News Articles Featured | CTV.ca | December 15, 2011
A major American food company is promising to avoid using fuel from Alberta's oilsands.
Chiquita Brands, which sells hundreds of millions of dollars of fruit, juice and snacks around the world, says it has joined 13 other companies and one city in trying to reduce its carbon footprint.
"We are committed to directing our transportation providers to avoid, where possible, fuels from tarsands refineries," says a letter from Chiquita vice-president Manuel Rodriguez to Aaron Sanger of the environmental group ForestEthics.
"We will identify all fuel providers for these (Chiquita-)owned or dedicated trucking fleets and work with ForestEthics to identify any connection between Chiquita's fuel providers and tarsands refineries toward the goal of eliminating fuel from these providers that is connected with tarsands refineries."
Other companies that have joined the ForestEthics campaign have taken a variety of actions.
Cosmetics giant Avon and U.S. drugstore chain Walgreen's have both made commitments similar to Chiquita's.
Others, such as Gap, Levi Strauss and Timberland, have only said they are trying to reduce the environmental impact of transporting their products. The city of Bellingham, Wash., has guidelines minimizing fuel purchases that take oilsands feedstock.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers will challenge Chiquita's position, said spokesman Travis Davies.
"We are asking Chiquita to prepare a social and environmental report on the alternatives to Canadian crude and then explain its decision. We believe our record of continuous improvement of environmental and social performance stands up very well to anyone."
Davies said companies described as "boycotting" the oilsands have later denied that stance.
Sanger responded that ForestEthics has never overstated a company's support.
"No company has changed its position as stated by ForestEthics," he said.
Sanger said that Chiquita came on board after a year-long effort that began with a formal letter and ended with full-page ads in a major U.S. paper and an online write-in campaign so large it crashed the company's Facebook site.
ForestEthics wants oilsands producers to clean up their operations.
"We want to see things change on the ground both in Alberta and in the United States," said Sanger.
"We want to see forest destruction in Alberta minimized, water pollution dramatically reduced and air pollution dramatically reduced in Alberta. And in the United States, we want to see safeguards to the continued threatening of community health that comes directly from the processing of tarsands in U.S. refineries."
Davies pointed to a report issued Thursday that detailed the industry's environmental progress.
Both nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions per barrel of oil have dropped. Water use per barrel is at its lowest rate ever, with 90 per cent of water from the Athabasca being recycled.
However, the report acknowledges greenhouse gas emissions per barrel are increasing, largely because of a shift in the way the resource is mined.
The ForestEthics campaign is one of a number of efforts that could threaten how oilsands-derived products are welcomed in the marketplace.
Both California and the European Union are committed to low-carbon fuel initiatives. As well, approval for the Keystone XL pipeline into the U.S. has been delayed over concerns it will carry oilsands bitumen.