In September 2017 Ethical Consumer accessed the sustainability section on The Wonderful Company’s website for details of its environmental reporting.

The report was dated within the last two years.

The report contained no future targets.
The report was not independently verified.
The report did not show a reasonable understanding of environmental impacts. While the report did cover important topics such as clean energy, water usage and bees, a good report would have demonstrated a more specific understanding of the ingredients used in both the products and packaging as well as information on the use of agricultural inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers.

The company received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for its environmental reporting.

Reference:

www.wonderful.com/social-responsibility/sustainability.html (4 October 2017)

In October 2017 Ethical Consumer saw that the campaign organisation Food and Water Watch had set up a petititon asking signatories to boycott all Wonderful Company products until it ceased the practice of irrigating its fields with oil waste water. The organisation also reported that 'traces of cancer-causing chemicals like ethylbenzene were found in the wastewater, along with a host of other toxic substances' and that that there were no regulations requiring regular testing of this water.

An article in the LA Times from 2015 also reported that environmental group, Water Defense, had been testing the water that the Cawelo Water District bought from Chevron and had found compounds which were toxic to humans such as acetone and methylene chloride.

As a result The Wonderful Company lost half a mark under Pollution and Toxics and a whole mark under Boycott Calls.

Reference:

The Fabulous Fight Against the Wonderful Company (29 September 2017)

An article in The Guardian newspaper dated 22nd August 2015 reported on The Wonderful Company’s controversial use of water for its nut trees in California which was experiencing a major drought. The article stated that Stewart Resnick, owner and CEO of The Wonderful Company, has direct access to a major water source in California and had been using his ‘extensive network of political contacts’ to lobby for more.
The drought in California had led to more and more water being pumped from the ground and vast amounts of land was sinking. The article quoted Alan Scow of Food and Water Watch, who said that the land used by The Wonderful Company for growing nuts was not fit for farming and should be retired due to the amount of water required to use it. The article stated: “Resnick and his wife Lynda do not just have money. They are reaping the benefits of a closed-door deal struck in 1994 that has proved to be the very foundation of their agricultural empire and has endured despite legal challenges. The state’s department of water resources gave them de facto control of the Kern Water Bank, a large groundwater storage facility, fed in part by publicly subsidized northern Californian sources, that was originally intended as a fallback in times of drought and also a powerful political instrument with which to control agribusiness and property development.” The article reported that The Wonderful Company has been allowed to sell its waste water back to public water companies for profit.

The Wonderful Company therefore lost half marks under Habitats and Resources and Political Activities categories due to the criticisms related to their lobbying activities in this case.

Reference:

Nut empire battles conservationists over water tunnel for California orchards (22 August 2015)

In October 2017 Ethical Consumer accessed an article on the LA Times website which reported that The Wonderful Company had destroyed an old oak forest on recently bought land in Paso Robles California in order to plant grape vines for its Justin Wine brand. The article stated that the action was halted as soon as the San Luis Obispo County discovered it was happening. The article also reported that the removal of the trees would leave the soil vulnerable to storm erosion and that people were concerned that the new reservoir excavated on the land would allow the company to drain the groundwater the area relied on. It was also reported that a number of restaurants were now boycotting Justin Wines in response (but there wasn't evidence of an official boycott call).

As a result The Wonderful Company lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources.

Reference:

Billionaire Resnicks' Justin Vineyards bulldozes forest of old oaks, sparking uproar (23 June 2016)