer herbs, lettuce and beans, to fall vegetable squash, tomatoes, pears and apples.

Despite our neglectful approach to food growing which occurs in the midst of a wilderness yard, nature too often produces a bounty requiring more time than we have. Some food such as onions, potatoes, garlic and winter squash are relatively easily picked or dug up and stored. Once stored they tend to keep. But when soft fruit trees like plums and sour cherries produce a full tree each, tiny zucchini grow seemingly overnight to behemoths and multiple litres of tomatoes have to be picked multiple times per week, avoiding food spoilage including sharing with often unwilling recipients runs against the barrier of available time and space.

So we confess to food waste: food scavenged by birds, insects and other animals, some of the crops overrun by weeds, food never harvested and food thrown into the compost heap because it is too tough, too gnarly, too bug eaten, or starting to spoil, posing a risk of spoiling the rest (the source of that saying about one rotten apple spoiling the barrel). How guilty we should feel may depend on the unknown lifecycle impact of our annual home gardening compared to purchasing food from the various sources available to us in materials, energy and pollution. Perhaps one indicator can serve as a proxy and that is the growing friability of the challenging clay soil and its ability to produce this bounty. So sometimes we feel guilty but not much.


Compared to other rich nations including Canada, the US has a "health disadvantage". according to the report Shorter Lives, Poorer Health by the US National Research Council. While government policies have tended towards the freedom of the market, "personal responsibility" and deregulation, many system factors such as health care, social inequalities, the built environment and community design, violence and firearms, the focus on the automobile, the sorting of people into socio-economic, race and ethnic groupings and environmental exposures such as air pollution form an interconnected circle of impacts. Impacts may occur later in the course of an individual's life resulting in chronic disease or death and may affect generations. For example, poor children have risks such as poor nutrition but also have exposure to lead, allergens and other pollutants which are disadvantages to their economic well-being as well, then in their adult life they have to deal with poverty which in turn affects their children. Health impacts result from many "nonhealth" policies related to agriculture, transportation, land use, energy, housing and other conditions relating to the environment.

In relation to this GallonLetter's theme of restaurants, examples of some of the factors leading to shorter lives in the US compared to other countries include:
  • patterns of food consumption due to the agri-food industry, grocery stores and restaurants. Food intake by Americans is influenced by "mass production and marketing of cheap calorie-dense foods and large portion sizes." creating an "obesogenic" environment affecting all US residents."
  • traditional environmental factors in the physical environment such as harmful substances interacting with related health resources such as healthy or unhealthy food, recreation and the built environment affecting large groups of people where they live and work. Unhealthy food also interacts with personal stressors such as long hours of work without enough physical activity. Traffic congestion adds to the work day so that people resort to fast food restaurants because they feel there isn't enough time for more healthy meals.
  • more drive-in or drive to restaurants. Design of communities for the automobile means more injuries and fatalities due to traffic accidents. Poor road maintenance, less use of seatbelts and less enforcement of traffic violations such as speeding and drunk driving contribute to more harm. A positive circle of influence could also result: e.g. walkability means more people walk and that then promotes more walkability in urban design and community planning.
  • dietary options on cafeteria menus and in vending machines in workplaces, schools and community centres also affect health outcomes. Close proximity to unhealthy food e.g. food stores and restaurants is linked to chronic diseases. The more alcohol retail outlets the more alcohol related health complications including injury due to violence.
  • other countries also have fast food restaurants but the type of restaurant e.g. take out may not identify the differences in the foods actually available to consumers.
  • advertising of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods may influence choices so that these become the social norm even though they have negative health impacts
  • high consumption of unhealthy ingredients: fat, sugar, salt. For example, high fructose corn syrup. In 1950 there was 0 consumption which rose to 63.8 pounds per capita in 2000. This was not by consumer demand although the food industry likes to say that it is only filling consumer demand.
  • strong industry lobbying e.g. to avoid taxation of carbonated beverages and to prevent regulation of products posing major health risks e.g. tobacco.
Some of the actions that businesses including restaurants could take include
  • help people recognize and make healthy food and beverage choices
  • use marketing to promote healthful diets for children and youth
  • increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reduce sodium and calories from solid fats and added sugar
  • provide worksite and other access to lactating mothers and their babies
  • enhance food safety to prevent pathogens transmitted through food
  • enhance programs to increase safety and prevent injury at work
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


"The average restaurant today spends thousands of dollars printing menus each year. Thousands of more dollars are spent on a POS (point of sale) and kitchen order management systems." says the Tech Tips and Toys blog of Ion Security based in Edmonton, Alberta. The article explores how use of an IPad or tablet can be used for menu and other lists such as wine and be integrated into the ordering and payment systems. Although the cost could be high, the benefits of digital menus include:
  • reduce food waste. When there is an excess of fish or other food that might spoil fast, add a feature to the digital menu or a special to promote sales of this menu item.
  • reduce waste of printed menus and signage which often is replaced multiple times a year GallonLetter notes that someone might need to evaluate to what extent discarding more electronic waste is better or worse for environmental impacts than discarding printed menus which some restaurants don't change that often.
Apparently some Canadian restaurants are using digital menus although GallonLetter's editor has only seen digital menus used once out of the country - in a chain hotel restaurant. The digital menu design was poor as the customer had to keep clicking to get to the actual item through various groups such as Specials, Entrees, Fish Dishes, etc. Some of the other customers were unfamiliar with tablets and possibly computers and were unhappy about the digital menu being the only option. Also we were worried about damaging the tablet with water and food already on the table, which tends not to be a concern with plastic coated menus. Curiously, something we hardly ever think of with printed menus, one of our diners asked "How does this tablet get cleaned?" if the previous diner handled it with contaminated hands.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A sustainability plan for the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, which serves as education facility and fine dining restaurant, highlights many of the issues related to sustainable restaurants. The plan also uses information from other higher education initiatives including the University of Guelph Sustainable Restaurant Project. Among the topics are certification. Examples are
  • LEAF (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice). As well as a site visit, there are ten areas including food purchasing and menu items, furnishings and decorative items, and chemicals. LEAF provides three levels.
  • Green Restaurant Association. This audits seven areas including: disposables, chemical and pollution reduction, sustainable food and sustainable furnishings and building materials. 100 points must be achieved in the first year and every year, the number must increase. 2 Star GRA is 100 points and 4 Star is 300 points.
GallonLetter notes the UK Sustainable Restaurant Association ( has extended its rating globally. There are 14 key focus area including sourcing (fair trade, environmentally positive farming), environment (supply chain, workplace resources), and society (treating people fairly, healthy eating, responsible marketing):

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In his February 2013 State of the City speech, New York City Mayor Bloomberg said that as well as successfully addressing many issues such as recovering from the "most devastating natural disaster in our entire history", poverty, increasing life expectancy, big economic and community renewal projects, reduced incarceration rates, New York City has become "an international leader on green growth and climate change". With only 320 days left in his mandate, one of his green goals is doubling the city's recycling rate to 30% by 2017 by recycling more plastics, putting 1000 new recycling containers on the street, a new solar and wind powered recycling facility, and a pilot curbside food waste composting project on Staten Island with possibility of expansion citywide. And something which has generated pushback from the chemical industry which has garnered support from what is said to be thousands of NYC restaurants, a ban on polystyrene foam (commonly known as Styrofoam though that is a trademarked name). Bloomberg said, "Now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it's not just terrible for the environment. It's terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed." and committed to working to adopt a law to ban Styrofoam (TM) food packaging from stores and restaurants.

The New York City proposed ban on polystyrene foam foodservice product will double costs for alternative replacements for restaurants and cost New York State economic loss due to impacts on production and sales of plastic foam foodservice and drink containers according to a study posted on the don't-ban-polystyrene-in-NYC campaign web site organized by The American Chemistry Council, an industry group. Sales of polystyrene are estimated to be $97.1 million. ACC is rallying restaurant owners in an alliance sometimes described as "grassroots" to oppose the ban.. The campaign seeks to have polystyrene recycled rather than banned. GallonLetter notes that like in New York City which doesn't accept polystyrene in its recycling collection quite a number of municipal recycling programs in Canada do not accept polystyrene foam of any kind whether for containers or packaging while others accept it for not only food containers but also other larger sized polystyrene packaging such as that used for protecting computers and other products.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Local food is the theme of the PEIAdapt, (a federal, provincial and agri-food industry funding program) Taste Our Island Award for restaurants. The award's criteria includes:
  • the restaurant clearly promotes the use of local products on menus and in the restaurant e.g the 2012 winner The Inn at Bay Fortune (see below) included the name of its local suppliers in almost all the descriptions of each menu dish.
  • the restaurant identifies individual farmers or suppliers with details of the relationship between restaurant and farmers. The purpose of this is to talk to customers about the benefits of using local Island produce.
  • promote local produce used in the restaurant e.g. internet, newspaper, radio or TV ads
  • provide health-promoting food including avoidance of deep fried foods, more emphasis on fresh and whenever possible note organic, pesticide-free or gmo free usage.
  • show commitment to ongoing support of a local and sustainable food system
  • note challenges overcome to provide local foods e.g. growing your own or seeking out suppliers
  • indicate support for farmers to use all parts of the animal not just the prime parts of the carcass.
Last year's PEI's Taste Our Island Award (2012) winner, Inn At Bay Fortune, describes on its web site how it is close to its ingredients, connected to the local fishery and rural PEI with the motto from farm to the table: "Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in the backwoods or picking wild watercress in a stream nearby the inn before evening service, you have access to the freshest ingredients available. Much of our produce is grown right here at the Inn or picked up at the Farmers Market in Charlottetown. Our chicken, pork and lamb are raised to our specification on nearby farms and fresh seafood arrives in the kitchen daily from local fishers."

Millions of people have travelled to Prince Edward Island to experience that figment-of-the-imagination called Anne of Green Gables, a character in a series of novels by Prince Edward Island writer Lucy Maud Montgomery first published in 1908. This large audience is supplemented by others who also enjoy the nature of the seaside and countryside, theatre, festivals and other events and of course culinary attractions of this island now connected to the mainland by an engineering achievement, the Confederation Bridge with a length of 12.9 km, not the longest bridge in the world but the longest over ice covered water.

Local Food and History: PEI Potato Museum

Potatoes are extensively grown on the red soil of Prince Edward Island (or as the late Stompin' Tom Connors sang, "Bud the Spud from the bright red mud ... And they're from Prince Edward Island"), geologically formed hundreds of millions of years ago from sediment eroded from the Appalachian mountains in the south. The Canadian Potato Museum has a feature which is much more recent and seems to be obligatory in tourism these days: a giant potato 14 ft high and 7 feet in diameter made of fibreglass at the museum entrance.

While somewhat uncritical of the potato industry which may be digging itself trouble by such large scale planting of a single crop, the museum presents a great story of the origin of the potato, its introduction to various parts of the world including PEI, varieties of potatoes, a machinery gallery showing the changes from hand sowing and picking into baskets to mechanical planting and harvesting, the people and leaders involved in developing the industry, marketing and exporting. Of course, the success of these potato farms is the ability to market and export the potatoes around the world so the crop is no longer local there. And at the end of the self-guided tour, one can buy potato fudge and souvenirs and enjoy potato-based food in the restaurant including potato soup and potato scones. Visitors can also sign up for a more expensive and involving culinary experience called Spuds, Fudge and Tales Farm Tours including a potato-based lunch, making potato fudge and visiting a potato farm to talk with a potato farmer.

The Inn at Bay Fortune. Chef Domenic Serio. Prince Edward Island

PEI Potato Museum. Spuds, Fudge & Tales Farm Tours
and other information about the Museum

Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council To All 2013 “Taste Our Island” Participating Restaurant Owners and Chefs, Judging criteria.


Tim Hortons seems to be almost everywhere in Canada and, except for certain issues such as litter and traffic/idling at drive-throughs, is generally regarded as highly positive by many Canadians who willingly line up and wait for service and willingly clear tables with accumulated debris from previous customers without a murmur. The restaurants are often seen as adding value whether for the takeout caffeine and food as a morning ritual or for breaking a journey, as a meeting place for business discussion, or social gathering of seniors or friends. As of December 30, 2012, Tim Horton's had 4,264 restaurants 3,436 of them in Canada.

In April 2013, Tim Hortons opened its first LEED(R) certified restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario resulting in water, energy and material savings as well as reduced toxic emissions e.g. floor tile grout, sealants and adhesives are classified as low volatile organic compound. Millwork is done locally from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.


In 2012, only around half (52%) of Tim Horton's restaurants had recycling programs for bottles, cans & cardboard, although this was an 8% increase in the number of restaurants compared to 2011. Only 26% (850 restaurants) had hot beverage cup and paper recycling (up by 7% compared to 2011) and only 15% (479 restaurants) recycled organic waste (up from 5% in 2011). Some restauants recycled only coffee grounds; other recycled both coffee grounds and food waste. Goals for 2016 are for widespread recycling of bottles, cans and cardboard and to increase the number of restaurants engaging in paper recycling (including paper cups) and organic waste by 20%.

One of the ways to reduce cup waste is the incentive to get a ten cent discount on the coffee when the consumer brings in a travel mug and to encourage the use of china mugs and plates for in-restaurant consumption.

Animal Welfare

Last year, editor of Solid Waste and Recycling Magazine, Guy Crittenden said he was personally going to boycott Tim Hortons. He suggested that he has been edging toward a Tim Hortons boycott for a number of reasons including:
  • nutrition: too much sugary sweet and carb-based food as well as the caffeine drinks.
  • while the company was taking some recycling and composting steps, these are baby steps.
But what put Crittenden "really over the top" was Tim Hortons resistance to animal welfare such as gestation crates for pigs. These are metal stalls which prevents a sow from lying down (meant to prevent the mother from killing the piglets accidentally illustrating that saying about good intentions) and are part of other unpleasant living conditions for pigs and piglets. Apparently in April 2012, Tim Hortons wasn't making any promises about its commitment for alternative housing systems except to engage its suppliers.

In an interview in June 2013, Tim Faveri, Tim Hortons’ Director of Sustainability & Responsibility. said that customers were showing "a much greater interest in their food - not only where it comes from but what's in it". On animal welfare issues, he commented on "just how quickly animal welfare has really come to the forefront."

Tim Hortons has committed to phasing out purchase of pork raised using gestation crates for sows but not for a long time (by 2022) and will purchase 10% of eggs from more humane alternative hen housing system by the end of 2013: that's somewhat more than 10 million eggs. One of the challenges of standards identified for the pork supply chain is tracking where the meat comes from and verifying it meets the codes and standards.

GallonLetter's editor used to volunteer for a day at the Norfolk fall fair for a number of years at the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario booth. Organic certification has clear elements for animal welfare and some of the organic farmers would gnash their teeth because the EFAO booth was very near to a gestation crate and a stack of chicken cages with live animals. Many people brought children who rushed over with delight to see the sow and ever-so-cute piglets in the crate and the chickens laying eggs in their cages. We certainly didn't encounter many of the public over the years who had any idea that there were animal welfare issues related to the crate and cage show.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


"Mr. President, I urge you not to accept insincere offers from Mr. Harper. His actions have demonstrated his real position on climate change. I don't believe for a moment that he is serious about acting on climate change and neither should you.", so closes an open letter by John Bennett, the Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada about Prime Minister's Harper offer to enter into bilateral efforts to deal with climate change in order to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved.

Bennett details the abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol and cancelling of other climate change initiatives, the "assault on environmental groups", the rescinding of environmental oversight and protection or lakes and rivers, the muzzling of interveners who understand environmental issues in environmental assessment, the dropping of projects requiring environmental assessment and the gagging of federal scientists.

Bennett, John. Open Letter to President Obama . Sierra Club Canada September 9, 2013.


A professional development course in Toronto October 9, 2013 under the auspices of the Law Society of Upper Canada reviews legislation and case law developments related to contaminated land, environmental claims, hydraulic fracking and many other issues. The annual program called The Six Minute Environmental Lawyer is intended for environmental lawyers and is chaired by Donna Shier, Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers. Because each presentation is very short, officially 8 minutes rather than 6 minutes, the time from 9 am to 12 pm is packed full. Examples are:
  • Eric Gillespie, Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation on Update on Wind Appeals
  • David McRobert, Barrister and Solicitor on Controversies over Environmental Producer Responsibility, "Eco Fees" and Missed Diversion Targets
  • Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario on Environmental Bill of Rights - Introduction and Opportunities for Engagement
  • Jonathan Kahn, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP on Environmental Due Diligence for Lenders
  • Michael Fortier, Torys LLP on When will the Courts Award Damages for Environmental Concerns (Biskey)
  • John Willms on Dealing with Your Environmental Consultant
GallonLetter thinks that while one always has to be careful to avoid encouraging practitioners to leap to superficial conclusions, the idea of this course is an approach to environmental education which shows that the range of topics is broad. This concept of broadening the view combined with the expert opinion could be valuable for business leaders as well.

Law Society of Upper Canada. The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2013. October 9 2013


 Statistics Canada released its Waste Management Industry Survey which deals with services (the collection and transportation of wastes and of materials destined for recycling, the operation of non-hazardous waste disposal facilities, and the operation of transfer stations) and the financial and employment statistics for businesses and local governments involved with waste management services.

Some observations are:
  • total waste disposal in Canada was 24.8 million tonnes in 2010 down by 4% since 2008.
  • waste disposal per capita was 729 kg down by 6.2% from 2008. Alberta had the highest waste disposal per capita at 1,052 kg and Nova Scotia the lowest at 389 with others below the national average: BC 587 kg, New Brunswick 631 kg , Ontario 699 kg
  • slightly more than a third of waste (37%) for disposal came from residential sources in 2010. This was 9.3 million tonnes in 2010, down by 1% from 2008 but up by 3% from 2002. Per capita residential waste was 271 kg per person down by 3% from 2008. qnp22
  • non-residential waste was just under two-thirds of total non-hazardous waste (63%) in 2010. This was 15.6 million tonnes in 2010, down by 6% from 2008. Per capita non-residential waste was 458 kg per person in 2010.
  • diverted materials per capita for Canada was 236 kg. BC had the best rate at 322 kg with others doing better than the national average were Quebec 296 kg and Nova Scotia 281kg.
  • the national diversion rate of all materials is 24.5%. Nova Scotia was the best with a diversion rate of 42%. The other provinces with a better than the national rate were BC at 35.4 % and Quebec at 28.7 %
  • diversion of residential material through recycling and composting from residential sources was 4.5 million tonnes in 2010, increasing by 5% since 2008
  • diversion of non-residential material for recycling and composting was 3.6 million tonnes down by 11% since 2008
  • overall diversion through recycling and composting was 8.1 million tonnes, down by 3% since 2008 due to less non-residential diversion.
  • most of the material diverted was paper fibre (40%) at 3.2 million tonnes, organic material (27%) at 2.2 million and metals (12%) at 950,410 tonnes. Electronics recycling is increasing to 39,036 tonnes in 2010.
  • governments had operating revenues of $2.3 billion for waste management services in 2010 and expenditures of $2.9 billion.
  • Canadian businesses had operating revenues of $6 billion and expenditure of just under $5 billion.
  • for both government and business, full time workers total about 32,000
Statistics Canada. Environment Accounts and Statistics Division. Environmental Protection Accounts and Surveys. Waste Management Industry Survey: Business and Government Sectors. 2010. Catalogue no. 16F0023X August 2013.


If you enjoy Gallon Environment Letter or find it useful for your work or interests, may we recommend the GallonDaily report. Found at , GallonDaily provides short articles and reports on topics of particular interest to green businesses. One article appears almost every day Monday to Friday - we recommend visiting at least once a week. Our real enthusiasts can also sign up for email notification as new articles are posted.
Recent topics include:
  • IISD report blames Europe for tropical forest destruction
  • Ireland environmental group calls for levy on paper shopping bags
  • World Bank report: ‘Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All’
  • G20 environment & sustainable development commitments
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation: “timing is everything”
  • Premature deaths from air pollution total 50% of premature deaths from smoking
  • France acts to reduce light pollution and associated GHG emissions
  • Distributed wind power taking off in USA
  • Report identifies challenges in North American energy and environment policy
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  • California NGO launches lawsuit over cancer risk in personal care products
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