Maple Leaf Sustainability ReportMaple Leaf Sustainability Report

Environmental Responsibility

In 2014, Maple Leaf committed the focus and dedicated resources to aggressively pursue the implementation of an Environmental Sustainability program, with clear, measurable near-term and long-term targets.

2013 Milestones

  • Established a long-term environmental sustainability strategy with aggressive near- (2018) and longer-term (2030) goals
  • Implemented a sustainability goal of launching two packaging initiatives a year, improving or reducing packaging
  • Removed 12 million foam polystyrene trays from circulation
  • Reduced our annual usage of metal by 363 metric tonnes by switching our canned meat flakes products from steel to aluminum cans

2014 Priorities

  • Launch our environmental sustainability strategy, with dedicated leadership and resource support
  • Replace the foam trays used to package poultry portions with trays made of recyclable plastic
  • Optimized our packaging to maximize the number of products being transported on each truck
  • Follow rigorous decommissioning process to close our legacy facilities and mitigate any environmental impact

The implementation of the strategy at three pilot plants in 2013 was delayed due to significant focus on completing the prepared meats network transformation, including five major plant expansions and start-ups in the year.

In 2014, implementation of a robust environmental sustainability program will commence under dedicated leadership, with a clear mandate, goals and accountability. Environmental audits at three pilot plants will be conducted and completed, which will test assumptions and contribute to defining clear action plans across our network. We plan to implement the broader program in 2015, with significant focus on accelerating our progress across five priority areas:

  1. Energy reduction
  2. GHG reduction
  3. Wastewater reduction
  4. Waste reduction
  5. Packaging reduction

Our Approach

Although 2013 was focused on compliance as we continued to execute our prepared meats network transformation, Maple Leaf spent approximately $35 million to manage a wide range of ongoing environmental programs. In particular, the Company invested in several wastewater treatment plants to reduce its impact on city wastewater networks in Toronto, Hamilton and Winnipeg. Our new strategy will build upon these programs with broad-reaching and specific 2018 and 2030 targets.

Environmental protection expenditures and investments (In millions of Canadian dollars)
stacked bar graph
Environmental protection expenditures and investments
Capital Expense
2001 5 8
2002 11 18
2003 6 11
2004 17 10
2005 8 21
2006 4 27
2007 14 25
2008 5 27
2009 2 29
2010 8 34
2011 6 23
2012 10 23
2013 9 26

While completing the transformation of our network and supply chain has been the priority, we are building sound environmental management into our new operations. In early 2014, we achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification for our Trillium bakery in Hamilton and prepared our submission for LEED certification for our Heritage prepared meats facility. Our Eastern Distribution Centre also achieved LEED® Gold status in early 2014.

We have also been focused on the responsible decommissioning of our legacy facilities. We have adopted a rigorous approach that involves disposing of redundant assets through auction, identifying permits to be cancelled and leaving the facilities in “broom-clean” condition.

Energy & Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

For the past six years, we have mapped our GHG emissions and energy consumption for every aspect of our business except hog farming, waste generation and transportation.

Direct energy consumption by primary energy source
Bar Chart
Direct energy consumption by primary energy source




% change

Electricity consumption (kwh)




Natural gas (m3)




(*positive figures indicate decreasing consumption)
Total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissionsMetric tonnes of carbon dioxide
Bar Chart
Total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by weight




% change

Scope 1




Scope 2




(*positive figures indicate decreasing consumption)
The consolidation of warehousing and more efficient distribution will eliminate over 8 million haulage miles annually.
2013 Direct manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions by Business UnitMetric tonnes of carbon dioxide
Pie Chart
2013 Direct  manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions by Business Unit

Fresh and Prepared Meats




Fresh Pasta




Hog Production




Metric tons of carbon dioxide

We are consolidating 19 distribution centres and third-party relationships across Canada into our Eastern Distribution Centre in Ontario and our Western Distribution Centre in Saskatchewan. This effort will create opportunities to optimize efficient replenishment – more full truckloads travelling fewer kilometres to achieve significant savings in fuel and a reduction in GHG emissions. The consolidation of warehousing and more efficient distribution will eliminate over 8 million haulage miles annually.


We use water as an ingredient in our processing facilities, for cooling our equipment, and cleaning and sanitizing.

Total water consumption (m3)
Bar Chart
Total Water Consumption (m3)
  2013 2012 % Change 2012-2013 2011 % Change 2011-2012
Water (m3) 8,017,649 7,983,489 -0.9% 8,132,263 1.8%
(*positive figures indicate decreasing consumption)

We regularly monitor our incoming water usage in our processing facilities to ensure it is safe and of drinking quality for use in our products.

In 2013, we had 26 notices of violation, most of which related to exceeding municipal wastewater bylaw requirements. Many of these issues have been resolved by entering into wastewater overstrength or surcharge agreements, which compensate municipalities for the additional cost of treating higher strength waste streams. For other parameters, such as pH or oil and grease, where surcharge agreements are not possible, capital projects have been developed to address these issues.

With respect to fines, the Company has received one fine in the past four years for violating the Ontario Environmental Protection Act resulting from an ammonia release at its Brantford facility in 2010. The incident was the result of a faulty valve, which was subsequently replaced, with other valves then being inspected to ensure they were in good condition. The Company also received two fines for municipal wastewater bylaw violations at the Toronto poultry plant and Shawinigan bakery for incidents that occurred in 2012. A capital project has been completed in Toronto to address the issue, and the Shawinigan plant is now shut down.


Packaging in the food industry is complex and has to perform a number of different functions. Any primary packaging – the packaging that touches the product – must protect and ensure the quality, shelf-life and safety of the food by creating strong, often multiple barriers to moisture and oxygen. This often requires mixed plastics that are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle.

Provincial blue box program financial contributions, 2010–2013(includes Maple Leaf Foods, Canada Bread and Olivieri® branded products)
Stacked Bar Ctart
Provincial blue box program financial contributions, 2010-2013 (includes Maple Leaf Foods, Canada Bread and Olivieri branded products)
  Ontario Quebec Manitoba British Columbia TOTAL by year
2010 $1,248,874 $358,810 $24,250 N/A  $1,631,934
2011 $793,224 $461,250 $89,641 N/A  $1,344,115
2012 $777,049 $440,460 $88,321 N/A  $1,305,830
2013 $757,738 $661,000 $70,139 $383,471 $1,872,348
TOTAL $3,576,885 $1,921,520 $272,351 $383,471 $6,154,227

Despite this challenge, in 2013 Maple Leaf Foods advanced its packaging sustainability efforts when developing new packaging. Each year, we are committed to implementing two initiatives that will deliver benefits to the environment through packaging reduction or improvements. In 2013, we removed the foam polystyrene trays from more than 12 million whole chicken products, replacing the trays with a bag that can be recycled in most municipalities. We also transferred our canned meat flakes products from steel to aluminum cans, reducing our annual consumption of metal by 363 metric tonnes and reducing the weight of the packaging by 56%, which reduces energy consumed and emissions generated throughout the supply chain during transportation.

We also transferred our canned meat flakes products from steel to aluminum cans, reducing our annual consumption of metal by 363 metric tonnes and reducing the weight of the packaging by 56%, which reduces energy consumed and emissions generated during transportation.

Through our partnership with TerraCycle®, more than 85,000 Schneiders Lunchmate® kits have been collected and recycled at schools and youth programs since the program began in the spring of 2013. This not only eliminated waste, but the program also raised more than $2,000 for the 486 participating schools (May 2014).

We moved all of our poultry for private label products from foam trays to trays made with low density polyethylene (LDPE), a plastic that can be recycled again and again. In 2014, we are re-designing our packaging to increase the volume of product on each pallet and optimizing the pallets to fit more onto each truck for shipping. This will mean fewer trucks on the road and fewer kilometres travelled to ship product to market.

Responsible packaging is not only about less packaging or more environmentally friendly packaging. The average household in Canada throws the equivalent of $500 worth of food in the garbage every year; that food consumes eight to 10 times more energy than the packaging that protects it. Food that goes to waste because it spoils before being consumed has significant environmental implications. We made the packaging on our deli slices re-sealable, which is more convenient for the consumer and keeps the deli slices fresh longer. Maple Leaf’s Portions™ offers consumers the flexibility and convenience of choosing the right quantity of chicken for each meal or snack according to their family size and needs, helping to potentially reduce food waste.

To establish benchmarks and allow us to monitor our performance, in early 2013 we gained the ability to track the weight of our packaging that was distributed to consumers. This was made possible through the implementation of SAP, our new enterprise-wide information technology system. We estimate it may take several years to fully populate our packaging database and leverage the full capabilities of this advanced system. During 2013, we launched two research projects with the University of Alberta related to the use of packaging to enhance the safety of food. Through our support for the Grocers and Manufacturers Collaborative and a sustainability initiative through the Packaging Association of Canada, we are working to increase the rate of recycling of packaging across the food industry.