Managing editor

Plant burgers bring home the bacon

Why Canada's king of pork and poultry became prince of plant protein in America

It’s just after noon inside the belly of Maple Leaf Foods’ glassy headquarters in the hinterlands of a Toronto suburb. Beyond rooms featuring simulated home and restaurant kitchens and a faux marketplace deli counter, the titan of Canadian pork and poultry sits in a large dining room gesturing for me to try his newest burger. This is no rebrand of meat on a bun. At an intimate lunch with his people and mine, CEO Michael McCain is unveiling a vegan patty cooked up to take a bite out of the skyrocketing plant-based protein market.

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Bill McKibben on investing in “nothing that burns”

We chat with the renowned climate activist about how he invests his own money and the global push to dump fossil fuels

It's been a busy spring for the divestment movement and everyone working to get big money out of fossil fuels. This week, New York State held public hearings debating the issue of divesting the New York State Common Retirement Fund from oil, coal and gas. Last week, Denver announced that its US$5.3 billion portfolio had liquidated its holdings in Exxon and Chevron - just one month after Denver's mayor announced the city was going fossil-free. And the UK's parliament recently took a tentative first step towards shifting its pension away from fossil fuels before officially declaring a "climate emergency."

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It’s time Canadian grocers – and governments – get tough on plastics

Metro's OKed reusable containers and Montreal might ban Styrofoam-backed meat, but we need nationwide action

If you need more signs that the movement against plastic is gaining traction, look no further than last month's World Petrochemical Conference. Some of the planet’s largest plastic chemical manufacturers gather in Texas every year to discuss advances in technology and industry trends. Last year’s WPC theme was about “cresting the wave” and prospering in boom time. This year, speaker after speaker discussed how looming political and environmental risks are threatening the sustainability of plastic’s “golden age.”

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Why not even one company is on track to meet 2020 deforestation pledges

Hundreds of companies vowed to axe deforestation from their supply chains, but a new report says they're failing forests

A lot of leafy promises were made this past decade. Declarations were signed. Celebratory headlines were written. The world’s chainsaws, you could be forgiven for presuming, were going to let up in unison by 2020 when hundreds of deforestation-free pledges would finally kick in.

One year from that deadline, UK-based non-profit Global Canopy had some less than laudatory news to share on the International Day of Forests, March 21. Not a single corporation is on track to deliver on their deforestation-free pledges.

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Meet the man brokering a path to economic reconciliation

JP Gladu says it's time governments deliver change through supply chains - by doing business with Indigenous entrepreneurs

As the CEO of the Toronto-based Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, JP (Jean Paul) Gladu can often be spotted at conferences and functions in a sharply tailored suit with a fashionable flash of lavender or plum peeking out his breast pocket. But Gladu is quick to tell audiences that he’s as comfortable in boardrooms as he is in his bush clothes hunting moose on his First Nation on the shores of Lake Nipigon, near Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Growing up Anishinaabe hunting and fishing with his father, a second-generation logger and chief, Gladu had always planned on becoming a conservation officer. His first job out of forestry school involved working with over 40 First Nations communities across Ontario through the federal First Nations Forestry program, and that, says Gladu, “is when I fell in love with my community.”

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Is your ethical investing app upselling greenwash?

'Animal welfare’ funds heavy in animal testing? Low-carbon funds dripping in oil? Your BS-free green guide to 9 SRI apps


Gone are the days when penny pinchers walked into their local banks and signed onto whatever investments their financial advisors recommended. A deluge of young investors is shaking up the investment community, demanding that their hard-earned savings do more than just tick upwards until they retire in Florida.

And since, let's face it, few of us really have time for or interest in sitting through dull bank meetings to talk mutual funds, low-fee automated robo-advisors are stepping in to deliver feel-good investments you can order up in minutes on your smartphone.

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Canadian food companies lag on animal welfare

Couche-Tard, Sobeys at back of pack while British grocers top latest Business Benchmark on Animal Welfare

Cage-free. Antibiotic-free. Certified humane. Food companies have been responding to growing public concern over animal welfare by offering up shelves (and menus) full of labels promising better living conditions for the animals we eat. But how are they putting those claims into practice on farms and in slaughterhouses across the globe?

UK-based Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare has just released its seventh annual ranking of the world’s largest food and drink companies, checking on who's putting their money where their mouth is and who's not even at the table. This year, BBFAW assessed 150 grocers, food makers, restaurant chains and suppliers on their farm animal welfare policies, practices and performance. It examines thorny issues like the confinement of animals, antibiotic and growth hormone use, as well as whether companies have, say, senior management in place to move policies beyond feel-good pledges (turns out that 43 % of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare, up from 22 % when the benchmark launched in 2012).

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Retail stores scramble to deal with hormone disruptor-laced receipts

How are Loblaw, Sobeys, Walmart and other top Canadian retailers responding to receipt controversy? CK investigates

We come in contact with them every day of our lives. Wedged into wallets, they chronicle the highs and lows of our retail therapy, our mid-afternoon mocha binges and the daily tab for being human in a consumer economy. Turns out common thermal receipts also deliver a dose of estrogen-mimicking chemicals, which is thrusting the spotlight on the workers who handle them and the retailers that dole them out.

The results of an experiment released last week by Environmental Defence found that handling thermal receipts for around 15 minutes (the estimated time a cashier comes in contact with receipts over an eight-hour shift) caused significant spikes in urine  levels of hormone-disrupting Bisphenol A (BPA), as well as BPA’s controversial replacement chemical, Bisphenol S (BPS). It all adds up to bad news for major Canadian retailers.

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Can Loop’s 21st century milkman fix plastic plague?

TerraCycle's new circular shopping platform rescues big packaged brands from PR crisis

Remember the sea turtle with a straw fused up its nose? The viral image that broke your heart and made you swear off straws? There’s more. On February 4, the UK’s RSPCA released the latest round of disturbing photos of wildlife - maimed seals, ducks, deer, even cats - ensnared in plastic bags, bottles and other snaggy remnants of our disposable economy. A flurry of British media headlines cut to the chase: record numbers of animals are killed or injured by plastic.

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Global 100 eyebrow raisers

Big oil and big pharma aren’t everyone’s vision of sustainability superstars. So why are they on CK's Global 100 list?


With additional reporting by Toby A. A. Heaps

Over nearly a decade and a half of writing a weekly column and several books under the Ecoholic banner, I ranked endless streams of products from worst to best in terms of planetary impact, from beer companies to banks, footwear to ethical funds. Many weeks, judging the environmental and social costs of, say, a bar of soap was often tough. Evaluating the sustainability of an entire publicly-traded multi-billion-dollar corporation is, well, a whole different ball game.

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