Santropol Roulant: A Sustainable Approach to Food Delivery

The Opportunity

After operating from a sustainability platform for a number of years, Santropol Roulant, a non-profit in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal, questioned their sustainability impacts and decided to look into further actions that would help reduce their ecological footprint.

The Response

In 2006 and 2007, The Natural Step helped Santropol Roulant execute a vision and action plan for sustainability which proved to have strong social, environmental and financial payoffs.

The Process

Santropol Roulant was established as a youth-driven meals-on-wheels service in 1995. With only 12 staff and plenty of volunteers, making small changes toward sustainability went a long way such as the development of an internal Eco-Challenge program. However, Santropol Roulant realized that it could benefit from being more strategic about its sustainability initiatives and hired The Natural Step Canada to assist them with this endeavour.

The Natural Step Canada held three workshops with Santropol Roulant. In the first workshop, staff were introduced to the main concepts behind The Natural Step framework, in the second, they identified their greatest sustainability challenges bases on an internal assessment using sustainability principles, and in the final workshop, staff put their goals into action to fully execute their Eco-Challenge program. Energy, water, food, materials, communication and outreach, transport, policies and partnerships, and healthy communities were all included as strategic focal areas of the program.  

In the first few months after their final workshop with The Natural Step, Santropol Roulant made progress in their sustainability initiatives by first hiring a Sustainability Coordinator. Other simple initiatives such as replacing paper towels with cloth and replacing one of two delivery vehicles with a gas-electric hybrid model aligned their actions with their sustainability vision. Santropol Roulant even saved close to $3000 by making immediate changes to its food production cycle. In addition, a number of indicators were developed and monitored in order to track progress, such as weight of vegetables harvested, weight of compost collected, and responses from client surveys.

Santropol Roulant has made great progress toward its goals and by thinking creatively and adopting innovative practices they intend to build their organization into the best community role model it can possibly be.

The Feedback

Working with the Natural Step allowed us to develop a detailed action plan for becoming more sustainable as an organization. We have since honed in on the key area of food and are now known as a leader in the modeling of sustainable urban food systems.”

-Tim Murphy, Director of Sustainability, Santropol Roulant

Written by: Julia Dupuis

Learn more about The Natural Step Canada’s Service Path for Sustainable Business and how we can help your business develop a bold sustainability vision, strategy, and action plan. Please contact us to discuss your unique needs.