SAIT Celebrates Five Years of LEAF Certification

By Stephanie Ball

The School of Hospitality and Tourism at the Southern Albert Institute of Technology (SAIT) continues to push the sustainability envelope, more than five years after becoming LEAF certified.

Operations Manager Brad Rosenberger has been with the School of Hospitality and Tourism for 11 years and has witnessed and implemented many changes since joining SAIT.

Long before the City of Calgary rolled out its green bin program, SAIT was diverting organic waste in a big way. Large compost bins are provided all around the main campus, and they are getting a lot of use – especially in the culinary programs.

"We go through a lot when it comes to food,” says Rosenberger. “The green bins ensure we're doing our part for the environment and for SAIT itself.”

As an added bonus, both the culinary garden and campus landscaping areas benefit from the composted material and SAIT’s used cooking oil is reprocessed and used to produce biodiesel.

The school deals with many different suppliers and does their best to select sustainable food products.

“It’s about limiting our impact on the environment. It’s about being responsible,” says Rosenberger when asked what it means to be a sustainability leader.

SAIT has to set the standards and meet the needs of what the industry is demanding, he says. It's an important because students are going out into the world after they graduate to become executive chefs or hotel managers. They are the future of sustainability and so SAIT's environmental practices play a key role in teaching students to adapt and think ahead.

Rosenberger and SAIT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism are optimistic about the future and advancement of Alberta’s sustainability movement.

“Good things are happening.”

 

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Moment on the lips, forever in our midst: an epidemic of single use plastic

Photo by lindsay_imagery/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by lindsay_imagery/iStock / Getty Images

Six years ago, while visiting the University of Guelph and their Sustainable Restaurant Program (UGSRP), I first heard the term “straws suck”. Bruce McAdams, UGSRP’s co-creator and sustainable hospitality expert, and I were discussing the issue with plastic straws, when he said he wanted to have t-shirts made that said “Straws suck” to build awareness. The phrase was was clever, and it was accurate.  

It has only been the last couple of years though, that awareness of the issue has grown and a slow rebellion against single-use disposable plastics is forming. Local and federal governments are taking steps to eliminate these sources of plastic pollution, such as implementing plastic bag, straw and micro bead bans and using Canada’s G7 Presidency to encourage other countries to take action such as a plastics charter. Canada has also joined the United Nation’s CleanSeas Campaign

With approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic ending up in the ocean every year, the CleanSeas campaign is working with governments, the private sector and the general public to phase out the production and consumption of single-use plastics and microbeads within the next five years. If no action is taken, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.” (Source). 

Where government leadership is lagging behind, non-profit organizations like Ocean Wise  and Surfrider and consumer-based movements are working to bring awareness to the issue. 

 

Why the attack on plastics?

 Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Resource intensive, used for only a brief amount of time, and then discarded to live out an eternity in a landfill or oceans, single-use, disposable plastics don’t make sense. According to Ocean Wise, an astonishing 86 per cent of all plastic packaging is used only once then discarded. It can take an estimated 400 or more years for plastics to degrade in the environment, meaning a large percentage of every peice that has ever been created, still remains. 

It is estimated that we throw out 57 million plastics straws per day in Canada. Plastic bags (produce and grocery), coffee lids and plastic bottles and caps are also among the top plastic items that are consumed and discarded almost immediately. This culture of convenience has created a literal sea of plastic pollution. It is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans every year. The now infamous North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, occupies an area that is twice the size of Texas. According to the UNESCO, Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.

For sea birds and larger marine creatures like turtles, dolphins and seals, the danger comes from being entangled in plastic bags and other debris, or mistaking plastic for food. Turtles cannot distinguish between plastic bags and jellyfish, which can be part of their diet. Plastic bags, once consumed, cause internal blockages and usually result in death.” -

But, despite these major issues, plastics have become part of our lives and, in some ways, (yes I’ll say it, and cringe as I do) have made it better. Working in hospitals, I know plastics are everywhere. Plastic IV and medication bags deliver life-saving medications and improve sterility for patients who are at high risk for deadly infections, and plastic breathing tubes keep people alive when they are critically ill. Yes, plastics can serve a vital purpose that we have no adequate replacement for in the present. But whether it’s useful or not, the evidence is clear: our planet and wildlife simply cannot handle the amount of plastic that we currently produce and dispose of.

 

Let's talk solutions

Unfortunately, we will probably never be entirely rid of plastics. However, we can and absolutely should do everything we can to decrease our use and get away from the convenience-centric mindset that is contributing to the mass amount of plastic pollution.

REDUCE

Health care aside, there are many industries that can significantly reduce or even eliminate plastics altogether right now (excessive plastic packaging comes to mind). Straws and bags are the target today, but all single-use and disposable plastics are on the chopping block. As consumers, we can become more aware of our own plastic consumption, refuse items that don’t meet our standards, and ask that companies provide better alternatives.

FIND ALTERNATIVES and INNOVATE

These two really go together. There will always be people who want their convenience and a even a need or desire for plastic-like material. We need innovation to find suitable alternatives for plastic materials that won’t end up polluting the environment and don’t result in harmful micro plastics as they breakdown. There are many companies that are developing innovative solutions to replace plastics, and even keep some or all of the convenience that we’ve become accustomed to. Sometimes, the solution may be painfully simple, such as going back to the way things were - e.g. milk and beverages in glass bottles.

LEGISLATION

Putting the onus on companies who produce these plastics to find ways to properly collect and manage them, and taxing those that don’t comply, may provide an incentive to reduce their reliance on them. Better recycling options for plastics that are, for now, unavoidable. 

CLEANUP THE MESS WE’VE MADE

Lastly, while we focus on reducing further plastic pollution, a group of brilliant engineers, researchers and scientists can develop plans to clean up the plastics that are already in the oceans. Organizations like The Ocean Cleanup are working on just that.  

This is the beginning of LEAF’s renewed focus on plastics. Version 4.0 of the LEAF criteria places a heavier emphasis on reducing and eliminating single use plastics. Stay tuned for more exciting initiatives to address plastic pollution in the coming months. 

If you're a restaurant or foodservice operator, contact us to get involved. 

Janine Windsor
President & Founder, LEAF

 

 

 

RC Show 2018: sustainability up front

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Over 20,000 chefs, restaurateurs and industry professionals attended the RC Show in Toronto on Feb 25-27th, 2018. LEAF was a co--presenter of the Eco Pavilion, which featured businesses and organizations to help attendees address waste, find rebates, learn about the ENERGY STAR program and more.

Day one featured a great discussion on the Business Case for Sustainability. Bruce McAdams of the University of Guelph's Sustainable Restaurant Program (UGSRP) started off the talk by highlighting the economic benefits of incorporating sustainability into operations and stats to provide context.  A panel discussion with five LEAF certified restaurateurs followed, each discussing their challenges and successes in their sustainability journey, and providing valuable insight and advice. 

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The talk wrapped with each chef offering their recommendation for the best sustainable change they made - either economically or greatest impact with least investment:

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  • Chef Cam McGowan from CRAFT Beer Market suggested starting with a waste audit of garbage, compost and recycling - laying everything "out on a tarp" to seeing what you're actually throwing away.
     
  • Ian Vickers, COO of Diversity Food Services, recommended placing compost containers by each service station and taking the garbage out of the way. Ian suggested placing the garbage at the back of the house created a "walk of shame" to throw something out, ensuring anything that could be composted or recycled, was.
     
  • Evelyn Gharibian from Hearty Catering, favoured monitoring water use and implementing conservation systems as means to reduce water use and cost.
     
  • Elio Zannoni of Gusto Commissary and Catering highlighted the ease and impact of eliminating plastic straws and stir sticks.
     
  • Brad Long of Cafe Belong recommended working towards being a Certified B Corp, and stressed the importance of measurement.
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 Kim of  Montgomery's  Restaurant

Kim of Montgomery's Restaurant

Throughout the show we collected pledges in our Pledge to Win contest - encouraging foodservice operators to make a sustainability pledge. We captured pledges for everything from  purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances and installing low flow fixtures, to eliminating plastic straws! 

The final day of the show featured the SaveONEnergy Forum presented by IESO where the focus was on SAVING. We heard first hand accounts of how big and small energy efficiency strategies had lead to major operational cost savings. 

Chic Alors! saves $700 per month with LED lighting and realized a payback within 7 months of the initial investment

Sheridan College campus was able to reduce the temperature by two degrees in the winter by installing ENERGY STAR window film, resulting in substantial cost savings

Kim of Montgomery's restaurant kept costs in check by choosing ENERGY STAR appliances, unplugging equipment when not needed, filling in cracks in the walls and around windows and doors, installing thick curtains and rugs as insulation, and more

At the end of the SaveONEnergy Forum, ENERGY STAR Canada, in partnership with Restaurants Canada, IESO, LEAF and Newspring Energy, launched their Foodservice Energy Challenge, which will give participating restaurant and foodservice facilities the opportunity for deep discounts on ENERGY STAR equipment and a chance to win prizing. 

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The show was capped off with the first LEAF Awards, presented to four incredibly deserving companies. Diversity Foodservices, Chic Alors!, Community Cafe and Creelman Market all took home awards. Learn more about the winners here.

Thanks to Restaurants Canada for putting on an amazing show and highlighting sustainability! We look forward to the RC Show 2019 where the theme will be Sustainability! 

  Creelman Market : winner of Eco-Innovator 2018

Creelman Market: winner of Eco-Innovator 2018

  Diversity Foodservices : winner of Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet

Diversity Foodservices: winner of Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet

  Community Cafe : winner of Most Improved 2018

Community Cafe: winner of Most Improved 2018

  Chic Alors! : winner Greenest Restaurant 2018

Chic Alors!: winner Greenest Restaurant 2018

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 LEAF Approved Supplier  Rethink Resource

LEAF Approved Supplier Rethink Resource

Biodegradable or Compostable? Which takeout container is “greener"?

By Jeanelle d'Eon

Labelling can be one of the most confusing aspects when looking for an environmentally sustainable product. When in comes to takeout containers, the terms "biodegradable" and "compostable" dominate in popularity and cause plenty of confusion. While these two descriptors may seem similar (even interchangeable), they can mean very different things and have major differences when it comes to the end of the product's life cycle.

Truly biodegradable products (such a paper-based takeout containers and wooden utensils) have the ability to break down completely in nature with the help of living organisms like bacteria, or they can be composted in a simple backyard composter. Although they break down easily in the right conditions, if they end up in landfill, they will produce methane (a potent greenhouse gas) during the breakdown process due to lack of oxygen. So it is ideal to ensure there is a proper processing facilities and receptacles in place to minimize the amount of these products that end up in landfill. 

Here's where it gets complicated: not all "compostable" food service products are biodegradable. Many newer products that are labelled as "biodegradable" or "compostable" (such as bio-based plastics), require industrial composting facilities to break them down. Unfortunately, not all municipalities have these facilities, so many of these products end up in the landfill where they will not break down. Or, if they do, it's estimated to take a few hundred years, or more.

Essentially, truly compostable, non-plastic products are a more environmentally sustainable choice, (ideally made from recycled paper-based products), but there are many things to consider. When it comes to choosing a take out container, restaurateurs should consider a few key things:

Does my municipality have industrial composting facilities? 

Are my patrons likely to dispose of these products properly, or will most of them end up in landfill? 

Considering the above questions, what product will have the least harm on the environment?

100% recycled, paper-based take out containers and wood-based utensils are a few of our preferred options. What type of container are you using in your restaurant, and why?

 

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LEAF Awards: LEAF recognizes four leaders in sustainability in the foodservice industry

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On Feb 27th, the first LEAF awards were handed out at the RC Show in Toronto. After a jam-packed three days of food, innovation and sustainability discussions, the show was capped off by recognizing leaders in the sustainable foodservice industry. 

We thank all of the applicants to the 2018 LEAF Awards, and are proud of all of our LEAF-certified members that operate with sustainability in mind everyday. We applaud your commitment to the environment and your customers!

 

Award: Most Improved
Recipient: Community Cafe, Calgary, AB

The LEAF program is not about perfection, but about continuous improvement in sustainability, and Community Cafe (run by Community Natural Foods) has demonstrated their commitment to striving for better. When Community Cafe first became certified in 2012, they were already operating in a sustainable manor - local and sustainable food, sustainable seafood, a high percentage of vegan and vegetarian dishes, wind powered by Bullfrog Power, water-conserving fixtures, composting, and more! Since that time, Community Cafe has aimed to become a zero-waste facility, purchased ENERGY STAR appliances, and become an official OceanWise partner, establishing themselves amongst the more sustainably run businesses in Calgary. 

We are proud to recognize Community Cafe for their commitment to always doing better!

 

Award: Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet
Recipient: Diversity Foodservices, Winnipeg, MB

 Ian Vickers, COO of Diversity Food Services and LEAF President, Janine Windsor  Photo courtesy of  Restaurants Canada

Ian Vickers, COO of Diversity Food Services and LEAF President, Janine Windsor

Photo courtesy of Restaurants Canada

Diversity Food Services operates a number of restaurants (Elements, Malecon, Pangeas Kitchen, Buffalo Stone Cafe) all of which are all LEAF certified. Operating a large-scale foodservice facility can present some unique challenges to certain sustainability goals (securing large, consistent quantities of local food, retrofitting components that are part of a larger institution, etc). Diversity Food Services has demonstrated innovation and commitment in overcoming these challenges and stands as a leader in sustainable facility operations.

Their achievements include sustainable (Ocean Wise) seafood, a high percentage of local food, wide variety of meat-free dishes, recycled and compostable supplies, LEED certified buildings composting, and more, making Diversity Food Services deserving of this award.

 

Award: Eco-Innovator
Recipient: Creelman Market

The Eco-Innovator award was open to any restaurant or foodservice facility in Canada that has demonstrated innovative solutions to sustainable challenges. For large scale facilities, procuring local and seasonal produce year round can be a challenge in Canada. Creelman Market overcame this by implementing a large scale food preservation operation, which allows use of local produce in their facilities year round. While the concept of food preservation and canning may not be new, the scale to which this facility has undertaken it to ensure they are using as much local food as possible every month of the year, has taken it to a new level and solved a local food challenge for Canadian food service facilities.

 

Award: Greenest Restaurant
Recipient: Chic Alors!, Quebec, QC

 Hugues Philippin, Owner of Chic Alors! and Janine Windsor, President of LEAF  Photo courtesy of  Restaurants Canada

Hugues Philippin, Owner of Chic Alors! and Janine Windsor, President of LEAF

Photo courtesy of Restaurants Canada

In order to be eligible for the Greenest Restaurant award, restaurants had to be Level 3 (our highest) LEAF certified restaurant. While all Level 3 LEAF restaurants are high-performing and deserving of recognition, Chic Alors! stood out as a true leader for 2018, being engaged in all 10 of LEAF’s Areas of Sustainability. Chic Alors! has geothermal heating, electric vehicles for delivery, their own beehives, LED lighting and more. 

Hugues Philippin, owner of Chic Alors!, credits his decision to operate as a sustainable restaurant as a key factor in operational cost savings. 

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the award this year. Your commitment to improvement in the sustainable foodservice industry is inspirational.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

 

LEAF at the RC Show 2018!

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We’re gearing up for the RC Show in Toronto February 25-27th - just a few short weeks away! As title sponsors of the Show’s Eco Pavilion, LEAF is very excited to present the “Pledge to Win” contest. 

The "Pledge to Win" contest will encourage foodservice operators at the show to make a “green” pledge (big or small) such as “go straw-less”, “switch to renewable energy” or “get LEAF certified” for the chance to win an “Eco” prize package to start their sustainability journey. 

In order to be entered to win, pledgees must share their pledge on social media with the hashtag #RCShow2018 and tag @LEAFCanada and @RestaurantsCanada. The Pledge to Win contest will encourage a large number of restaurateurs to implement new sustainability initiatives and set concrete goals. It will also bring awareness to the environmental impact of the industry and highlight how easy first steps can be.

The winner will receive an Eco prize package valued at over $1000.

A big Thank you to our “Pledge to Win” sponsors:

Restaurants Canada

Newspring Energy

Rethink Resource

Alberta Apparel

Bio-Origins

Intellinox Technologies

 

Other Must-see sustainability events at the show include:

Business Case for Sustainability
Panel Discussion
Sunday, Feb 25, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Join us on the main stage for an enlightening panel discussion with Bruce McAdams, foodservice and sustainability expert, as he presents the business case for sustainability and how it can positively impact your business. 

Bruce will be joined by LEAF Certified facilities to share their journeys, successes and challenges around "going green" and being part of the LEAF program.

KEYNOTE & MODERATOR:
Bruce McAdams, Professor, University of Guelph

SPEAKERS:

Brad Long, Chef & Owner, Café Belong & Belong Catering - Evergreen Brick Works 

Elio Zannoni, Executive Chef, Gusto 54 

Evelyne Gharibian, Founder, Hearty Catering Inc. 

Ian Vickers, COO, Diversity Food Services 

Cam McGowan, Executive Chef, CRAFT Beer Market

Save on Energy Foodservice Forum
Tues, Feb. 27, 7:45am-1:00pm

Save energy, manage your utility costs and help your business. Hear about the latest in energy efficiency programs and about available training and support. Learn from industry leaders and experts about the most innovative products, technologies, and ideas to manage your costs and increase your bottom line. Knowledge is power, don't stay in the dark.

LEAF Awards

The first annual LEAF Awards will be handed out on the main stage, recognizing leaders in the sustainable foodservice industry. Categories include:

Greenest Restaurant
Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet
Most Improved
Eco-Innovator

Don't miss this incredible show!

LEAF becomes ENERGY STAR™ Participant

LEAF is proud to announce that we are an ENERGY STAR participant. For years, our program has emphatically promoted the ENERGY STARY program for its important work in reducing the energy consumption of the foodservice industry. Energy use is one of the largest contributors to the environmental footprint of the foodservice facilities. With the ENERGY STAR program, foodservice operators can choose equipment that not only uses less energy, but saves them money in the long run. 

LEAF heavily encourages our members to replace their equipment with ENERGY STAR equipment when their current pieces near the end of their life, or when retrofitting their kitchens. In fact, the energy section of the LEAF criteria is one of the most heavily weighted, and using ENERGY STAR equipment significantly helps our restaurants reach the amount of points required for certification. In addition, to be Level 3 LEAF Certified (our highest level), at least 60% of a restaurant’s equipment must be ENERGY STAR certified.

We are happy to be working to promote such an important program. Stayed tuned for more information on the ENERGY STAR program, tools and tips to help you reduce your energy use further.

To learn more about the ENERGY STAR program, click here.

 

 

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LEAF welcomes new Director of Eastern Canada

LEAF is pleased to welcome Sarah Letto as LEAF's new Director of Eastern Canada. Sarah will be focused on the growth and strategic development of LEAF for the Eastern provinces.

Sarah is an environmental sustainability professional who is passionate about helping organizations reduce their environmental impact. Her professional background includes senior management positions in carbon quantification and sustainability consulting. She has developed and implemented environmental sustainability programs for a variety of economic sectors including the global transportation and hospitality industries, working with organizations such as Marriott International and Virgin Hotels.

Sarah is a certified Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quantifier (GHG-IQ), holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from York University, and recently completed her Environmental Professional (EP) designation from ECO Canada. She is incredibly excited to join the team at LEAF and continue her journey to help organizations reduce their environmental impact in the foodservice industry!  

We are thrilled to have Sarah with us - Welcome, Sarah!

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Radical Gardens leads as first LEAF certified restaurant in Timmins, Ontario

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Timmins, Ontario gained its first LEAF Certified restaurant in 2015. Radical Gardens completed an audit and was able to achieve Level 2 LEAF Certification. We talked to owner, Brianna Humphreys about the process, her philosophy and their accomplishments.

LEAF: Do you have a food or sustainability philosophy? What is it?

RG: Yes, food sustainability is a mainstay of life for us. We started as a sustainable farm and still continue to farm. I guess our philoshophy is that: We need to give back into the Earth as much as we take.

LEAF: Describe your journey to sustainability – where did you start, and where are you now?

RG: I started out as a pretty small time hobby gardener and then it got out of control and then I bought a restaurant. Since the environment is key to our survival as farmers we made sure to create out restaurant with that in mind.

LEAF: What are the benefits of LEAF certification for Radical Gardens?

RG: The benefits are really for our customers, this certification allows them to really feel comfortable knowing that we are very serious in our commitment to sustainability.

LEAF: What sustainability accomplishments have you made at your restaurants that you are most proud of?

RG: Our composting for one. Any food waste that we may have gets sent back to our farm. Also our disposables and the fact that 90% of it decomposes or is recyclable.

LEAF: Why do you think sustainability is important in the restaurant industry?

RG: It is really important for any Business; if you don't come to realize that the Earth allows you the ability to run your own business no matter what it is we will lose it. For the restaurant industry specifically, there can be a large amount of waste created from our line of work, it is best to make sure you leave this place unstained.

LEAF: What sustainability goals are you striving to reach in the future?

RG: Our next goal is to purchase a large industrial composter that makes fertilizer and energy.

LEAF: Did anything surprise you about becoming LEAF certified?

RG: Actually i was pleasantly suprised to see that the certification process is rather in depth and pretty rigorous. I'm glad this certification is held to such a high standard.

Visit Radical Gardens today:

RadicalGardens.com

www.facebook.com/radicalgardens/

163 5th Ave, Timmins, On

 

LEAF Announces first annual LEAF Awards!

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Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF) is pleased to announce the first annual LEAF Awards, to be presented at the 2018 Restaurants Canada Show February 25-27th in Toronto. Winners will receive a beautiful, hand-crafted award to display and be promoted through social media. 

This is an exciting opportunity for Canadian restaurateurs to be recognized for their commitment to the environment, the progress they've made, and the hard work they put into making their businesses as sustainable as possible. 


There are 4 categories to enter:

Greenest Restaurant
Greenest Facility over 10,000 square feet
Most Improved
Eco-Innovator of the Year

While the first three categories are only open to LEAF certified restaurants, the Eco-Innovator award is open to any restaurant. In partnership with Restaurants Canada, the Eco-Innovator award will recognize one restaurateur's achievement in implementing a new technology or innovative solution to a problem, which results in a significant reduction in the environmental impact of the establishment or facility. 

How to enter:

Deadline for submission for all awards is 11:59pm EST on Thursday, November 30th, 2017. 

Good luck to all applicants!