We are very grateful to have been a recipient of the 2017 SDG Awards. Since then, we have some exciting sustainability initiatives and recognitions to announce:
- Our food waste prevention assessment for Campbell Soup was selected by Clean50 as Canada’s top project-of-the-year for 2018. This project found 938 tonnes/yr of food waste resulting in $706,000/yr in savings
- The Walmart Foundation is co-funding us to complete 50 food waste prevention assessments at manufacturing facilities across Canada during 2018 through the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity
- Our energy conservation project at Southbrook winery was selected as a top project in Canada for 2018. Our project further reduced their electricity and natural gas consumption by 40% each, preserving ½ acre of vineyard that would have otherwise been covered by solar panels
- Our South Sudanese project managers (who are technically refugees) have started Safe Water Projects in Northern Uganda that have already provided more than 3,000 refugees & Ugandans with durable access to safe water (UW article)
- Our President, Bruce, was selected to deliver a TEDx talk on addressing the 17 SDGs using a prevention based capacity building approach for shared, durable prosperity.
- As of June 2018, Enviro-Stewards projects are estimated to have saved facilities $68.5 million with an average payback period of 0.9 years and avoided 111 thousand tonnes of GHGs.
- Enviro-Stewards was once again recognized as “Best For the World” in the Overall category by B Lab. In addition, we have been recognized as a top-performing B Corporation in every category that we are measured in: Best For Environment, Best For Customers, Best For Governance, Best For Community, and Best For Workers.
Which of the 17 SDGs is your organization working towards and actively promoting?
Please describe the actions/objectives towards achieving the SDGs that you have selected above.
Enviro-Stewards drives action towards the SDGs in Canada and abroad through both our professional and development-based work.
Professional work: We work with manufacturers to drastically reduce resource consumption and waste production. Projects typically reduce consumption of water and energy, and waste production by over 30% and result in payback periods of under one year. This lessens our clients’ environmental footprint and strengthens their bottom line.
While doing this, all of our employees & contractors are paid a living wage and experience a diverse and inclusive work environment. Furthermore, the culture of conservation and environmental responsibility is ingrained into the workplace through a bike-to-work challenge, frequent carpooling, a rain-water harvesting system and living wall in the office, paid volunteer hours, and in-house energy and waste monitoring.
Relevant SDGs: 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17
Development-based work: Enviro-Stewards founded and mentors the Safe Water Project which trains people to run businesses selling bio-sand filters in South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. This project aims to create capacity in developing regions for entrepreneurs and motivated individuals to construct, sell, and maintain bio-sand filters in surrounding communities. Enviro-Stewards employees have personally trained individuals to start and operate these businesses and market the benefits of the filter. The filters provide clean water with minimal maintenance for up to 25 years, greatly reducing residents’ expenditure and suffering from waterborne illnesses such as typhoid, diarrhea, and guinea worm. It also eliminates the need to boil water (which would require wood or charcoal), thereby improving the quality of household air, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preserving forested lands and eliminating time and energy required to gather fuel resources. The money saved by community members through treating their water and avoiding alternative expenditures can then be used for food, school fees or starting other local businesses. Furthermore, the use of local materials to construct the filters helps to stimulate the local economy and further reduce dependence on external organizations.
Community members are required to purchase filters through different payment options depending on their income level. Families earning under $3/d can apply for a 50% price discount funded through corporate sponsors, such as Tim Horton’s, Andrew Peller, Southbrook winery and Maple Leaf Foods. Those earning more than $3/d must pay full price (about $100). By requiring the able community members to purchase the filters, the business can ultimately turn a small profit and be sustained without external assistance, allowing the money to circulate within the local economy. This project satisfies almost all of the sustainable development goals as it improves health and economic well-being. Men and women are trained and participate equally in the projects and cooperation and partnerships are fostered within the team and amongst local NGOs and governmental agencies.
Relevant SDGs: 1-5, 8, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17
Please specify the impact of your organization’s actions on the SDGs that you have selected above.
As of June 2018, Enviro-Stewards projects are estimated to have saved facilities $68.5 million with an average payback period of 0.9 years and avoided: *
- 1 million m3 of natural gas (enough to heat 17,000 homes for a year),
- 7 million kwh of electricity (equivalent to annual output of 250 acres of solar panels),
- 9 million m3 of water (equivalent to 4,000 km of water tankers bumper to bumper),
- 111 thousand tonnes of GHG emissions (equivalent to 20,100 vehicles), and avoided
- 64 thousand tonnes of waste (equivalent to annual garbage from 76,150 people).
* Note: A third party assessment found that 90% of Enviro-Stewards customers intend to implement all or most recommendations. The estimates above conservatively assume a 60% implementation rate
Some noteworthy projects to date include:
- A food loss and waste assessment at Campbell’s soup factories found savings amounting to 938 tonnes of food annually valued at over $700,000
- A food loss and waste assessment at Hans Dairy found potential annual savings of 820 kWh of electricity, 65 m3 of natural gas, 4000 tonnes of CO2e avoided, 75 m3 of water and over 5,100 meals
- An energy conservation assessment of Southbrook Vineyards LEED gold certified facility conserved 40% of their energy. This allowed 33% less solar panels to be installed on their grounds, which conserved enough grapevines to produce 50 cases per year of wine.
- Our bike-to-work challenge has avoided over 2,330 km driven in 2018
Safe Water Project
As of the end of December 2017, the Safe Water Project founded by Enviro-Stewards is estimated to have:
- Installed 1,000 biosand filters in East Africa, of which 500 are thought to remain in service**
- Purified 54.9 million litres of water
- Saved 4.8 thousand trees
- Avoided 9.2 tonnes of GHG emissions
- Avoided 2,538 cases of typhoid
- Created 17 jobs in developing countries, and
- Injected $35,000 into the local economy
** Note: Due to escalation of the civil war in South Sudan, many residents have had to flee to refugee camps in Uganda.. For conservatism, the total numbers above arbitrarily assume that 500 of the 742 biofilters installed in South Sudan are not currently operating. However, once the residents return, they can be quickly returned to useful service.
The Safe Water project addresses issues of health, social injustice, poverty, and inequality. Since its inception in 2007, the Safe Water Project has provided safe drinking water to thousands of people. In addition, the Safe Water Project has helped train individuals like Matthew who is now a South Sudanese refugee residing in North Uganda running his own social venture, the Kambagiri Foundation.
The Kambagiri Foundation has made a significant impact on the lives of families by providing them with safe water and eliminating unnecessary expenses on treatment. The team builds the bio-sand filters locally and sells them to local communities in Uganda. His team’s sales have provided safe water for over 500 people per month in 2018. Records of bio-sand filter installations and pictures can be found in the supplementary document.
Please describe your goals/action plans to advance the SDGs that you have selected above in the next 5 years.
- We are working on expanding the Safe Water Project through providing an online training toolkit that is easily accessible. This toolkit has been developed and will be published shortly. It will outline the benefits of a development model rather than a charitable model. Both aspiring entrepreneurs and existing charities will be encouraged to use the resource to help provide capacity and connections in developing regions suffering from poverty, economic instability, and waterborne illnesses.
- We are working to expand the geographic reach of our engineering projects beyond Canada and into other areas of North America. As we move towards working with large multinational manufacturers, the impacts of our resource conservation efforts will have a much greater impact on our environment.
- We are moving towards an integrated approach to our projects where energy, water and waste opportunities are considered within a system. This allows for greater opportunities that can bring savings for clients in multiple areas.
- We have begun to focus more heavily on implementation to ensure that our recommended changes happen at the plant level. We consistently meet with clients to facilitate operational changes or equipment upgrades necessary for a more efficient plant.
Does your organization engage in any partnerships to advance the SDGs?
- Clients: In our engineering consulting projects, we partner with our clients to provide feasible and impactful opportunities for savings. We consider their input and are willing to support our clients through the procurement and implementation phase. During each project, we conduct a progress meeting where preliminary recommendations are discussed and a representative team from the company (including the CEO, CFO, maintenance crew, etc.) can share their diverse input on each recommendation. Based on this discussion, recommendations are modified for the final report submission. Many of our engineering clients subsequently choose to partner in our Safe Water Project, as seen here.
- Safe Water Project: We partner with organizations such as Avant, a charity that develops grassroots leaders, and CAWST, for bio-sand filter resources. We also partner with local NGOs to own and develop projects such as the Kambagiri Foundation started by Matthew (who was originally trained by Bruce), which currently trains locals and refugees in Uganda to build and sell bio-sand filters. We also attended the African Biofilter Implementers Network (ABINET) conference in Malawi in February 2018 to discuss opportunities with projects from about a dozen other countries throughout Africa. Durning ABINET, we ran a ⅔ day workshop on the social venture based approach and the other organizations expressed great interest in incorporating it into their organizations to reduce their risk of closing and their present limitations based on the pace of donations.
- Provision Coalition: We are currently operating in a partnership with Provision Coalition, Canadian Centre for Food Integrity and the Walmart Foundation, to perform 50 food waste prevention audits at food and beverage manufacturing facilities across Canada. These audits will include the use of a co-developed food waste prevention toolkit that allows manufacturers to quantify their waste in both dollar value and environmental impact of the entire supply chain. The toolkit (developed based on Enviro-Stewards’ approach) tracks the quantity of food saved, the economic value, the embedded, added & disposal GHG avoided, and the equivalent number of meals preserved.
- Suppliers: We are developing partnerships with companies that supply systems that we recommend for manufacturers to install in their plant. These products can support the implementation of our recommendations in these areas.
How are you communicating and measuring your impact towards the SDGs?
Conferences and Events:
We communicate our approach to sustainability and our values at conferences and events. Below is a summary of our participation in the past year:
- TedX: Our President, Bruce, gave a Tedx talk at the University of Waterloo on the benefits of the social venture model of the Safe Water Project in which its contribution to the SDGs were referenced
- B-Corp and Clean50 summits: Employees attend annually to receive awards and engage with like-minded companies and individuals
- Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Conference in Mexico City, Ottawa and Washington DC. Our president serves on a North American expert panel on food waste reduction. As such he is encouraging Canada, USA & Mexico to adopt a more preventative based approach to address the SDG food waste goal. For example, the USA is presently interpreting this goal as reducing the food waste sent to landfill by 50% by 2030. To put it starkly, in 2030 one might say that they spent the last 12 years diverting food waste from landfill to a more efficient disposal method. We are still wasting ⅓ of all of the food we grow, but we are now destroying it much more effectively.
- Lean and Clean workshop, Winnipeg: Two of our employees taught a 1-day workshop on incorporating sustainability measures into lean manufacturing approaches
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference, University of Alberta: Presentation on our work for the Environment and Agriculture department
- Ivey Business School, Laurier and Schulich schools of business: Bruce gave talks to teach students about social enterprises and responsible business practices.
- Provision Coalition conference: We ran a workshop on food waste prevention
- Sustainable Hamilton Burlington and Sustainable Waterloo Region: Employees attend annual events to engage with our local community
- Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club: Benefits of social enterprise approach to charity
Presentations were also given at: Canadian Food and Drink Summit, Energy Summit, Energy Leaders Consortium (Partners in Project Green), CME Canadian Lean Conference, Food and Beverage environmental conference, Midwest Food Recovery Summit, OWWA Conference, Partners in Pollution Prevention and H2Awesome (Guelph).
Our impacts are also communicated through the various awards we receive for our projects:
- Our engineering work received the Clean50 Top Project in Canada awards for food waste reduction at Campbell’s soup and energy conservation at Southbrook Vineyards was recognized as a top project in Canada for 2018.
- Our organization itself received the B-Corp Best for the World status overall as well as being top in each category we are measured.
- The Safe Water Project was recognized globally through the Energy Globe Award for its business model approach in empowering communities and reducing emissions.
Internally, we track the impacts of our projects through developing Case Studies (see Supplementary Material) and maintaining ongoing communication with clients to facilitate implementation of resource conservation measures. Numbers from our internal tracking are noted in the section above and publicly reported in our Annual Public Benefit Statement. We also publicly report our progress towards our GHG goal to reduce our GHG footprint per employee by 80% by 2018.
We also collect monthly reports of bio-sand filter installations from the Safe Water Project with pictures and testimonials from customers to track not only the number of filters installed but their upkeep and impact on the customers’ lives. Corporate sponsors and the public are also able to access reports on our completed projects.