Investors Highlight Biodiversity Risks in the Meat Sector - Focus on Waste and Pollution
FAIRR, an influential investor network, has launched an engagement with 10 leading animal agriculture firms to tackle pollution from animal waste.
Source: ESG Communications
via Newswires - September 21, 2022
LONDON , UNITED KINGDOM , September 21, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Investors Highlight Biodiversity Risks in the Meat Sector - Focus on Waste and Pollution
FAIRR, an influential investor network, has launched an engagement with 10 leading animal agriculture firms to tackle pollution from animal waste, with an initial $8tn of investor backing.
Waste dwarfs plastics: Over three billion tonnes of waste1 are produced from animal farms each year, more than the volume of plastic produced worldwide.
Wasted opportunity: Investors call on firms to turn nutrients from animal waste into valuable resources such as fertiliser.
Mounting regulation: Animal agriculture firms face increasing regulatory and financial risk from mismanagement of waste water discharge and manure.
(London, 21 September 2022): The $68 trillion-backed FAIRR Initiative has launched a world-first investor engagement addressing the biodiversity impacts of waste mismanagement and nutrient pollution from intensive livestock production. This is the first in a series of FAIRR engagements targeting biodiversity, which creates $44 trillion of economic value -- or 50% of global GDP -- annually, making it critical to the economy.
Investors representing over $8tn in AUM, including Robeco and Aviva Investors, will engage ten intensive pork and chicken producers including JBS (Brazil), Tyson Foods (US), BRF (Brazil), Cranswick (UK), Maple Leaf (Canada) and WH Group (China) – owners of Smithfield Foods in the US2.
The investors are asking 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.
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. It is rarely transported more than a few kilometres to be spread on crops4, thus failing to spread to regions where there isn’t as much livestock.
Investors will, therefore, also 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. Fertiliser prices have hit record highs since the start of the war in Ukraine, emphasising the need for better circular use of animal waste. Already, the EU is seeking to accelerate the development of alternative products to reduce its dependence on Russian products and gas.
The engagement is informed by a new report, published today, which states that over three billion tonnes of waste are produced from animal farms each year, more than the volume of plastic produced worldwide. The report also highlights previous findings from FAIRR that show the volume of faeces produced by animal agriculture per year is equivalent to the faecal waste produced by twice the entire global human population5. Many 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 expansion6.
FAIRR’s investor members are keenly aware of growing biodiversity risks and their implications, particularly in the run up to the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) this December. Increasing regulation to tackle waste and pollution from animal agriculture is being seen across the globe, including in the Netherlands, China and USA7 displacing supply chains and often pushing companies to increase their capital investments.
Jeremy Coller, Chair and Founder of the FAIRR Initiative, and Chief Investment Officer of Coller Capital, said:
“The meat industry’s failure to manage manure effectively is threatening both biodiversity and the bottom line for investors. Unbelievably, more waste is produced by animal farms each year, than the volume of plastic produced worldwide. The practice of dumping excessive amounts of manure and allowing nutrients to pollute waterways is killing off marine life and endangering public health.
“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 fertilizer from waste, at a time when it has never been more expensive to procure.”
Max Boucher, Senior Manager, Research and Engagement, the FAIRR Initiative., said:
“This investor engagement shows it’s not enough to look at 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.”
*full version with references available on FAIRR’s website here.