RSS feed from The Globe and Mail - RANDY RAY (author)
April 22, 2009
If healthy sales and happy consumers are true measures ofsuccess, the operators of Arthur's Fresh Co. Ltd. should be toasting eachother morning, noon and night with the nutritious beverages made attheir Toronto processing plant.
But while a 1,250-per-cent increase in sales of their fruit andvegetable smoothies and juices in the past five years and a recentexpansion into the United States are cause for celebration,brothers Travis and Scott Bell prefer to trumpet another aspect oftheir good fortune: a significant downsizing of the company'senvironmental footprint.
Since the spring of 2008 when the duo got serious about reducingthe greenhouse gases Arthur's is responsible for, they have trimmedthe weight of their beverage bottles by 10 per cent, cut annual useof packaging by 23,000 kilograms, switched their power source to100-per-cent renewable energy and migrated 40 per cent of the longdistance transportation of raw materials away from tractor trailersto rail and bulk carriers, which are much more friendly to theenvironment.
In total, these and other measures have cut the company's annualgreenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent, an achievement that has wonthe company and its 26 employees kudos from Canada's packagingindustry.
At the Packaging Association of Canada's annual awards ceremonytonight in Toronto, Arthur's is to receive an award in the brandcategory for sustainable packaging leadership, and is in therunning for another larger prize.
In addition to reduced packaging, the honour recognizes severalof the company's initiatives in the area of corporate socialresponsibility, including donating 10 per cent of its annualprofits to charity, says association President and chief executiveofficer James Downham.
The company's environmental and business success is built on twokey principles: making nutritional beverages with as much locallygrown fruits and vegetables as is procurable and causing as littleenvironmental damage as possible, says Travis Bell, Arthur'sfounder and president, who has helped boost sales from 200,000bottles in 1998 mainly in Ontario, to 10 million bottles in 2009across Canada and in 40 U.S. states.
In early 2007, experts helped the company estimate its carbonfootprint; the Bells then developed a strategy designed to makesignificant reductions in its emissions with the focus on five keyareas: production of bottles, packaging, manufacturing/energy,sustainable sourcing of materials, and transportation, which wasthe largest contributor to the company's carbon footprint.
Their investment in the five initiatives is $330,000, whichis expected to be repaid by 2011 through such savings as reducedshipping bills and less use of plastic and cardboard.
The Company's Greenhouse-Gas-Reducing Strategies are asFollows:
The weight of the individual bottles that contain Arthur'sbeverages was reduced by 10 per cent by using less plastic in thecontainers, cap and a plastic sleeve that enshrouds each bottle.Because more bottles, caps and sleeves now fit on pallets,transportation costs and GHG emissions have been reduced by 11 percent and the cost of shipping finished product is 2.5 per centless.
Unfilled bottles are delivered to Arthur's plantshrink wrapped on palletized skids rather than in plastic bagsinside boxes, which eliminated the need to recycle unnecessarycardboard and plastic bags. In addition, cardboard sheets betweenbottle layers in some outbound customer shipments are being reused.These measures have significantly reduced cardboard usage and cutGHG emissions by 20 per cent because fewer trucks now deliver tothe plant.
On the production side, 100 per cent of Arthur'selectricity is generated by renewable, natural resources, includingwind and low-impact water power, which produce carbon-freeemissions, which costs 30 per cent more but eliminates 100 per centof the firm's carbon footprint. Previously, the company purchasedits electric power from Toronto Hydro.
Raw Materials Sourcing:
More than three million kilograms of Canadianfruits and vegetables are purchased via the company's buy localinitiative, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissionsduring transportation. Whenever possible, raw materials such asbanana purees and mango juice that are not available in Canada, arepurchased from Rainforest Alliance Certified suppliers, meaningthey have been produced using farm and forestry methods that aregood for people and the planet. To meet the company's elevatedenvironmental standard the products on average cost about 10 percent more to procure than standard puree.
Six months ago, all North American inputs arrivedby transport truck but today more than 40 per cent of the fruitsand vegetables shipped long distances to the company's storagefacility near Toronto arrive by rail cars and bulk carriers, whichare similar to trucks that haul milk. The switch has reduced GHGemissions by 20 per cent because rail causes less air pollution andbulk hauling reduces packaging.