Of course, the issue of climate change has an urgency that overshadows the issue of pollution. But I have been reading and hearing more about the peril of plastic and understand that addressing our dependence on plastic has benefits for all of it: climate change, air pollution, land, and water pollution.
A time to reflect on the impact we are having on our natural environment and – as the host of all life – how much our environment needs to be centered in our thoughts and actions.
Remember five years ago when container loads of plastic scrap from Canada was turned away by the Philippines? The container loads sat on the docks until Canada took it back. The Freight Forwarding industry was indirectly implicated in this social issue but became an active part in addressing the issue by applying new government rules and regulations to stop the practice. This really linked how the ethics of our business decisions have real world effects.
Fossil fuels are a significant component of new plastic. Fossil fuel extraction, processing and plastic production contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and changes our climate.
Millions of tons a year, only less than 10% of the plastic we create is recycled.
In its material state, we have a big problem getting rid of plastic. There is a variety of reasons for this - it does not make it back to recycling facilities, or there are no buyers for the recycled materials, or (mostly likely) its components are not pure enough to recycle. We should keep recycling, of course, but ultimately the answer has to be a drastic reduction of our dependence on the stuff.
Unrecycled plastic waste becomes pollution. We have all seen pictures of the football field-sized garbage patch in the middle of the ocean and read about the microplastics found in the bodies of fish that are ending up on our plates.
Related to the ship stranded off the coast of the Philippines, we now know of the mountains of first world plastic waste many wealthy countries sent to poorer countries. It was a cheap way to meet reduce domestic landfill. For developing countries taking in the garbage, it was a significant source of income (BBC News June 2019). To address the sheer volume, some took to burning the plastic – creating toxic air pollution that causes respiratory and other diseases. Not good.
If it were not for the pollution and GHGs, I am sure we would all still love the properties and conveniences plastic offers. A topical example -- think of the necessary tons of disposable plastic coverings needed to keep sterile all the plastic paraphernalia for COVID tests and vaccinations. We do not have ways to alter all our dependencies on plastic just yet – but I am confident we will in time.
I still want to do my part.
On this Earth Day, I pledge to choose plastic-free and plastic-reduced options wherever I have the power to do so. The easiest things I can do right away are refusing single use plastics like plastic bags at grocery stores, drink bottles, coffee cups and their lids, and straws. And I will be bringing this sensibility into our workplace to influence the habits of our team.
I invite you to join me.
CARM, the Canadian Border Services Agency’s newly created Assessment and Revenue Management system, will soon be opening the virtual doors on its registration process.
While an overhaul is long overdue and there are certainly efficiencies to be had once CARM is fully implemented, we do think there is reason for the government to pay attention to the calls of Importers to slow down implementation. Those being:
Very likely CBSA will adhere to their published timelines. Regardless, you can trust Courtney to work on your behalf and work along with you to ensure that all the steps are taken in good time. We will help you navigate this road.
as we release information bulletins, conduct timely webinars, email blasts and other types of communiques to keep you ahead of the curve.
To best facilitate our CARM notices and future communication, we are updating our client management system. We are opening up streamlined communications channels that will deliver to our clients timely information and facilitate even better service.
Please click here to sign up and receive the information you need when you need it, which includes industry updates, Courtney news, as well as CARM updates. Visit our CARM info webpage for more information.
Courtney has been incorporating more business planning tools into our operations – and bringing a new lens to customer service, people development and forecasting. These exercises have only strengthened my appreciation for the value of professional associations to the advancing of industries and the businesses that work within them.
Whether they think about it or not, clients greatly benefit from a company’s role with its professional association.
I currently volunteer and serve as CIFFA Vice-President I and Customs Chair. From that vantage point, I am really well-schooled in the seemingly continual changes to regulations governing our industry. The CIFFA board advocates on behalf of its members – serving as watchdogs, of sorts, for how government priorities affect our businesses and systems and by extension our clients.
Professional associations set the bar for baseline education and provides opportunities to gain advanced knowledge. They establish service standards and ethical codes to build consistency, security and trust. That is particularly important in Freight Forwarding in Canada. If you’re a shipper and not one of our clients, I would strongly recommend you look for a supplier that is a CIFFA member to gain access to the competency, business ethics and knowledge the association requires of them.
Our team benefits from professional development opportunities which, in turn, benefit our clients.
My own career was carved out by a family-owned business where the learning was… might we say… “organic.” But, as I moved into more responsible roles – culminating at owner and CEO – I relied heavily on the educational offerings of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) and CIFFA.
Earning certificates through the courses offered, I continued to enhance my learning through conferences, workshops and conversations with the network of members. Experiences that proved invaluable to my business and my clients.
Today, I give back by sharing my knowledge with colleagues, competitors and industry newcomers. As a leader of a team of eager and able young customs brokers, forwarders and logistics professionals, I support the growth of our team through fully sponsored certificate programs offered by the industry associations.
Would you like to know more? Please contact me at email@example.com.
Courtney Agencies Ltd, a BC-based customs brokerage firm, celebrates its history and prepares for its future
Born on the shores of the mighty Fraser, family-owned Courtney Agencies celebrates its history on its 65th anniversary
We’re the Courtneys, and we’ve owned and run a customs brokerage firm for 65 years.
This company was set in motion by the career choice of my grandfather, started by my father, later run by my mother, with decades of hands-on support from their two sons – one of which is me. I now own the business and operate it with my talented wife, Virginia.
Our history, our longevity and our ownership model is valuable to our clients. As a family-owned company, we have been able to center our clients in every decision we make. We’re not bound to shareholders or distant owners so we can keep our focus on our business, our teams and our relationships.
I was literally born into this business. For years my grandfather, J.A. ”Alex” Courtney, was the manager of a successful shipping and storage business based in New Westminster, BC. For West Coast shippers and customs brokers, the Port of New Westminster was where you wanted to be. The Fraser River – a working river – has a history of moving logs and lumber, coal and other industrial products into and out of Canada.
My father, Richard “Dick” Courtney, worked with my grandfather, learning the ropes while gaining confidence and growing interest in an enterprise of his own. After my grandfather’s passing, my father – with the help of his mother (Laura Courtney) – established a business of their own, and Courtney Agencies Ltd. was born. My grandmother worked with the business until she was in her eighties!
A shack on the docks in New Westminster was the first home of Courtney Agencies and where it served as Ship’s Agent and Customs Broker for this west coast port of entry. No shipping containers, no computers, not even an electric typewriter in those days.
Later, my mother, Veronica “Ronnie” would join the Courtney Agencies’ crew; my parents dedicated more than a decade to their business before my brother and I were part of the picture. For as long as I can remember, we breathed the shipping air. We practically learned the trade by osmosis after school and in the summers.
Not surprisingly, the kids would have an interest in carrying on the tradition. My brother, Don, dedicated twenty years to building Courtney Agencies. I went to university to learn more about business and take professional courses to earn industry-specific certificates. My father’s passing in 2000 put the reins in my mother’s hands as I prepared myself to take the leadership role.
In the past 65 years, we have seen some significant changes. We moved our offices to the historic Marine Building in Vancouver. We needed to be closer to the Port of Vancouver which, by the seventies, had outpaced the one in New Westminster. The Telex machine hummed with communication between the ships and us – the ship’s agent.
Eventually, I got to hang up my Keds for a pair of Florsheims when I no longer had to physically run paperwork from the Courtney offices to those of Canada Customs.
We brought in Laurence Lovett, of Lovett Ventures, who for more than 30 years transitioned our business from paper to digital. We were one of the first Customs Brokers to have a website with resources for clients, and no-one was more prepared for the Y2K millennium switch. Laurence retired at 85 but, in many ways, he will be with us forever. We have a physical space on West Pender in Vancouver but, like so many others, much of our business is being conducted through the cloud for now.
In the last twenty years, we’ve broadened our service offerings, and developed the ability to bring goods to and from locations anywhere on the globe. We have grown our “extended family” of specialists to more than 20 people, starting with Serrena who just over a year ago celebrated 25 years of service with Courtney! We have drawn expertise from all over the world and creating a vibrant, multicultural workplace. Most recently, we have rebranded and aligned our offerings under a bold banner and newly articulated purpose statement. We invite you to watch for more on this in the coming months.
Drawing on the strength of our past, we’re more than ready to be a force for the future.
Happy 65th anniversary to Courtney Agencies and all the family, clients, friends, partners and staff members that have been part of this journey.
And to our “littles”, aged 14 and 7, we have the door open for you to join us one day in the wonderful world of shipping.