Bizcuits | Animal cruelty coming off the menu

Environmental sustainability has gained traction from our Integrated Resorts. Earlier focus was on the traditional low-hanging fruit of cost-cutting through water and energy efficiencies, recycling and CO2 emissions. For instance, Sands has replaced light bulbs, double-glazed windows to minimize heater transfer, set up automated chiller systems, and promotes their natural gas fleet of Parisian’s guest shuttle buses.

Earth Hour – an initiative from Sydney – was extended monthly by hotels and casinos across Macau in 2013 when properties turn off their external lighting for one hour from 8:30pm on the first Tuesday of every month.

Recently, effort has been made to reduce plastic and recycle organic waste. Sands and MGM have removed plastic straws from restaurants and back of house, and plastic bottles are less obvious at meetings: Sands will re-design the 5.7 million bottles per annum currently in use. Waste is a design choice, after all. The company also supported another Australian-gone-global initiative, encouraging staff to take on the Plastic Free July challenge.

Now, there is growing awareness in this Creative City of Gastronomy of the impact of dietary choice on ecology and climate change. Sands has placed a ban on shark fin in internal food outlets and in restaurants owned by the company. Fair Trade, local and organic produce is offered at Green Meetings and staff are served plant-based meals every Green Monday.

Corporate greenwashing, Corporate Social Responsibility as a form of insurance, and the realization that corporate decisions are not always made to benefit customers or the broader environment have created a level of distrust. Having become cynical about sustainability programs, many demand supply chain transparency in both procurement and waste management. It is not just about carbon emissions anymore.

Consumers who trust buy on taste, convenience, and affordability. People are now, however, starting to demand evidence of food safety, good animal management and environmental impact.

Seeking organic certification mitigates the harmful effects to individuals from chemical-laden food grown “conventionally”. Veganism, too, is partly a response to the horrors unveiled in the management of animals in factory farming. As stated by the NGO, Compassion in World Farming, in the U.S., 95% of animals grown for food are on factory farms: most laying hens are caged, sows are kept in crates, and broiler chickens are fed and grown so quickly they cannot support their own weight.

In the 1960s, a dairy farmer in the UK established the NGO because of concerns he had that animal welfare was being compromised for business efficiencies. “Conventional” factory farming of animal protein remains the largest source of cruelty on the planet. Their ambit started with lobbying for legislative change in the EU and the UK, which saw the worst practices, such as battery cages, banned. The NGO is now working together with large food companies on policies and practices to improve animal welfare and encourage protein diversification. These organisations can do tremendous good (like Melco’s “Above and Beyond” commitment), influence a broader customer base and drive legislative change.

Certification is one way to give consumers a level of assurance, but organic certification alone is not rigorous enough as it does not allow for animal welfare or soil health – it is consumer focused. Better animal management, however, intersects with other positive outcomes. A pilot Regenerative Organic Certification assesses three areas of animal welfare, social justice and soil health based upon pasture-based animal husbandry, fairness to farmers and agricultural workers, and soil regeneration (carbon sequestering).

If you need more of a business justification for it, Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance investors are starting to ask how well companies are managing the risk of having animals in their supply chain. Should companies not be managing this appropriately, it can be considered a broader indicator of management incompetence.

The NGO’s recommendation for sustainability in protein procurement is to source from regenerative systems, increase protein diversification and switch to plant-centric diets.

Categories Opinion