Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 16, No. 4, July 28, 2011
Honoured Reader Edition

This is the honoured reader edition of the Gallon Environment Letter and is distributed at no charge: send a note with Add GL or Delete GL in the subject line to Subscribers receive a more complete edition without subscription reminders and with extensive links to further information following almost every article. Organizational subscriptions are $184 plus HST nd provide additional benefits detailed on the web site. Individual subscriptions are only $30 (personal emails/funds only please) including HST. If you would like to subscribe please visit If you feel you should be receiving the paid subscriber edition or have other subscriber questions please contact us also at This current free edition is posted on the web site about a week or so after its issue at  Back free editions from January 2009 are also available.

This issue we look at disposal of kitchen waste into the municipal sewers: the infamous food waste disposer (InSinkErator is a trade mark of Emerson Electric Co. and, like so many terms that have crept into common usage, should not be used as a generic description). There are arguments on both sides as to whether the municipal sewers should be used as a mechanism for transporting food waste to a treatment facility. We will leave it to the reader to decide whether or not food waste disposers are a green solution. Emerson's take on it is at Send a Letter to the Editor to and share your thoughts. We will print a selection of those received.

Prompted by a recent City of Toronto core services review, our editorial considers whether consulting firms should offer sustainability solutions to some clients but not to others. Research on endocrine disrupting substances in the Great Lakes carried out at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre in Ontario has won a scientist an award for a scientific paper. Others, like Eric Haites and Peter Victor, are being recognized for their environment-related efforts. Alberta has funding available for clean energy technologies. Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility are being updated. We bring you the interesting details. David Brooks brings his always interesting comments, this time on "peak phosphorous", and Philip Thompson brings ten basic principles for sustainable and effective wind energy development. We welcome submissions like these.

Summer is time for fringe theatre festivals. GallonLetter visited the Toronto Fringe but could not find many plays with a green theme. We review the one which we think is relevent to environmental thinking. A recent article in Nature includes the gloomy concept that we humans may be hard wired to avoid dealing with the big issues of the planet. However, the author does suggest a partial solution.

In our next issue we will be updating our coverage of corporate environmental reporting with a look at some recently published corporate environmental, sustainability and social responsibility reports.

GallonDaily is our new regular environmental commentary letter available at
Among recent almost daily (Monday - Friday) topics are:
  • Statistics on a Warming World
  • Race for largest photovoltaic roof installation
  • Quebec consults on draft Cap and Trade Regulation
  • Measuring Power Outages
  • Carbon Capture on hold at large US utility


The City of Toronto recently retained consulting firm KPMG to undertake an external review of City services to determine whether each service is core or discretionary and to review the opportunities for the City to make changes. As far as we can determine, KPMG did what was asked of them. However, our reading of the reports that have been made public by the City of Toronto has provided no indication at all that KPMG considered the impact of the options presented on Sustainable Development of the City, of Ontario, or of Canada. Indeed, rather than finding efficiencies, many of the KPMG suggestions would, if implemented, serve only to increase environmental damage or harm to public health and welfare or to transfer costs to another level of government, to business, or to families.

KPMG was one of the very early leaders in offering a Sustainable Development consulting service. It claimed to recognize the strong link between economy and environment and its brochures from the day promoted the benefits to society as a whole of viewing corporate and governmental activities through a Sustainable Development lens. Even today, KPMG offers its clients Sustainability Advisory services.

As GallonLetter perceives things, however, a KPMG client only gets Sustainability Advisory services if it asks for them. Apparently the City of Toronto did not ask for Sustainability Advisory services so it did not get them.

GallonLetter respectfully suggests that this is not good enough. If a company has incorporated Sustainable Development into its modus operandi, then Sustainable Development must be delivered as a component of every project. Today, aspects of Sustainable Development should be as important a component of consulting projects as economics, legal requirements, and engineering. It seems that, assuming KPMG is a leader, the consulting industry still has a long way to go in embracing Sustainability in the way that international agencies promoting Sustainable Development intend. Sustainable Development is not an add-on but a necessary component of everything that we do. If consultants do not see it that way, the offering of Sustainable Development as an add-on service at the discretion of the client is nothing short of aiding and abetting greenwashing.

The KPMG reports are on the City of Toronto web page but are not easy to find. We suggest using a search engine with the term City of Toronto Core Services Review. The report covering waste and recycling (but not the Sustainability of these programs!) is at
and the report covering Parks and Recreation and Environment (but not through a Sustainable Development lens) is at
In April 2011, the City of London, Ontario, announced an initiative called W.I.P.E. (Washing Initiative to Protect the Environment) for restaurant and food service establishments but the advice on food waste is also directed at homes.
Fats, oils and grease (FOG) cause 40% of the sewer main blockages in London. The result is that the City spends $600,000 a year flushing out the sewers. W.I.P.E. is intended to keep both FOG and solid food waste from the sewer.
The press release says that it costs the City $400 a ton to remove and treat food waste at the Wastewater Treatment Facility and only a fraction of that for composting.
If all the 2,500 restaurant and food preparation locations in London throw out 1 kg of food waste a day, this amounts to 1,000 tonnes of food waste a year and costs the city $365,000.
Best management practices include not using the sink for garbage disposal:
  • Dispose of no solid or liquid food including milkshakes or greases.
  • Scrape from plate and utensils into food recycling bin or garbage.
  • Put milkshake syrup, condiments, batters and gravy into trash or food recycling bin.
  • Place fryer or cooking grease into grease recycling container
  • Use sink basket strainers to collect food residue and dispose of in trash
Restaurants are required to have a grease trap which is a container under the sink which separates oil/grease and solids from entering the sewers system. The trap must be an appropriate size and must be regularly cleaned.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
In-sink food waste disposal manufacturers have been active in opposing bans on sink disposals into the sewer system and promoting these as environmentally friendly, diverting waste from landfill. Many municipalities especially those who have lower level of wastewater treatment or who have little excess capacity in sewage treatment plants try to keep additional sources of suspended solids and waste loads out of their facilities (see separate article on Food Waste Not Down the Sink). Whether disposing of food waste into sewage treatment plants is good or bad may depend on local conditions not to mention how many households/businesses use in-sink disposal.
US EPA: Food Waste to Wastewater Treatment Facilities Has Benefits If...
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the disposal of food waste through the sewers has benefits if the treatment plant has anaerobic digestion technology, a process in which bacteria break down organic material in the absence of oxygen and produce methane for biogas. This is a fairly common process in sewage treatment plants in the US but adding food waste began only a few years ago. Benefits include:
  • Methane capture at the facility can prevent methane releases from landfill where the food waste usually goes. Using the methane at the wastewater treatment plant can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing on-site renewable power, reducing energy costs..
  • The treatment facility can charge a tipping fee for the food waste further reducing energy costs.
  • Food waste is the second largest category of waste streams going to landfill; diverting it to the sewage treatment plant reduces the need for landfill space. 97% of food waste ends up in landfill currently.
Because food waste is readily biodegradable, most of it will degrade (86-90%) so even large quantities will add relatively little to residuals. Food waste is expected to have up to three times the energy potential of biosolids. (376 cubic metres of gas/ton of food waste compared to 120 cubic metres of gas/ton of biosolids).
The location of wastewater treatment plants near urban areas is seen as another benefit: the organic waste doesn't have to go very far and the residual in much lower amounts can be shipped to composting facilities which are usually further away from cities.
Cost of investing in this type of technology is often seen by municipalities are a barrier. As well as infrastructure grants, another option is performance contracting in which a private company supplies the investment which is paid for with energy savings achieved by the municipality.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
The Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment CCME's consultation on a Canada-wide Approach for the Management of Wastewater Biosolids ends July 30, 2011.
Information in the materials provided outlines municipal biosolids use, management options and considerations and benefits of developing a Canada-wide approach. A review of greenhouse gas emissions related to municipal biosolids management is also part of the consultation. The materials made available and the consultation is intended to develop a policy statement, supporting principles and guidance document for the management of biosolids across Canada.
Disposal or Beneficial Use
Options are disposal or what is said to be beneficial use. Disposal include landfilling or incinerating without energy recovery. Beneficial use options capitalize on the nutrient and organic matter value of the municipal biosolids for use in: agricultural land fertilization or soil amendment, forest fertilization, land reclamation, composting, development of soil products and energy production.
Management of Biosolids
Whether the use is beneficial may also depend on the quality of the municipal biosolids, the treatment process, and the jurisdiction where the municipal biosolids are to be used. Factors that need to be considered in the effective management of municipal biosolids include:
  • "odour management
  • municipal biosolids quality – trace elements, nutrients, pathogens, emerging substances of concern (e.g pharmaceuticals and personal care products)
  • suitability of the land applications site (e.g., soil quality prior to municipal biosolids
  • applications and proximity to sensitive water resources)
  • transportation logistics – number of transport vehicles required, availability of access roads
  • buffer distances (e.g., distance of the proposed land application of municipal biosolids from specified features such as water resources, roads and neighbouring landowners)
  • social considerations (e.g. for example, proximity of proposed land applications to residences and community facilities, and marketability of some municipal biosolids products)."
Supporting Principles
The four principles are:
1. Municipal biosolids contain valuable nutrients and organic matter that can be recycled.
For example, biosolids can supply nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus and organic matter, which are wasted if the material is landfilled or combusted without energy and ash recovery. Phosphorus is a limited non-renewable resource that should be recycled from municipal biosolids.
2. Adequate source reduction and treatment of municipal sludge, and treated septage should effectively reduce pathogens, vector attraction, odours and substances of concern in municipal biosolids.
3. Beneficial use of municipal sludge and treated septage should minimize the net greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) resulting from treatment processes or municipal biosolids use.
Examples are: Land application reduces the need for fertilizer. Avoiding landfilling reduces methane gas releases from landfill sites. Some methods of treating sewage increase methane production such as anaerobic digestion; these processes should use methane capture methods.
4. Beneficial uses and sound management practices of municipal biosolids and treated septage must adhere to all applicable safety, quality and management standards and regulations.
Source Control: Weak Link
One of the four principles relates to source control, "Source control is the first step in producing high quality residuals. Reducing or eliminating the input of trace elements/heavy metals, organic contaminants, and emerging substances of concern into the wastewater stream will reduce or eliminate their presence in residuals."
Preventing toxic chemicals entering the wastewater stream is also the weakest link. Business and consumers dump things down the sewers ending up in the sludge. Consumers might soon start asking their food suppliers whether they can certify that the land source has had no sludge applied. Organic certification provides that promise because sewage sludge is banned on organically certified crops.
Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment CCME. Consultation on Draft Canada-wide Approach for the Management of Wastewater Biosolids. May 30, 2011 - July 30, 2011.
The Director of the International Joint Commission's Great Lakes Regional Office, Dr. Saad Jasim, and co-authors recently won the International Ozone Association's Harvey Rosen Award for 2009-2010. The award made by the Editorial Board of the scientific journal as given for the best paper published in Ozone: Science & Engineering (OS&E) in the specified two-years.
The Paper: Reducing Unwilling Medication/contaminants from Drinking Water
Trace concentrations of endocrine-disrupting compounds EDCs and pharmaceuticals and personal care products PPCPs have been found globally in aquatic environment mostly released through sewage effluent and agricultural runoff. Everyday products, industrial processes and drugs for humans and animals are used in such large amounts that there is a continuous flow of these chemicals into natural water systems. Conventional sewage treatment only removes some of them. As well as health impacts on wildlife such as feminization of fish and kidney failure in vultures, studies have identified human health effects such as early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys. Other studies have disputed these links between hormone disrupting chemicals and human health. Despite the debate, the authors say that the goal should be to have the least exposure of these chemicals through drinking water.
Their study done at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre in Walkerton, Ontario spiked raw Lake Huron water with 9 target compounds at specified concentrations: atrazine (pesticide) , carbamazepine and fluoxetine (anti-depressants), gemfibrozil and atorvastatin (lipid regulators e.g. cholesterol regulators ), Bisphenol A (plasticizer), diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen (analgesics). All of these compounds are used in large quantities. Of the nine compounds, six were not detected in the raw drinking water (based on being present in at least 4 samples). Three chemicals: atrazine, carbamazepine, and fluoxetine were detected in at least four raw water samples.
Lake Huron supplies water to many communities but there is limited data on how well water treatment removes EDCs and PPCPs. Conventional wastewater treatment processes tend not to remove these compounds. The study reported that a process called advanced oxidation process AOP (ozonation with hydrogen peroxide) removed more than conventional treatments. The study details the treatment and the effects on the detection levels of the nine compounds. Some interesting conclusions were:
  • Non-detection of compounds doesn't mean safety. A compound at below detection levels in the water might have been transformed in the human body or afterwards into harmful contaminants.
  • Detection of compounds doesn't equate with health risks. The chemicals found tended to be at trace levels.
  • The presence of atrazine in Lake Huron drinking water sources is of concern as it is a widely used compound particularly resistant to treatment and it is expected it will find its way into the lower Great Lakes.
  • The raw water samples were taken from a single location over 8 months. Different locations in the lake may produce different samples which may also vary by seasons.
  • While AOP was effective in significant removal of some compounds, it was not so effective for atrazine and ibuprofen,
  • The treatment process may have toxicological effects but these have not been researched in this study.
International Joint Commission. Great Lakes Regional Office Director Shares Prestigious Award. News Release July 8, 2011.
Rahman, Mohammad Feisal and Earnest K. Yanful, Saad Y. Jasim, Leslie M. Bragg, Mark R. Servos, Souleymane Ndiongue and Devendra Borikar. Advanced Oxidation Treatment of Drinking Water: Part I. Occurrence and Removal of Pharmaceuticals and Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds from Lake Huron Water. Ozone: Science & Engineering. Vol. 32 Issue 4. 2010 pp 217- 229. [subscription]
Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation has announced a call for expressions of interest for funding available to small and medium companies (less than 250 employees) for conservation and efficiency, greening energy production, and carbon capture and storage projects. The fund is $10 million dollars. The application has to be in Alberta but team members can be from elsewhere.
Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation CCEMC begun in 2009 is arms-length but funded by the Alberta Ministry of the Environment from monies paid by companies which failed to meet the province's greenhouse gas reduction targets. Since 2007, Alberta companies producing more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions have been legally required to reduce their greenhouse gas intensity by 12% or they can instead choose to pay $15 per tonne into the CCEMC fund. CCEMC has a mandate to fund initiatives to reduce GHG emissions. So far, CCEMC has announced support for 27 projects with a total project value of more than $630 million. CCEMC says its funding leverage is about 4 to 1: for every dollar CCEMC contributes another $4 is invested. GHG emissions reductions are expected to be 23 megatonnes over 10 years.
Some of the recent funding announcements for pilot and small-scale clean energy projects made by the CCEMC relate to the theme for this issue of GallonLetter, dealing with organic wastes. One is discussed briefly here.
Biorefinex Canada Inc. Lacombe Biorefinery
CCEMC is contributing $10 million and the total project cost is $31.8 million. Partners include the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lacombe Research Centre, Alberta Crop Diversification Centre South, Alberta Innovates, and Olds College.
The key feature of this project intended to break ground next year is that it has received certification from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. According to CEO of the parent company, Biosphere Technologies, Dr. Erick Schmidt, "The patented process now has certification "equivalent of incineration for safety." The livestock industry in Alberta and elsewhere has been harmed when it was found the feeding cattle ground up animal parts spread Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). According to a 2009 company press release, studies by The Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland concluded validation tests confirmed that BSE prions were inactivated by the thermal hydrolysis process.
According to the company website, the Lacombe Biorefinery is to be a demonstration of "how we can successfully contribute to a sustainable environment. Of all the existing approved processes for destruction of animal byproducts and carcasses, including gasification, the BioRefinex process is the most beneficial because:
  • Safe and valuable organic nutrients are recycled back into soil,
  • Pollution of air (incineration), land (landfills) and water (chemical leachates) is avoided,
  • Greenhouse Gas emissions are reduced (Methane), and
  • Noxious odours are eliminated.
GallonLetter's editor had a conversation with a small-scale cattle farmer in Alberta this month: he said that some of the younger farmers might find cattle viable but for him even though things have now turned around for the better, he will probably never recover from the losses and trauma of the BSE crisis.
GallonLetter hopes that this technology will prove to be successful. However, we predict that the idea of eliminating noxious odours will take more than a good technology. Quite a few smelly facilities have good technology but the work processes and flow of materials are more often the problem. For example, the trucks delivering offal may not get unloaded in a timely way.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
The notion of limited supplies of phosphorous, and its potential effects on global food supplies, has been around for many years. It is now once again coming to our attention because of the great difficulties we will have in supplying enough nutritious and tasty food as populations not only continue to grow in numbers but also grow in their ability to demand more high-protein foods (mainly animal meats) in their diets. It is not a negligible problem, but neither is it so difficult as implied in the article by the Soil Association entitled "Between a rock and a hard place: peak phosphorus and the threat to our food security" cited in the 31 March 2011 issue of GL. The notion of natural resource peaks stems from work by King Hubbert some 50 years ago. Hubbert applied his analysis to petroleum, which exists as a fluid in rock pores. Because there are physical constraints on the kinds of rocks that are porous, that have connections between the pores so they are permeable, and that are found above the relatively moderate depths in the earth at which pores will remain open, there is indeed a limit to conventional petroleum supplies, and one can therefore think of Peak Oil. Few if any other mineral commodities fit this same pattern. More commonly, as higher grade deposits of a mineral come to be exhausted, technologies for mining and processing adjust to allow miners to deal with lower grade rock. And, happily, there is usually a lot more lower grade than higher grade rock. Depending upon whether the technological advances are enough to overcome the larger volume of material to be handled, and the added energy costs for extraction, costs may or may not go up. Copper that used to be mined only from rock containing several percentage points of metal is now mined from rock containing a few tenths of one percent metal, yet (market fluctuations to one side) the price of copper is only a little higher than it used to be.
Phosphorous is one of the most widely distributed elements and it is much more likely to exhibit the common grade-tonnage relationship of copper than the peaky characteristics of conventional petroleum. Therefore, what we are likely to see could be called Peak Cheap Phosphorous, with part of the effect coming from rising demand for food and especially for meat, and part coming from declining availability of high-grade phosphorous deposits. Moreover, the effect is more likely to be seen as slowly rising prices across the globe than the steep rise suggested by the Soil Association. The people most likely to be seriously affected will not be those of us in the richer countries of the world who can afford to pay farmers more for food, nor the very poor subsistence farmers of developing countries who cannot afford fertilizers even at today's prices, but marginal farmers, mainly in middle-income countries, who are working lower grade soils and trying to sell into markets where they have little economic power.
For those people who prefer to think in terms of sustainable agriculture, the lessons are evident from the material in the article in GL: Adjust your diet toward more vegetable proteins, ideally grown on organic farms, and, if you wish to eat meat, opt for chicken instead of pork or beef.
David B. Brooks, PhD
Director, Water Soft Path Research, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance
Associate, International Institute for Sustainable Development 406 - 180 Metcalfe Street Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1P5 Canada 1-613-234-1649
Hi, folks
Here's a one pager you might want to use based on 35 years experience with wind energy in Canada.
by Philip K. Thompson
Here are ten basic principles for sustainable and effective wind energy development throughout the world, proven in four decades of experience:
1/ The rural community must be involved and participate in wind energy decisions. Guidelines must be written in clear language so all citizens may fully understand and express an opinion on the regulations.
2/ The rural community must benefit from large wind energy projects, in both jobs and power. Megaproject wind fields which have great visual impact and no local benefit will be resisted.
3/ The rural community does not wish to be injured by wind energy projects, and will want state of the art setbacks from impacted residences, which should be at least 10 times the height of the turbine.
4/ The rural community will not support large capital projects which ignore local concerns and wheel power to energy wasteful jurisdictions, and will block negotiations for private transmission lines.
5/ The rural community is concerned for migratory species of birds, bats and butterflies and does not wish wind energy projects to harm them. Projects which interfere with sensitive ecological areas will fail.
6/ The rural community includes traditional harvesters of natural resources, who invest capital and labour locally, and people who primarily harvest retirement savings invested somewhere else. The first group will accept change for economic development, the second group will not.
7/ The rural community contains populations which want freedom to do whatever desired on their own land....but dislike changes to other owner's land they can see from their property.
8/ The rural community tends to invest in safe secure investments in distant mutual funds and hesitates to invest in the local economy. Community based wind energy RRSPs may reverse this negative trend.
9/ The rural community needs renewable energy projects to create sustainable future wealth but needs facilitation and clear guidelines before selecting a location. Locations should be selected by the community itself, not foreign investors.
10/ The rural community must never be trifled with by incompetent bureaucrats in distant cities, although competent public servants are always welcome.
Philip K. Thompson B Sc
The author was technical consultant, EM&R for Atlantic Canada 1977 to 1982, President and Senior Consultant of Alternate Energy Consultants 1977 to 1987, Co-chairman of Planning Strategy for Districts 8&9 1981 to 1985, Winner of NS Energy Award 1989, Energy Coordinator NWT 1989 to 1994, Coordinator of International Wind Energy Conference 1996, Winner of NS Energy Efficiency Design Award 1997, Founding Board member of Chebucto Windfields 2001, Author of first Saltscapes Feature Wind Energy Article 2002, and recently returned from being Energy Manager for the Yukon.
Of the over hundred plays at the Toronto Fringe Theatre held for two weeks July 6-17, 2011, only one had a theme related to the environment. Called Green, it was too weird for us to review. The plays are selected by lottery so it is rather pot-luck but the scarcity of environmental themes is surprising. One of the non-environmental plays The Last Rock N' Roll Show written by Jeff Jones featured a live rock and roll band which took up a huge portion of the play's time, much to the enthusiastic enjoyment of the rest of the audience.
In between loud music sets, the character Alanna played by Dayna Chernoff tells us why this is the last day on the job as music reviewer for (the fictional) NOW magazine. From music enthusiast she has become someone she doesn't like much, a condemner of music. NOW (the real newspaper) is one of the sponsors of the Fringe. She tells of her young enthusiasm for music, night after night of attending shows and writing about them for nothing just because she enjoyed everything about the rock world. Her expertise gained her the job at NOW. She becomes disillusioned with the dark side of bands such as the drugs, alcohol and sleazy behaviour brought on by too much fame. She begins to write extremely negative reviews more about the rocker miserable lifestyle. The scathing reviews are of performances by bands creating music which she once would have been enthralled by. The fictional NOW's commercial interests favour the negative reviews. The stage features a guitar strung up in a noose symbolically representing what she has been doing.
GallonLetter, always thinking of the environmental point of view, thought that many in the environmental movement fall into a trap similar to Alanna's (GallonLetter isn't always immune either). Initially Alanna shared her enthusiasm for rock music, presumabley encouraging others to attend music concerts and become discerning and appreciative of talent. More people attending the better concerts would probably mean more producers funding bands with more talent. Later her harsh reviews which weren't really about the main issue, the music, probably put people off: why should they pay for a bad experience. It seems to us that a number of people acting as environmental critics could take some lessons from her example. Knowledgeable criticism which highlights the benefits of greener choices and yes, the things to watch out for which are not so good, would encourage consumers and purchasers in business to become discerning and appreciative of the better green products. And producers would put more effort into providing the better green products benefiting the environment. Instead, some environmental critics are just as happy to present mostly the negative often about issues which aren’t that relevant to how effective the products are in reducing impacts on the environment compared to most of the other products in the marketplace. (See GallonDaily (1) for the editor's view of a real columnist at NOW who self-arbitrated that the only green criteria of importance for laundry detergent is that it be 100% plant based.) Informed criticism is what we expect and need from reviewers but as Alanna depicted, excessive obsession with the underbelly can bring about the death of the very thing we once might have cared about. In the green initiative example, excessive and obsessive negativism means consumers who won't buy into small but significant changes in products and services which multiplied by millions of purchases have significant benefit to environment and health.
(1) Isaacs, Colin. CBC News Misleads Consumers on Green Laundry Detergent. Posted on 13 July 2011 by GallonDaily.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
In each of the hotel rooms of Delta Hotels and Resorts, a Canadian company that began with a 62 room motor inn in Richmond, British Columbia, guests will find a card called Delta Greens: We are all guests of the environment. The card advises that every hotel and resort across Canada will participate in the green initiative which includes:
  • phasing out of plastic water bottles in guest rooms
  • switching off lights, appliances and other electric equipment when not in use
  • recycling "like never before."
  • asking guests to participate e.g. reusing towels.
  • eliminating paper guest receipts through the option of email instead.
When GallonLetter's editor went to check out, he was handed a paper receipt. Never having been offered the other green option, he asked why and the hotel staffer replied, "Oh, it's automatically printed when we check you out." It may be only one glitch but it could mean that Delta needs to do something about matching the policy more closely with implementation. The chain now numbering 46 properties, has for some time now adopted an environmental policy and targets and some level of reporting for 12 indicators such as waste, carbon footprint, energy, water use, employee, guest and community engagement.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
Harvard University Psychologist Daniel Gilbert worries that the human species may bury itself because of how humans think. He suggests evolution has led to humans being highly social so that threats posed by agents (other people) are regarded as more threatening than threats by objects. Humans focus on and care mostly about other people, everything about people, categorizing them in endless detail e.g. whether friend or enemy. Humans have many social rules to protect values, honour and pride but fewer rules for areas not related to decency and morality. We are most outraged not by serious threats but by people who breach our sense of morality. Climate change gets less focus because it is about "burning fossil fuels not flags." Gilbert writes in a recent issue of Nature that "We will change our lives to save a child but not our light bulbs to save all children." A strong sense of morality stops us, writes Gilbert, from even identifying the big problems like climate change and certainly from adopting practical solutions.
He suggests that one way of dealing with the mismatch between what humans consider important and what we should consider important is to reframe the problem to match our nature. For example, in Texas, the problem of litter was reframed from an object into an agent by the slogan, "Don't mess with Texas." Littering declined by almost three quarters. When a hotel reworded its signs from "Help save the environment by reusing your towels" to one which suggested most guests staying in that room reused their towels more than once (implying there was a moral rule which most people adhered to), towel reuse went up by a third. In addition, Gilbert suggests that even in five minutes people could be taught to think rationally to make better decisions about "the problems that could extinguish the human species" but it is five minutes most don't get.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
Canadian Erik Haites was guest editor for a special issue on international climate finance at the international peer-reviewed journal called Climate Policy published by Taylor and Francis. He was also co-author of a number of the papers in the journal.
In the editorial to this special issue, Haites describes the commitment made by developed countries in the Copenhagen Accord in December 2009 for US$30 billion for 2010-2012 and US$100 billion per year by 2020. In Cancun in December 2010, countries set up a Green Climate Fund. The various articles in the journal estimate what kind of resources are needed for mitigation and adaptation, identify potential sources for funding and discuss the need to integrate mitigation and adaptation into national sustainable development plans.
Erik Haites is President of the Margaree Consultants in Toronto. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from Purdue University and an MBA from McGill University. He has been involved in environmental economic issues such as international and domestic emissions trading for greenhouse gases for a hefty number of years.
Special Issue:"International Financial Support to Address Climate Change" Guest editor: Erik Haites June 2011. Climate Policy. Oxford, UK: Taylor & Francis. [subscription]
Haites, Erik. Editorial. Climate Policy Vol. 11. Issue 3. 2011. pp963-969. [subscription or purchase]
Margaree Consultants. Toronto, Ontario.
Peter Victor environmental economist won one of the two 2011 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prizes. The prizes of $50,000 one for the arts and one for the social sciences recognizes "outstanding lifetime achievements and ongoing contributions to the cultural and intellectual life
of Canada" through a peer assessment committee. Victor is recognized for his work in explaining that "our country's economy can happen hand-in-hand with preserving our nation's rich environmental assets."
The assessment panel recommending the laureates included Ann Dale of Victoria, British Columbia who is Canada Research Chair on Sustainable Community Development at Royal Roads University and Trudeau Fellow Alumna.
GallonLetter notes that Victor's book Managing without Growth: Slower by Design, not Disaster (Edward Elgar, 2008) has been positively reviewed in a past issue on the theme of green economy (Gallon Environment Letter Vol. 13, No. 12, December 22, 2008). Congratulations.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
Canada and the European union have agreed to an equivalency for organic production and certification. Organic food from either trade area can be imported and exported without further certification and carry either EU or Canadian organic label. Gallon notes that Canada has an equivalency agreement with the US.
The Canadian organic standard and permitted substances lists is publically available with recent revisions June 2011. Purchasers including consumers should be aware that if a seller claims that a food product is organic that the name of the certifier should also be displayed. The most common problem we have seen at farmers markets is the stallholder saying the products are "organic" but being unable to supply the name of the certifier.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
The OECD Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility met at the end of June to discuss the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) which were updated this spring. The update, a voluntary code of practice, was adopted by 42 adhering governments at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting May 25, 2011. On that date, adhering governments are those of all OECD members, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Peru and Romania. The European Community has been invited to associate itself with the section on National Treatment on matters falling within its competence.
This is the fifth time the guidelines have been amended since 1976 an indicator of the political and public importance of issues relating to companies operating in a global context. The update was required due to the rapidly changing landscape of international business including emerging economies, outsourcing, financial crisis, and climate change. These guidelines are intended to foster corporate social responsibility for companies operating worldwide especially in developing countries. Environment is one of the issues which include human rights, supply chain management, labour relations, avoidance of bribery, consumer interests, competition and taxation.
The changes included:
  • A new chapter IV on Human Rights. Enterprises should avoid infringing human rights, address adverse impacts and find ways to prevent or mitigate human rights impacts directly linked to their business operations, products or services even if they don't contribute to the impacts. This chapter is based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights developed by UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights John Ruggie.
  • Extension of due diligence from investment to business relationships including supply chain, agents and franchises.
  • Stakeholder engagement. Give relevant stakeholders meaningful opportunities for planning and decisionmaking in projects and activities with significant impact on the local community.
  • Decent wage. In developing countries, comparable employers are often non-existent. Enterprises should provide the best possible wages, benefits and conditions of work.
  • National contact points NCP (the government agency responsible) should act to deal with complaints to ensure fairness and impartiality. The NCPs offer support for resolving disputes. In Canada, the Secretariat of the NCP is located in the Trade Commissioner Service Support Division of Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. and the NCP itself is an interdepartmental committee of eight departments chaired by DFAIT at the Director General level.
The biggest issue may not be the guidelines themselves but implementation. Challenges include governments making necessary resources available. Translation into action may require development of guidance for particular sectors/activities or categories of firms (e.g small and medium).
The concept of sustainable development encompassing economic, social and environmental dimensions are interwoven into the guidelines with environment also having its individual section. For example, MNEs are expected to report on risks such as greenhouse gas emissions.
OECD Watch
OECD Watch is an international network of civil society organisations promoting corporate accountability. OECD Watch is generally pleased with the "important new provisions on human rights, workers, wages and climate change" but states that the "procedural shortcomings remain" limiting the Guidelines "potential to become an effective and credible instrument for corporate accountability." Because there are no investigative powers, no sanctions and no minimum standards, there is no enforcement unless each country's National Contact Points decide to hold companies to account by resolving disputes in favour of those affected adversely by corporate breach of the guidelines.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
David Suzuki on the subject of the Ontario Government's Green Energy Act: "“I’m offering an endorsement of what Mr. McGuinty [the Ontario Premier] has done, absolutely. This is a great plan. Any party would be foolish to talk about abandoning it.” Toronto Star, 21 July 2011.
"I’ve talked about this government’s record when it comes to climate change, when it comes to energy and when it comes to dealing with waste. In all of these areas there are substantial failings." Peter Tabuns, formerly Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada and now NDP member of the Ontario Legislature for Toronto-Danforth, speaking in the Ontario Legislature in November, 2010.
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