Ceres: Sustainability Leadership and Responsibility Starts at the Top

7 05 2014

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“In some cases, companies have substantially accelerated and broadened their sustainability efforts. These companies are providing real leadership and demonstrating that sustainability isn’t a luxury, but rather an essential strategy for building long-term shareholder value.”  

 

In a new research tracking the progress of more than 600 corporations worldwide on broad ranging sustainability measures, Ceres and Sustainalytics are reporting that scientific and economic realities have shifted substantially from just a decade ago challenging companies to innovate and transform.

These are new leadership challenges that rise to the top at companies and demand the attention of top-level executives and Boards of Directors.  Among the findings of the report.

  • Boards of Directors are not taking enough responsibility for overseeing sustainability efforts. Thirty-two percent (198) of the 613 companies’ boards of directors formally oversee sustainability performance—up from 28 percent in 2012.
  • A growing number of companies are incorporating sustainability performance into executive compensation packages. Twenty-four percent of companies (146) link executive compensation to sustainability performance—up from 15 percent in 2012. Yet only 3 percent (19 companies) link executive compensation to voluntary sustainability performance targets, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.
  • Companies are increasingly engaging investors on sustainability issues. Fifty-two percent (319 companies) are engaging investors on sustainability issues, up from 40 percent in 2012. The three percent (20 companies) in Tier 1 are using multiple tactics to engage investors including the integration of sustainability information into mainstream investor communications, highlighting sustainability performance and innovations at annual meetings, and directly engaging with shareholders on sustainability topics.

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  • Stakeholders are not consistently involved in the sustainability planning process. Only 36 percent of companies (219)—up from 29 percent in 2012—are disclosing information on how they formally engage stakeholders on sustainability issues. The seven percent (45 companies) in Tier 1 engage stakeholders in the materiality assessment process and disclose the insights gained from stakeholders.
  • More companies are actively engaging employees on sustainability issues. Forty percent (248 companies) have some programs in place to engage employees on sustainability issues—an increase from 30 percent in 2012. The six percent (37 companies) in Tier 1 go further by systematically embedding sustainability into company-wide employee engagement.
  • Companies are not doing enough to address water risks, especially in stressed regions.  Of the 103 water-intensive companies evaluated, 50 percent assess water-related business risks, a slight decline from the 55 percent in 2012. Only 26 percent (27 of 103 companies) are prioritizing efforts in water stressed regions.
  • Additional innovation is needed to drive sustainable products and services.  Of the 419 companies evaluated for this expectation, 14 percent (57 companies) have formal programs to invest in and promote sustainability products and services, compared to 10 percent in 2012.

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About the report partners:

Ceres is a non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership. We mobilize a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.

Sustainalytics is an award-winning provider of environmental, social, and governance research and analysis. We support investors around the world with the development and implementation of responsible investment strategies. Sustainalytics also partners with institutional investors that integrate ESG information and assessments into their investment decisions.





WHO: 1 in 8 Global Deaths Linked To Air Pollution

8 04 2014

The World Health Organization reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure.  This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

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Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

The new data reveal a strong link between air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.  The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas.

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents non-communicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

After analysing the risk factors and taking into account revisions in methodology, WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves. The new estimate is explained by better information about pollution exposures among the estimated 2.9 billion people living in homes using wood, coal or dung as their primary cooking fuel, as well as evidence about air pollution’s role in the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancers.

In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

Many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Due to this overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply be added together, hence the total estimate of around 7 million deaths in 2012.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains,” says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.”





Brandkarma: A new Global Reputation System for Brands

7 03 2014

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“Brands often fall short of their potential to do good – reputation without responsibility. Brandkarma will change that.”

Upendra Shardanand, founder Daylife

Welcome Brandkarma.com – the first social community that will rate and review brands ability to do good in the world.

Consumer research has repeatedly demonstrated that people expect businesses to operate responsibly and to contribute to positive change in the world.  Many people say that if brands fail to operate responsibly, they will stop purchasing the products that the brand provides.

Brandkarma.com was launched to empower consumers to better translate those beliefs into action.  Brandkarma.com allows consumers to see brands holistically – not only the quality of their products but the brand behaviors toward their employees, their community and the planet at large.

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visit brand karma.com here





Survey: Most Executives Believe In Sustainability, But Half Fail To Act.

28 01 2014

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In a new survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents rate social and environmental issues, such as pollution or employee health, as “significant” or “very significant” among their sustainability concerns. Yet only about 40% report that their organizations are largely addressing them. Even worse, only 10% say their companies fully tackle these issues.

Interestingly, the survey shows that while 67% of the business leaders surveyed strongly agree with the statement “climate change is real”, only 9% strongly agree that “my company is prepared for client change risk.”

In the 2013 report, new research by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group looks at companies that “walk the talk” in addressing significant sustainability concerns. So-called “Walkers” focus heavily on five fronts: sustainability strategy, business case, measurement, business model innovation and leadership commitment. For them, addressing significant sustainability issues has become a core strategic imperative and a way to mitigate threats and identify new opportunities.

Among the characteristics of “Walkers” in the survey,

  • More than 90% have developed a sustainability strategy, compared to 62% among all respondents.
  • 70% have placed sustainability permanently on their top management agenda, compared to an average of 39%.
  • 69% have developed a sustainability business case, compared to only 37% of all respondents.

Among the approximately 5000+ business leaders worldwide who participated in the research, the vast majority identify environmental and social issues as “very significant: or “significant.”

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Top management support is a very powerful catalyst of sustainability efforts — 68% of respondents say senior management has the greatest influence on sustainability endeavors. Employees are also part of the equation — 24% of respondents cite employees as the most influential. Employees place great value in working for companies with strong sustainability footprints. And they are often at the ready to accelerate progress.

According to the research report, “There is little disagreement that sustainability is necessary to be competitive — 86% of respondents say it is or will be. Sustainability’s next frontier is tackling the significant sustainability issues — or, in the parlance that is gaining currency, “material sustainability issues” — that lie at the heart of competitive advantage and long-term viability. Yet many companies struggle to match their strong level of sustainability concern with equally strong actions. They still wrestle with settling on which actions to pursue and aligning around them.”

Read the research report here.

About the Research

For the fifth consecutive year, MIT Sloan Management Review, in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), conducted a global survey. The 2013 survey included more than 5,300 executive and manager respondents from 118 countries. This report is based on a smaller sub-sample of 1,847 respondents from commercial enterprises. Respondent organizations are located around the world and represent a wide variety of industries.





SOGB: Business Sustainability Progress Has Stalled

27 01 2014
According to the 2014 State of Green Business report published by GreenBiz Group in partnership with Trucost plc., companies around the world are struggling to make progress on climate change, resource efficiency and natural capital dependency.
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“While more and more companies are undertaking a growing number of initiatives to reduce their environmental impacts, there’s very little progress to show for it. Company initiatives are not having an impact at the scale needed to address such challenges as climate change and the availability of water and natural resources,” said Joel Makower, GreenBiz Group executive editor and the report’s principal author.
The seventh annual edition of the report, which measures the global progress of large, publicly traded companies in addressing a myriad of environmental challenges, reveals little meaningful progress across most metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste disposal and other pollutant impacts.
“The environmental impacts of business – air pollution, biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity – are threatening the ability of our finite stock of natural capital to deliver sustainable growth,” said Richard Mattison, CEO of Trucost. “The challenge for business is to identify growth models that result in reduced environmental impact.
”The report also names the 10 sustainable business trends for 2014. Among them are the growth of collaboration among big corporations to solve mutual sustainability challenges, the growth of chemical transparency for consumer products, the emergence of “shadow pricing” as a means for companies to assess their environmental risks and net-positive buildings.
The 2014 report includes the launch of the Natural Capital Leaders Index, a new methodology for identifying companies that are growing their revenue while reducing their environmental impacts. The 2014 Index found 34 companies from 10 countries that met Trucost’s criteria, which include increasing revenue between 2008 and 2012, disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in environmental impacts during that same period.Among the 34 “decoupling leaders” are Carnival Corp., CSX, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, National Australia Bank, Pearson, Tata Power and Verizon.The Index further identifies US and Global “efficiency leaders” that use the least natural capital to generate revenue compared to sector peers – the more traditional sustainability leaders – which include Adobe Systems, AMEC, BMW, Ford, Manpower, McGraw Hill Financial, Pepco Holdings and Sprint Corp.The metrics from the report were drawn from Trucost’s assessment of 4,600 of the world’s largest companies representing 93% of global markets by market capitalization.The State of Green Business report will be the centrepiece of the upcoming GreenBiz Forum (Feb 18-20), taking place in Phoenix, AZ, where speakers will address many of these trends and metrics.The free report can be downloaded from GreenBiz.com.





CCC: Enhanced Reputation Key Goal of CSR Efforts.

17 01 2014

CSRNew reports cites increased funding, senior leadership appointments, management engagement and reputation enhancement goals for corporate citizenship.  The Center for Corporate Citizenship has released its The Profile of the Practice 2013.  The report explores how the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) dimensions of business—corporate citizenship—are managed in today’s business world, and how these practices have evolved since the last report in 2010.

“Corporate citizenship is managed at higher levels, corporate citizenship leaders are better compensated, and more companies establish both board committees and official budgeted departments to manage their programs,” said Katherine Smith, Executive Director, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship said in a statement. “These are all signs that CSR continues to be more deeply embedded in business as more executives realize that positive environmental, social and governance measures correlate to positive financial performance, improved reputation, and solid risk management.”

Among the key findings in the survey:

  • More than 70% of companies cited enhanced reputation among the top three business goals they are trying to achieve through their corporate citizenship efforts. The next most frequently cited goals are improving employee retention (45%), improving employee recruitment (41%), attracting new customers (33%), and improving risk management (22%).
  • The chief executive is more involved in developing strategy, setting goals, and communicating corporate citizenship than reported in both 2008 and 2010. More than 25% indicate that their chief executive is highly involved in corporate citizenship program evaluation.
  • Almost 100% of companies have a corporate citizenship budget today, while just 81% reported being budgeted in 2010.
  • Almost 60% of companies have an executive leading corporate citizenship. This is a 74% increase over what was reported in 2010. Close to one-third of corporate citizenship leaders are within one level of the chief executive.

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The survey was conducted in the Fall of 2013 of 231 companies  and their corporate citizenship strategies, operational structures, and business practices were analyzed. 

About the Center for Corporate Citizenship

The Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College is a membership-based knowledge center. Founded in 1985, the Center has a history of leadership in corporate citizenship research and education. The Center engages more than 400 member companies and more than 10,000 individuals annually to share knowledge and expertise about the practice of corporate citizenship through the Center’s professional development programs, online community, regional programs, and annual conference. The Center is a GRI-Certified Training Partner. For more information, visit the Center’s website at www.BCCorporateCitizenship.org.

 

 

 





National Research Council: Abrupt, near-term impacts to rival dinosaur extinction

10 12 2013

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With little fanfare and a noticeable lack of press coverage, the National Research Council released its report:  Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises last week.  The 200 page report suggests that a wave of species extinctions rivaling the dinosaurs’ demise might well be coming within the century — and that the time has come to set up early warning systems to detect this and other imminent climate catastrophes.

One of the authors, Anthony Barnosky, made this comment on the report:  “Our report focuses on abrupt change, that is, things that happen within a few years to decades: basically, over short enough time scales that young people living today would see the societal impacts brought on by faster-than-normal planetary changes.”

The study was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. intelligence community and the National Academies, which is made up of The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council.

Abrupt Changes Already Underway

Some of the abrupt changes are already taking place, according to the report.

  • The disappearance of late-summer sea ice in the Arctic, with predictions that it may be gone entirely within decades, which “would have potentially large and irreversible effects of various components of the Arctic East Coast system including disruptions in the marine food web, shifts and habitats of summary mammals, and erosion of vulnerable coastlines.”

Because the Arctic region interacts with a large-scale circulation systems of the ocean and atmosphere, changes in the extent of sea ice could cause shifts in climate and weather around the northern hemisphere. The Arctic is also region of increasing economic importance for diverse range of stakeholders, and reductions in Arctic sea ice will bring new legal and political challenges this navigation routes for commercial shipping open and marine access to the region increases for offshore oil and gas development, tourism, fishing and other activities.

  • Rapidly increasing extinction of plant and animal species at a rate already “probably as fast as any warming event in the past 65 million years, and it is projected that its pace over the next 30 to 80 years will continue to be faster and more intense.”   The report cites the following scenarios for species extinction.

If unchecked, habitat destruction, fragmentation, and over-exploitation, even without climate change, could result in a mass extinction within the next few centuries equivalent in magnitude to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. With the ongoing pressures of climate change, comparable levels of extinction conceivably could occur before the year 2100; indeed, some models show a crash of coral reefs from climate change alone as early as 2060 under certain scenarios.

  • Destabilization of the west Antarctic ice sheet, an “abrupt change of unknown probability,” carries the threat of sea-level rise “at a rate several times faster than those observed today. “

Early Warning System 

In the face of these threats, the report urges development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System (ACEWS) to closely monitor signals of tipping points drawing near, digest the data and feed it into the best predictive models that can be developed.   “We watch our streets, we watch our banks,” the report’s chief author, climatologist James White of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Los Angeles Times. “But we do not watch our environment with the same amount of care and zeal.”  In a press statement releasing the report, Mr. White said “The time has come for us to quit talking and take action.  Right now we don’t know what many of these thresholds are.  But with better information, we will be able to anticipate some major changes before they occur and help reduce the potential consequences.”

The executive summary of the report concludes with this rather dire warning:

“Although there is much to learn about climate change and abrupt impacts, to willingly ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering and environmental degradation.  The time is here to be serious about the threat of the tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.”





86% of Americans Expect Food and Beverage Brands To Actively Help Recycle Their Packaging.

12 11 2013

Recycling-binsAn overwhelming majority of Americans want brands to get engaged in creating and implementing recycling programs, according to a new survey of 1000 adults by the Carton Council of North America (CCNA).

In a statement, Jason Pelz, VP of environment at Tetra Pak North America, and VP of recycling projects for the CCNA  said, “First and foremost, this survey reiterates the importance of including a recycling message on product packaging.  In an increasingly competitive and green‑minded climate, consumers are revealing they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages.”

U.S. consumers also indicated that they look first to the products they purchase for environmental information, ahead of other resources, with the vast majority (76 percent) consulting a product’s packaging to learn if a package is recyclable, followed by the product’s company website (33 percent) and the consumer’s city website (26 percent).

Importantly, 45% say their loyalty to food and beverage brands would be impacted by that brand’s engagement with environmental causes.

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The Carton Council is leading a national effort to increase access to carton recycling in the U.S. In 2009, 21 million U.S. households had access to carton recycling in 26 states. Now, 52.5 million households in 45 states can recycle cartons, a 150 percent increase that includes 64 of the nation’s top 100 cities. Food and beverage brands that use cartons for their products are encouraged to join this effort, especially in helping promote carton recycling to their customers. CCNA can provide companies with tools to inform their customers — from the first step, which is adding the recycling logo to packages and recycling information on their websites, to an extensive list of possibilities beyond that.





Survey Shows Weak Collaboration Around Sustainability In Companies

11 11 2013

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BSR/GlobeScan of 700+ corporate sustainability executives in companies worldwide shows decreasing levels of collaboration between sustainability functions and other core corporate functions.

Survey respondents note a lower level, and decreasing, engagement between sustainability functions and corporate functions, such as investor relations (with 37 percent of those surveyed saying they engage with investor relations, down 1 point from 2011), human resources (34 percent, down 3 points), R&D (32 percent, down 9 points), marketing (28 percent, down 14 points).  The weakest area of engagement is between corporate sustainability and finance at 16 percent, down 2 points from 2011.  Unless greater collaboration is made in this area, the business case for sustainability and its potential positive impact on financial performance will be very difficult to make.

“The trend toward weaker engagement between sustainability functions and core functions such as finance, marketing, HR, investor relations, and R&D, is concerning.” Chris Coulter, CEO at GlobeScan, noted, “Not only is engagement limited with these strategic areas, but collaboration between them and sustainability teams has declined—in some cases by a significant margin. While there is a clear need for external collaboration, there is an equally important case to be made for greater internal collaboration.”

Additional topline findings from this survey include:

  • When asked to choose which sustainability issues need collaboration the most, climate change and public policy frameworks promoting sustainability are ranked highest.
  • Only one in five companies has fully integrated sustainability into business.
  • Engagement between sustainability functions and corporate functions such as marketing, R&D, and finance remains very low.
  • Collaboration by BSR member companies focuses more often on engagement with NGOs and other businesses than it does on engagement with government.

Fewer companies collaborate often with governments (46 percent) or media (27 percent), both of which are rated as the most difficult partners for collaboration.

21 percent report that their company is close to full integration. A majority say that their company is either about halfway to integration (51 percent), or is just getting started (22 percent).

“The survey reveals both the sense of urgency to address climate change, and the sense that meaningful progress goes well beyond the steps a single company can take,” observed Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR.  “No one sector—not business, government, civil society, or consumers—can ‘save us’ from climate change.

 

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One Year After Sandy: Companies Push White House On Climate Action Plan

29 10 2013

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20 leading corporations – including Starbucks, Levis, Unilever and Mars -call on President Obama to follow through on climate change preparedness efforts outlined in the Climate Action Plan announced by the President on June 25th.

The corporate signatories of the letter, which rely on the stability of global supply chains for growth and profitability, cited the economic impacts of severe weather events on company operations and called for ongoing and significant investments to be made in strengthening climate change resiliency both in the United States and the world’s most vulnerable countries. Many of the signatories are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy – a group of businesses advocating for meaningful energy and climate legislation.

Critical components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan included federal investments in climate science, and support for disaster planning and risk management in multiple sectors. On the anniversary of one of the most catastrophic weather events in history, the companies reiterated the need for federal funding of programs and projects that benefit the most vulnerable communities and the businesses they rely on for employment, products and services.

“Our businesses depend upon a resilient infrastructure, resilient communities, and resilient value chains,” the companies wrote in a letter to President Obama today. “In recent years, severe weather events, combined with rising temperatures, have devastated critical infrastructure, decreased crop yields, and threatened water supplies. These trends are being felt globally… We call upon your administration to follow through on commitments for robust support of climate change resilience efforts.”

“Public investment in climate resilience is critical to the economic viability of companies we invest in that rely on consumers, labor, raw materials, and operations located in regions susceptible to extreme weather,” said Bennett Freeman, SVP for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments. “We applaud the U.S. government for making investments in resilience and hope to see this strengthened in future years.”

“Extreme weather trends pose challenges to managing reliable supply chains and business planning,” said Anna Walker, Senior Director, Government Affairs and Public Policy at Levi Strauss & Co. “While Levi Strauss & Co. is committed to addressing its climate impact, we believe U.S. government leadership is essential for widespread action on climate resilience to strengthen communities and minimize economic disruption.”

The signatories recognized the Obama Administration’s efforts thus far to address climate change, and expressed support for public and private sector collaboration to continue advancing the implementation of the Climate Action Plan.

“The human and economic costs of severe weather are escalating and it is increasingly important that business and communities integrate climate risk into their operational and decision-making processes,” said Mark Way, Head of Sustainability Americas at Swiss Re America. “As experts on risk, everything we see points to the fact that climate change is something we simply cannot ignore.”





The Aspirational Consumer: 2.5 Billion People Redefining Responsible Consumption

8 10 2013

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A new global consumer study confirms the rise of nearly 2.5 billion consumers globally who are uniting style, social status and sustainability values to redefine consumption.

According to the report by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility : The 2013 Aspirational Consumer Index – more than one-third of consumers globally (36.4%) identify as Aspirationals, defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%). The study draws from a telephone and in-person survey of more than 21,000 consumers across 21 international markets conducted in April 2013.

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According to Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, “Aspirationals are materialists who define themselves in part through brands and yet they believe they have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society.  By engaging Aspirational consumers, brands can further the shift toward more sustainable consumption and influence behavior change at scale.”

Key characteristics of Aspirational consumers include:

  • Trust in Brands: Nearly six in ten Aspirational consumers globally say they “trust global companies to act in the best interest of society” (58%), compared with 52% of all consumers;
  • Seek Style and Status: Three-fourths of Aspirational consumers say “I want to stand out by the way I look, my style” (73%), compared to 53% of all consumers;
  • Positive Influencers: Nearly nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies” (88%), compared to 63% of all consumers;
  • Empowered Shoppers: Nearly eight in ten Aspirational consumers say “shopping for new things excites me” (78%), compared to 48% of all consumers, and believe they “can change how a company behaves based on my purchase decisions” (78%), compared with 66% of all consumers;
  • Responsible Consumers: Nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I believe we need to consume less to preserve the environment for future generations” (92%), compared to 75% of all consumers, and that they are “willing to pay more for products produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way” (91%) compared to 64% of all consumers;
  • Young and Urban: Demographically, Aspirational consumers make up the largest percentage of Millennial (40%) and GenX (37%) generations, compared to 32% and 33% in the general population, respectively, and nearly six and ten (59%) live in cities; and
  • Strength in Emerging Markets: Countries with the largest populations of Aspirational consumers include China (46%), Nigeria (45%), Pakistan (44%), India (42%), Australia (41%), Canada (40%), Indonesia (38%), Greece (37%), France (36%), USA (36%), Turkey (35%) and the UK (34%).

“Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire,” said Raphael Bemporad, co-founder and chief strategy officer at brand innovation consultancy BBMG. “With Aspirationals, the sustainability proposition has changed from being the ‘right thing to do’ to being the ‘cool thing to do,’ and brands have a profound opportunity to harness sustainable design and societal values to inspire the next generation of commerce and create positive impact in the world.”

“For decades, green marketers have been speaking to the wrong consumers, assuming that by engaging the most committed ‘advocates’ we would create significant business growth, cultural relevance and change at scale,” Bemporad added. “What makes Aspirationals so compelling is that they combine an authentic commitment to sustainability with a love of shopping, design and social status, aligning economic, cultural and social forces to shift the way we shop.”

“With 2.5 billion consumers worldwide, Aspirationals offer an important opportunity to redefine sustainable consumption,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility. “Like never before, brands can engage Aspirationals to pioneer new models and practices that can deliver economic growth while reducing negative impacts on the environment.”

 

Read the original press release on CSR Wire.





Stay or Stall? Great Lakes Oil Shipping On Hold….For Now.

24 09 2013

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This week it was announced that a proposed crude oil shipping terminal on Lake Superior has been put on hold.   The proposed terminal would have shipped crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota to be loaded onto oil tankers to be shipped to the East Coast.  As preposterous as this idea was in the first place, public pressure needs to be raised and continued to ensure that this proposal never comes up again.  Be it feasible or not.

Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, was quoted in an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:   “It was one of those things that was a trial balloon being floated out there.  Economically, I don’t know if it really makes sense to move crude oil on the Great Lakes given the current conditions. It’s more efficient to move it by rail and pipeline.”

Thank god.  But economic conditions change and this idea needs to be permanently put to bed through public pressure and legislation.  There is much more at stake than economics.

Consider the Facts:

The Great Lakes make up the largest body of fresh water on Earth.

The Great Lakes contain one fifth of the freshwater surface on the planet, some 6 quadrillion gallons and 5,500 cubic miles of water.

The United States draws more than 40 billion gallons of water from the Great Lakes every day.

More than 35 million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water.

The Great Lakes support a $7 billion fishery industry and $16 billion tourism industry.

More than 800 toxic contaminants have already been identified in the Great Lakes water and sediment.

Even with these facts in hand, oil thirsty prospectors would consider shipping oil across this precious freshwater resource.   Many, many people would be thirsty if this plan goes ahead and inevitably awry.

Dangerous Waters

The combination of severe storms and unpredictable underwater topography make the Great Lakes on of the most dangerous bodies of water for navigation in the world.  The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum approximates 6,000 ships have been lost – while historian and mariner Mark Thompson has estimated that the total number of wrecks is likely more than 25,000. In the modern period between 1816, when the Invincible was lost, to the sinking of the Fitzgerald in 1975, the Whitefish Point area alone has claimed at least 240 ships.  Proposed oil tankers necessarily would sail past Whitefish Point on Lake Superior from the terminal in Superior, Wisconsin to the Soo Locks.

What We Learned In Alaska

Wildlife, economies and people are still recovering from the devastating natural and economic disaster from a single wreck of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound in Alaska.  It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. The Valdez spill was the largest ever in US waters until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in terms of volume.  Prince William Sound’s remote location, accessible only by helicopter, plane, or boat, made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response.   Many parts of the Great Lakes are equally inaccessible.

In 1991, following the collapse of the local marine population (particularly clams, herring, and seals) the Chugach Alaska Corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection. It has since recovered. According to several studies funded by the state of Alaska, the spill had both short-term and long-term economic effects. These included the loss of sports fisheries, reduced tourism, and an estimate of what economists call “existence value“, which is the value to the public of a pristine Prince William Sound.  The economy of the city of Cordova, Alaska was adversely affected after the spill damaged stocks of fish in the area. Several residents, including one former mayor, committed suicide after the spill.

But the disaster that was the Exxon Valdez happened in salt water.  People don’t drink salt water.

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 Share this article with any Great Lakes residents and lovers that you know.  Write your Congressman.  Start your own campaign.  If you are concerned about your future and the future of your family, please get engaged to prevent crude oil shipping on the Great Lakes.





United Nations: CEOs say sustainability less important.

24 09 2013

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In a massive new study which interviewed 1,000 CEOs around the world, The United Nations and Accenture report that only 32% of CEOs believe the global economy is on track to meet the demands of a growing population within global environmental and resource constraints.  Alarmingly, the number of CEOs of saying that sustainability is “very important” to their business success dropped to 45%, a decline from 54% just three years ago.

The third United Nations Global Compact – Accenture CEO Study On Sustainability 2013 points to CEOs concern about an uncertain global economic climate as directly impacting the urgency of addressing sustainable business operations.  Despite the report that 63% of CEOs expect sustainability to transform their business within five years – and 76% believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth and new opportunities – many struggle with market expectations, investor pressure and the difficulty of measuring the business value of sustainability.

The report demonstrates how the world’s CEOs are conflicted on the extent to which they believe that business is making sufficient efforts to address sustainability. with 33% agreeing business is making the acceptable effort, while 38% disagree.  See the report chart below:

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In an executive summary of the CEO survey, the authors conclude:

“CEOs clearly recognize the scale of the global challenge—but may not yet see the urgency or the incentive for their own businesses to do more and to have a greater impact. This disconnect suggests that a gap persists between the approach to sustainability of the majority of companies globally—an approach centered on philanthropy, compliance, mitigation and the license to operate—and the approach being adopted by leading companies, focused on innovation, growth and new sources of value.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • 83% of CEOs see an increase in efforts by governments and policy makers to provide an enabling environment for the private sector as integral to advancing sustainability.
  • 85% of CEOs demand clearer policy and market signals to support green growth.
  • Only 29% of CEOs regard climate change as one of the most important sustainability challenges for the future of their business
  • And just 14% regard water sanitation as an important issue for their business to address.

Clearly the lack of progress on the global economy and the failure of governments and regulators to provide consistent sustainability frameworks are holding back CEOs from focusing their full attention on the long-term issues of sustainability and threatened natural resources.  As the report highlights, more urgency is needed:

“As business leaders across the world come together this year to set out an architecture to align business action with global priorities, there is a clear and unequivocal call for greater ambition, greater speed and greater impact.”

- United Nations Global Compact

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Carbon Trust: 2/3 of public unable to name businesses that take sustainability seriously.

23 09 2013

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In a recent survey of more than 1,800 adults in the United Kingdom, The Carbon Trust Fund found that 68% of people were unable to name a company that is taking sustainability seriously.

In addition, just 5% of respondents see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment.  Despite the significant efforts many companies across the world are making to turn their business operations to more responsible and sustainable entities, the UK study underscores how poorly those companies are communicating their actions.

According to Tom Delay, the chief executive of Carbon Trust:

“While it’s clear that consumers still care about the environmental future, their perspective on where the responsibility falls is skewed. It cannot be solely down to environmental groups to shoulder the weight of protecting our planet’s natural resources. Businesses have an enormous role to play here and need to be seen to be doing their part.  As businesses look for more ways to grow, sustainability should become a golden opportunity for investment, allowing them to become more resilient to future environmental resource shocks and to cut their costs and grow their revenues. The smart companies will invest now and put sustainability inside their businesses.”

The same survey of UK adults did have some encouraging signs regarding concern for the environment.   The demand for green products appears to be increasing with only 6% saying they are less likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than five years ago while almost three in ten (27%) said they are more likely.   Increased concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment was the most important reason for this (45%) and 43% of the public surveyed said they lead a more sustainable life than five years ago.





CDP Report: World’s Largest Companies Doing Little On Climate Change

17 09 2013

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“As countries around the world seek economic growth, strong employment and safe environments, corporations have a unique responsibility to deliver that growth in a way that uses natural resources wisely. The opportunity is enormous and it is the only growth worth having.” – Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, CDP

Fifty of the 500 largest listed companies in the world are responsible for nearly three quarters of the group’s 3.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, so finds the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 released this week. The carbon emitted by these 50 highest emitting companies, which primarily operate in the energy, materials and utilities sectors, has risen 1.65% to 2.54 billion metric tons over the past four years.

The report is co-written by CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and professional services firm PwC. It provides the most authoritative evaluation of corporate progress on climate change.

Inadequate momentum to mitigate climate change is also true of the biggest emitters found in each of the ten sectors covered in the report. Titled Sector insights: what is driving climate change action in the world’s largest companies, the new publication includes industry-specific analysis which shows that the five highest emitting companies from each sector have seen their emissions increase by an average of 2.3% since 2009.

Guardian Sustainable Business offered a biting analysis of the report, concluding companies are making little progress in addressing climate change.

“For all the talk of companies taking the threat of climate change seriously, the latest evidence shows the corporate sector is failing to respond in a meaningful way to the threat of environmental catastrophe,” wrote GSB’s Jo Confino.

Paul Simpson, CEO at CDP says: “Many countries are demonstrating signs of recovery following the global economic downturn. However, clear scientific evidence and increasingly severe weather events are sending strong signals that we must pursue routes to economic prosperity whilst reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is imperative that big emitters improve their performance in this regard and governments provide more incentives to make this happen.” 

While the biggest emitters present the greatest opportunity for large-scale change, the report identifies opportunities for all Global 500 companies to help build resilience to climate and policy shocks by significantly reducing the amount of carbon dioxide they produce each year. For example, the emissions from nearly half (47%) of the most carbon intensive activities that companies identify across their value chains are yet to be measured. The lack of detailed reporting and information of GHGs from sources related to company activities (Scope 3 emissions), as opposed to those from sources owned or directly controlled by them, may lead companies to underestimate their full carbon impact.

Malcolm Preston, global lead, sustainability and climate change, PwC says: “The report underlines how customers, suppliers, employees, governments and society in general are becoming more demanding of business. It raises questions for some organizations about whether they are focused on sustaining growth in the long term, or just doing enough to recover growth until the next issue arises. With the initial IPCC report only weeks away corporate emissions are still rising. Either business action increases, or the risk is regulation overtakes them.”

Companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to managing their impact on the environment are generating improved financial and environmental results. Analysis of the corporations leading on climate progress, as based on CDP’s acclaimed methodology and including BMW, Nestlé and Cisco Systems, suggests that they generate superior stock performance. Further, the businesses that offer employees monetary incentives related to energy consumption and carbon emissions are 18% more successful at accomplishing reductions.

The CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 is available to download free. It launches this week at CDP’s annual Global Climate Forum which is broadcast live online. The public disclosures of climate change information from Global 500 companies taking part in CDP this year are also available on the CDP website. Over 4,500 businesses in markets around the world have disclosed through CDP this year. Their data will be disseminated to investors via various channels, such as Bloomberg terminals, where it is downloaded an average of 1 million times every six weeks.

Read the CDP Report here

Adapted from an original article at Sustainable Industries blog here





Made Movement: Buy 5% more American made products for 1 million jobs

20 08 2013

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Alex Bogusky, our old friend – reformed advertising creative director turned consumer advocate, has launched a new campaign for the Made Movement challenging Americans to buy 5% more American made products.  The result of the Made Movement 5% pledge will yield one million jobs for Americans.

Bogusky has created a video explaining the campaign and asks viewers to share the video with two people.  You can watch the Million Jobs Project video here.

According to an article in USA Today, Bogusky says “there’s hippie value now to Made in America.  Red, white and blue are the new green.”  But he cautions in the video, “Sometimes, even if you think a brand is American, even if there’s an American flag on the package, it might not be made here.  You have to pay attention.”

You can read the full article in USA Today here.

USA Today: Ad guru attacks outsourcing, seeks to save jobs





Levi’s: 501 WasteLess Jeans Made With Recycled Plastic.

14 05 2013

For 140 years, the Levi’s® brand has made its 501® jean with the same care, craftsmanship and attention to detail.  To that, they’ve added recycled plastic.

The Levi’s® 501® Waste<less™  jean is limited-edition and made exclusively for EKOCYCLE™. That’s the social movement founded by legendary musician and producer will.i.am in partnership with Coca-Cola.  The goal of this jean and EKOCYCLE™ is to change the way we think about recycling choices and waste.

Each 501® Waste<Less™ jean is made with 29% post-consumer recycled content, using an average of eight recycled plastic bottles.  This year, you might be wearing one of the plastic bottles you drank from – and recycled – last year.

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Levi Strauss isn’t the first clothing manufacturer to create a new product line from recycled plastic. In 1993, Patagonia became the first outdoor clothing manufacturer to create fleece made from post consumer recycled plastic soda bottles, and the company’s support of recycling via their manufacturing continues. According to Patagonia’s website, the company has saved some 86 million soda bottles from the trash heap over the past thirteen years.

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Another apparel company who incorporates sustainability throughout their business model is Puma. InCycle is the company’s first 100 percent biodegradable or recyclable clothing, accessory, and footwear collection. Puma’s efforts towards creating InCycle recently earned them Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s product certification.

For an update on the Cradle to Cradle progress, check out The Upcycle:  Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance, the new best selling book from pioneers William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

When it comes to plastic use and its impact on human health and the environment, the various statistics are nothing short of disturbing: plastic takes up to 1000 years to degrade in a landfill; 92 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA; Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour.

Check out this video, which features will.i.am, along with Levi’s® James “JC” Curleigh and Jonathan Kirby.

Read more at the original post at http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/05/levi-strauss-creates-sustainable-jeans/





RAIN: Replenish Africa Initiative From Coca-Cola

1 05 2013

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Nearly one billion people do not have access to clean, safe water – that’s the equivalent of 1 in 8 people on the planet!  In Africa, preventable waterborne illnesses claim the lives of millions of people each year. No single organization can resolve Africa’s water crisis, but together, with a combination of civil society, non-governmental organizations and government, we can make a positive difference on Africa’s water challenges.

The Replenish Africa Initiative, or RAIN, is therefore the signature community initiative of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. Backed by a six-year, $30 million dollar commitment by The Coca-Cola Company, in partnership with other donors, RAIN’s goal is to provide over 2 million people in Africa with access to drinking water by 2015. RAIN will launch over 100 water access programs across Africa, including sanitation and hygiene education programs.

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The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has been involved in community water programs since 2005. To date, 42 water projects in 27 countries have been supported, in partnership with and co-funded by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) under the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) and other partners. Within The Coca-Cola Company’s three-tier global water stewardship strategy which is focused on Reducing, Recycling and Replenishing the amount of water used in Coca-Cola beverages and their production, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s focus is on Replenishing – or community based water interventions.

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The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; that’s the same as a whole year’s worth of labor by France’s entire workforce! This is incredibly valuable time.

According to The Water Project, with much of one’s day already consumed by meeting basic needs, there isn’t time for much else. The hours lost to gathering water are often the difference between time to do a trade and earn a living and not. Just think of all the things you would miss if you had to take three hours out each day to get water.

When a water solution is put into place, sustainable agriculture is possible. Children get back to school instead of collecting dirty water all day, or being sick from waterborne illnesses. Parents find more time to care for their families, expand minimal farming to sustainable levels, and even run small businesses.  learn more at http://thewaterproject.org

In collaboration with various partners, volunteers, patrons and organizations, RAIN is not just for the immediate future of Africa, but also for the long-term sustainability of its resources. RAIN is also The Coca-Cola Company’s contribution to help Africa meet the UN Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation.





U.S. Business Leaders Urge Strong Policy Action on Climate Change

11 04 2013

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As the President unveils his budget for the coming year, 33 major U.S. companies, including eBay Inc., Nike and Limited Brands signed a “Climate Declaration,” urging federal policymakers to take action on climate change, asserting that a bold response to the climate challenge is one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.

“The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change. We are, and it’s good for our businesses.  The cost of inaction is too high. Policymakers should see climate change policy for what it is: an economic opportunity.” said Anne Kelly, Director of BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) coalition. 

Together, the Declaration signatories provide approximately 475,000 U.S. jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of approximately $450 billion. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have affected several Climate Declaration signatories and exposed the United States’ economic vulnerability to climate change.  Signatories of the Climate Declaration are among the country’s best-known consumer brands, including Starbucks, Levis EMC Corporation, IKEA, Jones Lang LaSalle, L’Oréal, the North Face, the Portland Trail Blazers, Timberland and Unilever, among others.

“From droughts that affect cotton crops to Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive damage to our operations, climate affects all aspects of our business,” said Eileen Fisher, CEO of New York-based apparel firm Eileen Fisher, which suffered severe damage and business interruption during the 2012 storm. “As a socially and environmentally responsible company, we are trying to affect positive change, but business can’t do it alone. We need the support of strong climate legislation.”

The signatories of the Climate Declaration are calling for Congress to address climate change by promoting clean energy, boosting efficiency and limiting carbon emissions – strategies that these businesses already employ within their own operations.

“Businesses understand that planning for a successful future takes investment today. One of the most important things Congress can do to grow our economy and protect our planet is to pass smart climate change legislation this year. Our workforce, supply chain and consumers are counting on us to lead the way,” said Anna Walker, Director, Government Affairs and Public Policy at Levi Strauss & Co.

BICEP members have supported several climate-driven policies, including historic automotive fuel economy standards signed into law in 2012 and the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind power. Innovation within the transportation, electric power sectors and IT sectors, among others, will be essential to meeting the climate challenge.

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“eBay Inc. is committed to driving a future for commerce that embraces clean energy innovation and is ultimately more sustainable,” said Lori Duvall, Global Director, Green at eBay Inc. “Our efforts extend across our data, employee and distribution center portfolios, our shipping and logistics infrastructure, as well as the actions of buyers, sellers, and merchants on our platforms. We see our participation in this coalition as a key element in bringing to life our vision for enabling greener forms of commerce over the long term.”

The Climate Declaration comes on the heels of the President’s renewed commitment to combat the threat of climate change and a recent study from Ceres, Calvert Investments and WWF indicating that a strong majority of Fortune 100 companies have set renewable energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals. Recent polls conducted by Gallup and Yale University, respectively, indicate that a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening and that corporations, as well as government officials, should be doing more to address the issue.





Cone: Green Gap Shows Actions Don’t Align With Intent

6 04 2013

Green-Question-300x300In the release of its latest 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008*. However, Americans continue to struggle with their role in the life-cycle of products with an environmental benefit.

90% said they believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent:

• Only 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit

• 42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefit

• 45% of consumers actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.

Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more.

• 71% of Americans report they regularly read and follow instructions on how to properly use or dispose (66%) of a product.

• 41% said they perform additional research to determine how best to utilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.

Responsible Brands Communicate and Facilitate Change

In a statement,  Liz Gorman, Cone Communications’ senior vice president of Sustainable Business Practices said “Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of environmentally preferred products, but they need companies’ help.  This is the next evolution of environmental marketing. Clear and candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role they play in minimizing the impacts associated with the product’s lifecycle.  The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility so far, despite feeling responsible for proper use and disposal.  They’re buying with the environment in mind, but they rely on companies to provide access and education to truly ‘close the loop.”

Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle.

Although more than 60 percent of respondents say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, the majority continue to erroneously believe common expressions such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the environment. Fewer were able to correctly identify these terms as meaning the product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%) or less than it used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development and environmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of “green” claims has remained flat at around 60 percent since 2008.

• 71% of consumers wish companies would do a better job helping them understand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in the marketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity over perfection and will punish companies if they feel misled:

• 48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages

• 69% say it’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as it is honest

• 78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental claim to be misleading

Abridged from a report on the research in a statement from Cone Communications.  Read the full press release here.

http://www.conecomm.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/0/a70891b83b6f1056074156e8b4646f42/files/2013_cone_communications_green_gap_trend_tracker_press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf





PwC: Businesses need to be prepared for unpredictability – whether that’s policy, climate or consumer change.

13 03 2013

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PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest professional services firm, points to a catastrophic future unless radical action is taken now to combat climate change.

“The new normal for businesses is a period of high uncertainty, subdued growth and volatile commodity prices. If regulatory certainty doesn’t come soon, businesses’ ability to plan and act – particularly around energy, supply chain and risk – could be anything but ‘normal’.” said Malcom Preston, PwC’s global lead, sustainability and climate change. 

PwC says any investors in long-term assets or infrastructure — particularly in coastal or low-lying regions — need to consider more pessimistic scenarios. Sectors dependent on food, water, energy or ecosystem services need to scrutinise the resilience and viability of their supply chains. More carbon-intensive sectors need to anticipate more invasive regulation and the possibility of stranded assets.

The trigger for its dire warning comes from the failure of the global community to reduce carbon emissions by anywhere near the amount needed to restrict temperature rises.

“Business leaders have been asking for clarity in political ambition on climate change,” says partner Leo Johnson. “Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2C, but 4C or even 6C.”

PwC’s latest report shows the required improvement in global carbon intensity to meet a 2C warming target has risen to 5.1% every year from now to 2050. The improvement in 2011 was just 0.7% despite the global economic slowdown, and since the turn of the century the rate of decarbonisation has averaged 0.8%.

“It’s the boy scout motto – be prepared,” says Jonathan Grant, PwC’s director for sustainability and climate change. “Businesses need to be prepared for unpredictability – whether that’s policy, climate or consumer change. Extreme weather events have become more common, and unpredictability looks set to increase. Businesses that have failed to prepare will find it difficult to keep their operations running smoothly as the risk of disruption increases.

PwC, the largest of the big four accounting firms, points out that even if the 5.1% improvement might be achievable in the longer term, it is unrealistic to expect that decarbonisation could be stepped up immediately – which means that the reduction required in future years is likely to be far greater.

“We have passed a critical threshold – not once since the second world war has the world achieved that rate of decarbonisation, but the task now confronting us is to achieve it for 39 consecutive years,” says the report.

It adds: “Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation would still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees [C] of warming by the end of the century. To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2 degrees [C] will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation.

“Governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2C now appear highly unrealistic. This new reality means that we must contemplate a much more challenging future. Whilst the negotiators continue to focus on 2C, a growing number of scientists and other expert organisations are now projecting much more pessimistic scenarios for global temperatures. The International Energy Agency, for example, now considers 4C and 6C scenarios as well as 2C in their latest analysis.”

Grant add: “Tools like real options analysis, developed as part of the investment decision-making process in the oil industry for example, analyse the impact of significant uncertainty on a decision.

“Working with our clients, the reality is we will have to advise on a much wider range of climate scenarios. Resilience is the watch word. Businesses need to get engaged on the areas materially relevant to their business. For example if you’re a consumer goods company you need to consider the longer-term security of supply of the resources you need, where you will source them from, and the more day-to-day issues of how you deal with the potential for disruption to their supply or delivery caused by extreme weather events.”

PwC’s report says there will need to be radical transformations in the ways the global economy currently functions, a rapid uptake of renewable energy, sharp falls in fossil fuel use or massive deployment of carbon capture and storage, removal of industrial emissions and halting deforestation.

It also warns against seeing the dash for gas as a long-term panacea. While the boom of shale gas in the United States may buy some time to help limit emissions growth, low prices may also reduce the incentive for investment in lower-carbon nuclear power and renewable energy.

This post is adapted from an original article in The Guardian.  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/pwc-climate-change-reduction-business-investments





GlobalScan: Environmental Concerns At 20 Year Lows

12 03 2013

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Environmental concerns among citizens around the world have been falling since 2009 and have now reached twenty-year lows, according to a multi-country GlobeScan poll.  Asked how serious they consider each of six environmental problems to be — air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages and climate change — fewer people now consider them “very serious” than at any time since tracking began twenty years ago.

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A total of 22,812 people from 22 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone as part of the GlobeScan Radar annual tracking poll during the second half of 2012. Twelve of the represented countries have been regularly polled on environmental issues since 1992.

“Scientists report that evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever—but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out,” says GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller. “Those who care about mobilizing public opinion on the environment need to find new messages in order to reinvigorate a stalled debate.”

Climate change is the only exception, where concern was lower from 1998 to 2003 than it is now. Concern about air and water pollution, as well as biodiversity, is significantly below where it was even in the 1990s. Many of the sharpest falls have taken place in the past two years.

The perceived seriousness of climate change has fallen particularly sharply since the unsuccessful UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Climate concern dropped first in industrialized countries, but this year’s figures show that concern has now fallen in major developing economies such as Brazil and China as well.

Despite the steep fall in environmental concern over the past three years, majorities still consider most of these environmental problems to be “very serious.” Water pollution is viewed as the most serious environmental problem among those tested, rated by 58 percent as very serious. Climate change is rated second least serious out of the six, with one in two (49%) viewing it as “very serious.”





WFA: Marketers Lag Consumers On Importance Of Responsible Brands

9 03 2013

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According to new research released this week by the World Federation of Advertisers, some 83% of marketers believe brands should have a “purpose”, but many shoppers have moved ahead of the industry in this area.  Some 56% of industry insiders thought consumers would prefer brands that supported “good causes at the same time as making money”, but Edelman’s consumer research pegged the actual total at 76%.

These figures stood at 40% and 47% respectively with regard to how many people bought caused-backing products at least once a month.

More broadly, only 38% of marketers had witnessed “consumer scepticism” when trying to position their products around a “purpose”, with shoppers in Europe, somewhat surprisingly, the least cynical.

The trade body polled 149 marketers from 58 firms controlling $70bn in adspend. It then compared the results with a global poll of 8,000 shoppers conducted by Edelman, the PR network.  The study was presented at the WFA’s Global Marketer Week, and features insights from organisations like Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the brewer, and Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant.

Fully 80% of the professionals polled agreed chief executives should help and be involved in shaping a purpose, a reading which stood at 74% for chief marketing officers, 64% for corporate communications and 53% for all staff.

While 49% of this panel agreed their brands had a purpose, only 38% felt it was communicated well. More positively, a 93% majority said the impact of purpose on reputation could be measured, as did 91% for consumer engagement.

Upon being asked to name the company which has best embraced purpose, Unilever, the FMCG firm, led the charts on 23%, buoyed by its goal to double sales and halve its environmental footprint by 2020.

Procter & Gamble, a rival to Unilever, took second on 15%, and has embraced the corporate mantra of “touching and improving” consumers. Soft drinks titan Coca-Cola was third on 14%.





Oxfam: How The Top Ten Food Companies Rank As Responsible Brands.

28 02 2013

“The social and environmental policies of the world’s ten biggest food and beverage giants are not fit for modern purpose and need a major shake-up.”

- Oxfam Statement

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Oxfam released results today ranking the world’s Top Ten food and beverage companies on responsible brand behaviors – evaluating their performance on key measures such as land and water use, response to climate change, treatment of workers, farmers and women, and transparency.

According to the Oxfam report – Behind The Brands – “all of the big ten companies have acknowledged the need for a more just food system and have made commitments to that end.  But the Behind the Brands scorecard shows these very same companies are currently failing to take the necessary steps in their policies to ensure the well-being of those working to produce their products.  Instead they continue to profit from a broken system they should be helping to fix.”

Among several areas the Behind The Brands study identifies as serious improvement:

  • None of the big ten companies have policies to protect local communities from land and water grabs along their supply chains.
  • Companies are not taking significant steps to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate change affect their supplier farmers.
  • Most do not provide small-scale farmers with equal access to their supply changes or ensure they are receiving a fair price for their goods
  • Companies are overly secretive about their agricultural supply chains, making it difficult to verify and monitor sustainability goals and claims.
  • Only few efforts are in place to address the exploitation of female small-scale producers and farmers in their supply chains.

“None of the 10 biggest food and beverage companies are moving fast enough to turn around a 100-year legacy of relying on cheap land and labor to make mass products at huge profits, with unacceptably high social and environmental costs,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director for Oxfam International, in a statement. “No company emerges with a good overall score. Across the board, all 10 companies need to do much more.”





Honda: Buy a new Honda and we’ll solar power your home.

20 02 2013

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Honda and Acura are offering a pioneering new partnership with SolarCity that lets Honda customers install solar systems at home for little or no upfront cost.

Through a partnership with SolarCity, a residential and commercial installer, Honda and Acura will offer their customer’s home solar systems at little or no upfront cost, the companies said on Tuesday. The automaker will also offer its dealers preferential terms to lease or buy systems from SolarCity on a case-by-case basis, executives said.

The deal announced Tuesday by both companies will allow Honda will provide financing for $65 million worth of installations and will help the automaker promote its environmental aims and earn a modest return. It could also open the door for more corporate investment in solar leasing companies, which has largely been limited to a small cluster of banks to provide capital for their projects.

Honda approached SolarCity more than a year ago when it was looking for a partner to provide solar installation services for its hybrid and electric vehicle customers, said Ryan Harty, American Honda’s assistant manager for environmental business development. The company then decided to expand to all its customers — a group it is defining “very, very broadly,” Mr. Harty said, to include not just car owners but also those who have explored its Web sites. The offer will be available in 14 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

And SolarCity, one of the few clean-tech start-ups to find a market for an initial public offering of its stock last year, will potentially gain access to tens of millions of new customers through Honda’s vast lists of current and previous owners.

“When we partner with financial institutions, they aren’t promoting us to their customers, they’re essentially just providing us with capital,” said Lyndon R. Rive, SolarCity’s chief executive. But with Honda, he said, the company is gaining, “access to a broader customer base, and a customer base that is conscious of the environment.”

“I don’t think that by finding Honda buyers you’ve homed in on the perfect solar customer, but there’s enough overlapping between the demographics that you’re better off than the general population,” said Shayle Kann, vice president at GTM Research, adding that car buyers were more likely to own their homes and have the income and credit history to qualify for solar leasing.

While the American solar industry in general has been struggling in the face of declining government subsidies, overcapacity in production and a glut of inexpensive Chinese panels, interest and investment in solar leasing, or third-party ownership, has continued to grow. According to a recent report from GTM Research, a renewable energy consulting firm that is a unit of Greentech Media, third-party ownership accounts for more than 70 percent of all residential installations in developed markets like Arizona, California and Colorado and has generated at least $3.4 billion in private investment since 2008.

SolarCity and a rival, Sunrun, were among pioneers of the approach, but players like Clean Power Finance and Vivint, a home security company owned by the Blackstone Group, are also gaining momentum.

In a typical arrangement, a company provides a system at little or no cost in exchange for a long-term contract in which the customer pays a fixed fee for the electricity generated, set at less than the customer would pay for power from the local utility. The solar price often rises over the life of the agreement, which can last 20 years.

The two companies say they hope the joint venture leads to projects that integrate solar power and electric vehicle recharging for its customers.

The program will give Honda and Acura customers an extra $400 discount on top of SolarCity’s normal promotions, which they can use to sweeten the terms of the solar contract, like eliminating the escalation of the monthly payment. Honda projects the fund can finance as many as 3,000 systems on homes and 20 for its dealers. If the program catches on, Honda plans to expand it. Executives said they saw more immediate promise in cutting carbon emissions through solar power than the electric vehicles it would sell.

Abridged from an article in The New York Times.  Link to the original below.




Aspirational Consumers: Balancing Style and Sustainability

5 02 2013

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A new study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility finds that a majority of consumers across six international markets are seeking to reconcile their desire for shopping and style with responsibility to the environment and society through their purchases. According to the report, Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability, nearly two-thirds of consumers globally equate shopping with happiness (63%) while also feeling a sense of responsibility for society (65%). The study draws from an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

In exploring the intersection of consumer values, motivations and behaviors, the study identifies four consumer segments on the sustainability spectrum: highly committed Advocates (14%); style and social status-seeking Aspirationals (37%); price and performance-minded Practicals (34%) and less engaged Indifferents (16%).

Aspirationals represent hundreds of millions of consumers globally, and are the largest consumer segment in Brazil, China and India. More than any other segment, Aspirationals care about style (65%) and social status (52%), and equate shopping with happiness (70%). Yet, they are also among the most likely to believe that we need to “consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (73%), and feel “a sense of responsibility to society” (73%).

Aspirationals are looking for brands to provide solutions that both improve their lives and serve society as a whole,” said Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs at L’Oréal USA, a sponsor of the study. “Understanding this dynamic tension provides the greatest opportunity for companies to create positive impact through consumers’ purchasing decisions and social actions.”

Aspirationals represent the persuadable mainstream on the path to more sustainable behavior. They love to shop, are influenced by brands, yet aspire to be sustainable in their purchases and actions,” said Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder of brand and innovation consultancy BBMG. “This consumer segment represents a significant opportunity for forward-looking brands to unite consumerism with social and environmental values.”

“The ideals, influence and size of the Aspirationals segment — particularly in developing markets — is what makes them so compelling for sustainable brands,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at think tank and strategic advisory firm SustainAbility. “But simply helping people to consume more products that are incrementally ‘better’ is not necessarily the answer. Leading companies will seek to meet the needs of the Aspirationals beyond just products by delivering value through services, sharing, expertise and purposeful engagement.”

Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, added: “In our fifteen years of market analysis, we’ve never seen an opportunity like this. The Aspirationals will chart the future of sustainable consumption, as long as their favorite brands offer them what they want.”

Developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption. The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.





World Resources Institute: Launches Aqueduct Water Risk Mapping Tool

4 02 2013

Aqueduct provides companies with comprehensive, high-resolution picture of water risks worldwide.

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The World Resources Institute (WRI) has launched a new online tool that maps water risk worldwide based on the most current, highest resolution data available. Companies, investors, and governments can use the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to see how water stress will affect operations locally and globally, and help prioritize investments that will increase water security.

The online tool was developed by WRI, working with founding members of the Aqueduct Alliance, GE and Goldman Sachs, as well as Skoll Global Threats Fund, Shell, Bloomberg, Talisman Energy, Dow, United Technologies (UTC), DuPont, John Deere, Veolia Water, and the Dutch and Swedish governments.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas is a customizable global map, based on 12 indicators of physical, regulatory, and reputational risk. In a user-friendly way, companies can now evaluate how water stress, flood occurrence, access to water, drought, and other issues may affect operations. Additionally, the global map can be tailored specifically for nine water-intense industry sectors – from oil and gas, to agriculture, to chemicals.

“Recent history is littered with companies that failed to anticipate emerging threats. Water scarcity is one such threat. Thankfully, forward-thinking business leaders are starting to get it. They understand that water risk is one of the top issues that they face,” said Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute. “This new platform will provide companies with comprehensive, high-resolution tools to measure water risk. It gives them an unprecedented ability to understand and better manage these risks.”

Companies have already been using earlier versions of the Aqueduct tool to understand how their operations and supply chains may be exposed to water risk. For example:

  • McDonalds has asked 353 of its global suppliers’ facilities to use Aqueduct to assess their local water risk;
  • Procter & Gamble, Owens-Corning, and AU Optronics have used Aqueduct to understand how local water supply, quality, and other risk factors may affect their global facilities, and to prioritize water efficiency and other investments;
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch used Aqueduct to inform investors about water risks and opportunities in a recently released research report; and
  • Companies used Aqueduct to disclose and report on external water risk in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) 2012 Global Water Report.

“Aqueduct’s global water risk map provides an innovative tool and important step forward in understanding critical water issues,” said Kyung-Ah Park, Head of the Environmental Markets Group at Goldman Sachs. “Assessing risk is challenging, and even more so with complex issues like water. Aqueduct provides a much more complete picture of the water issues affecting business globally than we’ve had before.”

Through the Atlas, users can plot the locations that matter most to them – from facilities, to suppliers, to potential new markets or proposed power plants – and compare those locations’ potential exposure to water stress and risk. They can also review maps of individual indicators, such as seasonal variability, which may be highly important to their operations.

You can link to the video demo of the Aqueduct Atlas below.

http://aqueduct.wri.org/aqueduct/how-to

“GE knows first-hand that water scarcity is a major challenge in many parts of the world,” said Heiner Markhoff, President and CEO of GE Water. “We’re very pleased that Aqueduct’s new global water risk maps will enhance understanding of these risks in ways that enable society to address them more effectively.”

The release of the global Water Risk Atlas is the culmination of a three-year effort by WRI to create a peer-reviewed and robust methodology for mapping complex water security around the world.

“Aqueduct’s global water risk mapping information is a valuable tool for understanding and addressing the pressing global threat of water security,” said Sylvia Lee, Water Manager, Skoll Global Threats Fund. “We understand that water is not just an environmental issue, but a real and substantial risk to communities, economies, and businesses. The new global water risk maps make it easier than ever to research and understand where in the world these risks are greatest, and where action is most needed.”





Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Foodprint.

3 02 2013

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Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tons of food lost or wasted each year and help shape a sustainable future, according to a new global campaign to cut food waste launched last month by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners.

The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf – and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Initiatives. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.

The campaign harnesses the expertise of organizations such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Feeding the 5,000 and other partners, including national governments, who have considerable experience targeting and changing wasteful practices.

Think.Eat.Save. aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal (www.thinkeatsave.org) for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world.

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Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain.

“In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away,” he added. “To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources.”

“Together, we can reverse this unacceptable trend and improve lives. In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. “This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.”

“If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world,” Graziano da Silva added.

The global food system has profound implications for the environment, and producing more food than is consumed only exacerbates the pressures, some of which follow:

  • More than 20 per cent of all cultivated land, 30 per cent of forests and 10 per cent of grasslands are undergoing degradation;
  • Globally 9 per cent of the freshwater resources are withdrawn, 70 per cent of this by irrigated agriculture;
  • Agriculture and land use changes like deforestation contribute to more than 30 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Globally, the agri-food system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of end-user available energy;
  • Overfishing and poor management contribute to declining numbers of fish, some 30 per cent of marine fish stocks are now considered overexploited.

Part of the trigger for the campaign was the outcome of the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, in which Heads of State and governments gave the go-ahead for a 10-Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Patterns. Developing an SCP programme for the food sector must be a vital element of this framework, given the need to sustain the world’s food production base, reduce associated environmental impacts, and feed a growing human population.

“There can be no other area that is perhaps so emblematic of the opportunities for a far more resource-efficient and sustainable world – and there is no other issue that can unite North and South and consumers and producers everywhere in common cause,” said Mr. Steiner.

According to FAO, roughly 95 per cent of food loss and waste in developing countries are unintentional losses at early stages of the food supply chain due to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions; infrastructure; packaging and marketing systems.

However, in the developed world the end of the chain is far more significant. At the food manufacturing and retail level in the developed world, large quantities of food are wasted due to inefficient practices, quality standards that over-emphasize appearance, confusion over date labels and consumers being quick to throw away edible food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage and preparing meals that are too large.

Per-capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kg a year in Europe and North America/Oceania, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kg a year.

According to WRAP, the average UK family could save £680 per year (US$1,090) and the UK hospitality sector could save £724 million (US$1.2 billion) per year by tackling food waste.

For the campaign to reach its huge potential, everyone has to be involved – families, supermarkets, hotel chains, schools, sports and social clubs, company CEOs, city Mayors, national and world leaders.

The campaign website, www.thinkeatsave.org, provides simple tips to consumers and retailers, will allow users to make food waste pledges, and provides a platform for those running campaigns to exchange ideas and create a truly global culture of sustainable consumption of food.

For example, the website provides the following advice, which will help consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry reduce waste – thus reducing their environmental impact and saving money.

Consumers

  • Shop Smart: Plan meals, use shopping lists, avoid impulse buys and don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need.
  • Buy Funny Fruit: Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or colour are deemed not “right”. Buying these perfectly good fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.
  • Understand Expiry Dates: “Best-before” dates are generally manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after these dates. The important date is “use by” – eat food by that date or check if you can freeze it.
  • Zero Down Your Fridge: Websites such as WRAP’s www.lovefoodhatewaste.com can help consumers get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.
  • Other actions include: freezing food; following storage guidance to keep food at its best, requesting smaller portions at restaurants; eating leftovers – whether home-cooked, from restaurants or takeaway; composting food; and donating spare food to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.

Retailers and the Hospitality Industry

  • Retailers can carry out waste audits and product loss analysis for high-waste areas, work with their suppliers to reduce waste, offer discounts for near-expiration items, redesign product displays with less excess, standardize labelling and increase food donations, among other actions.
  • Restaurants, pubs and hotels can limit menu choices and introduce flexible portioning, carry out waste audits and create staff engagement programmes, among many other measures.
  • Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, companies, cities and countries will be able to use the website to pledge to measure the food they waste and put in place targets to reduce it.




GINN: Impact Investing To Grow 12% in 2013

10 01 2013

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The Global Impact Investing Network (GINN) – in partnership with JP Morgan – has published a new report “Perspectives on Progress” surveying impact investment trends.  The survey indicates that respondents report that they committed $8 billion to impact investments in 2012, and plan to commit $9 billion in 2013.

As defined by GINN, “Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. They can be made in both emerging and developed in markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending upon the circumstances.”

96% of survey respondents say they measure their social/environmental impact of their investments and four out of five fund managers highlight the importance of impact measurement for raising capital.  The survey measured the behaviors and attitudes of a total of 99 investment organizations.

Sixty-four percent of equity investor respondents stated that they had at least one, if not many, investments significantly outperform their financial return expectations while delivering the expected impact.  When asked about their top motivations for impact investments, investors cited commitment to being a responsible investor, efficiency in meeting impact goals and financial attractiveness relative to other opportunities as the top three reasons for making impact investments.

Interestingly, Sub-Saharan Africa received the largest percentage of impact investments with 34%.  Latin America and North America tied with 32% of impact investments.  Oceania came in last with only 5% of the investments.

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You can download a copy of the GINN report here.





A4S REPORT: Future Proofed Decision Making

3 01 2013

“There was a time when we could say that there was either a complete lack of knowledge, or at least room for doubt, about the consequences for our planet of our actions.

That time has gone.

We now know all too clearly what we are actually doing and that we need to do something about it urgently. Better accounting must be part of that process.”

Prince Charles, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) commissioned research into which types of information may be most effective in driving the integration of environmental and social factors into Board level decision-making.  The A4S research indicated that:

1. There is a growing recognition of the changing business landscape and a potential need for changes to decision-making processes and strategic objectives to reflect new risks and opportunities.

2. The business case for the inclusion of environmental and social factors at Board level is not yet clear, particularly for many CFOs, due to uncertainty around the relevance of these issues to their organization.

3. Environmental and social information is often assumed to have been formally considered by the CSR / Sustainability team (with sometimes limited impact on the wider business) before decisions reach Board level. Information is typically presented as traditional sustainability data e.g. tonnes of carbon — with little alignment to strategic objectives or financial information.

4. Scepticism over the quality and robustness of many types of environmental and social data is preventing more widespread use.

5. A belief among respondents that expressing many environmental and social factors in financial terms can be counter-productive as data can be viewed as unreliable, spurious or unethical.

6. A perception that action can be left to successors who will understand these issues more fully.

The A4S research highlights that there are a number of barriers to overcome before the majority of organizations truly integrate environmental and social factors into decision making, including:

Demonstrate the business case

There is a need to articulate more clearly the commercial rationale for incorporating social and environmental factors into decision making to help ensure that organizations are aware of the risks to mitigate and the opportunities to grasp over the short, medium and long term.

Speak the right language

Narratives that are aligned with the needs and ‘language’ of business need to be developed. These need to be focussed at a sector and organizational level and grounded in commercial understanding.

Develop more robust information

Organizations should work with existing collaborations to develop commonly agreed methodologies to value environmental and social inputs and impacts in financial terms. These should clearly demonstrate the link to an organization’s strategic objectives and financial performance, either directly or via reputational impact. They should work with others to develop a wider set of tools that enable future risk, opportunity and uncertainty to be incorporated into decision making processes.

Bridge the knowledge gap

The need for skills expansion at Board level and within the finance and accounting community should be recognized and addressed.

Create an enabling environment

Organizations need to be given clear signals to drive more sustainable behaviour, including the need to align national and global frameworks with business incentives and performance measurement systems.

Access the full report below.

Prince Charles Photo Credit:  The Guardian





Climate Counts: 15 Companies “Soaring” With Climate and Energy Strategy

8 12 2012

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In its 6th annual report, Climate Counts (CC) has released it scorecard of 145 companies’ performance of publicly available information regarding their efforts to reduce green house emissions, support the need for a comprehensive climate policy and report its progress.  15 of those companies have received a score of “soaring” by CC for their leadership and innovation in reducing their impact on the environment.

Unilever leads the pack with an amazing score of 91 (out of 100).  Here are the rest of the “soaring” companies:

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In the report, Mike Bellamente, Director of the non-profit Climate Counts, said, “Business leaders are making remarkably innovative progress to minimize waste, employ renewable energy, and design products with a lower carbon impact – all while turning a profit and growing their business. As the economy shows limited signs of improvement, top performers on our scorecard are demonstrating that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can be achieved simultaneously. We would call that a win-win if it weren’t for the great distance we still have to go in squaring up human consumption with the true carrying capacity of our planet.”

However, some companies are “stuck” according to the CC report.  Among the least improved companies are some household brand names that people should re-consider their patronage based on their lack of progress in assessing and responding to their impact on the environment.  The fast food sector  is particularly guilty of ignoring its impact on climate change as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s all squarely in the bottom six companies that rank as least improved over the six years of the Climate Counts reports.

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Cheers to the “soaring” companies and jeers to those that are “stuck”. according to Climate Counts.

Read the Climate Counts Report here.





Re-Thinking Consumption: 66% of consumers agree we need to consume less to improve the environment.

29 11 2012

 

According to the newly released The Regeneration Consumer Study, two-thirds of consumers in six countries say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” and that they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society”.

In a statement, Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility said, “Our economy and natural environment are facing unprecedented stresses as scarce resources are stretched to meet growing needs.  Through the Regeneration Consumer Study, we are revealing how consumer attitudes, behaviors and collaboration can help enterprising brands as they work to innovate smarter, safer, cleaner and greener solutions.”

The findings are based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

Among other key insights in the global consumer research:

  • Nine in ten consumers believe it is extremely or very important for companies to address safe drinking water.
  • 67% are interested in sharing their ideas with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions.
  • 75% of consumers globally agree they would purchase products that are environmentally or socially responsible if they didn’t cost more.

The study also draws five key implications for marketers to connect with these consumers who are demonstrating strong desire for responsible brands.  In summary, they are:

1.  Deliver total value.

2. Connect back story to brand story

3. Embrace sustainable brand innovation.

4. Harness consumer collaboration.

5. Unleash the power of tribes.

 

Read a copy of the research report here.

 

Congratulations to the drivers behind the research and their sponsors.  Learn about the developers and their sponsors below:

Developed by BBMGGlobeScan and SustainAbilityThe Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012. Drawn from consumer research panels, global data are comparable to having a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent. Analysis of country-level data reflects a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

Presenting Sponsors of The Regeneration Roadmap are BMW Group and SC Johnson. Sponsors include Cisco, DuPont, Interface and Pfizer. The Regeneration Consumer Study is sponsored by Brown-FormanCampbell Soup CompanyItauL’OréalShell and Starbucks.

 

 

 





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

Two hands hold euro coins where a plant starts to grow

Sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) accounts for 11.23 percent of all assets under professional management in the United States at year end 2011. According to the report, $3.74 trillion out of $33.3 trillion of investment assets is held by individuals, institutions, investment companies or money managers that practice SRI strategies.

This total, an increase of 22 percent since year end 2009, reflects growing investor interest in considering environmental, community, other societal or corporate governance (ESG) issues to refine how they make decisions as they select and manage their portfolios or raise their voices as shareholders.

The new 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, released today by the US SIF Foundation, found that the total net assets of both mutual funds and alternative investment funds that consider ESG criteria increased significantly:

Mutual Funds: $641 billion, a doubling from 2010.

Alternative Investment Funds: $132 billion, a 250 percent increase from the corresponding assets identified at year-end 2009.

The report also found sizable growth in financial institutions that have a mission of serving low and middle-income communities:

Community Development Banks: $30.1 billion, a 74 percent increase since 2010.

Credit Unions: $17.1 billion, a 54 percent increase from 2010.

Importantly, the report found a significant increase of institutional investor assets involved ESG criteria related to environmental issues since the last report published in 2010.  It now represents $636 billion, 43 percent increase from 2010. Climate change is now considered by 23 percent of institutional asset owners incorporating ESG criteria.

In a statement, Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF said, “The 2012 Trends report demonstrates that we are moving closer to a sustainable and equitable economy.  From the growth in mutual funds that consider ESG criteria and increased investment in community development banks and credit unions to increasingly large votes on shareholder proposals and the availability of sustainable investment options across asset classes, SRI strategies are on the rise in the United States. We are pleased that this report details many important and interrelated trends that indicate that sustainable and responsible investing will continue its impressive growth and impact.”

About US SIF:

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. The 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States is a publication of the US SIF Foundation, a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF.

 





Cone: Americans more than twice as likely to buy from companies that promote CSR progress and results.

9 11 2012

Cone Communications has released the results of its new Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker showing that 86% of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its corporate social responsibility results.

In a statement, Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Craig Bida said, “Stakeholders play more powerful roles than ever in a brand’s overall success or failure and they must be consistently engaged in a company’s CSR efforts and results from the outset.  They need to feel a benefit. This mutual return will become the new table stakes for differentiating CSR efforts.”

Some of the other interesting insights from the research include:

  • 84 percent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond the mission to robustly communicate progress against well-defined purpose.
  • 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not.
  • 84 percent recognize that for a company to make societal impact, it must also realize a business return, such as increased revenue or reduced costs

Importantly, the study also underscores continued consumer confusion regarding CSR and where to find the results and reports on CSR efforts.  And documents how CSR efforts need to be communicated and more core to any company’s brand marketing efforts.

  • 63 percent say they don’t know where to find information about a company’s CSR efforts and results
  • 55 percent don’t understand the impact they are having when buying a product from a company that says it is socially responsible.
  • 40 percent say they will not purchase a company’s products or services if CSR results are not communicated

“This shift in stakeholder expectations carries significant implications for companies engaged in CSR,” says Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Jonathan Yohannan. “Purpose is no longer enough, and successful campaigns must demonstrate return for business, brand and society. ‘Proving purpose’ is the new mantra for effective CSR.” “Companies need to build customized output and outcome measurement components and identify projected stakeholder return at the outset of campaign development, and then track progress along the critical CSR pillars of business, brand and society,” adds Yohannan. “With the stakes so high, measurement can’t be an afterthought or add-on.”

Read the press release from Cone on the research here





Unilever: Partnership to help African Hand Washing Initiative

30 10 2012

Unilever and the Earth Institute have announced a new initiative to bring hand washing with soap – a lifesaving habit – to the Millennium Villages, a project that works with nearly 500,000 people in rural villages, across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

”The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships. Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role.” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, “The memo of understanding with the Earth Institute partnering Lifebuoy with the Millennium Villages Project is one such example where working together will enhance our expertise of addressing hygiene in deep rural Africa and enable us to develop more effective solutions to reduce child mortality.”

The partnership supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan – to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Over the past two years, Unilever has successfully changed the hand washing behaviour of 50 million people in Africa and South-Asia, through its leading soap brand Lifebuoy and partnerships with Population Services International (PSI) and UNICEF established through the Unilever Foundation.

“It is unacceptable that two million children die every year from infectious diseases when we have easy and cheap lifesaving solutions, such as hand washing with soap, readily available. Innovative partnerships between governments, civil society and business have a critical role to play in promoting better hygiene practices and in tackling the world’s deadliest diseases.” said Polman.

Millions around the world are asked to pledge on www.facebook.com/lifebuoy. With every pledge, Lifebuoy and its partners will help more children receive hygiene education through their dedicated handwashing behavior change programs.

In a statement, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University said: “Diarrhoea and pneumonia are the two leading causes of under-5 deaths, accounting for around 30% of children’s deaths globally – more than two million lives lost each year. More than 80% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Addressing these challenges through improved hygiene is a vital and effective step towards saving lives and achieving the global Millennium Development Goal to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.”

Consistent evidence shows that hand washing with soap at critical times – before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhoeal risk by 45%  and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, by 23%.  Studies also reveal that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhoea and respiratory infections dropped between 20% and 50% as a result of better hand washing practices .

“We are looking forward to working with Unilever to ensure that straightforward solutions like hand washing reach the people that need them the most,” said Sachs who leads the Millennium Villages Project.  “The poor need solutions that are affordable, products that are highly effective, and information that is practical and accessible.  The benefits can be enormous.”

The partnership will be focusing on villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, and aims to: decrease incidence in diarrhoeal diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, enhance productivity and well-being for all community members. The partnership will also focus on governments. Governments should integrate hand washing with soap into national health and education policy frameworks. Governments and aid donors should ensure adequate finance for hygiene facilities and water availabilities. Business must act too, ensuring their products are even more affordable, and varied so that handwashing with soap is done everywhere and by all. Public-private partnerships have role to play and can help governments harness the power of business for the benefit of their population’s health.

Looking to the UN’s post-2015 agenda, Polman said, “It will be important to ensure that hygiene takes its place alongside targets on water and sanitation. This partnership with Millennium Villages Project will provide further evidence to demonstrate to policymakers how hygiene public policy can be improved, and help bring to an end the scandal of children dying from preventable diseases.





Puma Again: Launching biodegradable shoes and apparel.

11 10 2012

The amazing German footwear and apparel manufacturer Puma is at it again.  This week they announced the launch of a new line of biodegradable shoes, shirts, backpacks and recyclable track jackets.  The products will be available for sale in 2013.  This adds to Puma’s track record of sustainability leadership that has led to it being named “the world’s most sustainable corporation” by EIRIS and has drawn praise as a corporate leader in environmental responsibility by the United Nations.

In an interview with Reuters, chief executive Franz Koch said, “We have decided that sustainability is a mega-trend.  We want to contribute to a better world. At the same time, we also want to carve out our competitive advantage.”

The new collection, going on sale in 2013, includes biodegradable sneakers and shirts and recyclable plastic track jackets and backpacks. At the end of their useful life, the products can be returned to stores for processing.

The sole of the new sneaker is made of biodegradable plastic and the upper of organic cotton and linen. After being shredded, it could become compost in six to nine months.  Puma has demonstrated that 100,000 pairs of biodegradable sneakers would fill 12 trucks of waste during production and disposal against 31 trucks-worth for the same number of normal Puma suede shoes.

A new biodegradable T-shirt would have environmental costs of 2.36 euros in terms of greenhouse gases, water, waste, air pollution, and land use associated with its production, compared to 3.42 euros for a conventional T-shirt.

The company also said it was starting to rate the environmental impact of individual products, narrowing the focus from a study last year that estimated the entire company caused 145 million euros in damage to nature in 2010.

In another interview with Reuters, Jochen Zeitz, chairman of Puma said, “In the long run I think all of this should be standardised, just like we are used to seeing calories on our food products.” , told Reuters. Zeitz conceded that “a lot of people call it a risk” to mention pollution when trying to sell a product. “I think it’s a risk not to talk about it,” he said. “It’s our opportunity as businesses to be transparent.”

In 2010, Puma and Yves Behar of Fuse Project, a global leader in design, announced the launch of its Clever Little Bag, reinventing the typical cardboard shoe box with a much more environmentally responsible package design.  You can see the design and appreciate its reduction in environmental impacts here.

Read the Reuters article here.





Vestas Survey: 85% of consumers want more renewable energy.

18 09 2012

Vestas has released this year’s Global Consumer Wind Study, surveying 24,000 consumers worldwide about their attitude toward renewable energy.  The study shows that 79% per cent of consumers prefer renewable energy, that 62% are more willing to buy products produced with renewable energy, and not least that consumers indicate a willingness to pay a premium price for such products.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • 74% would get a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were the primary energy source used in its production.
  • 49% of respondents express willingness to pay more for products made with renewable energy.
  • 62% of respondents say they would be more willing to buy products from brands that use wind energy production.
  • 52% of consumers believe that the transparency of the energy mix used in product production is too low.
  • 45% of consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top 3 challenges facing the world today.

Importantly for brand marketers, the research also studied the impact of renewable energy use on brand perceptions.  28% of people surveyed indicated they would get a “much more positive perception” of the brand if the brand used wind energy as its primary source.

According to the research report, “This year’s Global Consumer Wind Study indicates that brands need their core business to be green in order to reap the full benefits of consumers’ preferences. The research suggests that consumers have raised the threshold for being “green,” and that consumers are more likely to choose brands that integrate sustainability into their core business operations by sourcing renewable energy, and to recommend those brands to other potential purchasers.”

You can read the full summary of the Global Consumer Wind Study here.





World Water Week: The Relationship Between Water and Food.

28 08 2012

If the wars of the 20thcentury were fought over oil,

the wars of this century will be fought over water.

 The World Bank

World Water Week is sponsored by the Stockholm International Water Institute and is being conducted this week in Stockholm.  World Water Week provides a unique forum for the exchange of views, experiences and practices between the scientific, business, policy and civic communities. It focuses on new thinking and positive action toward water-related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment, health, climate, economic and poverty reduction agendas.

This year’s program is focused on Water and Food Security.  According to the SIWI, water interventions for food security, at production and household levels, need to focus on improved nutrition, better health, critical bio-diversity and sustainable livelihoods, achieving co-benefits for environmental as well as human health.

Says SIWI, “The food production in the world is more than enough to feed all its inhabitants properly. Yet, a billion are undernourished, around two billion are overeating, and staggering amounts of food are lost or wasted. In addition, food alone will not eradicate hunger as up to 50% of malnutrition is related to unclean water, inadequate sanitation or poor hygiene.”

Wonderwater:  An initiative to educate and inspire.

One group that is pioneering the campaign to raise awareness about the relationship between water and food production is the U.K. based Wonderwater.They have created public awareness campaigns and interactive learning opportunities to help educate people about the food and water.

How much water do you eat? This is the question posed by Wonderwater to consumers, businesses, politicians and NGOs around the world, as the pressures of population growth, climate change and water scarcity continue to pose serious challenges to our future food security. The group uses creative, thought-provoking design exhibitions and striking café installations to stimulate conversations relating to the water footprint of food, prompting visitors to consider how much of the world’s scarce fresh water (which represents just 3% of Earth’s water) are required to produce the food we consume.

Wonderwater’s latest project is another of its Wonderwater Cafe’s.  In September 2012 Wonderwater Cafe will arrive in London at Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch. Leila McAlister’s responsibly sourced and seasonal menu will be utilized to illustrate how much water it takes to produce our favorite foods, and highlight the importance of considering water consumption when making culinary decisions.

Learn more about Wonderwater Cafe London here

Read more about Wonderwater at 2degrees with blogger Katharine Earley





Method: Progress On Ocean Plastic

24 08 2012

It has been almost a year since innovative and inventive household cleaning products manufacturer Method announced its campaign to utilize reclaimed ocean plastic for its packaging.  In a recent article on Greenbiz,com, Drummond Lawson, the director of sustainability at Method, provides a progress report on the sustainability initiative.

.Commercializing the rising tide of ocean plastic

Lawson writes:  “Method has participated in, alongside partners Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kahuku Hawai’i Foundation, several beach cleanup days that resulted in collecting several thousand pounds of beach debris. The primary challenge encountered in these cleanups, aside from hauling hundreds of pounds of plastic from remote beach locations, has been retrieving the plastics before they degrade to tiny particles that are effectively impossible to collect in large quantities.

The range and quantity of plastic in the oceans is astounding. The debris collected from these beaches has varied from fishing baskets made of polypropylene to Russian shampoo bottles and Japanese bleach bottles made from HDPE, to car bumpers, ropes, water bottles, and buoys.”

Method product engineers are exploring ways to enhance the durability of their ocean plastic packaging.

“Method’s team of People Against Dirty love our work on the Ocean Plastic project because it brings together three things that characterize our company and how we work,” says Lawson.  “First, it addresses a real and material environmental problem — in this case, the accumulation of persistent plastics in the environment. Second, it relies on solid science and creativity to generate a solution. And third, it integrates sustainability into an innovative, effective, and engaging product design.”

Kudos to Method for this creative commitment to sustainability that enriches both the planet and people by repurposing plastic which represents so much damage to the environment and danger for ocean habitat.

Read the full article here.





Adidas DryDye: T-shirts made with less water.

9 08 2012

Adidas is rolling out an initial production run of 50,000 DryDye t-shirts – demonstrating their leadership in the production of apparel with less use of water.

The sportswear company has released a line of T-shirts made of fabric dyed with compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) rather than water.

Adidas says the DryDye technology – developed over the last five years with Thailand’s Yeh Group – uses zero water for dyeing, compared to 25 liters for a typical shirt. In addition, the process reduces chemical use by 50 percent, the company said.  In a commercial, Adidas claims the apparel industry uses the equivalent of the amount of water in the Mediterranean Sea each year.

For the summer season, Adidas has produced 50,000 DryDye tees with designs promoting the innovation. Using a traditional dyeing process would have required roughly 1,200,000 liters of water.

Adidas said it will begin using the DryDye process for more apparel pieces over the next few seasons.

Besides saving water, DryDye also uses 50 percent less energy and 50 percent fewer chemicals, according to DyeCoo, the Netherlands-based company that built the first commercial waterless textile-dyeing machine.  Adidas expects to save 1.2 million liters of water by using DryDye technology over conventional methods.

Together with Thailand’s Yeh Group, one of the first textile mills to implement the technology, Adidas will be rolling out 50,000 DryDye T-shirts over the summer. Because a single tee can require up to 25 liters of water during the dyeing stage, Adidas expects to save an estimated 1.2 million liters of agua over the usual route.

This is only the beginning, according to Adidas. The manufacturer expects to use the DryDye process with more apparel pieces over the next few seasons.








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