Sustainable Stories

Meet: Plastic Free Blue Bayfield

In 1998, a group of citizens responded to concerns about the quality of the water in their river and lake, resulting in the formation of FRIENDS OF THE BAYFIELD RIVER (FoBR). Since its inception, FoBR has planted hundreds of trees along the length of the Bayfield River, organized annual beach cleanups, restored riverbanks, lobbied all levels of government and worked with sister organizations along the coastline to raise awareness of the threats to their waters. FoBR was instrumental in having ultra violet water treatment added to the Clinton sewage system.

In 2005, FoBR became alarmed with plastic debris found during cleanup, much of it single-use water bottles. At the time, the Council of Canadians introduced the Blue Community Project. This project asked municipalities to acknowledge water as a human right, end the distribution of single-use bottled water and denounce the privatization of this resource. FoBR sought and received the support of 40 village organizations. As a result of this support, Bayfield is one of many worldwide communities, including Paris France, Zurich, Switzerland and many Ontario towns that are BLUE COMMUNiTIES. 2500 refillable bottles have been distributed and with the help of sponsors, five refill stations can be found in the village. Over 30,000 refills have been undertaken at these sites.

Recent Studies of the Great Lakes indicate that there are more than twice the pieces of plastics per square km in the Greats than in the oceans (225,000), – (440,000). This figure hastened the then Blue Community to join groups around the world intent on changing attitudes towards single use plastics. In the UK and throughout Europe, towns and villages have joined the campaign organized by the Surfers Against Sewage that is based in St Agnes, Cornwall. The Cornish coast and indeed the coastlines throughout the UK and Europe, were awash in plastics. These communities thus became part of the PLASTIC FREE COMMUNITIES project that now numbers 500.

Over 80% of Bayfield eateries (and growing number of retailers) now have committed to eliminate all single use plastics and polystyrene. This is just the beginning.

Thank you to the residents of Blue Bayfield for your leadership on plastic advocacy and awareness!

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Diversity Foodservices: "Greenest Restaurant over 10K square feet" LEAF award winner for 2018

Chef Jessica at Elements

Chef Jessica at Elements

We recently handed out our 2nd Annual LEAF Awards at the RC Show in Toronto. We thought we’d take a look back at one of our first recipients of a LEAF award, and find out if and how it has impacted their business.

Diversity Foodservices in Winnipeg, Manitoba, operates a number of restaurants including University of Winnipeg’s elements, Pangea’s Kitchen and Malecon, and Buffalo Stone Cafe. We asked COO Ian Vickers about winning a LEAF award.

Why did you apply for the LEAF awards?

IV: Sustainability is at the heart of the Diversity Foods mission.  We like to work with LEAF because having a 3rd party check that we are truly on-track brings a new level to our verification process.  We applied for the LEAF award because we have always thought of ourselves as leaders in the Sustainable Large Scale Food Service sector, and we wanted to know the validity of that claim.

Executive Chef Kelly

Executive Chef Kelly

 
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What has the award changed in your business? 

IV: Winning the LEAF award for most sustainable large food service establishment has brought a lot of pride to our team members.  It reminds our line cooks that what they do every day has meaning and has a verifiable impact.  We keep the award in a location where our whole campus team can see it as they start and end their days, to remind them that we are doing something unique here; and that uniqueness has been recognized by a national agency.

What do you like about the LEAF award?

IV: It increases the awareness of the importance of sustainability, and serves as a reminder that businesses can be sustainable actors and while they succeed financially.

What is the importance of investing in sustainability?

IV: Climate change is real. Resources are finite. A changing market of consumers now understand these things, and are willing to make purchasing decisions based on the ethics that a company presents.  The old model of profit maximization by pillaging from those already socially, culturally, and economically disenfranchised or by raping our planets natural habitats is quickly becoming outdated.  If a company wants to be relevant to its customers it now has to invest in sustainable systems that ensure equity for individuals in procurement, manufacturing and distribution systems as well as a solid plan for creation and disposal of goods that is either neutral or a benefit to the environment. 

The corporate cheese has moved;  move with it or starve.

Thanks to Ian Vickers and the whole team at Diversity Foodservices for their on-going commitment to sustainability!

2019 LEAF Awards

On Feb 26th, the 2nd annual LEAF awards were handed out at the RC Show in Toronto. The theme this year was SustainABILITY - and focused on all interpretations of the word. Of course, environmental sustainability was a major focus, and attendees were treated to eco-related workshops, panel discussions, and the latest in eco products and services. It was fitting to round out the show by recognizing leaders in the sustainable foodservice industry. 

We thank all of the applicants to the 2019 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!

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Award: Most Improved

Recipient: CRAFT Beer Market (Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa)

The LEAF program is not about perfection, but about continuous improvement in sustainability, and CRAFT Beer Market has demonstrated their commitment to doing just that. They have added four new plant-based menu items, reduced most single-use plastics, and continue to ensure excellence company wide by getting all locations LEAF Certified.

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Award: Eco-Innovator


Recipient: A & W Canada

The Eco-Innovator award was open to any restaurant or foodservice facility in Canada that has demonstrated innovative solutions to sustainable challenges or raised the bar for the industry.

Quick-serve restaurants (QSRs) are notorious for being highly wasteful. A & W has made a number of sustainable efforts that have not yet been by such a large QSR company, thereby raising the bar for the industry and proving that it not only can, but should be done.

For their waste initiatives, plant-based burger and elimination of plastic straws, A & W Canada was deserving of the Eco-Innovator Award.

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Award: Greenest Restaurant


Recipient: River Café, Calgary

In order to be eligible for this award, the finalists had to be Level 3 LEAF certified, which is our highest level, and is itself cause for recognition. However, this restaurant has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability long before they become LEAF certified in almost 10 years ago, and continues to stand out for their high performance in all of LEAF’s 10 Areas of Sustainability.

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: A look back at where we started, and where we are now.

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The Dishwasher was rhythmically humming while the sink behind it filled up two industrial basins of water to thaw some chicken. Hood fans worked constantly over pre-heated fryers and flat tops that were cranked and working at full capacity. House lights were all on.

No one was in the restaurant though.

In the evenings, I’d melt ice in the bar sink by running hot water, and then scoop handful after handful of plastic straws and throw them in the garbage. It was a moment of awakening that I realized that the foodservice industry is incredibly wasteful. Foodservice has one of the largest carbon footprints of commercial operations, yet it is a driver of our economy and a past time for many. There had to be a way to improve the way we do things. I looked into what sustainability resources were available for foodservice establishments and found very little. The seed was planted, and after two years of research and development, a nationwide non-for-profit was launched that focused on reducing the environmental impact of the industry and certified restaurants that are operating more sustainably.

It was the community of like minded people around me who made the first steps possible. The emerging green movement in Calgary welcomed and supported my idea. Our pilot restaurant was River Cafe, a high-profile restaurant in Calgary whose owner shared our philosophy and passion for sustainability, while keeping us mindful of important considerations in a successful business. This like-mindedness was then discovered across Canada.

LEAF started with one restaurant in Calgary and has grown to what it is today, nearly 100 LEAF certified facilities across Canada, from independent restaurants to small cafes and campuses. We want to make a big impact on the world around us in terms of environmental efficiency and waste reduction, and help reverse the current environmental direction we’re headed. This is the passion that drives us daily. Wo do this in two ways: we educate restaurants about the benefits of sustainability, both environmental and financial, and provide guidance to improve their operations. And it goes far beyond local food. We look at everything from the menu, to the chemicals they use to clean, energy practices, water use, social policies and more. But we also engage in the consumer world where we help consumers find our LEAF certified restaurants so they can show their support and feel good about where they choose to eat.

We now have third-party auditors and LEAF certified restaurants in most major cities in Canada. The auditor’s role is to work within their communities to reduce the environmental impact of local restaurants, and improve their environmental and economic sustainability, which ultimately benefits the local community. A lot goes into a restaurant getting a LEAF sticker on their door. The places that have it are passionate about sustainability, their communities and people.

As a non-profit, we work hard at creating more awareness for LEAF and what it means, why it exists. We know people tend to feel better by eating somewhere they know is more sustainable. These people who feel that it is important tend to spread the word and it’s this organic growth that propels us forward. We use social networks to increase awareness of the restaurants that are doing good things, and then that relationship is continued face to face and off the network, when our audience visits a LEAF restaurant for a truly great experience.

How can you help? Reduce your own impact by refusing disposable plastics when you go out to eat, look for LEAF certified restaurants and encourage your local restaurants to get LEAF certified. If you work in the foodservice industry and want to improve the sustainability of your restaurant, get in touch!