Real Leaders

How Saving the Environment Can be Profitable

PODCAST PEOPLE: A Summary from the Real Leaders Podcast

“Consumers want products that have a low impact on the planet. They want to feel like they’re part of the solution. So one of our trade lines is, “Be part of the solution.” If you shop at SPUD, we’re saying you’re being part of a solution to a bigger problem.”

Peter van Stolk is the founder and CEO of SPUD, a sustainable online grocery delivery service operating in Western Canada’s urban centers. SPUD sources the most local products possible, and works with local farmers and vendors to ensure the freshest and highest quality products available. SPUD is named among the Real Leaders 100 Top Impact Companies of 2020.

The following is a summary of Episode 67 of the Real Leaders Podcast, a conversation with SPUD founder and CEO, Peter van Stolk. Read or listen to the full conversation below.

Addressing Food Waste

On a global scale, food waste would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions behind the US and China. Peter explains that SPUD has avoided the traditional channels of food waste through operating as an online service. SPUD has minimized waste to half a percent. This is because they do not over-order produce, and have no need for displays that inevitably lead to damaged product.

“There’s three functions of food waste, so you can’t solve the problem without looking at the three channels of food. We waste food producing it, we waste food selling it, and we waste food consuming it.”

But food waste is not only an environmental concern, it’s a hugely unprofitable side of the grocery business. Grocery retailers waste 6% of their total sales throwing away profitable goods. Additionally, $400 billion in food is thrown away annually before it even reaches stores. Doug suggests that looking at food waste from a business standpoint would ultimately solve the problem.

“If retailers are throwing away profitable goods, that’s not good business. So let’s make this about good business. If retailers can cut their food waste from 6% to half a percent, that’s more profit. And we live in a capitalist society where profits are good. So let’s make saving the environment profitable.”

Listen to Episode 67 on Spotify, Anchor, Crowdcast, and Apple Podcasts

Circular Sustainability

Doug elaborates that food waste also includes packaging and transportation, additional factors that are often overlooked. SPUD addresses transportation by tracking the food miles for each individual product and giving customers the choice to select how “local” their produce truly is.

SPUD also operates a circular system with their delivery trucks, such that no vehicle returns from a delivery run empty. As a result, trucks pick up produce from nearby suppliers on their way back from deliveries, ensuring backhaul doesn’t account for wasted emissions. Furthermore, SPUD also uses this circular system as a take-back recycling program, to collect plastics from their customers that can’t be recycled in traditional municipal landfills and properly recycle them.

“This is really important. Because if we are going to change the world, and stop the insanity that we’re doing, we can’t make people wrong. We have to make them strong and make them better.”



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