Greenpeace Releases Report on ‘Best and Worst’ of Sustainable Seafood Retailers

May 17, 2011 4:15 PM ET

Be Green Packaging News Blog

There are few issues of greater importance to humanity than the health of the world's oceans. Covering just over 70% of the Earth's surface, oceans are the most significant geological feature on the planet. According to the UN, over 200 million people are completely dependent on fishing as a source of livelihood and nourishment. Therefore, the Food and Agriculture Organization's estimate that "…over 70% of the world's fish species are either fully exploited or depleted." is nothing short of alarming. Although many in the West are aware that our oceans (and subsequently fish) are highly polluted with heavy metals, the issue of overfishing is seldom cited as a reason to be concerned. Nick Nuttall, the Head of Media Services for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), states that, "The magnitude of the problem of overfishing is often overlooked, given the competing claims of deforestation, desertification, energy resource exploitation and other biodiversity depletion dilemmas".   Greenpeace, one of the world's largest environmental NGO's, has made a major attempt to correct the situation through its annual Carting Away the Oceans Report. Often referred to as CATO, the report seeks to provide a window of transparency into the policies and programs of the nations largest seafood retailers. The report measures the performance of various supermarket chains and suppliers in five categories: Rating, Policy, Initiatives, Transparency, and Red List Sales. An overall score is then generated to provide a ranking system for the companies profiled.   One of Be Green Packaging's biggest customers, Whole Foods Market, has consistently ranked highly on the CATO list (top 5), and this year is no exception. Whole Foods has earned its spot by maintaining stringent guidelines concerning where and how it sources its seafood and by simultaneously maintaining transparency in its operations. In the report, Greenpeace states, "Whole Foods Market is among the most progressive members in the US seafood retail sector."   This year saw Whole Foods market capture the #4 position on the list. The company dropped one spot from last years high of #3. However, it is important to note that this not due to a lowering of the company's standards, but rather a comparative increase in the stringency of its competitors standards. In fact, Greenpeace points out that "Although [Whole Foods] has dropped to #4 in this update of the Carting Away the Oceans project, the chain is poised to potentially recapture the top spot." This is due to recently announced plans by the company to stop selling all "red-listed" seafood by Earth Day 2012. A "red listing" refers to any species of fish which has a "…very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries.” as judged by Greenpeace, which created the standard.   Greenpeace went on to commend the company regarding its 'Sustainable Seafood Policy' stating:           "Whole Foods maintains the strongest and most complex sourcing policy of any of
        the twenty retailers examined within the context of this report. While there is still room
        for improvement, Whole Foods’ policy is indeed at the front of the pack in terms of
        its comprehensive and science-based nature."   Whole Foods Market takes its commitment to sustainability one step further by packaging nearly all of its take-home seafood in Be Green Packaging’s Cradle-to-Cradle certified recyclable and compostable packaging.   Other high-ranking companies in this years report are Safeway (#1), Target and Wegmans (tied for #2), and Ahold (#5). Along with Whole Foods, these companies are pioneering a new precedent in sustainable seafood by allowing consumers to make educated choices and to vote with their wallets every time they shop.     Be Green Packaging LLC, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., manufactures and distributes Cradle-to-Cradle certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the food and consumer packaging industries. The company’s products are made from annually renewable plant fibers that are safe for people and healthy for the planet. For more information about the company, please visit   BGP13880