HOLD INDUSTRIES ACCOUNTABLE- By Prosper Adankai, Freelance Environmental Research Journalist.

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A Ph.D. candidate and Public Scholar at Concordia University, Canada Kerole Raid has encouraged consumers to subject supply chain analyses report of manufacturers to critical scrutiny to make sure what they say is environmentally friendly is really the fact.

He observed that most producers have credibility issues as they engage in brainwashing and branding exercises for their financial gains at the expense of environmental sustainability. This came to light at a CUCompost Live Fireside Chat on the theme: International perspectives on waste reduction, food systems, and sustainability efforts spearheaded by Concordia university and Green Africa Youth Organisation. The issue of global food loss and waste reduction has received considerable international attention and it presents a full potential of opportunity to improve food security and enhance environmental sustainability. Significantly, there is a lack of pressure on industries at the policy level to check if they have the capacity to manage the products they produce when they reach their end of life. Speaking on the Bring Back your own Marshmallow for a fireside chat with three other speakers on Webinar, the recipient of the Quebec Lieutenant-Governor Youth Medal encouraged consumers to hold industries accountable for what they say and not fall prey to their brainwashing and branding exercises.

He expressed concern that engineers are churned out from Universities with just 9 percent of them with a background in sustainability practices and called on educational institutions to be committed to incorporating sustainability courses into the curriculum to scale up graduates who are devoted to waste reduction strategies. He maintained that whilst new technologies are key in solving environmental issues, the problem is largely a social problem requiring behavioral change. Keroles Riad indicated that the COVID 19 pandemic has brought to the fore that drastic behavioral change is possible with political commitment and a hands-on deck approach.

The Public Scholar revealed that an online poll conducted by Concordia University to ascertain the level of personal waste generated during the lockdown received 168 respondents and 50 comments. He added that out of the number of respondents, 60 percent admitted that their personal waste had increased with 40 percent saying their personal waste had reduced.

He attributed the rise in personal waste to that fact that vendors and bookstores refused to accept reusable material from customers even though studies conducted by 100 scientist shows that reusable materials do not carry the virus.

For those with reduced personal waste, Mr. Riad pointed out that the stay-at-home protocol contributed significantly in making people cook at home, plant their own food, and harvest them hence the decline of patronizing food joints and online sales. Touching on the Concordia university compost initiative in collaboration with Layola Sustainability Research Centre dubbed Waste not, want not, the public scholar disclosed that in collaboration with administration, students, and Professors it has improved infrastructure to make compost bin available to all floors indicating 100 accomplishments with 92 metric tonnes of compost annually and 16 percent decrease in waste per year. Kerole Riad added that the model is a couple of top-down infrastructure improvements with credible grass-root broad impact education and spin-off companies to champion advocacy at the community level.

The Waste not, want not is funded by Concordia council of students, CCSL, Sustainability Action Fund, SAF, and Concordia Students Union.

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