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

28 02 2013

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

– Oxfam Statement

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

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

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

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

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





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

20 02 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Aspirational Consumers: Balancing Style and Sustainability

5 02 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





World Resources Institute: Launches Aqueduct Water Risk Mapping Tool

4 02 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Foodprint.

3 02 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consumers

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

Retailers and the Hospitality Industry

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




World Bank: Bleak Future Without Action

2 02 2013

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was interviewed recently in The Washington Post about Climate Change and its impact  on populations of people around the world.

“If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a report in November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.” said Yong Kim.

Especially vulnerable will be the largest population centers around the world who live near the oceans – who are expected to rise with melting polar ice.

He continued, “A world that warm means seas would rise 1.5 to 3 feet, putting at risk hundreds of millions of city dwellers globally. It would mean that storms once dubbed “once in a century” would become common, perhaps occurring every year. And it would mean that much of the United States, from Los Angeles to Kansas to the nation’s capital, would feel like an unbearable oven in the summer.”

Among the long-range scientific forecasts cited in the report, significant climate change is expected in key regions in the world.

• Drier conditions are projected for southern Europe, Africa(except some areas in the northeast), large parts of North America and South America, and southern Australia, among others.

• Wetter conditions are projected in particular for the northern high latitudes—that is, northern North America, northern Europe, and Siberia—and in some monsoon regions. Some regions may experience reduced water stress compared to a case without climate change.

• Sub-seasonal and sub-regional changes to the hydrological cycle are associated with severe risks, such as flooding and drought, which may increase significantly even if annual averages change little.





GINN: Impact Investing To Grow 12% in 2013

10 01 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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You can download a copy of the GINN report here.





A4S REPORT: Future Proofed Decision Making

3 01 2013

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

That time has gone.

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

Prince Charles, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonstrate the business case

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

Speak the right language

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

Develop more robust information

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

Bridge the knowledge gap

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

Create an enabling environment

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

Access the full report below.

Prince Charles Photo Credit:  The Guardian





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

8 12 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Read the Climate Counts Report here.





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

29 11 2012

 

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

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

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

Among other key insights in the global consumer research:

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

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

1.  Deliver total value.

2. Connect back story to brand story

3. Embrace sustainable brand innovation.

4. Harness consumer collaboration.

5. Unleash the power of tribes.

 

Read a copy of the research report here.

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About US SIF:

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

 





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

9 11 2012

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

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

Some of the other interesting insights from the research include:

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

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

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

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

Read the press release from Cone on the research here





Unilever: Partnership to help African Hand Washing Initiative

30 10 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Puma Again: Launching biodegradable shoes and apparel.

11 10 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the Reuters article here.





Climate Vulnerable Forum: Climate Change Cost 1.7% of Global GDP in 2010.

2 10 2012

“A HUNDRED YEARS from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change.”

THE ECONOMIST December 2011

In the 2nd edition, The Climate Vulnerability Monitor (A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet) reports on the economic and social impact of climate change.  Among the highlights of this scientific report, 1.7% of global GDP losses are attributed to climate change and the carbon economy in 2010.  The report projects that by 2030, global GDP losses will rise to 3.2% by climate change and carbon emissions.  This includes a projection of a loss of 2% of the United States GDP by 2030.

But as important as the economic impact of climate change is the human toll.  The Climate Vulnerability Monitor reports:  “Continuing today’s patterns of carbon-intensive energy use is estimated, together with climate change, to cause 6 million deaths per year by 2030, close to 700,000 of which would be due to climate change. This implies that a combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade.”

Here is a chart from the report that highlights the vulnerability based on regions in the world  to climate and carbon dependence.

Access an executive summary of the Monitor report here.

 

About CVF:

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) is an international cooperation group for coordination, advocacy and knowledge-building among countries that face significant insecurity due to climate change. The Forum has distinguished itself through a determination to catalyze more effective and broad-based action for tackling the global climate challenge, internationally and nationally. Founded in 2009 by the Maldives, it now includes 20 governments and is a major foreign policy initiative of its current chair, Bangladesh. The Climate Vulnerability Monitor’s second edition was commissioned at the November 2011 Ministerial Meeting of the Forum at Dhaka, Bangladesh.





GfK Green Gauge®: Green is going mainstream, but don’t expect a premium.

24 09 2012

In their new Green Gauge research released today, GfK reports significant progress in the developing green culture in the United States, but also highlight findings that many consumers are increasingly resistant to pay more for “green products”.

In a statement, Timothy Kenyon–Director for the Green Gauge survey–said, “Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts.  For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

The study also reports that digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness:

29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a “major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a “minor source.”

GfK points out that green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas — from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).  (examples are cited below in this infographic from the Advertising Age article linked below).

According to GFK, The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations.

Read a related article to the research in Advertising Age here.





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

18 09 2012

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

Other key findings in the research include:

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

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

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

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





World Water Week: The Relationship Between Water and Food.

28 08 2012

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

the wars of this century will be fought over water.

 The World Bank

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

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

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

Wonderwater:  An initiative to educate and inspire.

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

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

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

Learn more about Wonderwater Cafe London here

Read more about Wonderwater at 2degrees with blogger Katharine Earley





Method: Progress On Ocean Plastic

24 08 2012

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

.Commercializing the rising tide of ocean plastic

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article here.





Adidas DryDye: T-shirts made with less water.

9 08 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Ekocycle: will.i.am and Coke inspire sustainable behaviors

1 08 2012

Coca-Cola is collaborating with musician and producer will.i.am along with other iconic brands to inspire a global movement with the launch of Ekocycle, a brand initiative dedicated to help encourage recycling behavior and sustainability among consumers through aspirational, yet attainable lifestyle products made in part from recycled material.

The Ekocycle brand initiative was developed to educate consumers about everyday recycling choices and empower their purchasing decisions as part of a social change movement, The Coca-Cola Co. says. The initiative supports recycling by helping consumers recognize that items they consider waste today can be part of a lifestyle product that they can use tomorrow. The Ekocycle brand initiative will identify products, such as assorted plastic bottles and aluminum cans, that can be repurposed into recycled content for fashionable and valuable lifestyle products. It also will encourage demand and use of recycled materials, and reinforce the importance of recycling finished products, the company says.

“With the Ekocycle brand, I’m on a mission to educate and inspire consumers around the globe to seek out more sustainable lifestyle choices that will ultimately play a part in the movement toward a world with zero waste,” will.i.am said in a statement. “By making products that contain recycled materials more attractive to both businesses and consumers, everyone can do their part to keep the cycle going to turn discarded waste into cool, new items. The Coca-Cola Co. shares this vision and together working with local communities worldwide we will showcase the greater value of recycling, as well as selecting products that feature recycled materials.”

Beats by Dr. Dre and New Era are the first brand partners to join the Ekocycle brand initiative. As a part of the partnership, these collaborative efforts will produce on-trend products made partially from recycled materials. Consumers can purchase Beats by Dr. Dre headphones this fall. New Era hats and other yet-to-be-announced Ekocycle products will be available in early 2013.

“The Ekocycle brand initiative is a platform that aligns with our vision of zero waste and our focus on sustainability,” said Bea Perez, vice president and chief sustainability officer for The Coca-Cola Co., in a statement. “Together with will.i.am, we will promote recycling in a unique way with other well-known brands to create lifestyle products that consumers worldwide desire. Today’s generation of young consumers represents an active force and the Ekocycle brand aims to be a driver in rallying their support and efforts around a global sustainability movement.”

The Coca-Cola Co. will donate its portion of licensing profits from the Ekocycle brand initiative to support additional recycling and community improvement organizations. It also will make a minimum $1 million financial commitment in the next five years. This donation is in addition to, and separate from, the charitable commitments of 1 percent of operating profits made through The Coca-Cola Foundation, the company says.

Earth911, host of the one of the largest recycling directories in the United States with more than 1.5 million ways to recycle, will provide an interactive and searchable recycling directory for consumers accessible at ekocycle.com.

“Recycling is one of the easiest sustainable actions consumers can take, but without real-time access to local options, people are often left confused and frustrated,” said Raquel Fagan, vice president of media for Earth911, in a statement. “The Ekocycle brand initiative takes a forward-thinking approach and demonstrates how companies can play a role in eliminating this confusion and empowering consumers.”

On Aug. 1, the Ekocycle brand will premiere its first 60-second TV commercial that will air in the U.S. market during the telecast of the Summer Olympic Games. A full-scale marketing, advertising and online campaign will follow.

To learn more about the Ekocycle brand initiative, visit ekocycle.com.

Original article in Beverage Industry





Interbrand: Toyota is world’s best green brand.

8 07 2012

Interbrand has crowned Toyota as the number one green brand in the world.

In a statement, Interbrand reports:  “Automotive and technology brands dominate the ranking. Toyota maintains the number one spot, continuing to make environmental sustainability a core management priority. The original Prius model — the primary launchpad for Toyota’s green image — has recently been expanded to encompass an entire family of sustainable automobiles, including the company’s first plug-in model. This year, Toyota also achieved near zero-landfill status at all of its North American manufacturing plants, and continues its commitment to build LEED certified buildings and dealerships.”

Here are the rest of the top green brands as ranked by Interbrand.

Learn more about the Best Green Brands from Interbrand.





Project Earth: School kids worldwide unite to solve environmental problems.

21 06 2012

In advance of the Rio+20 summit this week, winners were announced in the Project Earth competition recognizing the best school projects addressing environmental problems from around the world.  More than 2,400 schools and clubs from 117 countries are currently participating in Project Earth, creating real projects to improve our global environment. All winners are featured on the Project Earth (www.projectearth.net) website.  

Congratulations to all the winners and kudos to the kids who are stepping up to protect the planet even while their leaders debate and deny.

Highlights of a press release announcing the winners are featured below.

Whether or not their countries agree to move forward, thousands of schools representing 117 countries are collaborating to solve the world’s biggest environmental problems. As today’s world leaders gather at the RIO+20 Conference to define pathways toward a more resilient and sustainable world, tomorrow’s world leaders were also recognized. The best school projects from around the world were announced at the conference today.

Project Earth is an online forum created to foster environmental and cultural exchange, networking schools and clubs around the world. Recognizing that environmental issues are global, that tomorrow’s leaders must be prepared to work across borders and cultures, and that technology makes connecting on a global scale more accessible than ever, Project Earth is a space where classes and clubs can post environmental projects of all kinds and begin to network with like-minded students around the world.

Partner countries like Chile, Russia, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates have embraced Project Earth on a country-wide scale and global outreach efforts have contributed to Project Earth’s swift growth — from ten participating countries 18 months ago to 117 countries today.

Maurice Strong, the first executive director of the UN Environment Programme and Secretary General of the first Rio Earth Summit, congratulated this year’s Project Earth World Environment Day project winners at the RIO+20 conference. “In embracing Project Earth’s power to foster global collaboration and understanding, these students and educators assume a leadership role in our collective future,” said Strong. “These projects are pioneering examples of the kind of environmental stewardship that can and will make a difference.”

Project Earth was launched in late 2010 by Ecology and Environment, Inc. (E & E). E & E president and CEO Kevin Neumaier is encouraged by the quality of this year’s contest entries. “These are meaningful projects, like keeping grease out of the sewers, reclaiming biodiversity by harnessing community involvement, and creating gardens out of what once went to the landfill,” he said. “The students go energetically and quickly toward solutions and work in creative and innovative ways — their enthusiasm illustrates that collectively we can all have a genuine impact.”





Ha Ha Yes Men: Shell Arctic Ready Hoax Was Masterful.

17 06 2012

The elaborate hoax that the Yes Men created – a faux ad campaign and official looking website for a supposed Shell Arctic Drilling campaign – fooled this blogger…and thousands of others.  We congratulate the Yes Men for their energy and creativity in coming up with a public relations approach that seemed all too plausible.  But Shell’s response may be just as stupid as if the campaign was real.

The campaign was created by Greenpeace and the Yes Men.

go behind the scenes at the Greenpeace website.

According to Wikipedia, The Yes Men operate under the mission statement of telling the truth and exposing lies. They create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they intend to spoof, which have led to numerous interview, conference, and TV talk show invitations. They espouse the belief that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public.

In this highly provocative and realistic campaign they created against Shell, they certainly got a lot of attention to the issue of oil drilling in the fragile Arctic environment.  One of our favorite “ads” follows:

However, what may be even more perplexing than the hoax was the lack of any detectable response from the victim – Shell.

Are any of their PR wags on-line?  Are they tone-deaf to the internet?  Silence is golden?  Any brand under such devious assault needs a plan to respond.  From now to years to come, the assets created by this Yes Men hoax will be circulating with apparently a “mums the word”  response from Shell.  I stand behind the original post:  a most stupid brand is Shell.





Puma: Bring It Back. Old Shoes RIP.

7 06 2012

Kudos once again to the folks at Puma – who IRIS named the most sustainable corporation in the world.

Puma has just launched Bring It Back – a new athletic shoe and sporting apparel recycling program.

In a statement, Franz Koch, CEO of Puma said, “On our mission to become the most desirable and sustainable sport lifestyle company in the world, we are constantly working on solutions that aim at reducing the environmental impact that PUMA as a company leaves behind on our planet. With our Bring Me Back Program, we are pleased to target, for the first time ever, the massive amounts of waste sport lifestyle products leave behind at their end-of-life phase when consumers dispose of them and they end up on landfills or in waste incineration plants.”

In a new twist, PUMA is encouraging people who return their non-longer desirable shoes and apparel to write and post their product’s obituary together with a picture of the shoes on its website. The company hopes its obituary option will finally get people excited about recycling their shoes.  May these shoes RIP.

Now that is smart sustainable branding.




Edelman Good Purpose Study: 87% of people believe business should place equal weight on business and society.

29 05 2012

In a massive global study surveying more than 8,000 adults in 16 countries, Edelman’s 2012 Good Purpose Study tracks people’s increasing belief that business bears a weight to contribute to society.

  • 76% of people believe it is ok for brands to support causes and make money at the same time (up 33% from 2008).
  • Yet only 28% of people believe business is performing well in addressing societal issues.
  • 53% of people believe Social Purpose is the most important decision criteria in buying a brand when price and quality are the same (up 26% from 2008).
  • 51% believe business should donate a portion of profits or products/services to address societal issues.
  • 80% of people believe it is critical for businesses to make the public aware of the efforts they are making to address societal issues.
  • 52% of people believe its equally important to address issues “that impact me personally and society overall”.
  • 89% of people worldwide report that they take part in activities to address social issues.

You can access a slide show summary of the survey here.





EIRIS: Puma Is The World’s Most Sustainable Corporation.

3 05 2012

In researching more than 2,000 large global corporations, EIRIS has ranked the top ten global companies when it comes to sustainable practices.  No U.S. based companies were ranked in the top ten.

Puma was ranked first based on its exceptional environmental management systems and reporting practices.  It also has comprehensive policies for equal opportunity employment, workplace health and safety, and workforce training and development.

The rest of the most highly ranked sustainable companies included:

  1. Puma (Germany)
  2. First Group (UK)
  3. National Australia Bank
  4. GlaxoSmithKline (UK)
  5. Roche (Switzerland)
  6. Novartis (Switzerland)
  7. Phillips Electronics (Netherlands)
  8. Deutsche Boerse (Germany)
  9. NovoNordisk (Denmark)
  10. The GoAhead Group (UK)

The EIRIS research also ranked corporate sustainability performance by geographic region, with companies from the United Kingdom getting the greatest number of A grades, while only 2% of U.S. companies received an A.  The vast majority (91%) of U.S. based companies received a C or lower grade.

You can read the EIRIS report here.





Gibbs & Soell: Only 21% of Americans Believe Business Is Committed To Going Green.

2 05 2012

In their 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability study, the research demonstrates that public doubt that corporations are making a sincere commitment to going green continues to run high.

Despite their skepticism, the majority (71 percent) of consumers wants to know more about what companies are doing to become sustainable and green, and 75% feel the media are more likely to report on green business when the news is bad rather than good.

Read the summary report and news release announcing the results of 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability Study at these links.

Key Findings:

  •  The general public and business leaders remain skeptical of corporate America’s commitment to sustainability. Only 21 percent of U.S. adults and 25 percent of executives believe that a majority of businesses (“most,” “almost all,” or “all”) are committed to “going green” – defined as “improving the health of the environment by implementing more sustainable business practices and/or offering environmentally-friendly products or services.”
  • While one-third of executives report having no green steward, up from years past, there is a trend toward dedicated teams for those who do. This year’s results show that 34 percent of executives indicate there is no one at their company who is responsible for sustainability or “going green” initiatives, up from 25 percent in 2011. More than one out of five (21 percent) corporate leaders report there is a team of individuals whose jobs are specifically and solely dedicated to sustainability, up from 17 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2010.
  • Most consumers and business executives also believe corporate sustainability activities are more likely to be covered by the media when the news is bad than good. The number is comparatively higher among consumers who are confident in corporate America’s commitment to “going green.” Three-quarters (75 percent) of U.S. adults and 69 percent of executives feel the media are more likely to report on “bad news” than “good news” when covering how companies are addressing efforts to “go green.” Specifically among the 21 percent of consumers who believe “most,” “almost all,” or “all” companies are committed to “going green,” 83 percent feel there is a bias for bad news in the media.

 Said Ron Loch, senior vice president and managing director, sustainability consulting, Gibbs & Soell. “The results reveal growing efforts by business communicators in relating their corporate responsibility stories, but also underscore a deficit in general understanding and trust.  It’s clear much more needs to be achieved in terms of relevant engagement with consumers and the media around corporate sustainability.”





Gfk MRI: Falling Behind On Buying Green.

16 04 2012

In new research issued by Gfk MRI, people’s interest in making small sacrifices for environmentally responsible products continues to slip away.  No doubt the punishing impact of the recession and stagnant employment market have forced many consumers to make a Sophie’s Choice over green products.  But the research further underscores the lack of inspiration that marketers have been able to generate for sustainable brands.

Data from the last five years reports that consumers are now less likely to give up convenience or pay more for green products.

  • The percentage of adults who report “I am willing to pay more for a product that is environmentally safe” declined 13%, from 60% to 52%, in the last five years.
  • The percentage of U.S. adults who agreed with the statement “I am willing to give up convenience in return for a product that is environmentally safe” declined 16% in the past five years, from 56% in 2007 to 47% in 2011.

Only Millennials (people aged 18-24) are the only adult age group whose willingness to give up convenience or pay more for green products has held steady over the past five years. In addition, 53% of consumers aged 18-24 recycle products and 4% participated in environmental groups/causes in the past 12 months.  At least there is some hope from this audience of young adults to accept responsibility for sustainable behavior moving forward.

While 65% of American adults agree with the statement “preserving the environment is very important,” according to the Survey of the American Consumer, evidently the job of preserving is for someone else.  Only 22% of consumers who remodeled their homes in the last 12 months said they used environmentally friendly/”green” products for their renovation.

The top three environmentally friendly products purchased by U.S. adults are light bulbs (18%), paper towels (12%) and laundry detergent (11%).  Big deal.

As more and more leading global companies invest in sustainable strategies and are adopting practices with long-term environmental health in mind, it is incumbent on marketers in those organizations to create consumer awareness, appreciation and adoption of these strategies.  This data suggests we are falling behind instead of moving forward.

Original post on Sustainable Brands





Nielsen: The Global, Socially Conscious Consumer

28 03 2012

In a new global research report, Nielsen has identified a segment of the population they call the Global Socially Conscious Consumer.  

  • Two thirds (66%) of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. 
  • They prefer to work for these companies (62%), and invest in these companies (59%). 
  • Still nearly half (46%) say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies. 

In the study, respondents were asked if they prefer to buy products and services from companies that implement programs that give back to society. Anticipating a positive response bias, respondents were also asked whether they would be willing to pay extra for those services. For the purposes of this study, Nielsen defines the “socially conscious consumer” as those who say they would be willing to pay the extra.

According to Nielsen, “Cause marketing won’t work with all customer segments—some simply don’t care—but the research suggests that there is a segment of socially conscious consumers that cause marketers should pay attention to.”

New findings from a Nielsen survey of more than 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world provide fresh insights to help businesses better understand the right audience for cause marketers, which programs resonate most strongly with this audience, and what marketing methods may be most effective in reaching these consumers.

Thanks to a tweet from our friend John Gerzema for pointing us to this research which he believes is in line with the findings in his book Spend Shift.

 

 





Ogilvy Earth. Mainstream Green. Bridging the Green Gap.

27 03 2012

A major new research report was issued this week from marketing agency Ogilvy Earth studying the barriers to mainstream consumers acceptance of sustainability behaviors and enlightened brands.

The focus of the study was both in the United States and in China, two of the most populated and carbon intensive countries in the world.  In the chart below, the report shows that the majority of people surveyed recognize the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle, a gap exists between knowledge of its importance and actual behavior.  The gap is 14% in China, and more than double that – 30% – in the United States.

In analysis of the research, Ogilvy Earth observed what this blogger has believed for 3+ years:

“The marketing communications industry knows how to do this. We popularize things; that’s what we do best.  But we need to embrace the simple fact that if we want green behaviors to be widespread, then we need to treat them as mass ideas with mass communications, not elite ideas with niche communications.”

In their analysis, the researchers found that “82% of Americans have good green intentions, but of those 82%, only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling those intentions, putting 66% firmly in this middle ground.”  As indicated in the chart about.

In their conclusions, the report’s authors identify 12 key ways they believe the Green Gap can be bridged.  They conclude:

1. Make it normal.

2. Make it personal.

3. Create better defaults.

4. Eliminate the sustainability tax.

5. Bribe shamelessly.

6. Punish wisely.

7. Don’t stop innovating.  Make better stuff.

8. Lose the crunch.

9.  Turn eco-friendly into male ego-friendly.

10. Make it tangible.

11. Make it easy to navigate.

12. Tap into hedonism over altruism.

For more detail and explanation on these intriguing and provocative gap bridging strategies, read the entire research report here.

Mainstream Green Report from Ogilvy Earth





Conference Board: What Board Members Should Know About Communicating CSR.

23 03 2012

In a significant white paper directed to corporate board members, The Conference Board has challenged directors to be aware of the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and the challenges of communicating those actions to key stakeholders in the enterprise.

While the business benefits of CSR activities are now well-documented, the report says, “…communicating these activities are far from simple. If stakeholders perceive a lack of clarity regarding the company’s commitment to CSR, doubt the effectiveness of its CSR initiative, or miss the connection of a certain sociality activity to the core business, a backlash can occur.  CSR communication must overcome stakeholder skepticism to generate favorable CSR attributions.”

The report identified 6 key recommendations for board members to provide guidance for communicating CSR strategies:

1.  Seek CSR activities that fit into the business strategy.

2.  Emphasize CSR commitment and impact to foster consumer advocacy.

3. Seek credibility through the support of independent, external communication sources.

4.  Encourage employee and consumer word-of-mouth.

5.  Select social initiatives with high issue support.

6. Be mindful of stakeholder perception of business industry.

Here is a chart demonstrating how companies are

currently communicating CSR activities.

We are still surprised how passive and latent the CSR communications activities are.  The Conference Board recommends in their research that more consumer engagement is a critical next step to elevate CSR attribution and success.

The report says “a company’s CSR positioning can significantly amplify the effectiveness of CSR communication.  Stakeholders are likely to pay more attention to a comprehensive and coherent CSR message and believe in the authenticity of the social commitment.”

In other words, CSR should become a cornerstone asset in the brand’s equity and marketing focus.

The Conference Board Report Is Here.





UN Global Compact: 29 Laggard Companies Pressured On Sustainability Reporting.

21 03 2012

 

In a press release issued last week, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment indicated a coalition of global investors is pressuring 29 laggard companies who have not published sustainability reports to keep their promises, while lauding nearly 90 companies who are identified as leaders in advanced level reporting.

A summary of the press release follows:

(London, 15 March 2012) – A coalition of global investors from 12 countries managing over US$3 trillion of assets today added its voice to increasing calls for better corporate reporting on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) activities.

The coalition of investors, all signatories to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, is writing to 118 UN Global Compact companies with a combined market cap of an estimated US$2.59 trillion, to either:

  • welcome advanced-level reporting, or, conversely,
  • challenge non-communicating companies to regain full participant status.

This is the fifth year that investors have engaged with Global Compact participant companies on the issue of transparency. Each of the 29 laggard companies, with a combined market cap of an estimated US$136.9 billion, are participants of the Global Compact, but have failed to produce the mandatory annual report that communicates their progress on corporate sustainability. The Global Compact recently announced that it has expelled 3,123 companies since 2005 for failure to communicate progress on their efforts to implement its ten sustainability principles.

From 2008 through 2011, the engagement resulted in an average 40.1 percent of laggard companies subsequently submitting their sustainability reports; this has included firms such as BHP Billiton, Aker Solutions, Severn Trent, Merck Kga, Oriflame Cosmetics, The Gap and LVMH. The status of all companies included in last year’s engagement can be found here.

In addition to writing to laggard companies, the investor coalition has acknowledged 89 leader companies with a combined market cap of an estimated US$2.45 trillion who have been identified as advanced-level reporters.  These leaders include Novo Nordisk, Enel, Daimler, Nestle, Telefonica and Siemens. A full list of this year’s leaders can be viewed here.

Steve Waygood, Head of Sustainability, Research and Engagement at Aviva Investors, one of the investors involved in the coalition, said:
“Since we first proposed this initiative over five years ago it has gone from strength to strength, successfully encouraging some 40.1% of companies over the past five years to make good on their reporting commitments to the UN Global Compact. This bodes well for the discussions at the forthcoming UN Rio+20 conference in June, where corporate reporting on sustainability performance is appropriately high on the agenda of the 193 Member States that will be assembled.”

James Gifford, Executive Director of the PRI added,
“After the global financial crisis many investors believe that improved corporate disclosure of ESG issues leads to better risk management, good governance and enhanced transparency, all of which are necessary to protect long-term returns. Companies that would attract investors need to recognise this if they want to attract capital.”

Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact added,
“Corporate sustainability implementation and disclosure both lie at the heart of the UN Global Compact. At the upcoming Rio+20 Summit, there will be an opportunity for governments and public policy makers to fully take stock of the rapidly evolving trends in business sustainability and responsible investment — with an eye towards creating new incentives to drive higher levels of sustainability performance and disclosure. We encourage investors to actively participate in the Rio+20 process, and welcome their contributions”.

The PRI and Global Compact initiatives are engaged in a number of mutually reinforcing activities, including an investor engagement urging companies around the world to sign onto the UN Global Compact. As of November 2011, this engagement saw 211 of the targeted companies join the Global Compact.





Print4Change: Work with us. Water for the people.

20 03 2012

March 19-25, 2012 is WORLD WATER WEEK.  UNICEF estimates that that 4100 children die daily due to water borne diseases. Approximately 900 million people do not have access to safe water. About 2.5 billion people are without adequate sanitation.

Congratulations to the team at Print4Change and their branding partner Studio Mpls.  One project working with Print4Change brings 74,000 gallons of clean water to communities in need.  This video challenge brings that project and promise to life.

Learn more about Print4Change here.

See more of Studio MPLS work here.





KPMG: Expect the Unexpected. Building business value in a changing world.

21 02 2012

In a massive report, KPMG’s study, Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World, identifies 10 “megaforces” that will significantly affect corporate growth globally over the next two decades. It explores issues such as climate change, energy and fuel volatility, water availability and cost and resource availability, as well as population growth spawning new urban centers. The analysis examines how these global forces may impact business and industry, and calculates the environmental costs to business.

Michael Andrew, Chairman of KPMG International, said: “We are living in a resource-constrained world. The rapid growth of developing markets, climate change, and issues of energy and water security are among the forces that will exert tremendous pressure on both business and society.”

“We know that governments alone cannot address these challenges. Business must take a leadership role in the development of solutions that will help to create a more sustainable future. By leveraging its ability to enhance processes, create efficiencies, manage risk, and drive innovation, business will contribute to society and long-term economic growth.”

The study also highlights that up to one third of the world’s population now live in persistent deprivation.  With 72% of the world’s poor now residing in middle income countries.  The report declares that “persistent inequality is not only wrong, it’s bad for business – it prevents huge swathes of the population from being workers and customers and it increases the risks to business from the type of instability seen in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011.”

Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Global Adviser on Climate Change and Sustainability, said global sustainability megaforces will significantly increase the complexity of the business environment. “Without action and strategic planning, risks will multiply and opportunities will be lost. Corporations are recognizing that there is value and opportunity in responsibility beyond the next quarter’s results; that what is good for people and the planet can also be good for the long term bottom line and shareholder value,” De Boer said.

The report was released last week during KPMG’s business leader summit in New York City in cooperation with the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).





Hertz Living Journey: Global Sustainability Initiative

13 02 2012

Hertz — the world’s largest general use car rental brand—introduced “Living Journey” last week… the Company’s corporate sustainability strategy. Living Journey positions Hertz to be the leader in Sustainable Mobility and Equipment Solutions through various strategic initiatives that integrate sustainability best practices throughout the Company including:

  • Smart Mobility—Hertz is committed to providing customers vehicle rental options that are fuel efficient and use clean, low-emissions technology such as Electric Vehicles (EVs) and hybrids.
  • Environment—Hertz’s goal is to minimize its environmental footprint and operating costs through efficiency improvements, resource management and renewable energy production.
  • Community—Hertz is dedicated to creating a positive impact and enhancing the communities it serves by giving back through philanthropic and volunteer efforts.

“We have a long-standing tradition of innovation and leadership that includes managing the environmental performance and social impacts of the Company alongside our fiscal responsibilities,” said Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of Hertz. “In 2011, we made tremendous progress on Hertz’s industry-leading solar generation and Electric Vehicle initiatives in addition to ongoing efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible manner at our corporate offices and rental facilities. As a continuation of our success, we are excited to introduce Living Journey which encompasses all of our efforts as an organization through partnerships, employee education and investments to reduce our impact on the environment, provide customer value, and manage our business sustainably.”

Through Hertz’s sustainability efforts, the Company has:

  • Recycled over 50,000 IT units since 2005 which diverted 2 million tons of e-waste from landfills,
  • Recycled approximately 680,000 gallons of used oil in 2011, and
  • Reduced paper use by 2.8 million pounds since 2006.

In addition, more than 80% of the water used at Hertz car washes is recycled. The Company is currently implementing energy audits and lighting upgrades across many of its facilities. Estimated results from recent lighting upgrades include 1.1 million kilowatt-hours and 776 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved annually (across 20 Hertz locations).

To communicate Living Journey to its stakeholders, Hertz has launched a sustainability website (http://www.hertzlivingjourney.com) which is the first of its kind for the Company. The site highlights Hertz’s achievements and plans in the sustainability arena, which includes energy-efficiency improvements such as lighting and HVAC upgrades, utilizing LEED certification standards for Hertz buildings, solar energy production, global recycling efforts, and delivering fuel-efficient fleet choices to consumers.

Last year, Hertz was recognized by the Global Business Travel Association for Sustainable Practice through Hertz On Demand, Hertz’s hourly car rental program.





UC Davis Study: Carbon Disclosure Boosts Stock Price.

9 02 2012

Companies that disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon reduction strategies see their stock values rise.

“Companies should not be as reluctant as they have been to provide this information because we show that it can be shareholder-positive. Our message is that it pays to be green.” said Graduate School of Management Professor Paul Griffin.  Along with his co-author, Yuan Sun of UC Berkeley, Griffin tracked stock prices of firms around the time these companies voluntarily issued press releases disclosing carbon emission information. In the days after the press releases were issued, the companies saw their stock prices increase, Griffin and Sun found.

“When a company makes a voluntary disclosure of this kind, it signals to the investment community that this is a firm that is environmentally responsible,” Griffin said. “Investors are saying they would prefer to invest in an environmentally responsible firm.”

The study, “Going Green: Market Reaction to CSR Newswire Releases,” uses the archives of CSR Newswire to identify climate change related press releases issued by companies between 2000 and 2010. The researchers tracked the stock changes of the companies from two days before a press release was issued to two days after.

For the 172 companies identified as making voluntary disclosures, average stock prices increased just under a half percent in the five-day span around the disclosures, according to the study.

“This is evidence that managers’ voluntary climate change disclosures generate positive returns for shareholders,” Griffin said.

The study looked at voluntary disclosures only, so the authors could not definitively determine if required disclosures by all such companies would have yielded similarly favorable stock value increases.

However, to test their findings, the researchers compared stock movements of these companies to stock shifts of similar firms that did not disclose carbon emission information during the same time periods. The companies that did not disclose climate change information did not see a statistically significant increase in values, the study found.

“The matched sample companies do not behave the same way as the companies that disclose,” Griffin said. “If anything, in the matched sample, the price runs in the opposite direction.”

While much of the concern about greenhouse gas emissions has focused on energy and utility companies, the study by Griffin and Sun examined carbon emission strategies across a broad range of industries, including information technology, health care, telecommunications, and financial services, as well as energy and utilities.

The researchers analyzed separately the stock changes for smaller firms that disclosed carbon emission information. These firms saw an even greater effect on their stock values, with prices increasing 2.32 percent.

Compared with large firms, small firms are not followed as closely by analysts, and investors know less about them, so it makes sense that the release of climate change information would have a more pronounced effect, according to Griffin and Sun.

In recent years, companies have faced increased pressure from environmental activists and concerned shareholders to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and to develop strategies to reduce them. Many firms have taken up the challenge, examining the environmental impacts of all aspects of their businesses, from supply chains to manufacturing processes to heating and air conditioning in office buildings.

Original post at Sustainable Brands





50 Fastest Growing Brands Serve a ‘Higher Purpose’

8 02 2012

 

New research on the world’s 50 fastest growing brands found a cause-and-effect relationship between a brand’s ability to serve a higher purpose and its financial performance.

Brand consultants Millward Brown and former Proctor & Gamble marketing officer Jim Stengel developed the list of 50 brands, which they say built the deepest relationships with customers while achieving the greatest financial growth from 2001-2011. Furthermore, investment in these companies – the Stengel 50 – over the past decade would have been 400% more profitable than an investment in the S&P 500.

The list includes numerous brands with strong reputations for sustainability, such as Method, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farm and Chipotle.

The study forms the backbone of Stengel’s book GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies (Crown Business; December 27, 2011).

“We wanted to uncover which brands grew the most over the past decade, both in terms of customer bonding and shareholder value,” said Millward Brown Optimor VP Benoit Garbe, who led the study. “Once we identified these brands, our burning question was what, if any, were the common principles that sparked and sustained their growth.”

To arrive at the Stengel 50, Millward Brown Optimor valued thousands of brands across 30+ countries. The list included both B2B and B2C businesses in 28 categories ranging in size from $100 million in revenues to well over $100 billion:

Ideals – The Ultimate Growth Driver

A research team – comprising Millward Brown Optimor brand strategists, Jim Stengel, Professor Sanjay Sood and MBA students at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management – uncovered that the most successful brands were built on an ideal of improving lives in some way, irrespective of size and category.

“We define ideal as the higher-order benefit a brand or a business gives to the world,” said Stengel. “Some companies are very explicit about their ideals, like Zappos – their ideal of delivering happiness is on their boxes, all over their offices, even on t-shirts employees wear. Other brands, like Louis Vuitton, are more implicit about it. But all their actions – throughout their products, stores and communications – amplify their ideal to luxuriously accentuate the journey of life.”

Added Garbe, “We found that this ideal is both a source of inspiration externally among customers, as well as a compass for internal decision making. So whether it’s Red Bull which seeks to Uplift Mind and Body or Pampers which is all about Caring for Happy Healthy Development of Babies, an ideal influences all facets of the business from HR and Marketing to R&D and Finance.”

Through case studies, GROW demonstrates how brand ideals aren’t simply about altruism or corporate social responsibility but a fundamental human value that is authentic to the brand and ultimately a driver for extraordinary growth. In fact, Millward Brown Optimor’s analysis discovered that those who centered their businesses on ideals had a growth rate triple that of competitors in their categories.

How Ideals Impact the Consumer Mind

Millward Brown’s team also determined that the 50 brands touch on five fundamental human values:

  • Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility
  • Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability of people to connect with each other and the world in meaningful ways
  • Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
  • Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality
  • Impacting Society: Affecting society broadly, from challenging the status quo to redefining categories

The list of companies is as follows:

Accenture, management and enterprise consulting services

Airtel, mobile communications

Amazon.com, e-commerce

Apple, personal computing technology and mobile devices

Aquarel, bottled water

BlackBerry, mobile communications

Calvin Klein, luxury apparel and accessories

Chipotle, fast food

Coca-Cola, soft drinks

Diesel, youth- targeted fashion apparel and accessories

Discovery Communications, media

Dove, personal care

Emirates, air travel

FedEx, delivery services

Google, Internet information

Heineken, beer

Hennessy, spirits

Hermès, luxury apparel and leather goods

HP, information technology products and services

Hugo Boss, luxury apparel and accessories

IBM, information technology products and services

Innocent, food and beverages

Jack Daniel’s, spirits

Johnnie Walker, spirits

L’Occitane, personal care

Lindt, chocolate

Louis Vuitton, luxury apparel and leather goods

MasterCard, electronic payments

Mercedes-Benz, automobiles

Method, household cleaners and personal care

Moët & Chandon, champagne

Natura, personal care

Pampers, baby care

Petrobras, energy

Rakuten Ichiba, e-commerce

Red Bull, energy drinks

Royal Canin, pet food

Samsung, electronics

Sedmoy Kontinent (“Seventh Continent”), retail grocery

Sensodyne, oral care

Seventh Generation, household cleaners and personal care

Snow, beer

Starbucks, coffee and fast food retailer

Stonyfield Farm, organic dairy products

Tsingtao, beer

Vente-Privee.com, e-commerce

Visa, electronic payments

Wegmans, retail grocery

Zappos, e-commerce

Zara, affordable apparel

Original post at Sustainable Brands





U.N.: “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.”

1 02 2012

The UN High-Level Panel Global Sustainability released its report in Addis Ababa yesterday entitled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.” The panel’s 99-page report, which will serve as an input to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June, (otherwise known as the Rio+20 Summit) is a call to action, “to address the sustainable development challenge in a fresh and operational way.”

The executive secretary of the panel, Janos Pasztor said:

We cannot go into sustainable development without making a radical transformation of the economy.”

The long-term vision of the Panel is to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries. In light of this, the report makes a range of recommendations to take forward the Panel’s vision for a sustainable planet, a just society and a growing economy.

 In their summary report, the panel reminded us of the sober reality of the world today.
  • 27 per cent of the world’s population lives in absolute poverty (down from 46 per cent in 1990)
  • Global economic growth is up 75 per cent since 1992 but inequality is still high
  • An increase of 20 million undernourished people since 2000
  • 5.2 million hectares net forest loss per year
  • Ozone layer will recover to pre-1980 levels in 50 years plus
  • Two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are in decline
  • 85 per cent of all fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, recovering or fully exploited
  • 38 per cent increase in annual global carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2009
  • 20 per cent of the world’s population lack access to electricity
  • 884 million people lack access to clean water
  • 2.6 billion people are without access to basic sanitation
  • 67 million children of primary school age are out of school
  • 3.5-year increase in life expectancy between 1990 and 2010

The report says:

“The signposts are clear: We need to change dramatically, beginning with how we think about our relationship to each other, to future generations, and to the eco-systems that support us. Our mission as a Panel was to reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it.

With seven billion of us now inhabiting our planet, it is time to reflect on our current path. Today we stand at a crossroads. Continuing on the same path will put people and our planet at greatly heightened risk.”

Article originally posted on Triplepundit.com





Unilever’s Bold Move: Launches Brave New Foundation.

1 02 2012

Unilever has announced the launch of The Unilever Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life through the provision of hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition, and enhancing self-esteem.

To help achieve the Foundation’s mission, Unilever has formed partnerships with five leading global organizations that are committed to creating sustainable change worldwide: Oxfam, PSI, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

The Unilever Foundation is a key action that Unilever is taking to help achieve its goal of helping more than one billion people improve their health and well-being, and in turn, create a sustainable future.

“We live in a rapidly changing world. One where populations are growing, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and where food security is a growing issue. Unilever is committed to addressing the unmet social needs that our business can play a unique role in helping to solve. This is especially true in developing and emerging markets where we have deep roots,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever.

“We aim to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and deliver increased social value. Together with our partners, we will deliver life-saving solutions as we work toward achieving these ambitious goals,” he added.

The challenges of the 21st century are increasingly complex:

  • Over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • More than 3.5 million children under 5 die annually from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.
  • One child dies every four seconds from preventable and treatable diseases.
  • 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.
  • An estimated 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger.

“Two billion times a day, somebody, somewhere, uses a Unilever brand. Our global reach and scale, coupled with a deep understanding of what triggers consumer behaviours that can lead to a sustainable future, uniquely enable us to drive long-term scalable and systemic change,” added Weed.

The Unilever Foundation will be working with its Global partners on a number of life-saving initiatives:

  • The Unilever Foundation’s partnership with Oxfam will improve lives around the world through programmes designed to empower individuals and deliver good nutrition and clean, safe drinking water.  According to Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Chief Executive, “Unilever and Oxfam have been working together across the world for quite a number of years so we are pleased to be working with Unilever with the new Foundation as it is set up. The first way that we are going to work together is in the UK, providing food parcels to the very poorest people and helping them move from surviving to thriving. We are looking forward to extending that worldwide, focusing on two pillars core to Oxfam’s work on tackling poverty and inequality – the rights of women and access to clean drinking water.”
  • In supporting PSI, the Unilever Foundation is making a tangible contribution to improving the health of children and families through delivering behavioural change interventions focused on hand washing, clean drinking water and sanitation. “The launch of the Unilever Foundation represents the best of what is possible in Davos,” said Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI. “By pooling ideas and resources, private companies and health organizations can improve the health of millions of children and families worldwide.  PSI is excited to be working with Unilever, a company that recognizes – and values – the economic impact of good health.”
  • The Unilever Foundation is working with Save the Children to save and improve the lives of children around the world. This will involve improving access to health workers and life-saving vaccines, and ensuring more children and mothers are reached with high-impact health and nutrition programmes. The partnership will also provide a platform to catalyse a global movement and generate the public and political will for a global breakthrough on child survival. Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children International, said “Save the Children is proud to be selected as a partner for the Unilever Foundation. This partnership will help us to deliver transformational change to millions of children’s lives around the world through our EVERY ONE campaign. Each year 7.6 million children die needlessly of preventable illnesses. The support from Unilever will bring us a step closer to ensuring that a health worker is within reach of every child, life-saving vaccines are available for all, and children have enough food to grow up healthy. Combining our global reach and joint mbition – we can give children the chance to fulfil their potential.”
  • The Unilever Foundation and UNICEF are partnering to improve sanitation in developing countries through UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (‘CATS’) initiative, a behaviour change program that promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets, and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. “By investing with communities in sanitation, this  partnership is helping us break one of the last taboos in public health – open defecation – and demonstrating real leadership for the private sector,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Improved sanitation could prevent the deaths of over one million children each year so these investments have enormous potential for the future health and strength of their societies.”
  • The Unilever Foundation is also partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Project Laser Beam, a public-private partnership that aims to create a scalable and sustainable model to improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Indonesia. “With millions of children around the world suffering from malnutrition, there has never been a better time to take action on this truly solvable problem,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “Project Laser Beam is investing in the next generation by ensuring that our children grow up healthy and strong. The knowledge and expertise of partners like the Unilever Foundation help make this goal a reality.”

Additionally, the Unilever Foundation is also working with other organizations worldwide by providing a combination of direct funding, expertise, products and employee support that help to help address country-specific needs primarily aligned with the Foundation’s mission.