5 ways to drive sustainability in procurement

5 06 2023

Reusable grocery bags for sale at Whole Foods. David McNew via Getty Images

The majority of a company’s emissions stems from their suppliers. Here’s how to work with them toward a greener future. By Praveen Kumar Soni from supplychaindive.com • Reposted: June 5, 2023

With sustainability priorities becoming one of the biggest components of a company’s reputation, they can often be the competitive edge needed to become the brand of the choice.

Procurement plays a pivotal role in ensuring sustainability goals become reality, especially since a business’ environmental footprint is largely tied to their suppliers. But cost pressures and other risks can make it difficult for many teams to know where to start.

Below are five key steps to drive sustainability:

1. Make sustainable procurement compulsory

For existing products, it may take time to switch to sustainable options based on feasibility and cost impact. However, wherever possible and for any new product, make it mandatory to go for green options. It’ll help to steadily progress forward on the sustainability journey.

When green materials are harder to find, seek out partnerships with companies that are working toward new solutions. For instance, L’Oréalrecently partnered with biotechnology platform Geno to develop sustainable alternatives to ingredients.

2. Develop supplier sustainability scorecard

Management visionary Peter Drucker once said: “What gets measured gets improved.”

Procurement folks should take this to heart in all matters, including sustainability. Develop a dashboard to measure Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissionsto inform future decisions.

Additionally, organizations can start recognizing and rewarding the suppliers on an annual basis for their sustainability efforts to keep them motivated.

3. Share experiences and learn from others

Sustainability is an evolving field and procurement may not have all the answers. Meaningful engagement with suppliers or other industry experts can help you to find a fix for your problem.

For instance, I once noticed that my carton supplier had switched from plastic shrink wraps to reusable belts for pallet storage. I shared this practice with our manufacturing teams and it helped us, too, cut down on plastic.

Being connected to external world, procurement people can bring in lot of value through learning and sharing.

4. Invest in technology

Technology can help fine tune the processes and help make decisions around sustainability.

For instance, the use of digital twin technology in our manufacturing setup helped us to optimize the consumption of energy and water, leading to positive impact in sustainability KPIs.

Similarly, AI has the ability to assess millions of data sources and come up with the recommendations for sustainability alternatives. Procurement should invest in technology to get the benefit at scale.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/5-ways-to-drive-sustainability-in-procurement/651357/


Americans Are Ready to Change Their Behavior for the Sake of Sustainability: Are Brands Willing to Help?

2 06 2023

Image credit: Bluewater Sweden/Unsplash

By Mary Mazzoni from Triple Pundit • Reposted: June 2, 2023

We hear it time and time again: People aren’t ready, willing or interested in changing their lifestyles for the sake of sustainability. They’re too busy, too broke or too ambivalent to think about how their choices impact the world around them. And until they change their tune, there’s nothing brands can do about it — except sell them more stuff. 

This prevailing narrative has been around for decades, but data continues to show that it isn’t representative of how people really feel. The public is increasingly aware of the environmental and social challenges we face — from climate change to wealth inequality — and they want to be part of the solution. 

Over half of Americans say they’ve already made lifestyle changes like shopping secondhand, purchasing products in reusable or refillable packaging, and buying less overall in order to reduce their impact on people and the planet, according to a December survey conducted by TriplePundit and our parent company, 3BL Media, in partnership with the research technology firm Glow. 

Let’s break down what U.S. consumers are really saying about sustainability, how it factors into their own lives, and how brands can respond differently than they have in the past. 

what people view as the most pressing challenges facing society - survey findings
Americans rank climate change and economic inequality among the top three challenges facing society today, only behind their anxiety about keeping food on the table. Download the report to learn more.

People are willing to change their behavior for the sake of sustainability 

Shopping secondhand. Purchasing products made from, or packaged in, recycled materials. Choosing items in reusable or refillable containers. Shopping in the grocery bulk aisle to avoid packaging altogether. Some would have us believe these lifestyle shifts are too expensive or too cumbersome for Americans. But more than 60 percent of respondents to our survey said they’re already making these changes or intend to do so within the next six months. 

Of course the say/do gap — which refers to the difference between what people say in surveys and what they actually do in their daly lives — is always a factor. Even so, the interest in these lifestyle changes is significant and runs counter to preconceived notions that consumers don’t really want — or aren’t really ready — to change their lifestyles for sustainability reasons. 

People even expressed interest in behaviors that are commonplace in other countries but often dismissed as something that could “never work” in the U.S. For example, over half of respondents said they would be willing to take packaging like bottles back to a store for wash and refill.

people are willing to change their behaviors for sustainability - survey findings
More than 60 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to adopt lifestyle changes like shopping secondhand, opting for the bulk aisle, or choosing items in reusable or refillable packaging. Download the report to learn more

Our findings support existing research on general readiness for behavior change: In another 2022 survey, for example, half of responding U.S. adults said they’re willing to accept 95 percent of the changes needed to avert the climate crisis and restore ecosystems. The survey also revealed the extent of climate anxiety among the public, with 1 out of 4 respondents worried they may have to give up long-term goals like starting a family. 

When it comes to packaging in particular, our findings indicate that 75 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to choose reusable alternatives — echoing 2022 polling from Trivium Packaging which found the same. The trade publication Packaging World recently declared reusable and refillable packaging to be a “global opportunity,” with sales forecast to grow by 4.9 percent annually to $53.4 billion by 2027.

75 percent of people have purchased a product in refillable packaging or would be willing to do so - sustainability survey findings
Download the report to learn more

How brands can respond to shifting consumer preferences

Many advocates point to the calls for consumer behavior change as merely a delay tactic from large companies: If the narrative keeps people focused on their own behaviors — analyzing everything from cup preferences to clothing choice — they won’t have energy left to push for a shift in corporate practices or government regulations.

In the past, this may have been true, with consumers and brands pitted against each other in a cyclical blame-game while the poor get poorer and global temperatures rise. But findings like these indicate we’ve reached a critical moment when ideologies can align, and brands can show up as partners for consumers looking to play a role in the future they want to see. 

Leveraging our nearly two decades of experience in communicating about sustainability, TriplePundit and 3BL Media’s Consumer Insights and Sustainability Benchmark report includes key action items for businesses looking to respond to consumer sentiment in a positive way. 

“Understanding people’s uncertainties and anxieties about the future, and what they want to see from business, gives companies the opportunity to communicate and present themselves as part of the solution that consumers are looking for,” the report reads. “The next piece of the puzzle is to figure out how businesses can tailor their communications to appeal to consumer interests and bring them on board their journey to a more sustainable world.” 

In particular, we highlight how brands can adopt a more meaningful role of partner and educator — rather than simply another purveyor of goods and services. “Since consumers want to be part of the solution, help them do that by sharing actionable information,” the report reads. “It may be as simple as telling them how to make your product last longer or how to lower their personal carbon footprint with a checklist on your website. You can celebrate your company’s successes by applauding theirs.”

For more insight on how brands can — and should — respond to shifting consumer attitudes about sustainability, check out prior reporting on TriplePundit or download the report here

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/consumer-behaviors-sustainability/775591

How to close the corporate accountability gap on sustainability

2 06 2023

A fire burns in a in Porto Velho, Brazil, 09 September 2019. Photo Credit: FERNANDO BIZERRA JR [Fernando Bizerra Jr (EPA-EFE)]

If businesses are to take corporate sustainability seriously, they will need to add relevant sustainability expertise to their boards, argue Nicolas Sauviat and Sanjini Jain. By Nicolas Sauviat and Sanjini Jain from euractiv.com • Reposted: June 2, 2023

On 1 June, the European Parliament is due to take a plenary vote on a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), legislation which aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains. If it’s formally adopted, it will require companies to identify – and, where necessary, prevent, end or mitigate – the adverse impacts of their activities on human rights, in terms of issues like child labour and worker exploitation, as well as the environment, for problems like pollution and biodiversity loss.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was heralded internationally as the ‘Paris moment’ for nature to lead the world towards a more harmonious relationship between nature, people and the economy.  If we have any hope of living up to this moment and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the blueprint for how we achieve a better, fairer and greener world in the short time left – the private sector must take responsibility for its actions.

One key issue in this vote up for debate is whether now is the time to challenge boardroom’s traditional focus on generating wealth for its shareholders, and to reorientate their focus to provide value for all its stakeholders.

With scientists projecting that the crucial 1.5°C global average temperature threshold will be temporarily breached in just five years, we are running out of time to change direction. But do boards have the needed skills and expertise are required to meet this challenge, and should legislation be used to accelerate their action?

This could be a crucial moment to close the corporate accountability gap on sustainability. As things stand, business action remains largely voluntary. And yet, we cannot keep this planet viable for life without the private sector.

At the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), we assess corporate progress against the SDGs. From our experience we know that company boards are key to action on sustainability. Only by ensuring that they have the right knowledge and expertise can the accountability gap be closed, and progress made.

As things stand, most big companies have set sustainability targets. Many have pledged to a net-zero carbon objective. However, very few actually provide the necessary details on how they will go about accomplishing these ambitions. The data reported by businesses often lacks substance. Knowingly or not, many companies oversell their sustainability credentials.

A major reason for this is a skill and knowledge gap, especially within companies’ top executive forces. This impacts the boardroom’s understanding and subsequent ability to address Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks. Indeed, a recent survey by the professional services experts at PwC found that only 27% of boards fully understand ESG risks.

Our own research delivered even worse findings. Assessing corporate progress on protecting the natural world, WBA’s Nature Benchmark examined the governance structures of 400 of the world’s largest companies. It looked into whether they have accountability systems in place for achieving their sustainable development goals – including governance bodies with the right expertise to understand the material pressures on nature created by their business activities.

While nearly 70% of companies assigned responsibility for their sustainability strategy to their board, just 2% of boards possessed the relevant sustainability expertise. This stark discrepancy highlights the fact that boards are accepting their sustainability responsibility without a clear understanding of what it actually entails.

Boards must rapidly adapt to their new sustainability role, lest they become an obstacle to their companies’ futures. In this context, we desperately need corporate board members with CVs beyond banking and accounting. Specialist scientific committees can also help provide boards with credible information.

Businesses should ensure that boards have the expertise to tackle their most relevant sustainability topics. This could be done by demonstrating that they have undertaken training by a certified organisation. Alternatively, they could have board members with previous experience in specialist organisations, like consulting firms or NGOs, or have authored academic studies.

As we hurtle towards irreversible environmental tipping points, we hope that European legislators pass the CSDDD with a legal mandate for boards to have a duty to oversee and sign off on their due diligence policies. This mandate should be accompanied by further guidance to ensure boards demonstrate relevant ESG expertise. That’s how to close the corporate accountability gap on sustainability and drive action.

Now is the time for boardrooms to shift from their traditional focus on generating wealth for their shareholders towards generating value for all stakeholders. After all, no company will profit from an uninhabitable planet.

Nicolas Sauviat and Sanjini Jain are researchers at the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA).

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/opinion/how-to-close-the-corporate-accountability-gap-on-sustainability/

B Corp: Are they really the gold standard of sustainability?

1 06 2023

Graphic: Seismic Change

B Corp certification has become the gold standard of sustainability – we explore whether it’s a valuable credential or a glorified greenwashing tool. By Lucy Buchholz from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: June 1, 2023

Sustainability has become a somewhat murky term. With businesses fighting it out to be the biggest, the richest and, nowadays, of course, the greenest, it can be hard to know which ones should actually be trusted. 

Luckily, the business world has B Corp certifications, which puts businesses to the test to ensure their credentials have been earned honestly, rather than being artificially dyed green. 

What is a B Corp?

B Corporations, informally known as B Corps, are businesses or organisations that have voluntarily met the highest standards for social and environmental performance; in other words, they’re doing everything they possibly can to create a better future for people and the planet. 

To more accurately define them, B Lab – the nonprofit behind B Corps – explains: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive, sustainable economy.”

So, in other words, B Corp Certification is for businesses what Fair Trade is for products and goods. 

What to expect from the process

It’s not easy to become a B Corp. 

Certification is holistic, meaning it’s not exclusively focused on a single social or environmental issue, so businesses have to achieve rigorous standards that require engagement from every aspect of a company. And these standards don’t just relate to the businesses themselves, but to every company or organisation affiliated within the value and supply chain

Yvonne Filler, Marketing Manager at Good Innovation – a certified B Corp – shares that B Corp certification is a way to hold businesses accountable for their actions and statements. As a Social Impact Innovation Consultancy, Good Innovation finds creative, cutting-edge solutions to the world’s most difficult social problems by helping organisations that want to make a difference do it smarter, faster and, crucially, with greater impact.

“Becoming a B Corp is a fairly long process, with around 150 questions requiring lots of data – but it wouldn’t be a quality standard without it,” Yvonne shares. “You need a certain score to pass and be certified. Your score will then be published on the B Corp website, but there’s no ranking system.”

To become a certified B Corp, businesses must abide by stringent requirements, including completing a comprehensive assessment, which then must be verified by founding company B Lab. Any controversial operations must be disclosed to B Lab, and businesses must commit to the transparent public disclosure of their performance.

“It’s easier to apply for B Corp certification when your company is smaller or just starting out, because you can see all the areas upon which you need to focus,” says Heidi Schoeneck, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Grounded. “This is largely because it can be costly and time consuming to ensure all ground is covered correctly.”

Yvonne supports this idea, stating that larger businesses will be required to provide more data. “For us, the process is really beneficial. It’s required us to hold ourselves accountable for our actions,” Yvonne adds.

Is B Corp right for your business?

Those considering applying for B Corp certification will most likely have sustainability and environmental impact at the forefront of their business model. But how can a business owner or CEO be sure that it’s the right step for them?

“Applying for B Corp certification can be costly and time consuming,” Laura Harnett, founder of sustainable cleaning tool brand Seep, explains. “But for business owners contemplating whether or not to make the commitment, I would urge them to consider why they want to achieve it and what they want to gain. Fundamentally, are you a business for good? Can your business improve the current situation with the climate or social inequality, for example? 

“If you believe that your business does play these roles, the B Corp certification is a really great structure to guide you through that process. As a founder or CEO, you may not have the time to come up with your own framework, but with B Corp, it’s already been done for you and it’s constantly evolving to keep you on top of the game.” 

“We thought we were a shoo-in to become a B Corp because we had built our whole business around sustainability,” Heidi says. “But once you get into the criteria, you see how much more can be done. It’s something you have to check in with every few months to make sure you’re on top of everything.”

Abiding by sustainability rules has become akin to a box-ticking exercise for many companies. As consumers have become increasingly concerned about the impact their purchases have on the environment – with 75% of US consumers reporting it’s a priority for them – more businesses are pledging eco-friendly standards, only to fall spectacularly short. In fact, 42% of companies have been said to exaggerate sustainability claims, according to research from The European Commission.

B Corps are, therefore, an avenue that businesses can venture down to prove they’re living up to their claims. But the crucial question surrounds whether B Corp really is the gold standard it’s claimed to be?

“As so many companies greenwash, it can be hard to know which ones are genuinely prioritising positive change,” Laura says. “B Corp certifications hold companies and founders to a standard that they need to adhere to across five key areas: environment, governance, people, communities, and customers. I’ve found that, as a business owner, B Corp has made me think more deeply about the decisions I am making and the impact Seep is having on society.” 

Reaching B Corp status will therefore help to eradicate greenwashing, with Heidi stating there’s “no room for it” in the B Corp community. She continues to state that, although the certifications have sparked debate as to whether the growing number of companies achieving the status weakens its validity, Heidi believes that more companies should strive to reach the criteria. 

“There has been some talk about whether the number of businesses joining the B Corp community dilutes the message; I think the more the merrier. It’s a great achievement to meet the 80-point benchmark, and we need more businesses to commit to making an impact.”

Good Innovation’s Yvonne supports this idea, suggesting that this is often where B Corps are “misunderstood”. “Some people might say the number of companies becoming a B Corp is weakening its impact,” Yvonne explains, “but if you look at it in terms of what it was set up to do, then more certified members can only be a good thing.”

For companies that go above and beyond, B Corp awards the ‘Best for the World B Corp’ status to the top 5% of B Corps. Seep was one business that achieved this status last year for their environmental impact. 

“As a founder, you can easily beat yourself up thinking you’re not doing enough,” Laura says. “Although there’s a lot of discussion around B Corps, I truly believe that it is the most robust system to demonstrate that a company is sustainable.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/esg/b-corp-are-they-really-the-gold-standard-of-sustainability

Circular Platforms: Unlocking Sustainability And Material Security

31 05 2023

Photo: Getty Images

By Peter Evans, Chief Strategy Officer, McFadyen Digital; Co-Chair, MIT Platform Strategy Summit and Faculty, Fast Future Executive via Forbes • Reposted: May 31, 2023

The world is grappling with a sustainability crisis, but the emerging circular economy shows promise as a solution. Circular platforms, which combine digital marketplaces with circular models of production and consumption, can play a vital role in increasing the reuse, repair and recycling of valuable resources.

To date, platform marketplaces have largely supported linear consumption, with products and packaging becoming waste after use. Through the examples below, I hope to show how businesses can use circular platforms in consumer and B2B markets to help reduce waste, improve material security and drive innovation.

Consumer-Oriented Circular Platforms

There are several circular platforms emerging that are facilitating the sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling in consumer markets. The following are some lessons I think we can learn from them.

Building Community

One benefit of using a circular platform is the ability to build community. As an example, Poshmark, a popular online marketplace that connects users to buy and sell things like used clothing and beauty products, has a social media-like interface that helps foster a sense of community among its users. Including a community aspect in your platform can enhance the overall user experience, increase user loyalty and boost the visibility of users’ listings. Look for ways that users can connect with each other, share inspiration and receive feedback.

Giving Assurance

Platforms can also help provide quality assurance. Backmarket is an online marketplace for refurbished electronics that ensures the quality of products sold through its marketplace through rigorous testing and certification processes. This gives buyers confidence in the reliability and performance of refurbished electronics, overcoming concerns associated with second-hand purchases.

Providing Affordability

Too Good To Go offers a platform to purchase surplus food from local restaurants and grocery stores, reducing food waste and enhancing affordability. Any way that you can find to increase accessibility to sustainable options is a smart move in this economy.

Enabling B2B Transactions For The Circular Economy

Circular platforms also facilitate circular transactions between businesses. Like their consumer-facing counterparts, platforms in the B2B marketplace can showcase benefits.

Obtaining Data

One main thing you can take advantage of with platforms is the ability to gather otherwise hard-to-obtain data. For example, Scrap Monster connects buyers and sellers in the scrap metal trading industry and is able to provide unique data for scrap metal pricing that cannot be found elsewhere.

Enhance Discovery

Often the “waste” from one industry can be a valuable input into another industry. Platforms can provide discovery engines that help procurement teams in one industry find useful used materials from another industry. Rheaply, which enables buying and selling of construction waste, recently expanded to play this discovery role when it acquired Materials Marketplace and its network of 2,600 partners.

Allow Cross-Broder Transactions

Rebound Plastic Exchange is a trading platform for recycled plastic and is just one example of how you can significantly reduce friction associated with cross-border transactions. To illustrate, Rebound Plastic Exchange provides standardized processes and procedures for listing, communication, pricing and compliance with complex international rules governing the moment of waste materials. When it comes to complex processes like this, customers appreciate a platform that can streamline and simplify.

The Overall Power of Platforms

One of the strengths of platform business models is their ability to scale rapidly. As they facilitate user interactions, they can quickly grow to reach a large audience, creating a positive feedback loop where more users attract more users, leading to exponential growth.

You can also use platforms to leverage discovery engines to reach a wider audience. Discovery engines help users find new content and products, which can attract more visitors to the platform. Using data and algorithms can personalize recommendations to individual users based on their interests and behavior.

Circular platforms, specifically, can aid in responding to the growth of extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws. These laws assign responsibility for managing a product’s end-of-life environmental impacts to manufacturers or brand owners, reducing the burden on taxpayers. By joining a marketplace, industries can improve recycling rates, reduce resource consumption and prevent pollution.

Emerging Opportunities

In addition to participating in existing circular marketplaces, I see new emerging opportunities to establish circular markets. One area is around battery recycling. The shift to electric vehicles is creating significant demand for the materials for EV battery production. Ideally, circular platforms can orchestrate the collection and recycling of batteries, thereby reducing the pressure to expand mining capacity.

Another example involves recycling plastics used in the construction of new cars. BMW is already using recycled fishing nets to make headliners and floor mats for a few of their other models. Imagine if a marketplace was established in which all car manufacturers participated in a used plastics exchange. Given the size of the automotive sector, such a marketplace would create significant demand for waste plastics that are increasingly choking landfills and the world’s oceans.


Creating and growing circular marketplaces is not without challenges. Like traditional platforms, circular platforms also must overcome the classic “chicken and egg” dilemma of attracting enough supply and demand to secure sufficient transactions.

Circular marketplaces often meet resistance as they can require changes to traditional procurement and supply chain management. Companies may need to rework business processes and align incentives with various stakeholders to create a closed-loop system.

Other barriers to acknowledge include the need for trust to ensure the quality and reliability of recycled materials. This requires things like testing and digital twin technology to capture, store and update critical information. Like other marketplaces, circular platforms must also ensure timely delivery, manage inventory and handle returns and refunds, which can all be complex, time-consuming and resource intensive.

Circular platforms offer a promising path toward a sustainable future by enhancing material security, reducing waste and driving innovation. While the transition to a fully circular economy may take time, I believe significant progress can be made by adopting circular platforms. These platforms can help incentivize companies to design products that are more durable, repairable and recyclable. By shifting from a linear “take-make-dispose” economy to circular models of production and consumption, we can pave the way for a more sustainable world.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/05/30/circular-platforms-unlocking-sustainability-and-material-security/?sh=6fbd4c766d01

The Carrot or the Stick: Which Inspires Business to Be More Sustainable?

30 05 2023

Image credit: THIS IS ZUN/Pexels

By Riya Anne Polcastro from Triple Pundit • Reposted: May 30, 2023

Corporations are more likely to embrace sustainability when it benefits the bottom line. That isn’t surprising considering they are ultimately in business to make a profit. For many, purpose may very well come in second — if at all. Still, there’s more than one way to encourage businesses to do better by people and the planet.

TriplePundit spoke with Dr. Steven Cohen, a professor of public affairs at Columbia University and author of the new book “Environmentally Sustainable Growth,” about how the profit motive can catalyze the desired effect where shame and guilt have failed.

Incentivizing sustainability can be easier than it sounds

The best way to make corporations behave is by creating an environment in which doing so will help them make more money, Cohen argues. “In some cases, you don’t have to do anything other than educate people and say, you know, this will be a profitable item,” he told TriplePundit. 

Cohen advocates for a carrot instead of a stick approach. He’s hopeful that making good behavior profitable will hasten more wide-sweeping changes at the business level than punishing or charging companies for the negative impacts they have. And he’s not alone in that opinion. 

“Sustainability is on the cusp of an evolutionary leap,” Georgia Makridou of the ESCP (École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris) Business School wrote in an impact paper on the challenges confronting sustainable energy companies and their resulting tactics. “Sustainable companies are becoming the new norm as those that have a well-rounded approach to sustainability can see wide-ranging growth opportunities.”

That’s because many business leaders now see that sustainable practices can actually lower their operating costs in the long run — and that naturally leads to increased profits, Cohen explained. Additionally, doing the right thing resonates with consumers — especially those in younger generations — and promotes brand loyalty over time.

Further, employees want to work for companies that align with their values. “If I’m in a business that requires talented engineers, talented designers and and so forth, to attract those people, I have to be a company they want to work for,” Cohen said. “That’s also incentivizing companies to start behaving this way: If you want to attract the best brains out there, then companies are under internal pressure to behave and to start focusing on their energy use and their waste and pollution.”

Environmentally Sustainable Growth - book cover - book on corporate sustainability
Dr. Steven Cohen unpacks practical steps to push sustainable business forward in his new book “Environmentally Sustainable Growth: A Pragmatic Approach,” out this month from Columbia University Press. Image provided.

Major companies reap cost savings through sustainability, while creating measurable impact that matters

Cohen gave examples of major multinational companies that moved toward sustainable practices because they foresaw a financial benefit. For example, “Walmart discovered they have a lot of flat roofs,” he said. All that space adds up vast solar energy potential — and Walmart and its big-box competitor, Target, are on the job.

Together, they’re the top two business installers of onsite solar. “In their case, you don’t have to do anything. They just had to internally figure out this was going to help them make money,” Cohen said. If fully harnessed, Walmart’s available roof space at stores across the country could produce enough solar energy to power more than 842,000 homes, according to the nonprofit Environment America. 

This month Walmart also teased new plans to roll out electric vehicle charging stations at thousands of stores across the U.S. The move will help bring in shoppers, while making EV charging more accessible to millions of people in towns large and small. 

One of the country’s top agricultural producers, Land O’Lakes, also cut its footprint through cost reduction measures. The company uses satellite telemetry, artificial intelligence, and robotics to ensure it doesn’t waste inputs like water, pesticides and fertilizer — using only what’s needed and none of what’s not. “They’ve now created a much more efficient form of agriculture, which also just so happens to cost less and pollute less,” Cohen said. 

Apple’s engagement in sustainability came out of a need to satisfy its customer base. “[Young people] started to make the demand that Apple reduce the pollution [associated with] their products, and Apple has done that dramatically over the last 10 years,” Cohen said. He cited the company’s buyback program and the fact that it hired a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator to manage its environmental endeavors as examples. “It’s not required by the government, but in order to meet their market, they have to do that,” he said. 

Incentives and regulations work. Shame and guilt doesn’t, this expert says.

That’s not to say there isn’t room for regulations — there still needs to be rules of the road. The key is a good balance between government regulations and the incentives provided by an improved profit margin, Cohen said.

“What doesn’t work is trying to shame people, to shame companies,” he argued. “People want to live their lives, and companies want to make money. I think that green principles are most effective when they line up with the self interest of people and of corporations. And when that happens, you see a lot of activity.”

As for how to shift from a scapegoating and punishment approach to one that focuses on financial rewards: “Instead of thinking about the company as an enemy, you think about the company as a partner,” Cohen said. “And the only way they’re going to be a partner is if they see they’re gonna make money out of it.” 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/corporate-sustainability-carrot-stick/775116

The journey from harvest to table: Cutting out food waste

29 05 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Jean Pierre Azañedo, CEO and co-founder of CoreZero, share the importance of achieving a sustainable food value chain. By Jean Pierre Azañedo from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: May 29, 2023

The journey from farm to table is characterised by loss and waste – from overproduction to accidental damage and unmet quality standards – these are just some of the “opportunities” for waste that are encountered amid the farm-to-table process. In fact, almost 40% of the food in the United States is wasted. 

Not only does food waste cause greenhouse gas emissions and environmental damage, but it also exacerbates food insecurity in many communities. Like a vicious cycle, food waste accounts for 10% of total global emissions, yet, at the same time, the climate crisis is one of the main factors exacerbating food insecurity.

Since methane, a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over twenty years, is released into the atmosphere when food ends up in landfills, it’s safe to say that minimising food loss across the supply chain should be treated as a priority, not as an option. 

Food waste across the supply chain

Besides the release of greenhouse gasses, when food goes to waste, so do all the resources that were utilised for its production, processing, transportation, preparation, and storage. Food waste in the United States, for example, results in the loss of water and energy equivalent to building more than 50 million homes

Consequently, it’s important to not only acknowledge the environmental effects of food waste but also to assess where food is specifically wasted and lost in the supply chain. 

For starters, while discussions about food waste usually refer to the household and retail sections, more than 15% of food is dissipated before leaving the farm. As an example, due to price volatility, farmers may not end up moving products into the market since the food prices may be lower than the costs of processing and shipping. From damaged crops due to environmental and biological factors to products that do not meet cosmetic market standards, these are a few of the reasons that lead to food loss and waste during the production stage.

Then, in the handling and storage stage, food waste and loss can occur due to numerous different factors, but it mainly boils down to improper handling and storage. In the case of vegetables, loss predominantly happens because of spillage and degradation during loading and unloading and improper transportation and storage. Then, when it comes to meat products, loss often occurs due to condemnation in the slaughterhouse while, for fish, spillage takes place during the icing, storing, and packing processes. Despite high-income countries having adequate storage facilities in the supply chain, food loss still happens during the storage stage due to technical malfunctions, overstocking, or inadequate temperature.

While some inevitable losses happen during the processing and packaging stage such as the loss of milk during the processing of yoghurt, most of the losses in this stage of the supply chain occur due to technical problems. Similarly, packaging materials can contribute to food loss if they are not designed to preserve the freshness of the products. 

Subsequently, in the transportation and distribution stage, food is lost, as the name implies, amid its transportation. In developing countries, for example, products may not meet cosmetic standards since they acquire bumps and bruises along the journey. Then, if food is delivered after its prime freshness window, it gets rejected in most cases. In Japan, for example, “the rule of one-third” entails that food and beverages must be delivered within one-third of their shelf life.

Finally, in the consumption stage, food is either wasted or lost in households or other food service establishments. In truth, the largest amount of food waste occurs in households, with 76 billion pounds of food being wasted annually per person in the United States. Moreover, the food wasted at this stage also has the largest resource footprint in the supply chain because of the resources utilised for its transportation, storage, and cooking.

A sustainable food value chain

While acknowledging the effects of food waste as well as its causes is crucial, in order to move forward, innovation is necessary. In fact, according to ReFED’s 2030 roadmap, the United States could reduce food waste by 45mn tonnes a year, cut GHG emissions by 75 million metric tons, and save food equivalent to four billion meals for those in need with the right policy changes and investments.

Since food waste has both societal and environmental effects, a sustainable food value chain should produce and distribute food in a way that is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Essentially, this means that the food chain should function in such a way that it has minimal impact on the environment while ensuring that people have access to nutritious food and supporting the livelihoods of farmers and other food system employees. 

A sustainable food value chain presupposes that all resources are used efficiently and sustainably and that waste is minimised. For instance, the food that is wasted during the production stage could be used to produce biogas or fertiliser through anaerobic digestion. Similarly, the ‘ugly’ food that doesn’t meet cosmetic standards could be kept out of landfills by being upcycled. That being said, for this transition to be resilient and sustainable, change needs to happen across the entire food chain.

For instance, in the production stage, food loss could be minimised through precision agriculture and improved agricultural practices such as crop rotation. However, precision agriculture technology will only work with education regarding sustainable agricultural practices and technologies. Alternatively, ‘waste’ can be repurposed by identifying alternative markets that might be interested in ‘imperfect’ products. Similarly, since the vegetables and fruits that do not meet cosmetic standards are still nutritious, they could be donated to food-insecure communities. 

On the other side of the food chain, awareness is key to reducing food waste at the consumption stage. The problem of food waste boils down, especially in developed countries, to cultural expectations and preconceptions regarding food and its transition to ‘waste’. From shopping locally and more responsibly to using leftovers and composting food scraps, these are just a few examples of how food waste can be reduced at the household level. 

Food waste minimisation: a necessity

From consumers composting food scraps and restaurants collaborating with food banks to edible by-products being developed into ingredients and local food distribution being promoted, a sustainable food value chain is achievable through collaboration.

However, food waste and loss need to be halved per person for the 2030 SDGs to be met, hence these tweaks in the food supply chain need to be treated as priorities instead of options. Since the effects of food waste are visible not only from an environmental perspective but also from an economic and societal one, an equitable and sustainable food system should result in improved food security and economic savings in addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing biodiversity.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/articles/the-journey-from-harvest-to-table-cutting-out-food-waste

Sustainability remains a key driver for consumers

29 05 2023

Over three-quarters of consumers responding to The Packer’s 2023 Sustainability Insights survey considered sustainability a priority when making purchasing decisions. Photo: billtster, Adobe Stock; Design: Wayne Hardy

By Kristin Leigh Lore from thepacker.com • Reposted: May 29, 2023

While over three-quarters of consumers consider sustainability a priority when making purchasing decisions, what the term sustainability signifies to a particular shopper — from food waste to carbon emissions — depends on many factors, such as age, according to The Packer’s 2023 Sustainability Insights survey.

Added to this, what consumers mean when they use the term sustainability varies widely. Top themes remain consistent from 2022’s survey responses and evoke words associated with the environment, recycling and long-lasting traits.

Despite multiple meanings, in 2023 consumers indicated they are shifting sustainable priorities down a notch, according to survey responses.

Consumers in the 2023 survey viewed sustainability as less important in shaping their buying decisions, compared with 2022. This year’s survey revealed a 9-percentage-point decrease in consumers reporting that sustainability was a “primary priority,” and responses that said sustainability was “not a priority” rose 4 percentage points compared with 2022 responses.   

And while climate change is still rated as important overall by consumers, when asked how important addressing climate change is to their overall sustainability priorities, consumers reporting that it is “extremely important” fell by 12 percentage points.

The link between climate change and sustainability remains a close bond, however. Consumers that place a high value in sustainability are more likely to rate climate change as a key concern.


Given the choice between farmers, policymakers, food retailers and consumers, 60% of consumers surveyed still believe that they drive demand for sustainably produced goods, up 8 percentage points from 2022.

Climate change remains the No. 1 reason consumers seek out sustainable products, but responses indicating this is a top motivation dropped from 35% in 2022 to 30% in the 2023 survey.

Other reasons consumers cited as driving purchase decisions of sustainable goods included:

  • Reducing carbon footprint.
  • Reducing food waste.
  • Improving human health.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.thepacker.com/news/sustainability/sustainability-remains-key-driver-consumers

Sustainability is moving up the agenda for business schools.

23 05 2023

Educators are looking at ways to tackle the ambiguity that exists around definitions and measurement. By Aruni Sunil from Sifted.com * Reposted: May 23, 2023

Researching and teaching sustainability is high on business schools’ strategic agendas. At the same time, startups are struggling with measurement, reporting, definitions, action and strategy — and the path to net zero.

We looked into how sustainability is currently taught at business schools, how it’s changing and what it should grow into so that Europe’s startups can achieve their sustainability goals.

Founders want more

For Laurence Lehmann-Ortega, professor of strategy and business policy at HEC Paris, companies struggle to measure environmental and social aspects because there’s a lack of standardisation. 

“In finance, we’ve been building the standards for the past 70 years or so,” she says. “So there are no clear standards to measure ESG and I’m not sure we’ll get to very clear standards in the near future — the only common metric we’ve got now is measuring carbon emissions.”

It can be reductionist to measure just carbon emissions — metrics should be more industry and product-specific. For example, if your product is going to have a big impact on biodiversity because it’s in the agricultural space, it’s crucial to think about biodiversity first instead of carbon and the associated human rights challenges around agricultural commodities.

The only common metric we’ve got now is measuring carbon emissions That’s where business schools could come in. 

For Prateek Mahalwar, founder of Bioweg — a startup producing bio-based ingredients to replace microplastics in personal care and food products — sustainability should be taught at business schools with one part focusing on what sustainability means in the broadest sense, and the second part focusing on quantification. 

He says that discussing case studies tackling different aspects of sustainability such as energy or the use of raw materials is key for students to understand how sustainability works in the real world of business. It’s especially important to understand how startups can adhere to the new laws and regulations around sustainability such as the plastic packaging regulation, he adds.

Bioweg had MBA students working with its team through the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a programme at HEC Paris that allows management students to work directly with companies, helping them develop financial models, evaluate potential markets and fine-tune their strategies.

“It’s a win-win — for the startup as well as for the student, not only in terms of exchanging knowledge or doing something practical, but also from the angle that there is a possibility for startup founders to hire them or get into the ESOP pool,” Mahalwar says.

A to ESG 

As well as experiential learning through programmes like CDL, HEC Paris teaches sustainability as part of its strategy and entrepreneurship programmes.

Lehmann-Ortega says that there are two ways that sustainability is taught as part of strategy in theory. The first is how a business can adapt and rethink their business model to be more sustainable, and the second is advanced strategy which is about being “more proactive and coming up with a new business model”.

She says that there’s also differences in how different subjects address the topic of sustainability. “For an accounting professor, it’s about how carbon emissions can be measured and measuring the environmental and social impact of the organisation; for finance professors, it’s about how to finance it; and for marketing, it’s about how to educate your customer to think about it.”

Other business schools are also encouraging students to take part in environmentally and socially relevant initiatives. 

For example, during the first year of their MBA at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in South Africa, students are required to work with local non-profit organisations on community projects that tackle social problems.

A shift in mindset

Fabien Koutchekian was part of the CDL programme and is the cofounder of Genomines, a biotech that enhances the natural ability of plants to absorb metals. For him, teaching sustainability is primarily about tackling misinformation in the sector and for entrepreneurs to be more involved in the space of regulations and policy making. 

“There’s this mentality now that we are doomed and nothing will save us from what the previous generation has done to the environment. But I don’t believe this — we have to fight, we have to create startups, create innovation and change the regulatory environment, to spur innovation and research in the field,” he says.

For Lehmann-Ortega, sustainability is here to stay in business schools. 

“We don’t need standalone courses about sustainability — this doesn’t make any sense anymore. Every single course should have it — it’s about how you adapt the curriculum to the current shift that’s going on in the world,” she says.

“This reminds me of what happened 10 to 15 years ago with the shift to digital. We all had to integrate classes about digital marketing and so on, and now you can’t teach marketing anymore without digital.”

Mahalwar agrees, adding that sustainability isn’t dismissed as a passing fad anymore — it’s part of the core business in both startups and corporates. “Companies are paying attention to whole supply chains and committing at every level to look into carbon emissions, ESG goals and so on. 

“This creates a need for future hires to have knowledge in that area, and not only people who go into businesses with impact at their core, but also in other areas such as finance, strategy, product and procurement.”

At any given time, there are about a million green startups exploring new energy solutions. As of 2023, there are also at least 13k large and medium-sized companies in Europe transitioning towards more sustainable operations. 

This has to come from students, because they are the future of politics, the future of innovation and the future leaders

“There hasn’t been a single moment in the history of mankind where there were so many brains solving the same issue at the same time. It needs to keep going and we need to put in the work to find solutions,” says Koutchekian.

“More capital is needed and politicians have to create policies that stimulate the economy along with taxing polluting activity and so on — and this has to come from students, because they are the future of politics, the future of innovation and the future leaders.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sifted.eu/articles/sustainability-business-schools-brnd

Sustainability and Employee Wellness: The Hidden Connection

23 05 2023

By Corporate Wellness Magazine * Reposted: May 23, 2023

In recent years, sustainability has become a hot topic in the corporate world, as businesses recognize the importance of minimizing their environmental impact. However, there is a hidden connection between sustainability and employee wellness that often goes unnoticed. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can positively influence the physical and mental well-being of their employees. In this article, we will delve into the various ways in which sustainability and employee wellness intersect, emphasizing the benefits that arise from aligning these two vital aspects of corporate culture.

Creating a Healthier Work Environment:

Sustainable initiatives such as improving indoor air quality, optimizing lighting, and implementing ergonomic workstations contribute to a healthier work environment. Studies have shown that these factors directly impact employee well-being, leading to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and reduced absenteeism. When employees are provided with clean air, adequate lighting, and ergonomic workstations, they experience fewer health issues such as eye strain, respiratory problems, and musculoskeletal disorders. By prioritizing sustainability, organizations demonstrate their commitment to providing a conducive workplace that enhances both physical and mental health.

Encouraging Active Transportation:

Promoting sustainable commuting options such as walking, cycling, or carpooling not only reduces carbon emissions but also encourages employees to engage in regular physical activity. Active transportation is known to improve cardiovascular health, lower stress levels, and boost overall fitness. By integrating sustainable transportation programs, companies can facilitate employee wellness while reducing their environmental footprint. Implementing bike-friendly facilities, offering incentives for carpooling, or providing shower facilities for employees who walk or cycle to work can contribute to a healthier workforce.

Access to Nature:

Sustainable workplaces often incorporate elements of nature, such as green spaces, rooftop gardens, or indoor plants. These features not only enhance aesthetics but also provide numerous mental health benefits. Exposure to nature has been linked to reduced stress, improved mood, increased creativity, and enhanced cognitive function. By incorporating sustainable design elements that bring nature into the workplace, organizations can create a more calming and nurturing environment for their employees. Additionally, employees can be encouraged to take breaks in outdoor areas or engage in nature-inspired activities to further promote their well-being.

Stress Reduction and Mindfulness:

Sustainability efforts often align with practices that promote stress reduction and mindfulness. Initiatives such as encouraging breaks, providing meditation spaces, or offering wellness programs help employees manage stress and improve mental well-being. The corporate world is often fast-paced and demanding, leading to high levels of stress and burnout. Sustainable companies understand the importance of addressing the holistic needs of their workforce, recognizing that employee wellness is key to long-term success. By incorporating mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga sessions, into the workday, companies can provide employees with tools to reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being.

Engaging employees in sustainability initiatives can foster a sense of purpose and pride within the organization. When employees feel that their work contributes to a greater cause, it boosts their overall job satisfaction and motivation. Sustainability projects provide employees with an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment and society, creating a sense of fulfillment beyond their everyday tasks. By involving employees in sustainability projects, companies can enhance their well-being by nurturing a sense of community, empowerment, and fulfillment.

Collaboration and Team Building:

Sustainability often requires cross-departmental collaboration and teamwork. Initiatives such as waste reduction, recycling programs, or energy-saving campaigns encourage employees to work together towards a common goal. These collaborative efforts not only promote a positive work culture but also strengthen team dynamics and relationships. Through sustainability practices, companies can create a supportive and cohesive work environment, fostering employee wellness through meaningful connections. When employees come together to achieve sustainability goals, they build trust, communication, and a shared sense of purpose. Team members learn to rely on each other’s strengths, fostering a collaborative spirit that extends beyond sustainability initiatives and positively impacts overall productivity.

Employee Recognition and Rewards:

Sustainable practices provide an opportunity for organizations to recognize and reward employees who actively contribute to sustainability efforts. By acknowledging their efforts, companies reinforce the value of employee engagement and foster a culture of appreciation. Recognizing employees’ contributions to sustainability not only boosts morale but also reinforces the connection between individual well-being and the organization’s mission. It encourages employees to continue their sustainable efforts, ultimately enhancing their overall wellness.

Educational and Skill Development Opportunities:

Incorporating sustainability into the workplace often requires learning new skills and staying updated on industry best practices. By offering educational opportunities and skill development programs related to sustainability, companies empower employees to enhance their professional growth and well-being. These programs can include workshops, webinars, or certifications that provide employees with the knowledge and tools to actively contribute to sustainability initiatives. Investing in employee development not only benefits the individual but also strengthens the organization as a whole.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Pride:

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives often intersect with sustainability practices. When companies engage in socially responsible activities, such as community service or charitable partnerships, it fosters a sense of pride among employees. Employees who are proud of their organization’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility experience higher job satisfaction and overall well-being. By aligning sustainability with CSR efforts, companies create a positive impact on both the environment and their workforce.

Work-Life Balance and Flexibility:

Sustainability initiatives can also contribute to improving work-life balance and flexibility for employees. Implementing measures like flexible work hours, remote work options, or compressed work weeks reduces commuting time and allows employees to better manage their personal responsibilities. This flexibility enables employees to achieve a healthier work-life balance, resulting in reduced stress levels and improved overall well-being.

Wellness Challenges and Competitions:

Sustainability and employee wellness can be further integrated through wellness challenges and competitions that focus on sustainable practices. For example, companies can organize competitions to encourage employees to reduce waste, conserve energy, or adopt sustainable lifestyle habits. These challenges not only promote sustainability but also foster a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition among employees. The combination of wellness and sustainability goals enhances employee engagement, boosts morale, and promotes a culture of well-being.

The hidden connection between sustainability and employee wellness is a powerful force that can transform the workplace and the lives of individuals. By adopting sustainable practices, organizations create healthier work environments, encourage physical activity, provide access to nature, reduce stress, and foster a sense of purpose and pride among employees. The positive impacts ripple beyond the workplace, contributing to the overall well-being of employees and society as a whole.

To further explore the importance of mental health in the workplace, we invite you to submit your inquiries through our contact form at https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/contact-mental-health. Our team of experts is here to provide valuable insights and support. Together, let us embrace sustainability and employee wellness for a brighter, healthier future.

‍To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/sustainability-and-employee-wellness-the-hidden-connection

Sustainability is a trend that’s here to stay, expert tells Restaurant Association Show

23 05 2023

Alex Nicolaou, the Coca-Cola Co.’s senior manager for sustainability customer strategy. Photo: Ron Ruggless

Alex Nicolaou of Coca-Cola offers ideas for tapping into the growing consumer demand for restaurant commitments. By Ron Ruggless from Nation’s Restaurant News * Reposted: May 23, 2023

Sustainability is a restaurant trend that restaurant operators can capitalize on, an expert told a packed crowd at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on Saturday.

“It’s a trend that’s here to stay,” said Alex Nicolaou, the Coca-Cola Co.’s senior manager for sustainability customer strategy, on Saturday at an educational session entitled “Driving Growth with Sustainability.”

About 62% of U.S. consumers surveyed in 2022 said they would reward restaurants that showed a sustainability commitment, Nicolaou said.

In addition, the restaurant operator commitment has grown, he said. In 2019, for example, 58% of operators said sustainability activities were necessary to remain competitive in foodservice. In 2022, that number had grown to 65%, Nicolaou said.

However, he added, “Sustainability can’t be just a marketing slogan. It has to be lived.”

Nicolaou suggested restaurant operators partner with trusted organizations such as the Clean Conservency, the National Park Service or Shoreline Cleanup to give their sustainability programs legitimacy.

“Customers are looking for optimism,” he said. “There is so much lack of trust in this space.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.nrn.com/operations/sustainability-trend-s-here-stay-expert-tells-nra-show

By the Community, For the Community: New Startup Accelerator Backs Locally-Led Climate Solutions

20 05 2023

Young people rally in front of the California statehouse in support of climate justice at a Fridays for Future demonstration on April 21, 2023. Image: Lynn Friedman/Flickr

By Mary Mazzzoni from triplepundit.com • Reposted: May 20, 2023

Investing in viable solutions to social and environmental problems can turn a profit — and the most lucrative ideas may not come from where you’d expect. That’s the philosophy behind Village Capital. The nonprofit launched in 2009 under the tagline “democratizing entrepreneurship.” Though it’s based in Washington, D.C., its founding mission centers on identifying and supporting innovators outside the big coastal cities that receive the lion’s share of venture funding. 

Over the past 14 years, Village Capital has supported nearly 1,000 such startups through 45 U.S.-based accelerator programs — which provide funding and mentoring to entrepreneurs with smart ideas to solve big problems. 

One of its most recent accelerators squares in on the crucial issue of climate justice, with a call for innovators on the front lines of climate change to submit locally-driven solutions for backing from Village Capital. 

What is climate justice? 

For the uninitiated, climate justice refers to the imbalanced nature of the real-world impacts caused by climate change: Those who fare the worst amidst natural disasters and sea-level rise tend to be poor and underserved, and as such have contributed least to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. For context, a billionaire will produce a million times moregreenhouse gas emissions in their lifetime than the average person, according to research from Oxfam. 

The related cause of environmental justice refers not only to the impacts of climate change, but also the sources of climate-inducing pollution — and where they’re located. In the U.S. in particular, years of segregation has created a situation in which communities of color are far more likely to be in the direct vicinity of polluting sites like oil refineries and chemical plants. A bombshell 2021 study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that people of color are exposed to far higher levels of air pollution during their lifetimes than white people, regardless of income level. 

Again, people living in communities that have faced chronic disinvestment for decades are more likely to be poor, and as such consume far fewer of the goods and services that these polluting industries provide. Yet they’re still saddled with the impact, whether that’s long-term air pollution exposure that can lead to preventable illness, or catastrophic events like leaks and explosions

Impacted communities have sounded the alarm about environmental and climate justice for decades, but the issues are only more recently gaining attention on the global stage. A global loss and damage fund to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change was finally pushed across the finish line at the COP27 climate talks in 2022, although it will be years before it’s up and running. U.S. President Joe Biden has also made justice a central pillar of his climate plan, with billions in new investments going toward efforts to reduce emissions and pollution in underserved communities. 

Still, government investments have by no means reached the scale of the challenge — making private-sector interventions like Village Capital’s accelerator essential to creating the widespread changes needed to cut the problem down to size. 

young demonstrator shows her support for climate justice
A young demonstrator shows her support for climate justice. Image: Oxfam International/Flickr

Inside Village Capital’s climate justice accelerator 

Announced last month, Village Capital’s accelerator is seeking early-stage startups that support immigrants, refugees and communities of color on the front lines of climate change in the U.S. In partnership with the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, Village Capital will provide grants and coaching to 10 to 12 startups with promising solutions that help their communities prepare for and adapt to climate impacts. The accelerator is fairly industry-agnostic, with startups across the climate tech, financial tech and property tech spaces encouraged to apply. 

“We are looking for impact-driven startups that are solving critical challenges for people and communities who are disproportionately impacted by climate change,” Elizabeth Nguyen, economic opportunity practice lead for Village Capital, told TriplePundit. “We’ve been very intentional about identifying the solution types, which thematically fall into: disaster preparedness, public action and civic response, resilient housing and cities, and overall support for immigrants and refugees. Each one of these solution types prioritizes supporting people and communities and enables them the ability to respond to the impact of climate change.” 

Along with grant funding, the selected entrepreneurs will receive invaluable training on how to further scale their businesses and attract investors, including help with a development plan to chart the course for growth. Through Village Capital’s unique peer-selected investment model, the cohort of entrepreneurs will decide which two climate justice solutions will be eligible to receive an additional $100,000 in investments from WES Mariam Assefa, Nguyen said. 

“This investment, especially at an early stage, has the potential to change the trajectory of a company, considering many immigrant and refugee founders often don’t have strong social networks or support systems that founders who may have been born in the U.S. have,” she explained. “We also can’t stress enough how important social capital, mentorship, and connections are to early-stage companies. Village Capital provides not just training and financial support, but introductions to relevant mentors who are in the refugee and immigrant space and climate tech space. Our support enables our founders to walk away with tangible ways to speak to investors.” 

Championing locally-driven solutions to climate challenges

Importantly, Village Capital aims to support locally-led solutions driven by the people and organizations that experience climate impacts in their communities firsthand. 

“We’ve seen time and again that top-down solutions will not be sustainable or effective because they don’t have a full understanding of the needs in a community,” Nguyen said. “Locally-led startups also ensure that the solutions elevate the communities collectively so they are not left behind in the wave of innovation, a challenge that has unfortunately already been reflected in the history of climate tech solutions.” 

The company’s accelerator model is proven to work, with over 150 accelerators supporting more than 1,400 startups globally. Entrepreneurs graduating from Village Capital accelerators raised three times more capital and earned 2.3 times more revenue compared to a control group, according to an impact study commissioned by the company. 

The company’s separate venture capital fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in over 100 peer-selected startups from across these accelerators — again, with a focus on founders who are often overlooked. Nearly half (46 percent) of startups in the fund are led by women, and 30 percent are led by people of color. A stunning 80 percent are based in states outside New York, California and Massachusetts, which together receive about half of all global VC funding, according to Village Capital

“By catalyzing locally-led startups and strengthening the ecosystem for these entrepreneurs to succeed, we can create the biggest and most sustainable impact, one that improves and increases services and resources for the communities who need it the most,” Nguyen said.  

Applications for the accelerator close on May 25, 2023. Full details and eligibility criteria can be found here.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/startup-accelerator-climate-justice/774526

Why sustainability improves recruitment, retention

17 05 2023

Many workers consider environmental sustainability practices when deciding whether to stay, or accept a job with, a company. Image: ADP

Publicizing sustainability efforts can help a company with employee recruitment. Learn how sustainability is also affecting retention, as well as some best practices for HR leaders. By David Beck via tech target.com • Reposted: May 17, 2023

As the talent marketplace remains competitive, a company’s stance on social issues, such as the environment and climate change, can help attract talent or potentially drive it away. HR leaders must encourage companies to publicize their environmental, social and governance practices so they can hire the candidates they want and keep them as employees.

Over 70% of workers and those looking for work are drawn to environmentally sustainable employers, according to the 2021 study “Sustainability at a turning point” by the IBM Institute for Business Value. In addition, more than two-thirds of respondents said they are more likely to seek out and take jobs with environmentally and socially responsible organizations, and almost half surveyed would take a lower salary to do so, according to the IBM study. A company’s sustainability record can make a major difference in its talent search and employee retention.

Here’s more about environmental, social and governance initiatives, as well as some steps HR leaders can take to get the word out about their organization’s ESG efforts.

What is sustainability?

For the most part, when job candidates inquire about a company’s environmental sustainability record, they are referring to the organization’s environmentally related business practices, such as carbon footprint and energy use. Social issues, like diversity, equity and inclusion programs and labor practices, are also part of ESG.

Companies are facing more pressure from the government and from consumers to make their business practices more sustainable. Customers have increasingly expressed interest in supporting companies with what they view as positive ESG practices, with 55% of respondents saying company sustainability is “very or extremely important” when they’re making purchasing decisions, according to the IBM study.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a rule last year that would require public companies to share climate risk and greenhouse gas emissions, among other information, though the rule may be delayed until later this year.

Why companies should care about sustainability

Many company executives believe their recruitment will be positively affected by increased ESG reporting.

Fifty-two percent of respondents ranked talent attraction and retention as one of the most likely beneficial outcomes of enhanced ESG reporting, according to a 2022 Deloitte study, “Sustainability action report: Survey findings on ESG disclosure and preparedness.”

In addition, a positive sustainability record can potentially help with the perennial challenge of employee retention as well. ESG high performers also have high employee satisfaction, according to the 2023 study “Do ESG Efforts Create Value?” by Bain & Company and EcoVadis.

How HR can use sustainability to improve recruitment, retention

Job applicants may not be aware of a company’s ESG efforts, so HR leaders must take the lead in communicating them to the public.

HR staff can develop blog posts for the company website about the organization’s sustainability efforts. HR staff can also create initiatives within the company, like sponsoring a community composting program, and publicize those initiatives so potential job applicants will be aware of them.

If company leaders are weighing whether to take on sustainability initiatives, HR leaders can share the talent-related benefits of adapting an ESG-driven corporate culture.

HR leaders should also make sure company leaders are aware that partners’ sustainability practices are an emerging area of contention. Job candidates may object if the company works with vendors or other partners who are seen as negatively affecting the environment.

However, HR executives must also remain alert to the danger of greenwashing. Greenwashing is information that provides a misleading impression that a company’s processes, policies or investments are environmentally sound.

A company’s attempts to attract recruits can backfire if the public believes the company is practicing greenwashing. HR leaders must make sure HR staff or others working on recruitment efforts aren’t exaggerating the company’s sustainability practices in an attempt to win over job candidates.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.techtarget.com/searchhrsoftware/tip/Why-sustainability-improves-recruitment-retention

ESG investment funds unlikely to comply with sustainable investing rules

16 05 2023

A lack of standardised regulatory regimes for non-financial disclosures and the naming of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds across the US, UK and Europe will mean that a lot of self-proclaimed “sustainable” funds will be unable to comply with proposed legislation. From edie.net • Reposted: May 16, 2023

Analysis of more than 18,000 investment funds across Europe has found that less than 4% would be able to comply with naming laws for ESG funds across key markets.

The research, from technology platform Clarity AI, found that many would have to rename their ESG funds if they wanted to sell across the UK, US and Europe, all of which have different definitions and naming laws for non-financial disclosures and sustainability funds.

“When looking at funds with all three investment fund regimes – the US’, UK’s, and EU’s – we found that over 95% of funds with the word ‘sustainable’, or similar term, would require renaming or restructuring in order to be sold across all three markets,” Clarity AI’s head of product research and innovation Patricia Pina.

“This is not only an added cost in terms of compliance, but also underscores how different actors – in this case regulators – are interpreting the meaning of core concepts like ESG and sustainability.”

In November 2022 the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) ran a consultation to place minimum thresholds on Article 8 – which is for “light green” funds that use ESG-related terms in their names. ESMA proposed that these funds would need to ensure that 100% of the assets in each portfolio adhered to minimum safeguard thresholds that were aligned with the Paris Agreement.

It also suggested that 80% of the assets it invests in are used to meet the ESG-related characteristics that it promotes. Additionally, 50% of the assets would need to be defined as sustainable under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).

Clarity AI’s research found that only 20% of Article 8 funds using the term “sustainable” had current plans to comply with the recommendations of the consultation. The research suggests that the recommendations from the consultation would not closely align with investing proposals in the UK or US.

ESG down the agenda

Earlier this year, separate research found that investing in sustainable assets is less important to them now than it was in 2019.

The poll was conducted by British law firm Michelmores, covering 1,500 people in the UK with a minimum of £25,000 of investable assets each. 23% of respondents said they found investing in sustainable assets less important than they did in 2019, with the cost-of-living crisis cited as the key reason for this decrease in importance.

Research from EY found that the total amount of assets under management covered by specific ESG funds reached $2.7trn in 2021, marking a 53% year-on-year increase. But as the movement’s support grows, the perception that ESG is ineffective is also becoming more widespread.

EY acknowledges that many companies, ratings agencies and investors are using different definitions of ESG and different methodologies to assess performance across each of the three pillars. Some of these methodologies are based on historic data, some on future predictions. Some assign more importance to issues that are less material to a particular sector or project than those which materiality assessments have proven to be key. Some assign more weight to the ‘E’ and/or the ‘S’ than the ‘G’.

These discrepancies have led to rating agencies assigning scores that have caused controversy. Many of these controversies are now making mainstream news. For example, MSCI and Sustainalytics both provided high ratings to care home operator Opera Group, which this year was accused of mistreating residents and faced insider trading allegations. To give another example, in 2020, fast fashion retailer Boohoo was revealed to have the backing of 20 ESG-focused funds, despite persistent and credible allegations of supply chain workers being paid illegally low wages.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.edie.net/esg-investment-funds-unlikely-to-comply-with-sustainable-investing-rules/

The target audience for sustainability ads is exactly who you think

12 05 2023

By Jordan Wollman via Politico • Reposted; May 12, 2023

SURVEY SAYS — The data is pretty clear-cut on who brands should target for sustainability-related marketing campaigns: It’s younger urban women.

A new predictive model from BlueLabs Analytics shared first with POLITICO scores American adults on their likelihood of making purchasing choices based on sustainability.

Perhaps the topline takeaway isn’t too surprising. But BlueLabs, a Washington-based data science service, found some other interesting data points that could be useful for brands looking to figure out who might be persuadable.

For one, the gaps based on gender, age and location were stark. Women were 19 percent more likely than men to say they’d made purchases based on sustainability, people aged 18 to 29 were 23 percent more likely to be sustainability consumers and people living in urban areas were 25 percent more likely.

White people were the racial demographic least likely to be sustainability consumers, with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders the most likely.

A chart showing gender disparities.

A “sustainability consumer” is described as someone who responded to BlueLabs’ February survey of 1,800 American adults and said that in the last two weeks they had purchased a product or service because it was the environmentally friendly choice. BlueLabs then applied a model based on the survey to the country’s nearly 200 million adults to identify those most likely to make purchasing decisions on that basis.

The model showed that people in communities of color were more eager to make purchasing decisions based on sustainability compared with white people, said Meagan Knowlton, director of sustainability practice at BlueLabs. Knowlton clarified that the model doesn’t address whether a person actually made the environmentally friendly choice, but rather focuses on the individual’s perception of whether they actively made a sustainable purchase.

“It was the communities of color that were really exciting to us,” Knowlton said. “We think that this is an area that brands should really move forward exploring when designing or advertising products.”

The model identified 38 million Americans who rank within the top 20 percent of sustainability consumer scores — and in general, they’re more easily reached by digital and social media than cable TV or radio. Of those, 77 percent are women, with 37 percent being single women. About one-fifth are people aged 50 to 64.

BlueLabs conducted the research and compiled the report, and no brands paid for it, Knowlton said.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/the-long-game/2023/05/11/the-target-audience-for-sustainability-ads-is-exactly-who-you-think-00096406

Green Bonds are Ready For a Comeback

11 05 2023

Image credit: Akil Mazumder/Pexels

By Tina Casey via triplepundit.com • Reposted: May 11, 2023

The bond market sneezed in 2022, and green bonds caught the same cold. Fortunately, according to some analysts, green bonds are in the position to rebound this year. In the case of municipal green bonds, that provides new opportunities for cities to make climate-resilient investments in their future, and corporate citizens are among those to reap the benefits.

What are green bonds?

Assets in global sustainable and green bonds reached $516 billion at the end of 2022, an elevenfold increase over the past decade, according to a recent analysis from Morningstar. Verizon, one of the largest corporate green bond issuers in the U.S., made headlines this weekwith its fifth billion-dollar green bond since 2019. 

So, what are green bonds anyway, and why do they matter in the world of finance? As with any bond, green bonds are issued by companies and governments as a way to raise money. Investors purchase the bond, and they’re paid back later with interest. But in the case of green and sustainability-linked bonds, the funds are specifically earmarked for projects that positively benefit people and the environment. 

As Fidelity described in a 2021 white paper, green bonds reflect a broader focus on socially and environmentally beneficial goals among U.S. investors. “This trend toward sustainability, commonly demonstrated through reusable bags, hybrid cars and renewable energy sources, has also gained popularity in the municipal bond market through the issuance of green bonds,” the white paper reads. “Municipal green bonds, issued by state and local governments to fund environmentally beneficial capital projects, are not currently a large percentage of total municipal bond issuance, but have recently gained significant traction.”

The municipal green bond trend is relatively new. Massachusetts kickstarted the movement in 2013, and green bonds are still a small part of the overall municipal market, which totaled $470 billion in 2020. Municipal green bond issuance tripled over a rolling five year-period ending in 2020, with an impressive 40 percent jump between the final two years to reach a then-record of $14 billion, according to Fidelity’s analysis. 

Despite the strong showing, Fidelity emphasized that green bonds are a new phenomenon. “[It] is too soon to determine if there will be a consistent cost advantage” for issuers, investors or municipalities over the long run, Fidelity found, though the firm did make note of “the intangible environmentally friendly purpose for which the bonds are issued has its own intrinsic value.”

A comeback for green bonds

Fidelity’s outlook was prescient. In February of last year, S&P Global explored the possibility of a jump to $60 billion for municipal green bonds in 2022. However, when the dust settled after a tumultuous economic year, a mixed picture emerged for bond markets overall.

“Up until 2022, green bond funds experienced a relatively sanguine period of positive returns and low volatility compared with conventional bond products,” Morningstar wrote. “That relationship flipped, however, last year, as green bond funds experienced steeper losses and higher volatility in 2022.”

Still, the picture for green bonds was more rosy than the overall bond market, which took a beating amidst economic uncertainty last year. “Net inflows into global sustainable bond funds slowed down in 2022 but remained positive, while traditional bond funds experienced massive outflows in the challenging market environment,” Morningstar found. 

Further, it appears that a rebound is taking shape. In January of this year, S&P Global took another look at the global situation for corporate green bond issuance. Although issuance dropped steeply from 2021 to 2022, S&P described the context of a broader slowdown in bond issuance overall, driven by “volatile markets, inflation, rising interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty.”

S&P painted a more optimistic picture for 2023, based largely on supportive policies in China and the U.S., where the new federal climate and energy legislation promoted by President Joe Biden provides for $386 billion in spending over the next 10 years and a $265 billion increase in tax incentives.

S&P also cited Charlotte Edwards, a head of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research at Barclays, who expects growth in corporate green bond issuance to increase 30 percent this year, rebounding to 2021 levels.

A new threat for municipal green bonds

Here in the U.S., the renewed activity in the municipal green bond area could be hampered by partisan Republican policies designed to thwart ESG investment under the umbrella of the “woke capitalism” canard.

For example, last week in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed anti-ESG legislation that prohibits some ESG bond sales outright and prevents state office holders from considering ESG goals.

In addition to raising potential legal liabilities for financial officers, Reuters took note of how the new law could negatively impact municipal bonds. “Lawyers and credit analysts said the new law could deny municipalities access to large pools of ESG-mandated capital,” Isla Binnie and Ross Kerber of Reuters reported, citing Thomas Torgerson, co-head of global sovereign ratings at DBRS Morningstar.

Those concerns are well founded. In Texas, the city of Anna lost more than $277,000 on a bond sale last year after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed anti-ESG legislation into law. The loss was attributed to a drop in competition following the new law, which precluded the highest bidder.

Based on a Wharton analysis of the Texas law, the firm Econsult Solutions, Inc. anticipates millions more in losses for other states considering anti-ESG legislation, including Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and West Virginia as well as Florida.

Signs municipal green bonds are ready to turn the corner 

Municipalities in states that are free of partisan interference can expect to fare better, along with their taxpayers, residents and businesses.

For example, the city of Turlock, California, has gained a significant new corporate citizen thanks to a $63 million municipal green bond issued by the California Public Finance Authority. The company in question is Divert, Inc., which describes itself as “an impact technology company on a mission to Protect the Value of Food.”

In April, Divert broke ground on its new facility in Turlock, which will convert food waste into carbon-negative renewable energy. In addition to helping California meet its climate goals, the new facility will create new jobs in Turlock and help the company’s retail and food industry clients improve their sustainability profiles by cutting down on food waste.

Divert clients can also anticipate bottom-line benefits from data collected through the waste-to-energy operation. The overall plan also encompasses a food donation program, helping to reduce food waste at the starting point.

Another example involves community choice aggregation, which is the means by which municipalities can join forces to lobby their utility for more clean energy. 

Only a handful of states have aggregation laws on the books, and one of them is California. Earlier this year, the California Community Choice Financing Authority issued municipal green bonds totaling almost $1 billion to the state’s largest community choice aggregator, Clean Power Alliance. The Alliance projects its renewable energy costs to decrease by an average of $8.3 million per year over the initial eight-year period of the bonds. The savings will be passed along to ratepayers.

It’s unfortunate that businesses and residents in some Republican-led states will have to pass on opportunities like these, but that is a problem that corporate leaders can — and should — take up with their elected representatives.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/green-bonds-comeback/773906

3 challenges for making global sustainability strategies local

7 05 2023

Image via Shutterstock/Toria

They say “all politics are local.” So are effective sustainability strategies. By Danielle Allen, Sustainability Consultant, Salterbaxter via green biz.com • Reposted: May 7, 2023

Translating global corporate sustainability ambitions into local market strategies is necessary for accelerating progress — although it’s no simple task. 

Companies of different sizes and cultures face similar challenges and questions around how to meet the needs of local markets while moving globally in a unified direction — and managing a broader strategy rollout across markets at different stages of maturity. Just as sustainability teams see the brand and business opportunities of localizing sustainability, so do local market activist employees and communicators.

And yet, most companies aren’t communicating how their global strategies will play out locally — in their reporting or other channels. Beyond the occasional case study showing how an aspect of their sustainability pillars has been implemented at the local level, companies aren’t telling complete, data-driven stories.

As companies look to localize global sustainability strategies, there are three challenges they must address. 

1. Global sustainability strategies show the ‘big picture’ at the expense of the ‘true picture’

Global sustainability strategies must be broad and high level enough to account for all the differences of the diverse markets they cover. Global strategy is, in essence, a company average. 

But averages can deflect focus and investment from the solutions and regions that need it most — and where the greatest impact can be made. 

There can also be an inherent bias leading to a focus on the most pressing social and environmental issues of where the corporate headquarters is located. At Davos, many leaders acknowledged that a “one strategy fits all” global corporate approach will not drive innovation and deliver meaningful progress, and a regional picture of impact and action is needed. While global sustainability ambitions are important, sustainability leaders must understand that their location and the maturity of that market can influence the scale and type of ambitions being set and not adequately consider other local markets.

There’s been increased awareness and interest from local markets wanting to understand how they can take their company’s global sustainability goals and strategy and make them relevant to local stakeholders. One Australian food and drink business conducted a local materiality assessment that used global issues as a basis for stakeholder engagement. It enabled them to go deeper into the high-level company wide topics and understand how the specific topics translated to the local market. By understanding which aspects to dial up or down and what sub-topics were most material to the market, they were able to interpret their global strategy in a way that resonated with local understanding and needs. This local market information could then be used by global teams to prioritize resources and efforts.

2.  Local regulations are becoming global requirements

A market’s specific regulatory environment is a major factor in the necessary approach to sustainability. What’s bold and ambitious in one market may be mere compliance in another. 

Local regulations are becoming global requirements and impacting markets beyond a single local market. In January, the Germany supply chain act came into force, which requires suppliers for German companies to comply with new requirements related to human rights and environmental risks and violations. As the European Union prepares for its own supply chain regulations, global corporate teams need to be able to understand the cross-market implications and take appropriate action.

While global sustainability ambitions are important, sustainability leaders must understand that their location and the maturity of that market can influence the scale and type of ambitions being set and not adequately consider other local markets.

When setting global ambition levels, corporate teams should engage with local markets to understand the implications of global ambitions in those markets, including how the global strategy will be implemented in each market. Considering, and answering these questions, supports prioritization and implementation plans at a global and local level. Some questions to ask include:

  • Will each market be expected to deliver against the global targets equally? 
  • Will there be a minimum standard that all markets need to meet but where some markets will be hero markets?
  • Are markets able to adapt the strategy depending on their regulatory or cultural context? 
  • To what extent can global teams support local markets to set and deliver sustainability strategies through financial and resource support?
3. Top-down sustainability strategies fail to translate at the local level

The idea that global and local perspectives conflict is quickly going out of fashion. The very concept of “local” isn’t easily defined by country or city. Sometimes different countries can share more similarities than two cities in the same country. 

When working with a global strategy at a local level, common frustrations are around the slow responsiveness of global teams, the reluctance of ambition and the centralization of sustainability resources. An approach that allows markets to retain flexibility and freedom to set their own goals while having overarching, thematic goals has been a more promising approach allowing markets to adopt a matrix approach rather than relying on top-down pressure.

Thinking three-dimensionally allows one market to look horizontally for support in similar markets. Companies have found that other markets with similar politico-cultural makeup often have learnings that are invaluable in understanding how to set a localized strategy and the allies aren’t always the ones that are geographically closest. The Australian businesses found more similarities within the Canadian market than they did with closer neighbors. 

When sustainability teams are lean and global strategies rely on a law of averages, harnessing learnings from similar markets can be extremely valuable.

To succeed, companies must design bold strategies that are agile and adaptive. 

These must be built on incremental roadmaps and supported by strong internal and external governance models, which are based on constant feedback loops across the company ecosystem. This will ensure global and local teams have the flexibility to respond to internal and external priorities, can create relevant and actional narratives that go beyond averages and set a clear direction so that everyone, regardless of location, can get behind them and be a part of delivering progress.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/3-challenges-making-global-sustainability-strategies-local

How Retailers Are Embracing Sustainability With Circular Initiatives

5 05 2023

Let’s Change The Way We Shop’ sign outside Selfridges on Oxford Street. Photo: GETTY

By Clara Ludmir, Contributor via Forbes • Reposted May 5, 2023

With shoppers becoming increasingly mindful of their consumption choices, businesses are facing heightened scrutiny and pressure to meet new sustainability standards and adapt to evolving shopping habits. This is driving retailers to rethink their business models to make circularity part of their mindset and operations. So, how are retailers that weren’t born with sustainability at the core of their business concretely adapting to the circular momentum?

From Linear To Circular Business Models

Certain brands and retailers are paving the way for impactful mindset and operational shifts needed to truly put sustainability at the heart of their agenda. Luxury department store Selfridges developed a vision to reinvent retail through its ‘Project Earth’ initiative, built on three pillars: transitioning to sustainable materials, investing in new shopping models, and challenging the mindsets of its partners, teams and customers. In addition to aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, the retailer made a bold commitment: by 2030, 45% of transactions within the business will come from circular products and services.

Selfridges considers a transaction to be circular when it comes from a resale, rental, refill, repair or recycled product. This target is backed by continuous efforts and initiatives designed to accompany this ambitious strategic objective, such as the definition of specific targets to deliver a material transformation roadmap, new repair and rental services and in-store experiences to shift customer attitude towards circular shopping and consumption.

Rethinking The Product Life Cycle To Develop A Closed-loop System

Fashion brand Coach has also recently demonstrated its intent to take the circular momentum seriously through the launch of Coachtopia. Developed as a collaborative lab for innovation focused on circular craft, the launch marks a significant milestone for the company. Speaking to FashionNetwork.com at the label’s Regent Street flagship, Joon Silverstein, Coach’s SVP of Global Marketing and Sustainability and Head of Coachtopia, considers that this line is “rethinking the product life cycle from end to end. Creating beautiful new things from waste, designing to re-make at scale and ultimately working towards a closed loop system.” This approach is focused on producing items designed to have multiple lives, implying that they are created with the intent to be easily disassembled and repurposed into another product in the future.

In addition to embracing an innovative approach to designing products made from waste and meant to be recycled and repurposed, Coachtopia leveraged insights from a beta community of GenZ individuals to inspire and be inspired by a demographic that is more actively invested in climate change and the environment. “We believe very strongly that it’s important to create it not for these consumers but with them,” Silverstein told FashionNetwork.com, allowing this initiative to give a voice and platform to creatives and climate advocates excited to participate in disrupting fashion for the better.

The sub-brand offers a line of bags, wallets and ready-to-wear items that are available in Selfridges, Coach stores across North America and the brand’s US and UK sites.

In-Store Resale Offering Is Expanding

The second-hand apparel market is experiencing continuous growth, with sales expected to reach $350 billion by 2037 based on a report from resale platform thredUp. In the United States, 1 in 3 apparel items bought by women in 2022 was second-hand, with Millenials and GenZ responsible for more than half of the revenue. As a response to this growing demand, a number of retailers are designing in-store spaces dedicated to second-hand shopping through the launch of pop-ups, corners and own-brand initiatives.

Galeries Lafayette Paris
(RE)STORE space in Galeries Lafayette HaussmannGALERIES LAFAYETTE

In Paris, leading department stores have all started to welcome circularity through dedicated store spaces and offerings. For instance, the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann launched in 2021 a (RE)STORE space of 500 square meters dedicated to second-hand players and sustainable brands. In addition to hosting Monogram, a French luxury second-hand e-tailer, the space features a number of popular online resale shops as well as sustainable brands designing clothing or products made exclusively from offcuts and recycled materials.

Brands with a large retail footprint are evolving to embed circularity in their commercial model. For example, French baby and children’s clothing brand Petit Bateau is making space in its stores for second-hand clothing with the launch of its resale program, allowing customers to both purchase or sell second-hand items in-store. So far, around 20 stores in France are participating in the initiative, with a roll-out to other European countries and Japan expected in the next year. Petit Bateau aims to be the most durable brand in this segment, with products designed to be re-worn by multiple kids, thus almost naturally expected to embrace circularity. While today, only 1% of products sold come from this program, the brand’s CEO Guillaume Darrousez shared on French TV channel BFMTV that by 2030, 1 in 3 transactions will come from the circular economy, either through second-hand or rental products.

Adopting Circularity Is Key To Customer Acquisition And Retention

As of today, retailers are for the most part engaging in the circular momentum as a means to acquire and retain shoppers, rather than to grow profits. In fact, most brands launching their resale platform via a dedicated website struggle to make it a profitable endeavour. Luxury resale platform The RealReal has yet to find an attractive economic model, reporting a net loss of $196 million in 2022 and the closure of various retail locations, which highlights the sector’s struggle to make second-hand retail a scaleable and profitable business.

However, while retailers might not drive significant revenue from recycle, repair or resale initiatives just yet, these allow them to attract a new audience: as mentioned in thredUp’s 2023 resale report, 60% of the resale market’s growth will be attributed to new shoppers, stressing the rising interest for second-hand offerings. Considering the expected size of the resale market and growing pressure on brands to become more accountable and conscious of climate change, retailers are expected to get on board and adopt circularity on a bigger scale in the next five years.

By then, we might have the answer to the following question: will circularity – whether through recycling and reusing materials to produce new items or launching an in-house resale program – ever be scaleable and profitable? Or will it just represent a fraction of brands’ industrial and commercial operations while enabling them to showcase sustainable commitments?

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/claraludmir/2023/05/04/how-retailers-are-embracing-sustainability-with-circular-initiatives/?sh=189db1a83288

Bridging the Sustainability Trust Gap in a Climate-Challenged World

3 05 2023

Image: Getty

Despite growing corporate efforts to drive sustainable change and climate action, there’s an underlying issue: a lack of consumer trust towards companies’ claims on this front. By Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images from Sustainable Brands • Reposted: May 3, 2023

Around the world, major environmental events and extreme weather conditions have pushed climate change to top of mind for people worldwide. According to iStock and Getty ImagesVisualGPS research, “climate change” ranks top of the list of concerns for individuals across the globe — higher than inflation, the energy crises, or issues surrounding world peace.

However, there is still a general sense of ambiguity on who is accountable for driving forward actions to combat climate risks — is it the government? Big businesses? Or are individuals most responsible? Our insights tell us people globally believe it is a shared responsibility; yet each actor’s expectations seem to be first on others, rather than on themselves.

Historically, across different industries, ad campaigns have promoted the idea of individual responsibility. We are used to seeing visuals highlighting individual sustainable practices — from recycling to biking to using reusable shopping bags. All of these concepts, mostly driven by brands and policies, reinforce the idea that sustainability is an individual responsibility.

On the other hand, as VisualGPS found, individuals believe that government is the primary agent responsible for dealing with sustainability efforts and environmental concerns related to global climate change; and that businesses are as responsible as individuals for protecting the planet and enacting sustainable practices.

Since the first UN Climate Change Conference held in 1995, people have been able to follow some countries’ governments’ progress in dealing with climate change issues, while also seeing how corporate philanthropy evolved into impactful CSR programs. Today, 7 out of 10 individuals around the globe believe they have made a lot of progress toward living a more environmentally sustainable life, VisualGPS found.

Nonetheless, despite all involved agents taking part in making a change — denoting a high level of climate awareness — there’s an underlying issue yet to be solved: VisualGPS also revealed a lack of consumer trust towards companies’ claims on this front. More than 80 percent of consumers believe products are made to seem environmentally friendlier than they are, followed by distrust of products that are labeled ”environmentally friendly” as a marketing ploy; and they believe companies claim they abide by ESG (Environmental, social, and governance) standards but do not show enough evidence for it.

The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer reported an average five-to-one margin of respondents who want businesses to play a bigger, not smaller, role in addressing climate change. The same research found respondents have low trust in the government; in contrast, businesses continue to gain trust around the world and are the sole institution seen as competent and ethical — showing companies are uniquely positioned to bridge the sustainability trust gap, fill the void left by governments, and showcase the invaluable role they play in addressing climate change.

When it comes to deciding which company to use or buy from, 84 percent of people believe it is important that a company uses sustainable business practices and extends these to their products; yet more than half claim it’s too much work to research what brands are actively doing to mitigate climate risks. Knowing most consumers make purchase decisions based on visual content — and also expect brands to take a public stand and drive real action on social and environmental issues — companies and brands can lean on better visuals to tell their sustainability story and make their efforts known to engage with consumers.

Regularly, visuals related to environmentalism and sustainability rely on familiar visual clichés— think, the lone polar bear or hands cupping a sapling — unimaginatively used to convey environmental issues. Many brands also focus on conceptual images and videos that are too abstract to stand out or resonate in a crowded visual landscape. Instead, businesses could focus on large-scale (often policy-backed) visuals — such as actions in the realm of infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture, water conservation, or management of green spaces — imagery representing topics and initiatives that could transcend the barrier of practices often seen as greenwashing.

As the climate crisis accelerates, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about what is sustainable; how our decisions, products and policies impact the environment; who is responsible — and whether or not they trust corporate and government sustainability claims. In turn, businesses should look to visual images and messaging that rise to the occasion.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/bridging-sustainability-trust-gap-climate-challenged-world

Ethical Marketing: 4 Values All Brands Should Strive For

3 05 2023

Photo: Getty Images

By Jeff Bradfor, PR pro, president of Dalton Agency’s Nashville office, author of “The Joy of Propaganda: The How and Why of Public Relations and Marketing.” via Forbes • Reposted: May 3, 2023

Today, consumers demand that companies not only offer quality products and services but also behave ethically in their marketing practices. Ethical behavior is a critical aspect of building long-term relationships with consumers.

In this article, I will list what I believe are the fundamental, perennial philosophical values that guide ethical marketing—values that have guided the work of our PR agency for the past 23 years—and describe how brands have implemented them in their strategies.


Honesty means telling the truth, being transparent and avoiding deception. In the past, many companies have used deceptive tactics in their marketing practices to gain a competitive advantage. However, with the rise of social media and other digital channels, such tactics are easily exposed and can damage a brand’s reputation.

An example of deception is Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. The company admitted to using software that could detect when its cars were being tested for emissions and then adjust the performance to pass the test. However, in real-world driving conditions, the cars emitted up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide. The company faced massive backlash, with many consumers feeling betrayed and questioning the brand’s ethics.

On the positive side, Tylenol dramatically demonstrated how to honestly and openly respond to a crisis during the infamous Tylenol tampering incident in 1982, in which several people died after taking Tylenol laced with potassium cyanide. The company quickly and completely shared information about the incident and took a huge financial hit by removing and destroying all products on the market at the time. Not only did Tylenol’s honesty save lives, but it also saved the company’s reputation. Within a year of the incident, sales of Tylenol had rebounded to pre-incident levels—and the company was widely praised for its ethical response to a tragedy that cost it over $100 million.

Respect For Individual Rights

This includes respecting privacy, data protection and avoiding discrimination. Consumers have the right to control their personal data and decide how it is used by companies. Brands must ensure they are transparent about their data collection and usage practices and obtain explicit consent from consumers.

A recent example of this is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Brands that prioritize individual rights and respect consumer privacy are more likely to build trust and loyalty with consumers.

Respect For Human Dignity

Brands must recognize the inherent worth and value of each person and treat them accordingly. In marketing, respect for human dignity means avoiding tactics that exploit or manipulate consumers, such as intentional deception.

For instance, while influencer marketing can be an effective way for businesses to reach new audiences, some influencers have been criticized for promoting products that they do not actually use or endorse, or for promoting products that may be harmful or unethical. This lack of authenticity and transparency can be seen as a violation of respect for human dignity.


Marketers have a responsibility to ensure that their marketing efforts do not harm people or society. They should also be responsible for ensuring that their products or services are safe and reliable.

For example, in 2019, a well-known vaping brand was criticized for its marketing practices, which contributed to the rise of teenage vaping. The company had used colorful packaging and social media influencers to target young people, despite knowing that its products were highly addictive and harmful. The company’s marketing practices had undermined the common good and contributed to a public health crisis.

Another example of irresponsibility is the issue of greenwashing, the practice of making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service. It has become a significant problem, as consumers are becoming more aware of environmental issues and are looking for sustainable products. Companies are being urged to be more transparent about their environmental practices and ensure that their marketing efforts are responsible.


Ethical marketing is critical for building trust and long-term relationships with consumers. Brands that prioritize honesty, responsibility and respect for individual rights and human dignity will not only meet consumer expectations but also set themselves apart from their competitors. By implementing these values in their marketing strategies, brands can create a positive impact on society while also driving business success.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2023/05/02/ethical-marketing-4-values-all-brands-should-strive-for/?sh=199547681f79

The Climate Science Behind Managing Disaster Risk

2 05 2023

Tourists try to stay dry in a flooded St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, in 2018. Flooding in the region has only intensified in recent years. Image credit: Jonathan Ford/Unsplash

By Joyce Coffee from Triplepundit.com • Reposted: May 2, 2023

It has become de rigueur for companies eager to reduce their climate-related disaster risks to sign up with groups that focus on assisting corporate clients with their climate change challenges. 

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), for one, helps the private sector set science-based emissions reduction targets. It’s a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Another, the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, offers guidelines for how companies can report their exposure to physical climate-related risks, among other things.

The assistance these groups provide is timely. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which protects investors and regulates publicly-held companies’ disclosures, is considering rules to require public companies to provide climate risk-related financial data. And most (if not all) U.N. agencies and other international climate change-related programs recognize the need to address disaster risks and other forms of climate risk worldwide. 

But do these groups follow climate science? That question arose last month when a distinguished engineer openly questioned climate science in a presentation to the U.N. Disaster Risk Reduction Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) and its growing membership of U.S. corporate leaders. “We don’t know if climate change is happening now, and we don’t know if it will happen in the future,” he contended.

Peruse any legitimate climate source, and it’s nigh impossible to question climate science, whether our planet is warming and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. The U.N. has a growing set of resources, among them:

As the U.N. plainly asserts: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” 

ARISE, whose U.S. arm I co-chair, follows the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The latest documents of the Framework — the 2015 U.N.-adopted document that calls for assessing and reporting progress on disaster-reduction plans — emphasize that disaster risks “are growing at an unprecedented rate globally, inflicting damage across sectors and vital systems for human societies and economies.”

It also maintains: “We are living outside the boundaries of what our planet can sustain, to the detriment of future generations. Radical shifts are needed to change course toward a more sustainable and risk-informed pathway, as the world is facing a projected 40 percent increase in disasters during the lifetime of the Sendai Framework to 2030.” 

The Framework cites climate change on over half of its 140 pages, and the No. 1 commitment of the U.N. Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience is to take a risk-informed approach. 

We must also heed another distinguished engineer, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, who earned a degree in the field from the Instituto Superior Técnico in Portugal back in 1949. “Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing, global temperatures keep rising, and our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible,” he told CNBC last year. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” 

And we must promote companies looking to the SBTi and others for assistance in mitigating disaster risks.  Onward with this important work!

Joyce Coffee headshot

Joyce Coffee, LEED AP, is founder and President of Climate Resilience Consulting. She is an accomplished organizational strategist and visionary leader with over 25 years of domestic and international experience in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors implementing resilience and sustainability strategies, management systems, performance measurement, partnerships, benchmarking and reporting.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/disaster-risks-climate-science/773221

Smart tech can boost business sustainability in 6 key areas

2 05 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Graham Rihn, Founder & CEO of RoadRunner Recycling, discusses how smart technology can boost a business’s sustainability credentials in six key areas. By Graham Rihn from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: May 2, 2023

More and more, business leaders are identifying that sustainability initiatives are not only beneficial for climate change, but can also have positive impacts on a company’s bottom line, when executed effectively. 

Resultantly, companies are investing in smart technology like AI, machine learning, and blockchain to help accelerate and streamline sustainability efforts, operate more efficiently and drive shareholder value.

While businesses, especially those with large national or global footprints, often face the challenge of scalability when it comes to implementing sustainability action plans across a variety of locations, a recent PriceWaterhouseCooper study found that more than 70% of sustainable goals could be accelerated through technology adoption.

New technologies can step into this arena to help businesses overcome these challenges among others. Here are six areas of sustainability businesses can improve with the help of tools such as AI, machine learning, and blockchain development. 

Energy Efficiency

Businesses can optimise energy efficiency through data analysis, and, in turn, identify opportunities for reduced energy consumption and potentially lower bills. For example, connected sensor technology can adjust lighting and air conditioning to occupancy levels. Fewer people in the office can equate to less energy usage. Industrial manufacturing company, Siemens, uses machine learning to optimise data center energy consumption. In the process, the company cut energy costs by 10% and carbon emissions by 16%. 

Renewable Energy

A major challenge for businesses involving climate change is sourcing energy that does not come from burning fossil fuels. In 2019, burning fossil fuels accounted for 74% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 

Businesses that choose renewable energy sources can use AI to increase efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. Google installed a 1.6 MW solar array at its company headquarters as part of its plan to wholly utilise carbon-free energy by 2030. They use AI to maximise the use of that clean energy across data centers, shifting energy-intensive processes to the times of day when the most electricity is available. 

Investing in renewables, committing to optimising green energy production, and employing technology to optimise usage can yield dividends in terms of climate change.

Sustainable Supply Chain

Supply chain transparency is essential for building a sustainable business and negating climate change, but tracing a product’s journey is no easy task. Blockchain technology can step in to help a business ensure sustainable sourcing methods are utilised for raw materials. Walmart recently partnered with IBM to implement a blockchain based supply chain tracking system to follow products and materials.

Before applying technology to the supply chain, it took a team more than six days to find the source of a package of mangoes being sold at a store location. Working with IBM, that team could eventually trace each package in less than three seconds. Sustainable sourcing can help businesses reduce emissions, better manage climate risks, and even streamline operations.

Sustainable Product Design

Analysing product performance data can be accomplished through AI algorithms that optimise product design for energy efficiency and recyclability. 

As of 2010, Nike employed AI and machine learning to design a sustainable running shoe made with recyclable materials that maintained their standards of durability and athletic performance. The carbon footprint of the product was reduced by 30%

Applying technology to product design can mean reductions in energy usage and carbon emissions for businesses.

Waste and Recycling Management

Sustainability measures are not only important at a product’s creation, but also when it reaches the end of its usable life. Waste accounts for an estimated 20% of methane emissions across the world. 

Today, new technologies can analyse waste generation to identify areas in which organisations can reduce waste output. Waste metering technology is able to monitor the types and volumes of waste being generated to optimise service. It can also identify areas for increased recycling or waste elimination. 

One example, the city of Amsterdam implemented an AI-based application in 2021 that can detect garbage and recycling on the street. It automatically maps the area and once the material is identified by the AI in real time, the information is shared with the city’s waste management department to clean up. The application is able to quickly solve waste disposal issues in Amsterdam at scale.

ESG Reporting

Embracing technologies that aid in implementing sustainable changes to businesses can also enable better, more accurate ESG reporting. Disclosing this type of information could soon become a requirement with potential new SEC Scope 3 emissions reporting rules coming in 2023 and technology adoption can help businesses be well-prepared.

Many businesses find that with the use of AI and sensor technology that data quality is improved, reporting processes can be automated, the technology can identify risks and opportunities, and they are better able to forecast future trends. 

Microsoft uses AI-based carbon management software and Internet of Things for its AI for Earth programme. It can measure, manage, and find ways to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint. That can be an attractive metric to investors measuring a company by its ESG score. Cutting emissions usually means a reduction in energy use which often translates to lower costs. Using AI for data collection and predictive analytics can provide a powerful avenue to find new methods of driving sustainability solutions. 

Why apply technology to sustainability

Implementing these tools as part of a holistic sustainability program allows companies to find solutions that fit their needs and sets your business up for success in both the short- and long-term. 

Smart technologies can help us accelerate the road to a more sustainable future, and the time to start is now. Implementing this technology now prepares your business for a future in which sustainability will have a bigger impact on the bottom line. 

In fact, more than 74% of institutional investors said they would divest from companies with a poor environmental track record. 

AI, machine learning, and blockchain technology can push businesses to achieve goals such as Zero Waste and carbon neutrality, while preparing you for the expectations of tomorrow, today. 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/articles/smart-tech-boosts-business-sustainability-in-6-key-areas

Your iPhone Contains More Recycled Materials Than You Thought

1 05 2023

Image credits: Bagus Hernawan/Unsplash and Apple 

By Gary E. Frank from triplepundit.com • Reposted: May 1, 2023

Mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone contain at least 30 chemical elements — from common metals like aluminum, copper, lithium, silver and gold, to rare earth elements like yttrium, terbium, lanthanum, neodymium and dysprosium, all of which are extracted from the earth through mining.

Apple is looking to reduce demand for these elements and others by quietly expanding its use of recycled content. The company reached a new high for recycled materials in 2021, with nearly 20 percent recycled content across all products, according to its 2022 Environmental Progress Report released last week. It also introduced certified recycled gold for the first time in 2021, and more than doubled the use of recycled tungsten, rare earth elements and cobalt, the company reported. 

Recovering more materials for use in future products helps reduce mining. For example, a single metric ton of iPhone components contains the same amount of gold and copper that’s typically extracted from 2,000 metric tons of mined rock. 

“We are making real progress in our work to address the climate crisis and to one day make our products without taking anything from the earth,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said in a public statement. “Our rapid pace of innovation is already helping our teams use today’s products to build tomorrow’s.”

Increasingly, that means the use of recycling robots like Daisy, which the company says can disassemble up to 1.2 million phones a year and recover key materials like rare earths. With recently enhanced capability, Daisy can now take apart 23 models of iPhone, and Apple has offered to license the robot’s patents to other companies and researchers free of charge.

apple daisy iphone recycling robot
Apple’s first recycling robot, Daisy, can disassemble up to 1.2 million phones each year, helping Apple recover more valuable materials for recycling, according to the company. 

Apple rolled out Taz, a cousin to Daisy, last year — which uses “shredder-like technology” to recover more rare earth elements from devices. An additional robot, Dave, disassembles taptic engines, the technology that provides users with tactile feedback to simulate actions, such as clicks on a stationary touch screen. These steps help in the recovery of valuable rare earth magnets, tungsten and steel, the company said. 

All totaled, Apple products that came off the assembly lines in 2021 included 45 percent certified recycled rare earth elements, the company’s highest mark ever. 

The company has also committed to extend product lifetimes through refurbishment. It reported sending more than 12 million devices and accessories to new owners for reuse in 2021, extending their lifetime and reducing the need for future mining. In the long term, Apple aims to use only renewable or recyclable materials in its products, a goal announced in 2017.

The company’s 2022 report also highlighted its progress toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. In a year when many other companies saw large increases in their footprints and the company’s revenue grew by 33 percent, Apple’s net emissions remained flat. The company has been carbon neutral for its global operations since 2020, including 100 percent renewable energy used to power all offices, stores and data centers since 2018.

And Apple says it’s spreading the gospel of renewables, with Apple suppliers more than doubling their use of clean power from 2020 to 2021, according to the report. As of April 2023, 213 of the company’s manufacturing partners have pledged to power all Apple production with renewables across 25 countries.

The company has also reduced plastic in its packaging by 75 percent since 2015, on the way eliminating plastic packaging entirely by 2025.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/apple-iphone-recycled-materials/772961

United Nations: Global sustainability goals are in ‘deep trouble’

1 05 2023

Image: sustainability-times.com

By Laureen Fagan from sustainability-times/.com • Reposted: May 1, 2023

Global progress on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been stalled, with the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict in Ukraine causing setbacks that threaten achievement of the 2030 goals.

“It’s time to sound the alarm. At the midway point on our way to 2030, the SDGs are in deep trouble,” said the new interim report, previewed this week. “A preliminary assessment of the roughly 140 targets with data show only about 12% are on track.”

For example, 575 million people (about 7% of the world’s population) will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030 if current trends hold. That compares to 800 million in 2015 (10.8%). “The COVID-19 pandemic reversed three decades of steady progress with the number of people living in extreme poverty increasing for the first time in a generation,” the report said. Some 70 million were pushed back into extreme poverty since 2019.

There have been successes: child mortality rates continue to fall, progress on HIV prevention and treatment continues, and there are gains on electricity access in poor countries. Renewable energy and an increased number of marine protected areas are bright spots. But on far too many measures, including climate-related goals, more is needed.

At this rate, some 660 million people will still lack power and renewable energy will still be a fraction of the mix in 2030. Climate finance is falling short and debt relief is increasingly critical in the developing world. Food security (SDG2) and safe water access (SDG6) are threatened as more people are affected by climate impacts.

“The world is on the brink of a climate catastrophe and current actions and plans to address the crisis are insufficient. Without transformative action starting now and within this decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions deeply and rapidly in all sectors, the 1.5°C target will be at risk and with it the lives of more than three billion people,” the report said.

“Failure to act leads to intensifying heatwaves, droughts, flooding, wildfires, sea-level rise, and famines. Emissions should already be decreasing now and will need to be cut almost by half by 2030 – a mere seven years from now.”

Guterres is appealing for “deep reforms of the international financial architecture” through international lenders and development banks, including SDG stimulus funds of at least US$500 billion per year to assist low-income nations with their plans for the SDG targets.

“Many developing countries cannot invest in the SDGs because they face a financing black hole. Before the pandemic, the annual SDG funding gap was $2.5 trillion. According to the OECD, that figure is now at least $4.2 trillion,” said Guterres. “And many developing countries are buried under a mountain of debt.”

The interim report was released ahead of the UN General Assembly’s high-level Economic and Social Council meeting in July and, ultimately, the SDG summit in September.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.sustainability-times.com/low-carbon-energy/un-sdgs-global-sustainability-goals-are-in-deep-trouble/

Three Things Companies Should Consider When Targeting Gen Z

29 04 2023

Photo: Getty Images

By David Herpers, Forbes Councils Member via forbes.com • Reposted: April 29, 2023

As Generation Z begins to harness its buying power and make significant financial decisions, competition for its attention grows. For companies hoping to capture this generation’s business, it’s important to understand the way they view their finances and how they engage with a brand. While Gen Z’s relationship with money and brands is similar to that of its older siblings, millennials, it’s certainly not the same. Let’s look at how Gen Z approaches finances and consumer brands.

Money Habits

As with the members of any younger generation, we tend to expect Gen Z to have irresponsible spending habits and not to be the biggest savers. Studies show this isn’t the case.

Gen Z tends to spend less and save more than the other generations, contributing an average of $867 in savings per month, almost doubling what the average American saves each month ($462). One may find themselves asking, is Gen Z more fiscally responsible than the rest of us?

The answer is yes and no. One main factor leading to the high monthly average of savings is many Gen Zers still live at home. According to a 2022 study by Credit Karma, Gen Z is setting records for the number of people living with their parents following high school education. With costs of living at an all-time high, most Gen Zers are making the decision to stay home in the best interest of their short- and long-term financial security.

That said, there’s still a large portion of Gen Z that chooses to spend over saving. However, those that fall into the spending category are still taking a cautious approach. Over 68% of Gen Zers use a budgeting tool of some sort to manage their finances. Of those surveyed, 43% say they prefer the old-fashioned pen-and-paper method, while 38%, respectively, say they use online budgeting tools.

Brand Enthusiasm

Gen Zers’ cautious nature isn’t exclusive to their housing and higher costs. It extends to their relationships with brands as well. When looking at the relationship between Gen Z and brands, a recent IBM study measured brand loyalty (repeated purchases) and brand enthusiasm (active engagement between brands and customers).

According to the IBM study, Gen Z is more likely to display brand enthusiasm over brand loyalty. Known as the “generation of researchers,” this is likely due to Gen Z’s habit of turning to online platforms for reviews before making even small purchases.

Rather than committing to a brand they are familiar with, Gen Zers will evaluate all options, taking into consideration customer and influencer reviews, social media presence and value alignment. When they find a brand that checks all their boxes, they are eager to share and engage with it. But keep in mind, should the brand harm the relationship in some way, Gen Zers quickly move to purchase from a competitor.

An advantage of appealing to brand enthusiasm, as noted by IBM, is that it creates opportunities to gain insight into customers’ attitudes and purchasing habits in relation to a brand. Companies get to have conversations with customers about what they want rather than guessing. And we already have insight into what Gen Z customers crave.


While millennials may stray away from content that’s been highly edited and airbrushed and that poses perfect “promises,” Gen Z has taken it to the next level—by adeptly recognizing the differences between real and fake online content. As the first generation born into social media and becoming more tech-savvy than generations so far, Gen Z is quick to identify fantasy versus reality. According to IBM’s study of Gen Z’s relationships with brands, it’s clear this generation places a high value on a brand’s authenticity and prefers real content over staged content.

The concept of authenticity extends beyond advertising and product images for Gen Z; it includes the company’s impact. According to a 2019 Kearney study, 57% of Gen Z reports a brand’s social and environmental impacts are key factors in its purchasing decision. But a statement about a brand’s commitment isn’t enough to sway the generation of researchers. In fact, Gen Z will go out of its way to find—and even pay slightly more for—a product or service if it means the purchase aligns with its values.

As Gen Z’s influence on the market and society continues to grow, companies and brands can best position themselves for success by aligning with the values and habits of this generation. With a large number of consumers that can take the success of a brand into their own hands, keep in mind their financial concerns, engagement expectations and craving for authentic content, as these are likely essential to keep a brand afloat in the rise of this new generation.

David Herpers is the SVP of Digital Bank at Credit One Bank. His expertise includes wealth management, banking and product management.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2023/04/28/three-things-companies-should-consider-when-targeting-gen-z/?sh=1c1847f71a5d

Learning the Language of Sustainability Planning and Climate Reporting

28 04 2023

NRG Energy, Wednesday, April 26, 2023, Press release picture

By Greg Kandankulam from NRG Energy Inc. • Reposted: April 28, 2023

Now more than ever, organizations are prioritizing sustainability planning to achieve long-term climate goals. However, not every business has a dedicated team. In many cases, leaders take on such planning as an added responsibility outside of their traditional job scope.

Like many fields, sustainability has its own language with a long list of terms related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. Being able to understand and speak the language is key to pursuing, tracking, and reporting sustainability outcomes. Here, we focus on terms in one of the most critical areas: climate.

For energy and facility managers helping to lead their companies’ sustainability efforts, these terms are essential to ensure their businesses can set appropriate climate goals, and then track and report progress using best-practice standards.

Climate vocabulary basics

Climate-related sustainability action is needed because of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions that magnify both climate change and human-induced global warming. These factors are the foundation, so it’s important to have a firm grasp of what those three highlighted terms mean.

  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are a set of naturally occurring or human-generated gases that transform the atmosphere. According to Cornell Law School, humans generate most GHGs through actions such as agriculture and burning fossil fuels for energy, manufacturing, and transportation purposes. GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxides (NxO), and manufactured fluorinated gases.
  • According to NASAclimate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional, and global climates. Changes observed in Earth’s climate since the mid-20th century have been driven by human activities that have increased heat-trapping GHG levels in Earth’s atmosphere, raising Earth’s average surface temperature. While natural processes also contribute to a changing climate, they are far outpaced by human-induced activities.
  • NASA defines global warming as the long-term heating of Earth’s surface observed since the post-industrial period due to human activities that increase GHG levels in Earth’s atmosphere. This term is not interchangeable with the term climate change but rather is a key component of a changing climate.

Climate disclosures

At face value, climate disclosures are not complicated at all. They are simply any disclosure your company makes about the impact of its operations on climate change, such as GHG emissions totals, use of renewable energy, or energy savings from energy efficiency efforts.

However, climate disclosures get complicated when the topic of standards and requirements is introduced. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March 2022 proposed rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for investors. If finalized, investor-owned companies subject to SEC regulation will be required to make certain climate-related disclosures, including information about climate-related risks.

These disclosures are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations, or financial condition, and certain climate-related financial statement metrics within their audited financial statements.

Beyond the SEC rules, which won’t apply to all businesses, there are other voluntary standards for climate disclosures. For example, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures or TCFD, created by the Financial Stability Board, has issued recommendations on climate disclosures supported by more than 3,000 companies across 92 countries. The nonprofit CDP runs a widely accepted global disclosure system to help companies manage their environmental impacts.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Many businesses include GHG reduction goals in their sustainability plans, which means they need to track GHG emissions and disclose annual GHG emissions from operations to show progress toward their goals.

Simple, right? Not so fast. Who’s responsible for the GHGs created by the Amazon and FedEx trucks that deliver your products to customers? What about GHGs from the electricity delivered by your local electric provider to keep your business running?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides helpful definitions for different categories – or “scopes” – of emissions so that businesses can track and report GHGs and GHG reductions consistently.

Scope 1

Direct GHG emissions that occur from sources that are controlled or owned by an organization (e.g., emissions associated with fuel combustion in boilers, furnaces, company-owned fleet vehicles).

Scope 2

Indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. Although an organization’s Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the facility where they are generated, they are accounted for in the organization’s GHG inventory because they are a result of the organization’s energy use.

Scope 3

Indirect GHG emissions resulting from activities not owned or controlled by an organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain. Scope 3 emissions for one organization are the Scope 1 or 2 emissions of another organization and often represent the majority of an organization’s total GHG emissions.

Any company with a GHG reduction goal will be expected to track and report Scope 1 and 2 emissions, while Scope 3 emissions may be considered optional. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a global nonprofit, has developed a widely accepted corporate accounting and reporting standard with guidance for companies preparing a GHG inventory.

Net-zero emissions

The World Economic Forum defines net-zero emissions as “a state of balance between emissions and emissions reductions.” For an individual business to reach net-zero, that does not mean it cannot emit any GHG emissions from operations. It means the business must offset its Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions through verified means of reducing other GHGs, such as through the purchase of renewable energy credits or carbon offset credits, carbon capture, sequestration, and/or other technologies.

As with GHG reporting, there is an internationally recognized standard for achieving net-zero, also called carbon neutrality.

Net-zero is becoming a rallying point for businesses across the globe. More than 1,200 companies have committed to science-based net-zero targets. Being a sustainable business is one of five pillars of NRG, and we are proudly committed to our own climate targets. As an organization, we set an ambitious goal to achieve net-zero and reduce our carbon footprint by 50% by 2025, using our 2014 emissions as our base year.

Science-based Target-setting

Did you notice the term “science-based” in the last paragraph about net-zero targets? Many companies have been criticized for greenwashing by claiming carbon neutrality with the use of various trading and accounting measures, while their operations still produce significant real emissions. According to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), emissions targets are considered “science-based” if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the United Nations Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

SBTi is a partnership of the United Nations, CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), and others that defines and promotes best practices in emissions reductions in line with climate science. Nearly 1,000 organizations have set emissions reduction targets grounded in climate science through the SBTi’s guidance.

Get started

We all have a role to play in creating a more sustainable future through planning and action. When it comes to climate and energy, look for a trusted advisor who can help you implement a range of solutions to track, report, and ultimately achieve your sustainability goals.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/learning-language-sustainability-planning-climate-154500285.html

Bridging the sustainability gap

27 04 2023
View of sun rise with mountain against blue sky. Photo: Getty Images

By Claudio Muruzabal via SAP News Center • Reposted: April 27, 2023

In today’s world, sustainability challenges affect people’s lives, ecosystems, and businesses. Whether we’re discussing environmental sustainability or people sustainability, the facts of why we collectively need to focus on sustainability are staggering.

With 79% of buyers changing preferences based on sustainability, it is clear that customers are increasingly demanding sustainable products. Investors are incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their investment decisions, with an estimated 50% of professionally managed assets expected to be ESG-mandated by 2025. And employees are also taking an active interest in their employers’ ESG efforts, with 90% stating that such efforts enhance job satisfaction.

Faced with this reality — and pressure from multiple stakeholders — sustainability has become a critical topic for organizations worldwide, prompting businesses to adopt more sustainable practices.

The Sustainability Execution Gap

The above statistics clearly show that sustainability is not just about compliance with regulations, it is about creating a holistic vision for an organization that supports the strategy and creates a rallying point for employees. Regulations and legislation are increasingly focusing on environmental impacts, making it imperative for companies to have a sustainability strategy in place. Sustainability is about creating a business that is environmentally and socially responsible that can thrive in the long term.

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Businesses need to develop a road map that will allow them to advance their business transformation toward a sustainable intelligent enterprise. That starts at the top and the bottom so that everyone within the organization has a role to play in guiding the approach toward success. An overall culture of sustainability needs to be created to ensure participation at all levels.

However, even when the companies understand the need for more sustainable practices, a challenge remains for many on how to close the gap between their sustainability strategy and execution, transforming the whole organization while creating sustainable business value. Understanding the role emerging technologies play and leveraging them is a powerful enabler to close this gap and accelerate sustainable business growth and positive impact.

Emerging Technologies Are Key for Businesses Looking to Become Sustainable Intelligent Enterprises

Technology can help companies improve efficiency in business processes, utilize renewable energy, adopt circular economy practices, increase transparency, and make more informed decisions by providing real-time data and analytics. With the increasing stakeholder expectation for companies to operate sustainably, technology can enable companies to agilely adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands and build trust with their stakeholders. Ultimately, employing the right technology can lead to cost savings, new business opportunities, and a reduced impact on the environment.

Cloud technology can provide real-time monitoring for the usage of sustainable technology, while facilitating remote work and collaboration, reducing the need of scattered physical servers and hardware, and helping cloud providers invest in renewable energy sources to power their data centers. This will help organizations achieve their zero-emission goals while improving operational efficiency and reducing costs.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can help many organizations optimize their waste management processes by using predictive analytics to identify potential areas of waste, forecasting demand for recycled materials, optimizing waste collection routes, and automating the process of reporting to track and comply with regulatory requirements. If the “business as usual” scenario is allowed to continue regarding the use of plastics, the oceans will contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and more plastic than fish by 2050. There is a huge opportunity to reduce waste through reuse and recycling processes, as well as building a more sustainable design process for many industries. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as sensors and smart meters provide real-time data that can be used to reduce waste and identify recycling opportunities.

Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Blockchain provides a transparent, secure, and efficient way to track and verify emissions, encourages sustainable practices, and facilitates renewable energy trading. Electric vehicles (EVs) can reduce transportation emissions, while IoT devices can help monitor and optimize energy consumption in buildings and processes. Additionally, advances in carbon capture and storage technologies can enable organizations to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions, preventing them from entering and adversely affecting the atmosphere.

The mindset shifts in the organization — and their role in the business network — also impacts the success of the sustainability efforts and uptake of processes. No single company can achieve sustainability alone. Collaboration among governments, business, technology partners, and industry players bring the necessary capabilities and perspectives to enable this collaboration. There is no need for businesses to walk this alone. Rather a joint and collaborative effort is needed to tackle this issue.

Welcome to Your Sustainability Journey

Sustainability is a strategic opportunity for companies. Whether it be the focus on creating sustainable products, services, and business models for long-term growth, or embedding it into business processes to make sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable, there is no downside. By doing this right, facilitated by the right technology, businesses can earn customer loyalty, attract funding or investment, maintain a committed workforce, and enhance brand image and reputation.

Sustainability requires collaboration as well as a deep understanding of the business and its wider impact, with a commitment to continuous improvement. Companies that can close the gap between their sustainability strategy and execution — and identify opportunities for sustainability in the business — will be well positioned to succeed in the long term.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://news.sap.com/2023/04/bridging-sustainability-capability-gap/

FTC takes a microscope to sustainability claims

26 04 2023

Does this count as recycling? | Seth Wenig/AP Photo

By Debra Kahn and Jordan Wolman from Politico.com • Reposted: April 26, 2023

Companies are talking the talk on sustainability. The Federal Trade Commission is gearing up to make sure they’re walking the walk, Jordan reports.

As demand for sustainable products has skyrocketed, so have concerns about greenwashing. Public comments were due yesterday on the FTC’s first update in 11 years of its “Green Guides,” which are essentially advice for how companies can make environmental marketing claims.

The nearly 60,000 comments shed light on what companies, industry trade groups and environmentalists are fighting over:

— Recycling claims. Current FTC guidelines say companies should qualify claims of “recyclability” when products aren’t recyclable in at least 60 percent of their market. The EPA wrote that the bar “should be much higher,” while environmental groups want to clarify that at least 60 percent of products need to actually be recycled — not just collected. That coalition also wants to set a higher bar of 75 percent for store drop-off programs.

The Plastics Industry Association wants the standards to stay as-is: The FTC “should not further complicate the issue by adding hurdles,” the group wrote. It also wants take-back or drop-off programs to be equally eligible to make unqualified recycling claims.

— Corporate net-zero claims. Ceres, a nonprofit focused on corporate sustainability, wants the FTC to give guidance on how companies can use carbon offsets to make claims about their climate commitments and achievements. Sierra Club and a half-dozen other groups want disclosure of specific offsets’ climate benefits.

— Chemical recycling. The American Chemistry Council and the Plastics Industry Association want to make it easier to claim that chemical recycling — a set of technologies that involve melting hard-to-recycle plastic down into its components — counts toward companies’ recycled content and recyclability standards. The ACC submitted a new poll showing that nearly 90 percent of consumers believe chemical recycling qualifies as “recycling.” Green groups are pushing back.

— Enforcement. Environmental groups want the FTC to initiate a formal rulemaking process to codify the Green Guides (currently, the agency can bring enforcement action via violations of the FTC Act), with an eye toward California’s “truth in labeling” law. EPA seems to be on board, too, but the Plastics Industry Association opposes rulemaking.

How much does this all matter? The FTC doesn’t do a ton of enforcement of green marketing claims: It’s taken enforcement action under the Green Guides 36 times since 2013. It hasn’t taken enforcement action based on recycling claims since 2014 — although it does send warning letters, which can nudge companies into compliance.

The agency tends to pick big cases that send a signal — like its $5.5 million penalty last year against Walmart and Kohl’s over claims that they marketed rayon textiles as made from eco-friendly bamboo, when in fact converting bamboo into rayon involves toxic chemicals.

But officials are signaling willingness to wade into the details on new technologies such as chemical recycling.

“Our job is to not say what’s good or bad for society, it is to make sure that people aren’t lying,” James Kohm, associate director of enforcement in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in an interview. “We wouldn’t necessarily hesitate to get involved in a situation. What we don’t want to do is contradict the EPA, and we’ve been careful in a number of areas to not do that. There are a bunch of trade offs — that you have less trash, but you might have more air pollution, for example. If we had enough information, and we weren’t contradicting the EPA, we would probably give advice.”

We could be in this for the long haul: The last time the Green Guides were updated, the process started in 2007 and didn’t end until 2012. There’s an initial public workshop on recycling scheduled next month.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/the-long-game/2023/04/25/ftc-takes-a-microscope-to-sustainability-claims-00093682

Four Sustainable Investments That Could Have a Positive Impact

23 04 2023

Image: Getty

As we celebrate Earth Day, consider doing some research aimed at transitioning to a more sustainable and responsible portfolio. These four companies are worth a look. By Peter Krull,  CSRIC® via Kiplinger.com • Reposted: April 23, 2023

Earth Day is a great time to take stock of your environmental impact. It’s also an ideal time to think about how your money is invested and consider making some sustainable investments. Do the companies you own positively affect the world, or are they contributing to the problems?

Most investors don’t think about the underlying holdings in the mutual funds or ETFs they purchase, and many others simply allow their financial advisers to pick and choose the individual stocks that they own. But taking the time to ask questions, do a little research and understand what you actually own can be both scary and enlightening and help empower you to transition to a more sustainable and responsible portfolio.

Other than aligning your investments with your values, investing responsibly may also reduce the long-term risk in your portfolio. Companies that employ a more sustainable and resiliency-focused business model will be more likely to succeed in a new economy that requires these attributes in order to remain competitive.

A Holistic Perspective on Sustainable Investments

I view sustainable investing from a holistic perspective. While solar, wind and electric vehicle (EV) companies are certainly an important part of our portfolios, so are complementary industries. For example, our Green Sage Sustainability Portfolio(opens in new tab) includes companies involved with water filtration, sustainable real estate and green buildings, scientific instrumentation, insurance and even biotechnology.

Understanding that and putting it in the context of what naturalist John Muir(opens in new tab) said: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe,” many industries are connected and complementary to each other and contribute to society’s vision of sustainability.

With that in mind, here are a couple of companies worth taking a look at:

STMicroelectronics (STM (opens in new tab)). Much of this Swiss semiconductor company’s technology is used in devices that you use every day, like tablets and automobile infotainment systems. But beyond these everyday uses, STMicroelectronics(opens in new tab) also makes chips that help control the motors in EVs, chips that help distribute solar power more efficiently and chips that are helping to create smart homes, cities and industries. Sustainable innovation would not be possible without semiconductor technologies underlying the advances.

Acuity Brands (AYI (opens in new tab)). This U.S.-based company manufactures high-efficiency lighting products. I often say the best kilowatt is the one that isn’t used, and through energy efficiency, we can make this true. Our homes and buildings use a considerable amount of energy, mostly for heating and cooling, but also for lighting.

The transition from incandescent bulbs to LEDs has been a major opportunity to reduce our impact. A 10-watt LED replaces a 100-watt incandescent bulb — that’s a savings of 90%. Acuity Brands(opens in new tab) manufactures a wide array of lighting products, from home to office and industrial. It even makes ultraviolet lights to disinfect health care facilities (and others) that require sterilization.

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure (HASI (opens in new tab)). Hannon Armstrong(opens in new tab) is considered a “pure play” sustainable company in that everything it does revolves around sustainability. It finances a range of projects broken down into three areas: behind-the-meter, grid-connected and fuels, transport and nature. Its behind-the-meter investments include energy efficiency projects, distributed solar and storage, while grid-connected focuses on utility-scale wind solar and storage.

It’s also involved in landfill gas projects, commercial fleet decarbonization and ecological restoration. And for income investors, the stock pays a nice dividend as well.

AXS Green Alpha ETF (NXTE(opens in new tab)). The folks at Green Alpha(opens in new tab) have been managing sustainable investments for years, going back to the old Sierra Club Mutual Funds, so they know what they’re doing. They eschew the recent trend of creating, as I call them, “less bad” ESG portfolios and focus on solutions-based investments in the next economy.

Like Earth Equity’s Green Sage Sustainability Portfolio, the portfolio is more than just solar, wind and EVs and takes a broad approach by examining systemic risks and opportunities. If you’re not comfortable with individual stock investing, or if you’re looking to diversify, check out this ETF.

Make Sure You Understand What You’re Investing In

Remember that if you choose to invest in a mutual fund or ETF, it’s important to look under the hood to truly understand what you are investing in.

I look at investing as voting with your hard-earned dollars, so consider what you want to stand for this Earth Day and how to make the best impact on the planet for generations to come.

Advisory products and services offered by Investment Adviser Representatives through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., Suite #150 Floor, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”).

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC(opens in new tab) or with FINRA(opens in new tab).

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.kiplinger.com/investing/sustainable-investments-for-a-positive-impact

So, You Want To Save The World? Start Your Sustainability Career This #EarthDay

23 04 2023

Working in sustainability is easy. Graphic: GETTY

By Solitaire Townsend, Contributor via Forbes • Reposted: April 23, 2023

I’m lucky enough to meet lots of passionate folk who want to change the world. Many of them have already built a career in sustainability – they are Chief Sustainability Officers, ESG experts, social entrepreneurs, D&I advisers, climate geeks and CSR specialists.

They are in demand. According to LinkedIn, ‘Sustainability Manager’ is the second-fastest growing job title across the UK (it was seventh last year). And 1 in 10 job adverts require some green skills – a trend which is growing at 8% per year. Helpful leaders share new sustainability jobs online as the ‘war for ESG talent’ rages on.

Today is a good day to join a booming industry. The question is, how?

The first thing to say is that you don’t have to have fancy qualifications, specific knowledge or tons of experience to start working in sustainability. Solving the world’s problems takes all kinds of people, with all kinds of skills, working in every industry, sector and team.

The only thing you do need is a Solutionist’s mindset. Solutionists are the world’s problem solvers; they are people who believe they absolutely can do something about society’s biggest challenges. They are brilliant, curious, determined types – so much so, that I wrote a book about what makes a Solutionist and how to become one.

What I learned from speaking to hundreds of Solutionists over the years  is that their path is rarely a linear one. Some have known since childhood that they want to make a difference, others realise later in life; some follow traditional career paths, but (spoiler) – most do not.

So, if you’re still figuring out how to bend your career in a sustainable direction, you’re in good company. Here are just three of the many different routes available to you as you take the first steps in your sustainability career:

  1. Make change from the inside. You know your current workplace better than any other – you understand the industry, the internal politics, the norms and the need for change. You probably already know the most important decision makers, and what it will take to convince them to do things differently. Harness your knowledge by staying in your current job, and driving sustainability initiatives from the inside. This is called intrapreneurship, and it’s a powerful way to get sustainability issues on the agenda.
  2. Do sustainability on the side. Even if your main job isn’t sustainability focused, that doesn’t stop you taking on side gigs and community roles that mean something to you. Your skills and experience can make a huge difference in charities and local activist groups. Look into becoming a charitable/non-profit trustee, where you can be part of positive change while learning what’s involved in high stakes decision making.
  3. Start a sustainable business. This is the path I took. Identify the sustainability gap in your industry, and fill it. If you know the world of food and drink – what product could you launch that would support food sovereignty and environmental justice? If you’re an HR expert – what product or service could you create that makes hiring more fair and equitable?

Whichever route you take, the important thing is to do it now. Don’t wait for the perfect sustainability job description to land in your inbox – it might never happen. Solutionists operate at the very forefront of society’s responses to the world’s biggest challenges, which means traditional job roles often can’t keep up with us.

Still not sure? In my book, I set out prompts to get you going:

  • Sign up for an online course about sustainability.
  • Start a ‘sustainability team’ at work, for those passionate about change.
  • Finish that book/blog post about sustainability you’ve been working on.
  • Build out a business case for your current workplace to pivot into social & environmental solutions.
  • Look for promising sustainability start-ups to invest in.
  • Sketch out a list of who might help/mentor you to become a solutionist.
  • Register for some online events/talks about sustainability.
  • Create a presentation about sustainability to inspire your team/colleagues.
  • Find online communities of sustainability to get some support.

So go experiment, adapt, and forge your unique sustainability path. This #EarthDay is a good day to start.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/solitairetownsend/2023/04/22/so-you-want-to-save-the-world-start-your-sustainability-career-this-earthday/?sh=629cc284199d

New Federal Climate Laws Are Bringing U.S. Manufacturing Back

20 04 2023

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the Wolfspeed semiconductor manufacturing plant in Durham, North Carolina, for the kickoff of his “Investing in America” tour last month. (Image credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

By Tina Casey from triple pundit.com • Reposted: April 20, 2023

The Joe Biden administration fought tooth and nail to pass new laws that transform the carbon-heavy U.S. economy into a climate action hero. The results are beginning to show. Both the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act provide federal tax credits for manufacturers to onshore their operations in the U.S. Red states are benefitting from the renewed U.S. manufacturing boom as well as blue states, further undercutting the anti-ESG movement promoted by high-profile Republican office holders.

U.S. drops the ball on climate action

Ironically, the U.S. sparked the solar technology revolution back in the 1950s when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was searching for energy to power operations in orbit. The U.S. continued to dominate the global solar industry for decades.

Unfortunately, by the time former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, overseas manufacturers had caught up and raced ahead. In addition, the mainstream market for renewable energy was only beginning to take shape. The overall, installed (aka levelized) cost of solar panels and wind turbines remained high relative to fossil energy during President Obama’s time in office. Blowback against his Clean Power Plan and ongoing competition from overseas manufacturers provided two additional obstacles.

The clean power manufacturing situation worsened under former President Donald Trump. He took office as a strong supporter of fossil energy and pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Though he talked a big game about bringing back U.S. manufacturing jobs, he disengaged with the job-creating, global decarbonization movement. His U.S. manufacturing policy was failing long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March of 2020.

The Biden administration picks up the ball and runs with it, spurring billions in U.S. manufacturing commitments 

The new Biden-supported legislation provide a sharp contrast in both policy and circumstances. In addition to substantial tax breaks, the Biden administration is benefitting from the continuation of Obama-era initiatives that fostered a drop in the cost of renewable energy hardware while addressing obstacles in the “soft” area of costs related to inspections, permits, marketing and other administrative areas. Leading U.S. corporations also continued to raise the demand for renewable energy by leveraging their buying power throughout the Trump administration.

The results have been striking. On Jan. 11, for example, the South Korean Firm Hanwha Solutions Corp. announced a $2.5 billion plan to construct a solar manufacturing campus in Georgia. The soup-to-nuts campus will include facilities to manufacture solar ingots, wafers, cells and modules.

That’s just one example. Last week, the Financial Times credited the Biden administration with attracting new corporate manufacturing commitments totaling more than $200 billion since the Infrastructure and CHIPS bills passed last year. “The investment in semiconductor and clean tech investments is almost double the commitments made in the same sectors in the whole of 2021, and nearly 20 times the amount in 2019,” reported Amanda Chu and Oliver Roeder of the Financial Times, citing data the paper compiled on U.S. manufacturing deals.

“While the FT identified four projects worth at least $1 billion each in these sectors in 2019, there were 31 of that size after August 2022,” they added. The Financial Times also took note of 75 other new clean tech manufacturing projects in the U.S. of $100 million or more.

Who’s afraid of the ESG?

Chu and Roeder of the Times concluded by observing that additional guidance on the tax credits is forthcoming from the Biden administration, leading to the announcement of even more projects in the near future.

Red states are already jostling with blue states for a share of the action, regardless of state-level Republican officials who have been railing against “woke” capitalism and ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors being used in investing. The anti-ESG movement purports to protect public pension funds, but it is nothing more than a thinly disguised effort to protect fossil energy stakeholders. 

Georgia is a case in point. The Republican-led state never enacted a renewable energy portfolio standard or even set voluntary renewable energy targets. It has lagged behind other states in terms of increasing access to renewable energy within its borders. However, Georgia policymakers seem to have no problem with enticing clean energy industries to set up shop in the Peach State.

Hanwha company Qcells opened its first solar panel factory in Dalton, Georgia, in 2019. That put the state on the map as host to the largest factory of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has been effusive in his praise for the company’s decision to add another $2.5 billion to the state’s economy.

“Qcells will build a new facility in Cartersville and add a third facility to its Dalton location, creating more than 2,500 new jobs in northwest Georgia. These investments are expected to bring Qcells’ total solar panel production capacity in Georgia to 8.4 gigawatts by 2024,” the governor’s office reported in January.

“With a focus on innovation and technology, Georgia continues to set itself apart as the No. 1 state for business,” Gov. Kemp stated. “Georgia provides a business-friendly environment that means jobs for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state and success for both existing and new companies. We’re excited for Qcells’ continued success in the Peach State.”

Those “business-friendly” words are at odds with Kemp’s support for anti-LGBTQ legislation, but the point has been made. Georgia and other red states don’t care if their new Biden-enabled, home-grown industries export technologies that shrink the fossil energy profile of the US. Regardless of their political posturing, they just want the jobs.  

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/climate-laws-us-manufacturing/771896

Investing Insights: ESG + Sustainability

19 04 2023

From seedrs.com • Reporsted: april 19, 2023

2022 was a year of transition and consolidation for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing. On the one hand, regulatory changes and significant global economic headwinds saw European equity ESG funds underperform their benchmarks by 5%, worse than the 4.6% recorded by their traditional rivals. 

However, most analysts agree that these metrics only dampen the case for ESG led investing based on short term ROI alone. The facts are that climate change is not going anywhere and the energy transition will drive sustainable fund returns over the long term. As Sarah Merrick, CEO of Ripple, who raised £2.1m on Seedrs last year, says: “There are very few sectors like ClimateTech where the fundamentals of massively accelerating demand are quite as clear and present.” 

That’s why the world of venture capital is telling a different story when it comes to ESG. While global overall investment activity sunk by 57% in 2022, ClimateTech funding achieved an all time high, with 25% of all venture funding globally going into the sector according to a PwC report. That same report found that investors globally are set to embrace ESG investing on a massive scale and predict that it will soar 84% to $33.9 trillion by 2026 – equating to 21.5% of total assets under management or more than $1 for every $5 invested. 

We’re seeing evidence of this across the investment ecosystem. The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund in Norway said it would vote against companies that don’t set net zero carbon targets, overpay top executives, or lack diversity on their boards. Meanwhile, exchange traded funds (ETFs) aligned with ESG outcomes accounted for 65% of all net inflows into ETFs in 2022 – which suggests that investors are recognising the inevitability of long term structural change. 

And the markets only reflect what’s happening in industry. For example, looking at technology adoption curves, a recent BloombergNEF report suggested that clean energy has a tipping point that 87 countries have now reached. This is a fact that car companies seem to have picked up on – almost every major manufacturer intends to stop making internal combustion engines within 20 years.

At Seedrs, these broader ESG investing trends are reflected in the investment behaviour we’re seeing on the platform. In 2022, 47% more sustainability focused businesses (103 up from 70) received investment on the platform YoY, raising from 40% more investors. In particular, the Clean Energy sector thrived with investment growing 266% from £11m to £36m, with 50% more business raising from 50% more investors. And according to our summer investor survey, ClimateTech is the #1 sector of interest on Seedrs. That all explains why last year we saw alumni businesses in this sector like QED NavalSolivus and Ripple return for another round on Seedrs to run highly successful campaigns, raising millions from our investors and their communities. At the same time, we also welcomed many innovative new businesses, like Gazelle Wind Power, who raised over €3.8m on Seedrs. 

How to approach ESG investing 

There are several key ideas to consider when looking to make investments on Seedrs in campaigns that are demonstrating strong ESG credentials. 

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that paying attention to ESG is more than being a climate crusader but rather about picking businesses that are building products and services that will help us to adapt to an ever changing world. Those companies are likely to see their fundamentals strengthen over time as their offering becomes more vital and consumers become increasingly conscious. 

Secondly, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) will be a crucial factor in allowing businesses to thrive, innovate and adapt moving forward. It is becoming an increasingly important line of enquiry for investors looking at the long term prospects of an organisation and having a strong record on DEI will also mean that businesses are better positioned to attract world leading ESG talent. 

Finally, in terms of portfolio management, diversification is key. 80% of the companies that have ever raised on Seedrs have either exited (going public or private sale) or are still trading. That means investing in a variety of sustainable businesses across a range of sectors is the best way to approach building a portfolio.

But don’t just take our word for it. At Seedrs, we’ve been working in partnership with leading Venture Capital (VC) funds for years, pioneering an innovative way of allowing money to flow into the startup ecosystem by allowing eligible individual investors on our platform to participate in funds that invest in some of the UK’s most exciting early stage startups. Here, some of those Fund Managers give us their perspective on ESG investing in 2023: 

Emma Steele, Partner, Ascension Ventures: “I see 2023 as the year for mission driven founders proving to the world they will outperform the market, by driving value through their social and environmental focus. There is a big opportunity to focus on early-stage investing where the economics are more favourable and more likely to weather the medium term macro storms. Also, the best companies are formed in downturns so now is not the time to take your foot off the gas as an early stage investor.”

Louis Warner, COO, Founders Factory COO & General Partner, G-Force Fund: “One of the sectors we see thriving is Climate Tech. The north star and unanimously agreed global target of reaching Net Zero by 2050 is driving governments, legislators, asset managers, investors, businesses and consumers to act, not only because these problems need to be solved, but also because there are significant financial returns to be made, and early results are promising. The scale of the challenge in the transition to a low carbon global economy is seeing huge influxes of capital and talent into the sector, and there are encouraging examples of this investment starting to make progress.”

Alexandra Clark, Founder & Principal, Sentient Ventures: “While 2022 was a difficult year in general due to the global economic crisis, events have also shone a light on the need for a sustainable and secure food system, after the food supply chain has been severely disrupted by various factors including the pandemic, war, and the impacts of climate breakdown. Sustainability and impact are now very much on the radar at a government level, and we are seeing more investors recognise the importance of natural capital and the need to include impact metrics such as ESG into their investment criteria.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.seedrs.com/insights/blog/investing-insights-esg-sustainability

Earth Day 2023 Brings Wellness And Affordability To The Sustainability Conversation

19 04 2023
Marble-look gray and white porcelain slab kitchen countertops

Porcelain surfacing adds wellness and sustainability to a new construction or remodeling project. Photo: FONDOVALLE/CERAMICS OF ITALY MEMBER COMPANY

By Jamie Gold, Contributor via Forbes • Reposted: April 19, 2023

Earth Day will be celebrated this year on Saturday, and it brings some good news for environmental advocates: Homeowners are starting to prioritize sustainability in their new construction and renovation projects, as observed in the latest American Society of Interior Designers report, published in February.

For many years, this aspiration frequently gave way to budget constraints, as so many of the products that supported the goal of a healthier planet cost more for purchasers weighing many competing project needs. Perhaps because of more mainstream media coverage, more natural disasters linked to climate change, or a growing number of Millennial homeowners, “Consumers are placing increasing emphasis on sustainability as a value guiding their purchasing choices, with increasing numbers of consumers saying they are willing to pay a purchase premium for sustainability,” the ASID report noted.

This has positive ramifications not just for the planet, but for the well-being of the people who live in these improved homes. “Sustainability and wellness are very closely linked,” commented New York-based interior designer Isfira Jensen in the Interior Design Community Facebook group. “Things that are harmful for people are, in most cases, just as harmful for the living organisms in the ecosystem. The reverse happens to also be true,” she noted. These are some of the major areas where the two converge.

Sustainable Materials

Kitchen with cork floor tiles.
Cork floors are sustainable and don’t off-gas dangerous chemicals, improving a home’s wellness … [+]PHOTO COURTESY OF TORLYS SMART FLOORS, WWW.TORLYS.COM // NEW KITCHEN IDEAS THAT WORK (TAUNTON PRESS)

“The use of eco-friendly and high-efficiency products not only helps reduce our impact on the environment, but also improves things like indoor air quality through the reduction of constant exposure to toxins (materials containing chemical byproducts and formaldehyde),” Jensen explained in her remarks.

Many designers educate their residential clients on these products and avoid specifying them whenever they can. “While we craft our clients’ interiors based on their needs and lifestyle, we systemically prescribe healthy materials and sustainably conceived products. From paint, to flooring, to work surfaces, to furniture, to appliances, every aspect of a design project is conceived to promote a healthier way of living without compromising on the functionality and practicality of the space,” commented Chicago based interior designer Dijana Savic-Jambertin Facebook’s Wellness Designed group for professionals.

Her team favors ethically sourced ceramic or porcelain and FSC certified wood flooring over the widely popular luxury vinyl tile (LVT), given that material’s vinyl chloride composition, which can be hazardous to workers and, potentially, to homeowners, Savic-Jambert noted. (Some of this risk is associated with another component, phthalates, which the industry has worked to reduce with more phthalate-free LVT offerings.)

Charmain Bibby of British Columbia shared a preference for sustainable cork flooring, which is also a wellness material that is soft underfoot and allergen-free. The designer noted on her blog, “Cork is also a great insulator and in our previous home we chose to have cork under our carpets because of its super insulating properties.” That can potentially help with heat loss and energy bill savings.

Fabrics can also off-gas, which is the occurrence of chemicals used to manufacture the material leaching into the air. Sometimes this only happens in the first days or weeks of the product being installed and ventilating the space during that interval addresses the issue. Some fabrics, carpets and other textiles can off-gas for months or years, putting the household that chose it – and future buyers of that home – at risk. “There are some beautiful fabrics out there that are sustainable and low or No VOCs. And the colors are great for clients’ mental health and energy. I love combining the two!” declared Wilmington, North Carolina-based designer Andrea Morris in Wellness Designed.

Induction Cooking Technology

Person cooking with an app and induction cooktop.
Induction cooktops are not only more sustainable, safer and healthier than gas, they’re also faster … Photo: [+]GE PROFILE

Another indoor air quality concern is gas cooking surfaces. “I have noticed an increased interest in induction cooktops over natural gas ranges,” observed Ontario, Canada-based Coralee Monaghan in the same group. “This may be related to the recent media attention surrounding gas ranges and the possible link to negative health concerns and poor indoor air quality,” she added. As noted in an earlier Forbes.com article, induction has numerous wellness benefits.

Tanya Kortum Shively, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based designer and IDC Facebook group member, commented in that group, “Induction cooktops are really becoming popular now because they are so efficient, great to cook with, and do not have the danger of natural gas fumes.”

Much of the media coverage surrounding the health and environmental risks of gas cooking has focused on bans and political clashes, rather than the many benefits of induction technology, which homeowners often embrace once they’ve learned about them.

Lighting Technology

Bathroom with clawfoot tub, oversized shower stall, nature views and circadian lighting.
Energy-efficient LEDs can be used in circadian lighting systems that support better sleep patterns. PHOTO COURTESY OF SERVICE TECH, INC. / CEDIA MEMBER COMPANY // WELLNESS BY DESIGN (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2020) (C) J. GOLD

California has been one of the leaders in imposing strict energy-saving lighting standards in its regulations, and this has spurred widespread adoption of light emitting diode (LED) replacements. This, in turn, has spurred dramatic price reductions and technological advancement in LED offerings.

LEDs now regularly lead designer preferences for their ability to support better sleep with circadian technology, provide better pathway and in-drawer lighting for increased safety and accessibility, generate more light with less energy, and provide greatly-improved dimmability compared to early releases. Bibby noted in her design blog, “Did you know that LED bulbs use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 times longer?” The U.S. Department of Energy backs up this extraordinary figure.

Last Words

Man installing smart lightbulb
Smart bulbs can reduce energy usage and enhance sleep and mood. Photo: GETTY

Just as regulations made LEDs more affordable and spurred technological advancement, regulations around residential gas lines promise to do the same for induction cooking, heat pumps and other safer, healthier, more sustainable alternatives.

You can do well by the planet and the people and pets in your household — and with new government incentives, product advancements and more demand lowering prices — you may preserve your fiscal health too!

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiegold/2023/04/18/earth-day-2023-brings-wellness-and-affordability-to-the-sustainability-conversation/?sh=7e198686195b

Should sustainability professionals (still) be working to make themselves redundant?

18 04 2023

Photo: edie.net

An ever-growing cohort of businesses claim they have ‘fully embedded’ sustainability. So, as business strategies and sustainability strategies become one and the same, should sustainability teams be working to end the need for their function? By Sarah George from edie.net • Reposted: April 18, 2023

It’s a question which leaders in the profession have been mulling for several years. When edie was founded 25 years ago, corporate sustainability was in its infancy. Many firms had no dedicated staff and those that did either tasked them with a compliance-based to-do list or with carrying out philanthropic initiatives on the periphery of core business.

Fast-forward to the 2020s and the perfect storm of top-down (regulatory changes, new scientific research) and bottom-up (growing public awareness and activism) pressures – as well as physical risks crystalising in this era of polycrisis – are prompting smart businesses to see their core strategy and sustainability strategy as the same thing.

Beyond mergers of strategy documents, this prioritisation can be seen in the trends towards integrated financial and ESG reporting and towards giving board members environmental KPIs. A PWC-led study published in February concluded that more than three-quarters of large businesses have now linked executive pay outcomes to climate targets, up from less than 50% in 2020.

And, promisingly, in edie’s recent survey of hundreds of energy and sustainability managers, 91% said their chief executive was ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ engaged with ESG. The proportion stood at 81% for the wider board.

But, of, course, a company’s culture does not hinge solely on executives. Mary Kay Cosmetics’ founder Mary Kay Ash is often quoted as saying that “a company is only as good as the people it keeps”. Sustainability professionals will need to embed culture beyond the C-suite if they are to ever make themselves redundant.

There is a growing body of research to prove that the workforce of the 2020s are increasingly seeking employers with strong ethics. But there is also a wealth of proof that, for most people in their day-to-day job, there is confusion on how to be part of the solution to big, global challenges like the climate crisis.

Are you an agitator or an ambassador? 

To help turn intention into impact, a growing number of businesses are now assigning ESG-related KPIs to all staff. One such business is innocent Drinks, which exceeded a pledge for at least 90% of employees to have such a target in 2020.

“As we know, working for a business you are proud of is becoming more and more important to staff …  But it’s one thing to know that a company cares about these issues, and knowing what you can do at your level is a bigger question,” explains innocent’s head of force for good in the UK, Emilie Stephenson.

To ensure that all new staff know what is expected of them in terms of ESG, every role description now assigns a related responsibility. Social media and communications staff, for example, are tasked with increasing discussions on topics like climate. Operations and procurement team members are told their work is key to reducing waste and emissions – not just to keeping smoothies and juices on shelves.

For existing staff, Stephenson explains, KPIs have been effectively retrofitted through regular updates to personal development plans.

Beyond giving staff targets, innocent makes a point of considering how their personality and skillset could best aid delivery. Since the mid-2010s, staff have been encouraged to work with their line managers to determine whether they are an  ‘agitator’, ‘activator’, ‘ambassador’ or ‘protector’.

Stephenson says: “I think it works because it’s so tangible – people understand what it is and they can talk to people about it. This, and the language itself, is motivational.”

Many board members are natural ‘protectors’, as they have the seniority to hold teams accountable for taking the actions needed to reach sustainability ambitions. ‘Activators’, meanwhile, specialise in taking the action, delivering specific projects on the ground.

‘Ambassadors’, meanwhile, share innocent’s work with others and advocate externally for a greater focus on sustainability in the private sector and beyond. And being an ‘agitator’ is the most common choice; these people scrutinise current strategies and practices to suggest potential improvements.

Blended roles and B Keepers 

Linked to the ‘protector’ role is the role of ‘B Keeper’ – a new title which came into being through innocent’s certification as a B Corp in 2018, and is linked to the protection of B Corp status. In Stephenson’s opinion, the B Corp certification process helped to provide a more “solid framework” of focus areas for staff. She also recounts hearing some team members who were typically not the most vocal speaking up and taking responsibility for certain sets of points during the process.

A similar experience is recounted to edie by Heather Lynch, head of impact and sustainability at fellow B Corp Oddbox. The business, which sells boxes of fruit and vegetables that would otherwise have gone to waste, became a B Corp in 2020 and is currently in the process of re-certifying.

Oddbox is a mission and vision-driven brand, Lynch explains. The mission is fighting food waste. The vision is of a world where all food grown is eaten.

“I see mission and vision as the ‘what’, and the B Corp as a framework for the ‘how’,” Lynch says, adding that the first B Impact assessment prompted a “thorough stock-take of opportunities” and the second as providing a “framework for tracking progress”.

One key opportunity identified through certification was to upskill staff. 70% of Oddbox’s staff have now completed an eight-hour carbon literacy training course, and the business is targeting at least 90% by the end of the year. As Lynch explains, this training ensures that staff have a base understanding of carbon jargon and climate science – and that they are clear on their role in the business’s delivery of net-zero emissions by 2030.

So, most Oddbox staff are officially carbon-literate and several of them are B Keepers. Beyond that, some managers have blended roles, due to their role in creating and delivering the sustainability strategy.

The operations team co-created the firm’s net-zero strategy, with support from Lynch and her junior, plus external consultants. As such, senior operations team members are effective net-zero managers, responsible for delivery and reporting. They are also helping senior logistics and packaging staff to do the same.

“Ownership is just as important as, if not more important than, awareness,” Lynch says. “That, I feel, has been really powerful.”

Ownership is a sure-fire way to ensure that people do not feel strategies or targets are being put on them from the top-down, landing them with an extra burden. Co-creating strategies with staff and emphasising the particular benefits to each group is a tactic gaining popularity far beyond Oddbox; the practice is often called green jiu jitsu and there are specific training courses.

The final say  

So, say your business has taken similar steps to Oddbox and innocent. It has a long-term sustainability strategy backed up with interim goals, and governance mechanisms in place to report against these and keep them on board members’ desks. Your staff all know exactly what role they have to play in contributing to goals, and relish taking that action.

Do they still need you?

“I don’t necessarily think there needs to be a separate sustainability function, but there needs to be space and time to think about – and plan for – sustainability over the long-term if not,” Lynch says.

She also emphasises how, even if sustainability is embedded, reporting and employee engagement are ever-evolving pieces of work. On the former, her junior is a sustainability data analyst, and she recounts how the addition of this role has left her with more time for “strategy, influencing, holding people accountable and also researching for the future”.

innocent’s Stephenson, however, believes that most businesses are not quite ready to hold that space for sustainability without having in-house experts.

She says: “Douglas [Lamont, former innocent chief executive] has previously advocated for sustainability being embedded in all teams and, therefore, not needing a separate team. My hunch is that this work is not done yet.

“Yes, everyone should be incentivised to play their part. But you still need a leader, there’s still that need for someone to co-ordinate centrally.

“In due course, yes, I’d love to be made redundant. But, at the moment, when you’ve got strategy to develop and deliver, when staff have conflicting priorities, I’d say you still absolutely need someone to hold the torch.”

It bears noting that while innocent and Oddbox are both B Corps, their staff cultures are doubtless very different. Oddbox, for example, that it has a far smaller – yet far more rapidly-expanding – staff base. It has around 75 staff, up from less than 20 in 2019. innocent has more than 760 staff.

Moreover, Oddbox was founded on that aforementioned mission of fighting food waste. While innocent’s founders have built a company often regarded as an exemplary specimen for purpose-led business, they were initially looking for a reason to leave corporate jobs to be their own boss – and the popularity of their smoothies at a music festival proved to be that reason.

So, one could only imagine the situation at even bigger, older, less agile companies, who still either publicly state their purpose as creating value for shareholders or are so frequently accused of purpose-washing. Such firms may say that they have ‘embedded sustainability’ or that it is ‘in their DNA’, but they may have only just hired their first senior specialist – let alone be ready to make them redundant.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.edie.net/should-sustainability-professionals-still-be-working-to-make-themselves-redundant/

It’s Time For Brands To Be Honest About Sustainability

18 04 2023

A growing number of consumers don’t trust sustainability claims, and many sustainable companies are shedding the label. How can companies be sustainable in a world full of greenwashing?  Photo: GETTY

By Blake Morgan, Senior Contributor via Forbes • Reposted: April 18, 2023

For years, every industry, from beauty to tech and fashion, has raised claims of being eco-friendly.

But customers are starting to see through sustainability claims. They want to support sustainable brands and products, but confusion and deceit have caused them to question if companies are actually eco-friendly.

A large part of delivering a great customer experience is prioritizing sustainability and being honest about it.

Customers Want Sustainability but Get Greenwashing Instead 

Sustainability used to be a company’s golden ticket to higher sales, with more than 60% of US consumers saying they would pay more for a product with sustainable packaging.

But customers are starting to see through many companies’ claims to realize they aren’t as eco-friendly as they say. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of US adults don’t believe companies’ sustainability claims. Research found that 42% of green claims are exaggerated, false, or deceptive. Much of that deceit is due to greenwashing when a company makes sustainability claims without notable efforts to back them up. Greenwashing comes in many forms, including vague claims and misleading labels.

Greenwashing lessens a brand’s reputation, negatively impacts a customer’s experience, and lowers their ACSI customer satisfaction scores. The bottom line is this: customers want brands to practice genuine sustainability efforts, not to put on a show or slap a label on a product without backing it up.

Honest Brands About Sustainability 

Amid all the confusion, customers simply want brands to be honest about sustainability. And that often looks like quietly doing the work.

For some brands, honesty means stepping away from the sustainability label. Fashion brand Ganni has dozens of stores and wholesalers across the US and Europe. Despite its most recent collection being 97% climate responsible, the company has never claims to be a sustainable brand. The founders realize that by its very nature, fashion isn’t sustainable—it encourages consumption. So although Ganni isn’t labeled as sustainable, it is a leader in sustainable fashion.

Australian clothing brand Etiko has consistently earned an A+ sustainability rating. But the company recently said it is no longer a sustainable brand. Although the brand’s practices and values won’t change, it believes “that the word ‘sustainable’ has become tarnished by greenwashing over the years, ultimately diluting the value of the message.”

For other brands, being honest about sustainability means raising the bar on what it means to be eco-friendly. Alter Eco sells chocolate made using clean, green, responsible processes in Central and South America. Its packaging and wrappers aren’t just industrial compostable but backyard compostable, which means customers can compost the items themselves. For Alter Eco, it isn’t about sustaining the environment; it’s about rebuilding and regenerating it.

Honest About The Work Still To Do

Sustainable brands are honest about their goals and progress and the work that needs to be done.

These companies take a stand and set an example for others to follow.

Food brands, including Clif and Sambazon, have joined initiatives like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Global Commitment to create a world where plastic never becomes waste or One Step Closer to Zero Waste, among others. These companies match their words with actions and provide transparent updates about the progress toward their sustainability goals.

Sustainability matters. The best antidote to greenwashing is accountability. Sharing transparent updates and holding a company accountable—internally and to customers—shows honest sustainability efforts. Customers don’t always expect companies to be perfect—but they expect them to try.

Brands need to walk the talk. This Earth Day, be honest about sustainability and the progress that still needs to be made.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the author of The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly email here.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2023/04/17/its-time-for-brands-to-be-honest-about-sustainability/?sh=78e1db1069b3

A HoT Job: Why corporations need a Head of Traceability

17 04 2023

Graphic: Planet Tracker

There is a new acronym in town and it’s HoT. From Planet Tracker • Reposted: April 17, 2023

If you are looking for a job where compensation can be linked to your impact, consider becoming Head of Traceability(HoT), especially at a nature-dependent company.

Here is why:

  • Under pressure from regulators1, investors2 and consumers, nature-dependent companies in particular need to substantiate their sustainable claims. This cannot be achieved without traceability.
  • Traceability is cross-functional, covering sustainability, IT, product development, sourcing, legal, logistics and marketing: it needs a dedicated person to oversee all of these. Instead, traceability is often the remit of sustainability departments, who have limited leverage over sourcing and logistics staff, raising the risk of traceability-washing (when companies’ claims on traceability cannot adequately be traced to real initiatives). Or it is siloed in sourcing, logistics, or IT departments, potentially without considering sustainability issues.
  • Traceability allows companies to save costs and reduce risks (through increased efficiencies, reduced waste and recalls mostly): in textiles, we calculated that it would increase net profits by 3-7%. In seafood, we estimated that the whole industry’s meagre profits could rise by 60% if it became fully traceable. 
  • This makes HoT an attractive job where performance means a simultaneously positive impact on the company’s bottom line and a reduced negative impact on nature is feasible. Crucially, that performance can be measured and traced. It should therefore form part of the remuneration package of any HoT. Indexing remuneration on sustainability performance is badly needed, but proposals to do so typically fall short.
  • Being in charge of traceability is likely to be a challenging job: senior managers typically expect traceability to generate a variety of different outcomes – see Figure 1.

Figure 1: Companies’ top goals for traceability initiatives (Source: Bain, 2021)

Planet Tracker did not find enough HoT jobs

We have searched for all companies which have appointed a Head of Traceability (or equivalent title) on LinkedIn and performed a simple search on Google too. Our results are incomplete since “only” 25-30% of the global workforce is on LinkedIn,3, 4 the search was made in English only, and we might have omitted synonyms/equivalent titles. Still, we believe the results are noteworthy.

We found only 18 companies with a Head of Traceability – excluding companies whose business is to sell traceability solutions and government agencies. By comparison, there are at least 10,000 Heads of Sustainability on LinkedIn.5

One of the possible reasons why HoTs are a rare species could be that it exposes management to more searching questions from financial institutions. Access to a HoT, who has extensive reach and understanding of a company’s operations, could provide investors and lenders with significant insights. They should be very much in demand by the financial markets. Presently, the information asymmetry between management teams and their stakeholders is skewed in favour of the former.6 Please see ‘Implementing Traceability; Seeing Through Excuses’.

Companies with a HoT are engaged in a variety of sectors exposed to recognisable sustainability challenges – e.g. palm oil, textiles, tuna, leather, fertiliser, waste management. They are headquartered in 16 different countries on all continents, except South America. Three quarters of them operate in the food or textile industries – see Table 1. The absence of companies engaged in plastic production or meat production is noteworthy.

Table 1: List of companies with a Head of Traceability

Whilst large textiles companies such as H&M Group and Inditex have a Head of Traceability, many large food companies typically do not. This is concerning since a lack of oversight on traceability within a company is likely to elevate their risk profile and impede their success.

Achieving traceability in food systems is a key requirement that could increase overall food system profits by USD 356 billion or more and is key to transforming this global system. Please see the Financial Markets Roadmap for Transforming the Global Food System. Planet Tracker’s work on the seafood system alone suggested that companies that implemented fully traceable supply chains could see profits increase by 60%. Please see ‘How to Trace USD 600 billion’.

In many cases, the companies in our sample have a Head of Traceability with an IT background: traceability is viewed as a digitalisation issue. In others, they have a supply chain/logistic background. In a minority of cases, the responsibility for traceability is assumed by the Head of Sustainability.

Why HoTs will be hot

Presently, there are not many Heads of Traceability in place – if we have missed one at your company, please get in touch – but we believe this will change, for a number of reasons listed here, the most important being regulation.

Already the key expected outcome for traceability is compliance with regulation and likely to become more important given the number of new laws that will require traceability to be implemented. For instance, the EU deforestation regulation, the FDA’s increased traceability requirements in the US, EU Green Claims Directive proposal and the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which passed in January 2023.

For this reason, the urgent implementation of traceability systems overseen by a Head of Traceability or an equivalent cross functional person, is key in our view. Financial institutions should be engaging with company executives and enquiring where the traceability function sits within their management structure.

Note: this blog was inspired by this article in Vogue Business. Credit goes to Bella Webb for raising awareness on the need for Heads of Traceability.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://planet-tracker.org/a-hot-job-why-corporates-need-a-head-of-traceability/

Employee Values: Why an Authentic Sustainability Strategy Will Win the Talent War

9 04 2023

Every organisation should be able to identify what a sustainable version of itself looks like, who is needed to run and support that, and where there are needs for new skills and roles within it.By Kathleen Enright from sustainable brands.com • Reposted: April 9, 2023

The war for talent may be ongoing, but the battlefield is being redrawn. The seismic changes to people’s lives wrought by COVID, the climate emergency and the cost-of-living crisis have all reshaped the demands employees are making on the companies they work for. The Great Resignation was, at its core, a movement to find greater purpose in work and is an indication of the power dynamics swinging in favour of the workforce. To win the hearts and minds of the best and brightest, corporates need to acknowledge these shifts and alter their tactics accordingly.

Tony Danker, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), openedits recent Future of Work Conference by recognising that “new realities demand a new approach.” Alongside the expectation for more flexible working models, he highlighted that people are increasingly making career choices based on employers’ social and environmental ethics and that businesses need to adopt new values to win them over. “It’s no longer just that they work for us,” he warned. “We have to work for them.”

Danker’s argument was that British businesses must embrace bold climate goals and demonstrate their social awareness through “active diversity and inclusion strategies” if they want to attract Generation Z workers. Young talent, he believes, will only work for businesses that share their own values.

It doesn’t start — or end — with Gen Z

All of which is true. But by focusing on the need for purpose among workers at the start of their careers, Danker overlooks the rising demand among employees of all ages for corporations to demonstrate social and environmental accountability. Generations X and Y are just as keenly focused on sustainability when it comes to picking their employer.

2020 report by intranet company Unily found that 72 percent of multigenerational UK office workers were concerned about environmental ethics — and 65 percent would be more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies. Climate change, human rights and social equitychimed particularly loudly with workers in their 30s and 40s.

Employers who focus solely on the demands of Gen Z when it comes to incorporating sustainability into their business, marketing and brand strategies will be ignoring the needs of a significant — and expanding — proportion of their staff. Employee demographics are changing, with the proportion of over-50s in the workforce steadily increasing. According to Cebr research, by 2030 47 percent of over-50s will be in employment. To put this into context, in 2032 the first of the millennials — aka Generation Y — will enter their 50s. Meanwhile, the employment rate of over-60s has almost doubled in the last two decades and is set to continue increasing.

Attraction is futile without retention

While it is clearly crucial to consider the requirements of their future workforces, businesses need to be aware that social and environmental issues also play strongly with senior talent. The generation of employees currently raising young children have heightened fears over the planet’s fragility, while those established in their careers have greater leverage to make employers respond to their priorities. Disregard them, and they will take their skills and experience elsewhere. Fundamentally, corporate responsibility isn’t just a factor in talent attraction but, crucially, in talent retention.

Among every demographic, the talent pool is worried about the future and well-informed about the realities of the climate crisis. Workforces want businesses to do more but they will not be duped by punchy slogans or unsupported promises. The Unily research found that 83 percent of office workers believed their employers were doing too little to address climate change, suggesting a worrying gap between intention and action on the part of employers.

This is partly due to a failure by companies to align their sustainability strategy with business strategies across every aspect of their organisations — a failure to demonstrate how sustainability is rooted in the business, how it is driving change, reshaping it for tomorrow; and how employees will play a critical role of in that journey. In our ProgressPoint survey of 20 global companies, Salterbaxter analysed the employee communications of progressive employers to understand how their sustainability strategy was being framed to staff and if it enabled them to make active decisions. Were employees, for example, provided with opportunities to take on real-world sustainability challenges? It was an area when almost every business fell down.

Empowering workers to contribute to sustainability solutions is far more motivating than simply raising awareness of corporate sustainability strategies and is a significant factor in talent retention. But we found that the companies we analysed scored only averagely or poorly in how they positioned sustainability in their employee value proposition or in their employee development programmes — they may have progressive sustainability strategies, but they are not taking their talent along with them.

Authenticity is everything

The retention issue makes it essential that companies embed their sustainability strategy into their human capital strategy — as well as their wider business strategy — rather than having it sat alongside existing HR operations. Doing so means demonstrating how the sustainability strategy helps deliver the business strategy and effectively communicating that combined strategy to existing and potential talent so that they are engaged and inspired.

Marketing an organisation as a sustainability-led employer is largely insufficient. Attracting and retaining top talent means hitting multiple proof points that show the sustainability strategy is long term and operational. This includes making genuine progress against environmental and social goals, including the UN SDGs, and striving to meet credible corporate sustainability standards.

Alongside those goals and targets, the sustainability strategy should outline who will deliver them. There must be a framework in place to bring talent into the company, and then a platform from which they are empowered to take the strategy forward. Each business should be able to identify what a sustainable version of itself looks like, who is needed to run and support that, and where there are needs for new skills and roles within it.


Demonstrating that sustainability strategies lie at the heart of the business will enable companies to secure the best talent — which will then allow those businesses to deliver on the sustainability challenges they face now and in the future, thus attracting (and retaining) future talent. It’s a powerful virtuous circle for those that get it right.

We are already seeing that the future of work will be very different from the past. Business as usual is over. This is the beginning of a long-term shift in power dynamics in the workplace that will see employers fighting to attract and retain talent in new ways. Those that recognise and authentically respond to the ethical priorities of their current workforce and future talent will be best placed to succeed in tomorrow’s business landscape.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/organizational-change/employee-values-authentic-sustainability-strategy-win-talent-war

How Sustainability Impacts Consumer Preferences in the Grocery Industry 

5 04 2023

Contributed by The Ashkin Group via Cleanlink.com • Reposted: April 5, 2023

A March 2023 study released by Glow, a research technology company, and NielsenIQ, a global information services company, finds that sustainability in the food and grocery (F&G) industry is becoming more and more imperative.

According to the researchers, “Consumers are increasingly willing to align their purchases with their values” about sustainability. The study, conducted from April 2022 to December 2022, included more than 33,000 respondents. Researchers said the respondents were a representative sample of US consumers based on age, gender, and geography.

Among the key takeaways from the report are the following:

 Sustainability is good for business. Companies focused on sustainability are outpacing their competitors regarding sales and market share.

• Consumers are switching brands based on sustainability. Switching brands based on how sustainability-focused a company is viewed is happening across all market categories, especially among younger consumers.

• Sustainability outweighs cost. With inflation, some consumers are looking for less costly product alternatives. But many consumers won’t trade down to a less expensive brand if that organization is not practicing sustainability.

• Sustainability communications matter. The study found that many brands are not getting the recognition they deserve – along with the related market share and profits – because they are not promoting their sustainability practices to consumers.

“We must remember this study focused on the food and grocery industry,” says Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group and the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for sustainability. “Consumers and end-customers may differ on the importance of sustainability by industry. However, F&G is closely connected to the professional cleaning industry. What happens in food and grocery will likely follow very quickly in professional cleaning — if it has not already.”

The study supports this view. In F&G, the three sustainability drivers most important in the overall sustainability of a brand are the following:

1.    Reducing emissions to slow climate change.

2.    Protecting natural resources

3.    Protecting wildlife and ecosystems.

“These are among the same key drivers in the professional cleaning industry driving the industry to operate more sustainably as well,” says Ashkin.

The full study is available here.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.cleanlink.com/news/article/How-Sustainability-Impacts-Consumer-Preferences-in-the-Grocery-Industry—29591

Companies Face Another Packed Year of Sustainability Shareholder Votes

27 03 2023

Anti-ESG proposals have also jumped, and the first vote this year was for one at Apple that called for reporting on the “risks” of the company’s diversity and inclusion programs. PHOTO: JOHN G MABANGLO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Proposals on social issues have waned slightly but continue to be the most popular while climate action ones are on the rise. By Dieter Holger from The Wall Street Journal • Reposted: March 27, 2023

U.S. companies are facing fewer shareholder proposals on social issues this year but more calls for climate action. Anti-ESG ones are increasing, too.

For annual general meetings taking place in the first six months of the year, shareholders across all U.S. publicly traded companies filed a total of 538 proposals related to environmental, social and sustainability governance issues, according to the Sustainable Investments Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks such votes. Last year, there were 577 filings over the same period.  

Proposals focused on social issues were again the most popular this year, mentioned in 338 of the filings, down more than 9% from 373 last year. Environmental issues were at the heart of 162 proposals, up slightly from 2022’s comparable tally of 155. Included in the grand total were 48 so-called anti-ESG proposals focused on the risk of ESG-promoting policies, up from 27 in the same period last year. 

Historically proposals sought more transparency, better disclosure or asked for companies to set goals, said Peter Reali, managing director and member of the sustainable investments team at fund manager Nuveen LLC. Now, many are calling for a change in behavior or impact, he said.

While the votes on proposals aren’t binding, they can create pressure for companies to change, to take a position on hot-button issues and can also express a lack of investor confidence in board members. However, Heidi Welsh, director of the Sustainable Investments Institute, cautioned that “it’s far too soon to draw any conclusions about support levels since we only have seen about half a dozen votes.” Sustainability ProposalsFilings are trending down this year compared with 2022, but more are expected to surfaceSource: Sustainable Investments InstituteNote: Proposals filed by March 20 for U.S. public companies with annual general meetings in the first six months of the​year.EnvironmentalSocialSustainability Governance2014’15’200100200300400500600

There are 298 proposals for companies to take more action on social issues, slightly down from 332 in 2022. Again this year, around a third of those concerned politics, including requests to set up board oversight or to report on a company’s lobbying, election spending or trade associations. Last year, politically-focused proposals won an average of 32% support, with only five—including at Twitter Inc., Netflix Inc. and insurer Travelers Companies Inc. —achieving majority support. 

There are also 20 pay equity proposals this year, down from 33 in 2022. These typically ask companies to audit or report on gender-and-racial pay differences. Abortion has also emerged as a flashpoint with 22 reproductive health proposals this year, up from four last year.

Environmental action was the second most popular area of shareholder focus. So far, there are 160 pro-environment proposals this year, up from 154 in 2022. Most environmental proposals ask companies to adopt or report on Paris-aligned climate targets, while a smaller number ask investors, insurers and banks to report on, limit or cease their financing of fossil fuels. 

Shareholders voted on a record number of pro-climate proposals last year, but their support was lukewarm for more ambitious goals such as ending fossil-fuel financing. 

Support has waned slightly since 2021 when proposals calling for emission-reduction targets garnered record backing. Investors have also been more hesitant to support proposals that specifically lay out how a company should meet a climate target, said Mr. Reali: “It’s one thing to ask companies to set goals and targets, it’s another thing to tell companies how to achieve those goals and targets.” 

Evidence of the rise of the anti-ESG movement in the U.S. can also be seen. The 48 anti-ESG filings to date mostly ask companies to report on the “risks” of corporate plans for improving diversity and inclusion in and outside the company. Only five concerned the environment.

Ms. Welsh expects more anti-ESG proposals this season. However, last year, most of these types of proposals received less than 5% support, the threshold necessary to refile it again in the coming year. This year’s first anti-ESG vote—asking Apple Inc. to report on the “risks” of its diversity and inclusion programs—received 1.4% support.

The proposal tally will change over the AGM season, running from January to September but with most meetings happening between April and June. Some proxy statements will include new proposals. Companies will avoid votes when shareholders withdraw some current proposals, usually after they reach an agreement with the company on an issue. Last year, 273 proposals were withdrawn before they could be voted on during the AGMs in the first half of 2022. The comparable figure this year is 120, so far. 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-face-another-packed-year-of-sustainability-shareholder-votes-94c2c8bb

The Social Media Secret Behind Sustainable Consumer Behavior Change

22 03 2023

Image credit: Anna Nekrashevich/Pexels

By Mary Riddle from triple pundit.com • Reposted: March 22, 2023

A majority of consumers say they’re ready to change their lifestyles to help combat climate change, and more people than ever are seeking out information about sustainability on social media. A new study commissioned by Unilever shows that influencers have the biggest impact on consumers’ sustainability-related choices, ahead of documentaries, news articles and governmental campaigns. In fact, 83 percent of all consumers believe that TikTok and Instagram are helpful places to seek out information about sustainability, and 75 percent are more likely to add sustainable behaviors to their lifestyles after viewing social media content about sustainability.

Unilever also specifically examined the efficacy of different content styles in inspiring consumer behavior change around plastic use and food waste, comparing pragmatic and explanatory content with more optimistic and humorous posts.

While the study found that both styles were effective in spurring consumer behavior change, 69 percent of people who viewed the more pragmatic content went on to make lifestyle changes, versus 61 percent of those who watched the more optimistic, humorous content. Branded content was seen as equally engaging and authentic as unbranded content.

“People are finding it hard to make sustainable choices due to a lack of simple, immediate and trustworthy information. Our ambition is to continue to collaborate with our partners to improve the sustainability content produced by our brands and support the creators we work with” said Conny Braams, Unilever’s chief digital and commercial officer, in a statement. 

Leveraging social media to drive consumer behavior change

Unilever partnered with Behavioral Insights Team and 10 sustainability influencers to develop content that aimed to persuade consumers to use less plastic and waste less food. Unilever then showed the content to 6,000 social media users in the U.K., U.S., and Canada.

Three out of four respondents said the content made them more likely to engage in the suggested sustainable behaviors, specifically reusing plastic, buying refillable products, and freezing and reusing leftover food. Also, 72 percent of participants supported companies selling them more sustainable products and services.

“This study is a world-first of its kind and the largest online, controlled trial to test the effect of different styles of social media content,” David Halpern, chief executive of the Behavioral Insights Team, said in a statement. “The behavior change potential of social media is clear, and the results show that there’s huge opportunity — providing fertile ground for further exploration in this space.” Over 75 percent of respondents said they support content creators encouraging their audiences to behave in more sustainable ways. 

More social change is needed to avert climate catastrophe

Unilever’s study found that social media is an effective tool for sustainable consumer behavior change. However, today’s world of social media is more commonly used to increase spending habits and consumption levels, which are key barriers to fighting climate change.

To effectively use their platforms to drive sustainable behaviors, brands and influencers must encourage individual actions and social change. Unilever is leveraging the results from the new study to bolster its sustainability messaging.

“What we hear from consumers is that living sustainably is a constant, overwhelming effort and many feel ‘my act alone won’t count, anyway,’” Braams noted. However, armed with the results of the new study, Unilever is aiming to support content creators and improve their sustainability content to help drive better individual actions across their consumer base.

“Together, we are learning what is all likes and no action versus content that makes sustainable choices simple and preferred,” she said. Instead of contracting with influencers to encourage their viewers to buy and consume, companies can accelerate rates of individual change by communicating with their audiences simple ways to make better choices for the environment.

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