It’s Time to Think Hard About our Waste Systems

the suburbs

Modern capitalism encourages consumption at levels previously unimaginable which has led to an inconvenient byproduct: the globalization of waste. High levels of consumption means more waste in our system, and with the gift-giving holiday next month we’re going to see a lot of wasteful purchases. This year think about what gifts to give that don’t contribute to a landfill, indeed take some time to think about how your local municipality deals with waste created throughout the year. It turns out that in Canada we have a lot to learn form other places.

It’s time to rethink how we approach waste management in Canada beyond just saying reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Hird tells a story about a research project at Queen’s University, run by one of her grad students, Cassandra Kuyvenhoven, who tracked materials put into blue bins at Queen’s to see where they ended up. “While the system seemed functional and neat on the surface,” says Hird, “It certainly wasn’t that behind the scenes.” Kuyvenhoven found, for example, that when recyclable Styrofoam left Queen’s it was loaded onto trucks and taken to Toronto, where it was compacted chemically then trucked to Montreal where it was put on ships that took it to China, where it eventually ended up in landfill. “We might as well have landfilled it here,” says Hird, “and saved the tons of carbon that went into the atmosphere getting it to China.”

Electronics equipment made its slow way from the university’s loading docks to landfills in India and Mexico.

“When people think their stuff is being recycled, it clears their conscience, no matter what is actually happening beyond the blue box,” says Hird. “Our research shows that when their conscience is clear they tend to consume more than ever. Since Canadians started recycling in earnest maybe 30 years ago, consumerism in this country has done nothing but climb.”

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Trans Fats Ban in Canada Starting in 2018

fries

Trans fats are really bad for you and governments around the world are starting to ban them. Canada just announced that they too will be banning trans fats alongside the United States next year. The ban is expected to improve the health of the nation, the Heart & Stroke foundation claims that 12,000 heart attacks will be prevented in the next 20 years thanks to the ban.

Eat well everyone!

The oils are the main source of trans fats in foods that raise levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol, which can take a toll on our heart health.


It will apply to all foods sold in the country, including imported products and foods prepared and served in restaurants and food service establishments.

Heart & Stroke said it will reduce the number of heart attacks in Canada and save lives.

Heart & Stroke co-chaired a task force with Health Canada in 2006 that first recommended the ban.

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Looking at Canadian Companies in Connection to Indigenous Issues

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SHARE Canada just released a report on how Canadian companies are engaging issues impacting reconciliation efforts in the country. A few years ago the Canadian government released recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which provided suggestions to help heal the damage done from years of colonial practices. Of course, government agencies and NGOs have already started in their reconciliation processes (to varying degrees). What SHARE wanted to find out was if the corporate sector is doing their part. A few companies are making an effort, but more should be outlining what they are doing and how.

“Industry and business play an extremely significant role in how the economic, social, and cultural aspects of reconciliation are addressed, including the extent to which opportunities and benefits are truly shared with Indigenous peoples,” the report said.

Greig said she hopes her findings will be the first step toward creating a transparent, measurable benchmark to assess a company’s treatment of Indigenous people.

“Inevitably, we’ll get there. But it’s a rocky road.”

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Full report (PDF).

First Nations Reserves Across Canada to get Toronto Library Cards

books

A fantastic way to share stories and knowledge is through books and public library systems. Unfortunately too many indigenous reserves and communities in Canada don’t have access to a library, which is having a negative impact on knowledge sharing. The Toronto Public Library system will be extending their library services to indigenous communities as part of their Truth and Reconciliation process.

Library services are sparse on Ontario reserves. Of the province’s 207 reserves, only 46 have a library. The average annual budget for each is only $15,000.

Doucette explains that libraries are all about sharing, and this is an easy way for Toronto to do its part. “I think whenever possible we should step up to the plate,” she said.

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How a Better World Can Come from Supply Chain Management

happy workers in a factory
The Canadian organization Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) just released a report on how supply chain management can help promote and enforce human rights. Some countries legally require companies to report the status of human rights and any liabilities that may stem from neglect or worse. Canada, however, does not. SHARE has looked at other parts of the world to inform how the Canadian government and companies can better the world while reducing risk for investors.

The report, “The Rise of Supply Chain Transparency Legislation” (PDF link), reviews a range of supply chain transparency legislation from the U.S. and across Europe, including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act 2010 and the UK Modern Slavery Act, to understand its form and impact and to learn from best practices already adopted in other jurisdictions.

SHARE’s report examines best practices in supply chain reporting from other jurisdictions and makes recommendations for Canada, including that a reporting regime should be consistent, but flexible; that it should be publicly accessible; updated annually and certified by top management; and that there should be mechanisms to ensure compliance.

“A regulatory framework for supply chain transparency reporting ensures consistency and comparability between the information provided by each company in a sector,” says Delaney Greig, an analyst with SHARE and co-author of the report, in a statement. “Reporting requirements should help companies to approach supply chain due diligence in a way that ensures efforts are effective and transparent while allowing companies flexibility to do what is best for their situation.”

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