First BetterPlanet Award Announced, PhD Student Honoured

June 28, 2013 - Campus Bulletin

Choosing to become a more sustainable pet food company has won Royal Canin Canada the first-ever BetterPlanet Award, announced this week at the Guelph Awards of Excellence event. Also honoured during the event was PhD student Gavin Armstrong, who received one of four Mayor’s Awards.

The BetterPlanet Award, sponsored by the University of Guelph’s BetterPlanet Project, honours a company whose holistic view of sustainability combines environmental, social, cultural and economic factors. The honour was announced at the 14th annual awards night June 27, hosted by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

In presenting the award, Julia Christensen Hughes, dean of the College of Management and Economics, said the BetterPlanet Project “is a plan to help improve the quality of food, environment, health and communities here and around the world.

“This award recognizes those companies that look to be sustainable, and we are pleased to recognize Royal Canin for being a successful company with a strong dedication to the environment and to their neighbours in the community.”

Royal Canin has earned ISO 14001 certification by developing an environmental management system. The company seeks out sustainable ingredient sources, has reduced hydro consumption by three per cent this year and has achieved its goal of sending zero waste to landfill.

“It’s always a feel-good moment when you’re recognized for trying to do something good," said Gregory Watine, Royal Canin Canada general manager, who accepted the award. "As a family business, we made a commitment to be sustainable in one generation, so that our kids will see an immediate improvement due to our company. We put sustainability at the core of our business, and it has worked for us well.”

Armstrong’s award from Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge recognized his work in fighting hunger and poverty, locally and around the world. The biomedical sciences student has organized several Guinness World Record-setting events on campus to package meals for needy recipients. The first event in 2011 generated 159,000 packaged meals; in 2012, the effort yielded 350,000 packages. The goal for this September ’s planned event is 650,000 meal packages.

Armstrong has also contributed to the Lucky Iron Fish Project in Cambodia, which attempts to provide dietary iron to counter chronic anemia.

He credits the University of Guelph with providing opportunities to contribute to the community.

“Guelph provides a very experiential model of learning, so that through the university I was able to go to a refugee camp in Kenya, which got me engaged with the community,” he said. “The University has supported me, including the food packaging program. We have a caring community at Guelph, and it creates an engaged and caring group of people.”

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