PORTLAND, Ore.—Organic food companies are adapting a range of sustainability initiatives, according to a new report by the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA). The SFTA Annual Member Sustainability Report showed these companies used less energy, created less waste, reduced their carbon footprints and made more community donations in 2011 than the previous year.
Statistics were gathered from SFTA members’ annual sustainability reports. Under the premise that one cannot measure what one doesn’t know, organizational members sign a Declaration of Sustainability committing to strive for continuous improvement and to practice transparency in annually auditing their companies in the following areas: organic, distribution, energy, climate change, water, waste, packaging, labor, animal care, education and governance. Each full member must submit a report addressing their progress in each topic area annually to SFTA.
Highlights of members' 2012 reports include:
- Organic is a trend worth investing in. 100% of the reports included a dedication to organic agriculture, by either only selling/producing organic products or stating a goal to increase organic purchases or sales in the coming year.
- Efficiency is driving reduced energy use. All reports stated a formal commitment to energy efficiency through policies and practices. In addition, 37% of members reported they have invested in onsite renewable energy generation.
- Waste diversion rates from landfill increased. The average amount of waste diversion from landfills was 76%! This was an increase of 18% more being diverted over the previous year (58% diversion) as well as a 34% increase in members reporting taking action such as auditing and managing their waste streams.
- Climate change abatement initiatives are front and center. 85% of the members reported investing in tracking and integrating carbon management into their business operations. This is a 25% increase over reports submitted in 2011.
- Water use reduction is a priority for organic food companies. 80% of the members reporting are tracking and focusing on reduction efforts of water use in their operations. This is a 20% increase over the previous year.
- Community investment is universal. SFTA members reported donating approximately $4.4 million in cash and in-kind donations. This is a 26% increase over the previous year. 100% of reporting members participated in charitable contributions of volunteering, cash or product donations.
SFTA is driving development of the Organic Labor Code of Conduct, containing clear standards for workers, protecting their rights such as, working hours, wages and benefits, and health and safety.