5 Canadian Companies Who Lead By Example In Sustainability Innovations

Sustainability targets and goals can only be met with consistent action and innovation. Here, five firms leading the way on sustainability provide examples of how it can be done. - BY DANIEL PEREZ

Canada has long been at the forefront of ambitious promises when it comes to sustainability and integrating environmental care into the business world. However, without buy-in and participation from businesses, all the well-worded promises in the world count for very little. Fortunately, firms across the country have been stepping up to lead the way. Five firms leading the way in sustainable practices and environmentally friendly operations are highlighted here, with the aim of providing a good example and inspiration to others.

Loblaw Companies Limited Hits Goals 10 Years Early

When Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaws), one of Canada's largest grocery retailers, made its initial commitments to sustainability and environmentally friendly operations in 2011, they were considered ambitious targets. After all, the company has more than 2500 locations and deals with thousands of vendors and partners. Making a meaningful change would require serious action.

The company rose to the challenge, improving energy efficiency in their stores and distribution center and implementing innovative waste reduction initiatives, including diverting food waste from landfills through composting. They also worked to donate surplus foods to food banks and minimize single use plastic consumption. As a result, the company hit their 2030 carbon emissions reduction goals in 2020. Spurred on by their successes, the firm now plans an additional 50% reduction in carbon emissions from their 2020 baseline and to achieve a net-zero trucking fleet.

IKEA Canada Goes All-in On Going Green

IKEA Canada’s popular “As Is” section of its store is a highly visible reminder of the company’s commitment to becoming a fully circular and climate positive organization. In an unusual move, the company is encouraging Canadians to bring in their gently used IKEA items in exchange for store credit while also offering the items in retail locations to prevent them from ending up in landfills. It’s a sign of just how much the Canadian branch of the firm thinks about its product lifecycle and life-long impact. Small wonder, then, that IKEA Canada is routinely named as one of Canada’s greenest companies. Thanks to solar installations, the large stores generate four times the amount of energy they consume, and the firm has eliminated all non-rechargeable batteries from its consumer products so that reusing things is built in right from the start. The company is also in the process of migrating its fleet over to all electric vehicles, supplementing its solar arrays with investments in wind farms in Alberta to ensure a minimal impact on Canada’s national grid.

Maple Leaf Foods Commits to Carbon Neutral Proteins

As one of Canada’s largest food processing companies, Maple Leaf Foods knows that its decisions have a major frontline impact on the environmental impact of Canada’s food supply. As a result, the company has prioritized sustainability in its operations so that it can offer Canadian consumers carbon neutral proteins. Each part of the food system, from converting sow barns to sustainable energy to using electric vehicles in its delivery fleets, has been carefully analyzed and considered. One very unique innovation has been Maple Leaf Foods use of anaerobic digestion to turn food wastes back into renewable energy sources. Anaerobic digestion systems are bacteria driven processes to break down foods with fewer greenhouse gas emissions and capture the natural gas created by the bacteria for repurposing as a power source. As a result, Maple Leaf Foods has achieved a more than 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity compared to 2014 levels.

TC Energy Switches the Power that Powers the Switches

The former TransCanada Corporation, now known as TC Energy, is responsible for major energy infrastructure systems across Canada. They have been actively investing in renewable energy projects, including hydroelectric, wind, and solar power. Recently, in partnership with OMERS, the Power Workers’ Union and The Society of United Professionals, TC Energy completed the restoration of Bruce Power Unit 6.

Bruce Power Unit 6 is the first unit restored as a part of a special initiative to rehabilitate and extend the life of the nuclear power plant. As a result, Bruce Power is now capable of providing 30% of Ontario’s power completely emissions-free. This is a major milestone in the overall Bruce Power upgrade project and will help make clean nuclear energy a foundation piece in Canada’s ongoing transition away from fossil fuel dependence.

Brookfield Asset Management Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is…

As a global alternative asset management company, Brookfield Asset Management already has its focus on sustainable investing. The firm understands that action follows cash, and that by providing financing for major projects they can help control the speed at which Canada is able to switch to renewables. With activists taking other global financial companies to court over their financing of fossil fuel extraction, Brookfield provides a contrasting example of possible behavior.

The company’s goal is to achieve net zero impact across their entire portfolio of investments. They have Scope 1 and Scope 2 numbers of over 70% of their assets under management, leading the industry. Their current portfolio includes significant investments of over $7 billion USD in renewable energy, including wind, solar, and hydroelectric power projects.

Concluding Thoughts…

There are many other companies in Canada that are doing outstanding work on sustainability across all types of industries. However, by looking at these companies and their commitment to matching actions to their lofty promises, it is possible to get a better idea of exactly where it is possible to get real traction on environmental issues. With Canada’s 2030 target date coming up fast, it is vital for everyone to be inspired to continue reducing carbon footprints and promoting environmentally friendly operations.