AUDIO (9:55) | Feds revamp stance on idling after meeting with drive-thru group | Tim Hortons Greenwash

CBC AUDIO.

In case you missed it the first time.

We are sending this out as there are many new councillors across the country that have recently taken on this issue.

This strategy of “manufacturing scientific uncertainty” comes directly from the industry’s denialism playbook. The industry invests big money for public relations campaign to raise doubts about the increasingly definitive scientific evidence. They realize that if you could argue about the science, then you can stop municipalities from trying to address the problem. If the new ‘science’ which is bought and paid by industry doesn’t work, they fall back on the argument of ‘choice’ – whatever the risk to society, it the citizens right to do so. This is just another example of industry’s scientific consultants who specialize in product defense. Not unlike tobacco, oil and climate change. Corporate spin experts have recognized that manufacturing doubt works and if they do it well they can stop government legislation, or at least slow them down for years. This is a growing trend that disingenuously demands proof over precaution in the realm of public health.

AUDIO: Reporter Giacomo Panico discusses the details on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning

http://cbc.ca/ottawa/media/audio/ottawamorning/20080811drive.ram

Feds revamp stance on idling after meeting with drive-thru group

Last Updated: Monday, August 11, 2008 | 11:35 AM ET

CBC News

A federal government website that highlights the negative health and environmental effects of idling your engine has revamped its message after meeting with a group representing drive-thru restaurants.

‘It’s gonna make it harder for every city politician to make the argument that we need to have restrictive legislation on idling.’— Ottawa Coun. Clive Doucet

The “Idle-Free Zone,” a website managed by Natural Resources Canada’s office of energy efficiency, was removed for review following a meeting with the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. A revised version was posted five months later, on July 22, that:

  • Advises drivers to shut off their engines after 60 seconds of idling; the previous version advocated turning engines off after 10 seconds.
  • Does not refer to 5,000 premature deaths annually in Canada linked to air pollution, as the previous version did, and no longer includes posters bearing images such as a girl choking and slogans such as “Idling is killing our environment.”

The website says its purpose is to help communities and environmental groups stop engine idling.

Carol Buckley, director general of the office of energy efficiency, confirmed that the restaurant association met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn on Feb. 7.

According to Lunn’s spokeswoman, Louise Girouard, no one from the office of energy efficiency attended the meeting. Girouard confirmed that an e-mail was sent from Lunn’s office on Feb. 8 asking the site to be taken down.

Buckley said the site was temporarily removed because the office didn’t want to leave any misleading information online while it was being revised.

“We wanted to make sure that the website reflected all of the latest data and information that was available about this topic,” she said, adding that in the end the changes were “not really significant.”

The change to the recommended amount of idling time was made because of access to new research taking into account the wear and tear on a car’s battery and starter caused by shutting off and restarting the engine, she said. Previously, the site said such wear and tear was minimal.

The new site now also refers readers to Health Canada instead of detailing the health impacts of idling because Natural Resources felt that wasn’t really their jurisdiction and they wanted to focus on the effects on climate change, Buckley added.

“I think the emphasis in the earlier text was a little strong. Today’s vehicles are more efficient when it comes to smog emissions,” she said.

Site ‘lacks balance’: restaurant group

Joyce Reynolds, executive vice-president for government affairs for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the group corresponded with a number of government officials at various levels about the website, which was used by many municipalities to develop their own anti-idling bylaws.

‘What I would like to see is that Natural Resources Canada put the same amount of emphasis on these other driving behaviours that they do on idling.’— Joyce Reynolds, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

“Our concern is that municipal decision-making must be based on facts and scientific evidence,” she said. “And we were seeing some municipalities that were focusing on the health impacts of idling based on information that was incorrect and misleading.”

The association argues Natural Resources Canada didn’t put enough weight on pollution caused by a puff of contaminants produced when an engine is restarted after being shut down.

Reynolds said some of that misleading information on the “Idle-Free Zone” site has now been corrected, but the site still “lacks balance.”

In particular, she said, it doesn’t deal with other driving behaviours that cause greenhouse gas and pollution emissions, such as excessive speeding, rapid acceleration and poor vehicle maintenance.

“What I would like to see is that Natural Resources Canada put the same amount of emphasis on these other driving behaviours that they do on idling,” Reynolds said.

With regards to idling, the changes to the site will have an impact on municipalities, Ottawa city Coun. Clive Doucet said.

“It’s gonna make it harder for every city politician to make the argument that we need to have restrictive legislation on idling. It’s not good news for cities anywhere,” said Doucet, who pushed hard for an anti-idling bylaw in Ottawa.

A bylaw banning idling for more than three minutes in Ottawa went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

With the aim of reducing pollution from idling cars, a number of cities in Canada — including London, Ont., North Vancouver and Sarnia, Ont. — are thinking about making it tougher for restaurants to build new drive-thrus.

Gordon Taylor, an engineering consultant who has done air-quality studies for Natural Resources Canada, suggested that the restaurant association could be taking another approach to deal with criticism of drive-thrus.

“I think the restaurant association should have some kind of a pro-active campaign to say, ‘Hey, if there’s a big long lineup, consider walking in the door.’ ”

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2008/08/11/ot-drivethru-080811.html

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Tim Hortons Drive-thru Threat Heats Up | Greenwashing at it’s Best in Comox Canada …

timcomoxgreenwash

It’s still not okay to idle | Published August 25, 2008 in the NB Telegraph Journal

It’s still not okay to idle

By Carl Duivenvoorden

Published August 25, 2008 in the NB Telegraph Journal

Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) is our federal government’s official body for helping Canadians save energy and money. Its website, http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca, has a wealth of information about everything from buying better home appliances to designing better commercial buildings.

If you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you may have noticed that longstanding guidelines for idling reduction were modified recently. But there’s something just a bit suspicious about the changes.

Old rules and new rules

For years, the OEE’s idling reduction programs have been based on the ten second rule. Its message is simple: it’s better to turn a car or light truck engine off than to let it idle for more than 10 seconds.

It’s a general guideline, so as with any such rule there are exceptions. For example, it’s not recommended that engines be shut off at traffic stoplights – they don’t always start back up when you want them to, and that can create a traffic mess. As well, it doesn’t always make sense in cold winter conditions. But overall, the ten second rule has been a great guideline for Canadians, helping us save money, fuel and the environment.

But back in February, the ten second rule suddenly disappeared from OEE’s website. In its place was a message indicating that an update was coming soon.

Six months later, the long-awaited update has finally arrived, and now it seems that it’s okay to idle longer. Has the science behind the recommendation changed – or is something else at work? A recent CBC news story suggests there’s a bit more behind our federal government’s change of heart.

Real science or science of convenience?

You see, excessive idling is starting to become socially frowned upon. It’s about time, of course – Canadians waste literally millions of liters of fuel every day through unnecessary idling. If we are truly ready to believe that the environment is worth taking care of, minimizing our idling is one of the easiest things we can do.

Much of our preventable idling takes place in drive-throughs, so fast food restaurants and coffee shops are becoming concerned that a backlash against idling might put a damper on a part of their business that clearly makes mountains of cash. If that CBC story is correct, they have been very busy behind the scenes, working to sanitize the image of their drive-throughs. That sanitization campaign has included sponsoring a study that concludes that going through the coffee shop drive-through causes no more pollution than parking. It has included publicizing those results using questionable comparisons, such as comparing chain saws (whose 2-stroke engines pollute much more by design) to vehicles in drive-throughs. And it has included pulling political strings to help the study’s conclusions become part of the government’s new recommendations.

Could the story be true? Well, here are a few indisputable facts. RWDI Air, an Ontario engineering firm, recently conducted a study on behalf of Tim Horton’s that seems to vindicate drive-throughs. The study is being widely used to defend them, including by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), whose membership includes most drive-through operators in Canada.

Then last February, the CRFA met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, who oversees the OEE – and the ten second rule disappeared from OEE’s website within 24 hours.

I hope the CBC story is wrong, of course, and that this is all just coincidence. Just like any other Canadian, I want to believe that my government bases its recommendations to Canadians on sound science exclusively. Just imagine if Health Canada took its directives from the pharmaceutical industry. But I have to admit I’m concerned that in this case real science may have been trumped by other interests.

In the meantime, since the ten second rule remains valid in other countries, I think it’s too early to give up on it here.If you believe our environment is worth preserving, it’s still a good idea to minimize idling and avoid drive-throughs.

Carl Duivenvoorden (www.changeyourcorner.com) is a speaker, writer and green consultant living in Upper Kingsclear. His column runs every other Monday.

Tim Hortons Continues to Lead in Denialism & Greenwash Tactics in Canada

Group raises doubts over drive-thru study

December 15, 2008


RECORD STAFF
KITCHENER

Tim Hortons stands by its study of pollution from idling vehicles in drive-thrus, despite a withering critique by the city’s environment committee.

A meeting of the city’s environmental advisory committee on Thursday included a harsh analysis of the company’s study on vehicle emissions at drive-thrus.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. retained Guelph-based RWDI to study pollution from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines.

It concluded the emissions from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines were less than from cars that had been turned off for a few minutes and then restarted.

But McColl said only five locations out of 3,000 were studied. The study also compared vehicle emissions to “everyday sources” such as a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw.

McColl said such engines are rarely used, giving the comparison little relevance.

And a small sample size can have a high margin of error, McColl said.

“These are some of the shortcomings in the report. They are enough to foster skepticism in me,” McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. had the study done after learning that Kitchener had joined a growing list of cities that considered tighter restrictions or even outright bans on new drive-thrus.

Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons Inc., said the RWDI study is absolutely a scientific study.

“The breadth of analysis and range of sensitivities studied deal with any concerns raised about the number of stores in the study. Also, high-volume locations at rush hours were studied,” Javor said in an e-mail.

He defended the comparisons of emissions from chainsaws and snowblowers.

“Readers need to understand the order of magnitude and scale,” Javor said. He noted the study was peer reviewed and is currently under consideration for publication in a scientific journal.

“This all suggests that the study is worthy of broader consideration,” Javor said.

The environment committee voted to pass along the RWDI study to city councillors as information.

The committee also supports changing the way drive-thrus are designed so that people do not have to walk through a line of waiting vehicles.

Tim Hortons and other quick-service restaurants will be encouraged to better promote the option of going inside rather than idling in a drive-thru.

A representative of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association did not like that idea.

“Our windows at the front are how we draw customers in, so the recommendation is a little confusing,” Michelle Saunders, the association’s manager of government relations, said to the committee.

“I would simply say that drive-thrus are widely supported by the public,” Saunders said.

Alain Pinard, the interim director of planning, listened to the critique of the RWDI study, but noted that city staff do not have the expertise to wade into this field of scientific inquiry. That is best left to peer-reviewed journals, Pinard said.

City staff will watch for reactions after the study is published and exposed to more experts in the field.

Pinard called the RWDI study a good start, but said city staff need more information before public policy decisions are based on it.

“We are not experts,” Pinard said.

Some committee members were openly disappointed, having hoped for a crackdown on drive-thrus and a ban on new ones.

“We know cars pollute,” committee member Nirala Sonder said.

“We asked that there be no new drive-thrus and that has not been addressed,” Sonder said.

http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/458994

Opinion | Drive-thru study isn’t convincing | The Record | Kitchener

Drive-thru study isn’t convincing

December 16, 2008

Tim Hortons has become as much of an esteemed Canadian institution as any corporate entity, but the company’s environmental policy doesn’t have the same top-notch reputation.

The coffee shop chain is going to have to do better than present the type of report it released on drive-thrus if it expects both coffee drinkers and everyone else to take its commitment to the environment seriously.

Concerned about the possibility that Kitchener and other cities could set tough rules or ban drive-thrus at coffee shops, Tim Hortons commissioned a report that said if cars shift from using drive-thru lanes to parking lots they will create more, not less, pollution. The report was prepared by a consulting company, RWDI of Guelph.

At the very least, this result seems to be counter intuitive. Skeptics may feel the report’s conclusions sound like the reports issued by the tobacco industry a few decades ago that denied a link between tobacco and cancer.

Sure enough, Kitchener’s environmental committee treated the report with scathing skepticism.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said. He wondered not only about the small number of locations used in the study but also about some of the comparisons in the report.

It compared emissions at a drive-thru with emissions made by a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw. This comparison just confuses the issue.

What snowblowers and chainsaws do or do not emit has nothing to do with the question: Does taking a vehicle through a drive-thru produce more emissions than a vehicle that stops and starts in a parking space?

Perhaps the answer depends on the length of time a vehicle spends in a drive-thru.

Tim Hortons might even argue persuasively that the amount emitted at drive-thrus is small compared to all the emissions made by all vehicles, but its current strategy makes the company appear defensive. It would be wise to have an open mind and review its entire policy.

http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/459371

Tim Hortons joins drive-thru debate | Kitchener

MERCURY NEWS SERVICES

Mercury news services
September 12, 2008

Terry Pender
Mercury news services

KITCHENER

Tim Hortons went on the offensive yesterday against a possible ban on future drive-thrus in the city.

“If you get rid of drive-thrus, the cars keep coming, and the cars will move to the parking lots,” Nick Javor, a Tim Hortons senior vice-president, warned the environmental advisory committee.

And if cars shift from drive-thru lines to parking lots, it will mean more air pollution, not less, according to a study commissioned by the company.

The study measured vehicle emissions at Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ottawa and Mississauga — two with drive-thrus and one with no drive-thru.

Study author Mike Lepage of Guelph-based RWDI concluded the public will get no better air-quality if drive-thrus are banned.

In late 2007, Kitchener city staff proposed several options for drive-thrus, ranging from changing their design to not allowing any more.

In response, Tim Hortons said it had a scientific report refuting the perception idling vehicles in drive-thus are a large source of air pollution.

Yesterday, the environmental advisory committee was briefed on the findings:

A car parked for 3.5 minutes to seven minutes and then restarted emits 0.6 grams of smog-related pollutants, 9.9 grams of carbon monoxide and 5.6 grams of carbon dioxide.

A vehicle idling in a drive-thru emits 0.3 grams of smog-related pollutants a minute, 3.4 grams of carbon monoxide and 34 grams of carbon dioxide.

Vehicles crawling through parking lots at up to 10 km/h to reach the drive-thru queue emit 0.4 grams of smog-related pollutants per minute, 3.7 grams of carbon monoxide and 75 grams of carbon dioxide.

The measurements were made in the morning, when drive-thru business peaked at 224 cars an hour.

Tim Hortons operates 1,700 drive-thrus across the country, with those outlets doing half their business at the window.

Lepage said emissions at the drive-thrus account for 0.21 per cent of the greenhouse gases generated by light-duty cars and trucks.

“Drive-thrus are a small part of motor vehicle emissions,” he said.

A single chainsaw causes more pollution than a single drive-thru, he said.

Committee member George Zador said the chainsaw argument was like saying Idi Amin wasn’t so bad because Hitler was worse.

Councillor Berry Vrbanovic, who chairs the advisory committee, wondered how Lepage would counter critics who say his study is biased because Tim Hortons paid for it.

This is why another scientist — chemical engineer Deniz Karman of Carleton University in Ottawa — was asked to review the study, Lepage said. The study has also been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Mark Peterson, a member of the committee, was impressed.

“To hammer away at Tim Hortons may be the wrong direction to be going,” he said. The problems are car-dependent cities and lifestyles, not drive-thrus, he said.

Javor, of Tim Hortons, made a similar argument.

“The answer is very simple,” he said. “Get rid of the car. Getting rid of the car will get rid of all of the emissions, all of the exhaust and all of the problem pollutants we are talking about.”

Committee members asked city staff study the issue and report back on options.

http://news.guelphmercury.com/News/article/379970

Letter to Editor | LFP | Drive-thrus

Letter to Editor


drive-thru
Association misleads public
I am disgusted with the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association for using misinformation to mislead public on drive-through regulation.

The literature the association handed out cited a complete ban on drive-throughs, which was never the recommendation before the planning committee. The literature also said disabled people need drive-throughs and a ban would surely make life more difficult for disabled people.

There are currently 154 drive-throughs in this city and there were never any plans to close them. The ORHMA used those with disabilities as a vehicle in which to drive its message home, which was that a ban on drive-throughs was unacceptable to them.

Misleading the public and taking advantage of the less fortunate is abhorrent behaviour and I say shame on the ORHMA.

POSTED BY: Leonard Peter Manning, London
POSTED ON: July 21, 2008

EDITORS NOTE: As published in The London Free Press on July 21, 2008.