UNITED KINGDOM, London. The US$68 trillion-backed FAIRR Initiative called on ten intensive pork and chicken producers to disclose their animal waste management and associated risk measures.
Last week, the investor network FAIRR launched its engagement addressing the biodiversity impacts of waste mismanagement and nutrient pollution from intensive livestock production. Among the companies that were called on for increased transparency are JBS (Brazil), Tyson Foods (US), BRF (Brazil), Cranswick (UK), Maple Leaf (Canada) and WH Group (China) – owners of Smithfield Foods in the US.
The investors called on each company to disclose a full assessment of how manure is managed in their supply chains and which concrete actions they are taking to manage the associated risks, such as nutrient pollution.
According to a recent press release, manure represents a precious store of nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser. Yet, due to complexities surrounding its distribution, it is routinely treated as a waste product to be disposed of inexpensively rather than as a valuable fertiliser.
The investors are looking to engage with two agrochemical companies (Darling Ingredients and Yara International) to explore the potential use of animal waste as a circular source of raw ingredients, for example, by isolating, enhancing, and reusing elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus to produce value-added fertiliser.
The investor initiative stated that the engagement was informed by a new report
published in the journal Nature, which found that over three billion tonnes of waste are produced from animal farms each year, more than the volume of plastic produced worldwide. Furthermore, the report also highlights that cases of inadequate management of animal manure lead to nutrient pollution that harms waterways, air quality and biodiversity, resulting in sizeable lawsuits and several examples of community opposition to farm expansion.
“Investors are well aware of the regulatory risk for companies, having seen initial steps taken in the US and Netherlands. Moreover, companies are missing an opportunity to be part of a global solution by creating valuable fertiliser from waste, at a time when it has never been more expensive to procure,” said Jeremy Coller, Chair and Founder of the FAIRR Initiative and Chief Investment Officer of Coller Capital.
Max Boucher, Senior Manager, Research and Engagement of the FAIRR Initiative, said: “This investor engagement shows it’s not enough to look at the climate in isolation. The animal agriculture industry needs to assess risks and opportunities through a lens of nature neutrality and eventually positivity – in this case, managing nutrient pollution in addition to methane emissions. Investors will become increasingly demanding in this regard as initiatives like the TNFD gain traction and a global agreement on biodiversity becomes more likely.”
According to FAIRR, this engagement is the first in a three-pronged engagement series: ‘Protein Producers and Pathways to Biodiversity Loss’ and accompanied by the report Creating a Stink: How Manure Drives Pollution and Biodiversity Risk For Animal Protein Producers
outlining the issue.
Source: The FAIRR Initiative