6 Things We're Doing to be More Sustainable

Posted under  Better Planet, Nature's Path on
Sustainability is a topic worth discussing when it comes to your favorite companies. Are big brands helping the planet, or hurting it? For Nature's Path, success in business means we are socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and financially viable. We believe one can't exist without the others, and every year we strive to make it further down the path of sustainability. We've rounded up some specific examples to show you our commitment to always leaving the earth better than we found it:

1. Growing Organic

It's difficult to know what you're buying at the grocery store when you see buzzwords like fresh and natural. But unlike these labels, the certified organic label is backed by a set of rigorous federal production and processing standards. Every ingredient we use to make our products is certified organic, which is the gold standard when it comes to avoiding artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically engineered ingredients. Always look for the USDA Organic logo or the Canadian Organic logo when purchasing your groceries. The Nature's Path commitment to organic simultaneously ensures that our products are non-GMO. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are experimental plants or animals that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory to express traits like herbicide resistance. GMOs haven't been properly tested for human safety yet, and there are significant restrictions or bans on the use of GMOs in nearly 50 countries around the world. If a product is Non-GMO Project Verified, it means that organic regulations have been set in place to prohibit the use of genetically modified ingredients. Always look for the Non-GMO Project Verification seal when purchasing your groceries.

2. Zero Waste

At Nature’s Path, waste is generated in the production and packaging of our products. By conducting bi-annual third party and regular internal waste audits, we can see how effectively we are managing our waste. Our number one priority is to reduce our waste at the forefront and divert at least 90 per cent of what remains across the entire company. This would mean at least 90 per cent of our waste is diverted from landfills, either to compost, reuse, donation, or recycling. In 2016, our Blaine and Sussex plants achieved Zero Waste certification. Our Delta plant has been Zero Waste Certified Gold since 2015. In 2017, this facility achieved a 97 per cent waste diversion. Blaine and Sussex, diverted 93 per cent and 91 per cent of its waste in 2017. Our commitment to sustainability in packaging means we strive to reduce the packaging we use, utilize materials with the highest level of recyclable content as possible, and prioritize the use of materials that can be recycled or composted by our consumers. The recyclable packaging content represented 97 per cent of our packaging materials by weight. All the cardboard and paperboard we purchase have the Forest Stewardship Council certification, are printed on vegetable based inks, and are 100 per cent recyclable. We strive to ensure that our packaging is made from responsible sources, and certified to meet strict environmental and social standards. In addition, all our plastic is BPA free.

3. Climate Neutral

Nature’s Path is committed to reducing practices that create greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The company proudly chooses 100 per cent renewable energy for its Canadian and U.S. operations. Since 2008, we have purchased Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) towards 100 per cent of the electricity consumed, which supports wind power in the U.S. We have been a Climate Smart Business certified company since 2014. In 2017, we joined the SOC2 and SFTA Climate Collaborative, a natural food industry-specific commitment to climate action. We are committed to improving in all nine focus areas – agriculture, energy efficiency, food-waste, forests, packaging, policy, renewable energy, short-lived climate pollutants, and transportation. We are also increasing our annual financial investment in renewable energy by partnering with Bullfrog Power to choose 100% green electricity for all of our Canadian operations. Company-wide, all the waste diverted from landfill into organic and recycling streams would have amounted to a total of 4,587 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions if it was sent to the landfill. According to the EPA’s carbon equivalencies tool, this amount of carbon pollution is equal to 982 passenger vehicles driven for one year that we have avoided through recycling and composting practices. For two years in a row, Nature’s Path received the Northwest Clean Air Agencies Partners for Clean Air (NWCAA) gold award, for our efforts in continuous improvement initiatives at our Blaine Facility that aim to reduce our emissions and improve efficiencies. Now that’s pretty cool!

4. Preserving Water

Pesticides and fertilizers from conventional farming make their way into our water, causing pollution and damage to ecosystems. In the last five years, we supported over 480,000 acres of organic land. Organic farming promotes watershed protection, reduces water use, and aids in the reduction of pollution through the avoidance of pesticides and fertilizers. Our primary uses for water are in the manufacturing of our products and as an ingredient in our products. As part of our commitment to safe food production, we value clean, safe water. Our Blaine plant further aids in the reduction of water use, by diverting all of our wastewater to an external anerobic biodigester, which creates renewable energy (biogas). In 2017, we sent a total of 3.4 million gallons of wastewater to this biodigester.

5. Educating, Inspiring and Engaging

Sustainability and leaving the earth better than we found it is our reason for being, and we see sustainability as a journey of continual improvement toward this goal. When new team members join the company, they may be at different points along their own personal path to understanding what sustainability means and how it affects their work. Therefore, we ensure that 100 per cent of our team members receive access to sustainability training workshops, 1-1 orientations and lunch and learn sessions. We are honored to continue to be recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers, one of Canada’s Top Employers, and one of BC’s Top Employer, for seven years in a row. We report and share best practices with the Sustainable Food Trade Association and other like-minded organizations every year. Within the office, we host sustainability training for all team members, regularly sharing updates and information about our sustainability goals to keep our team members up-to-date. We’ve also implemented a number of initiatives including Health and Wellness Week and Bike to Work Week to encourage sustainability at Nature’s Path.

6. Giving Back

In the 40-plus years since our founders, Arran and Ratana Stephens, opened their first organic vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver, BC, they have worked tirelessly to spread their give-back values. Giving back to those who needed help was there from the beginning. They didn’t start with much, but they gave back what they could. Nature’s Path owns and participates in numerous corporate give-back initiatives, supporting important causes related to alleviating hunger, environmental sustainability and education, and conservation, among others. The EnviroKidz brand is a 1% for the Planet partner, where one per cent of all sales (not profits) of EnviroKidz products are donated to environmental charities that support youth environmental education, habitat restoration and species conservation worldwide. To date, EnviroKidz alone has donated over $3.6 million to our partners. Nature’s Path also supports food banks across North America through the "Bite4Bite" Love Crunch program, which donates up to one million dollars to Food Banks per year for every bag of Love Crunch granola or box of Love Crunch granola bars sold. To date, Bite4Bite alone has raised over $14 million worth of food to local food banks in Canada and the United States. Every year we host Eat Well Do Good, a foodraiser that supports local food banks near each of our facilities. Nature’s Path employees volunteer their time to organize and support this event. Since 2008, Nature’s Path has donated more than $22 million worth of food to local charities, food banks and environmental partners.

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About The Author

Nature's Path is committed to making only organic food products since 1985, and that’s something that will never change. As organic pioneers, Nature’s Path believes that every time you choose organic, you cast a vote for a better food system and a more sustainable future for us all.

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