SFTA members such as Nutiva, Wholesum Harvest, and Viva Tierra are making significant progress in sustainable packaging using a high percentage of recycled and recyclable materials. Some are making improvements that allow them to ship more efficiently.

 The Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA) has partnered with B Lab to help companies “Measure What Matters.” Using the Quick Impact Assessment (QIA) tool allows companies to “identify and evaluate business’s strengths, where there is room to improve, and measure your business against others.” It also allows to involve the supply chain to complete the QIA to get the information needed to make the entire operations sustainable.

Since 2008 members of the SFTA have shared 161 detailed sustainability reports that address 11 action areas and metrics. In this reporting cycle, the SFTA's September Member Sustainability Report found a 77 percent increase over the previous year with 39 SFTA members submitting reports.

Every year, the New Castle, VA-based SFTA generates a Member Sustainability Progress Report that contains aggregated data from the annual member reports from farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers about their business accomplishments in years 2015-1016.

"The report highlights significant achievements which include organic acreage and land use, distribution and sourcing, energy use, climate change, water use and quality, waste reduction, packaging and marketing materials, labor, animal care, sustainability education, governance, and community," the SFTA said.

"Measuring, analyzing, and reporting on these 11 action areas represent the dedication to sustainable business practices and the value the SFTA member companies place on achieving results."

Some of the most impressive numbers of members reporting this year include:

* Companies diverted 83 percent of waste from landfills — 42 percent via recycling; 24 percent by composting; and 17 percent from reusing/repurposing. It is the fourth year in a row SFTA members have increased the percentage of waste diverted from landfills.

* 77 percent of electricity members used came from renewable energy sources, with over half (56 percent) of reporting members generating a portion of their renewable energy on-site (i.e., through use of solar panels).

* 31 percent of reporting members cite a decrease in overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because of setting GHG reduction targets, and 66 percent of members monitor and record GHG emissions – helping catalyze awareness around emissions generation.

* 78 percent of members screen their major suppliers for positive practices (i.e., organic, fair trade) beyond what is required by regulation (i.e., food safety); 58 percent have a formal Code of Conduct policy that holds explicitly their suppliers, distributors, or retailers accountable for social and environmental performance.

“This report from the SFTA community of companies shows what can be accomplished with sustainable practices to generate dramatic positive change. Measuring and reporting differentiate SFTA members from companies that make commitments but cannot demonstrate results,” stated Katherine DiMatteo, SFTA executive director.

To highlight the innovative approaches SFTA members take to achieve their sustainability goals and improve their social and environmental impacts, SFTA is releasing a Case Study series to be published every six weeks and posted on the SFTA website and Facebook.

To kick off the series, the Materials Recovery Program at Pacific Foods illustrates best practices in waste reduction. Some of the remarkable triple-bottom-line results that Pacific Foods has enjoyed since 2006 include:

*Recovery rate (materials composted, recycled, re-used) has increased from 40 percent in 2006 to 86 percent in 2016!

* Five full-time “green collar” jobs have been created to support the community!

* The company annually brought in over $140,000 in profits from the sale of recovered materials and avoided over $600,000 of landfill tipping fees. This means nearly three-quarters of a million dollars back in the pocket of the company each year!

* Kept over 6,000 tons of waste from the landfill each year – avoiding 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually!

This year’s report contains an aggregate of data provided by SFTA members, which include: Amy's Kitchen; Annie’s, Inc.; Apex Mfg. Solutions; Ashland Food Co-op; Awe Sum Organics; Bay Baby Produce; Bridge’s Organic Produce; Chico Natural Food Co-op; Ciranda; Clif Bar; Coconut Bliss; Community Food Co-op; DanoneWave; Drink Eat Well – Hilary’s; Earl’s Organic Produce; Equal Exchange; Fruit d’Or, Inc.; GloryBee Foods; GoMacro, LLC; Hummingbird Wholesale; LifeSource Natural Foods; Lundberg Family Farms; MOM’s Organic Market; Mountain Rose Herbs; Nature’s Path Foods; North Coast Co-op; Nativar; Organic Valley; Organically Grown Company; Outpost Natural Foods; Pacific Foods; Port Townsend Co-op; Purity Organic; So Delicious Dairy Free; Straus Family Creamery; Traditional Medicinals; UNFI; Viva Tierra; and Wholesum Harvest.