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

29 11 2012

 

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

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

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

Among other key insights in the global consumer research:

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

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

1.  Deliver total value.

2. Connect back story to brand story

3. Embrace sustainable brand innovation.

4. Harness consumer collaboration.

5. Unleash the power of tribes.

 

Read a copy of the research report here.

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

Two hands hold euro coins where a plant starts to grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About US SIF:

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

 





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

9 11 2012

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

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

Some of the other interesting insights from the research include:

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

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

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

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

Read the press release from Cone on the research here





Unilever: Partnership to help African Hand Washing Initiative

30 10 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Puma Again: Launching biodegradable shoes and apparel.

11 10 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the Reuters article here.





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.





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.





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.”





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.





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).





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





PwC: 50% of CEOs prepared to change strategies based on customers’ environmental and corporate responsibility expectations.

27 01 2012

PwC released the results of its 14th annual Global CEO Survey focused on sustainable growth.  The research was conducted with 1,201 business leaders in 69 countries and also included further, in-depth interviews with 31 CEOs to gain a better understanding of those issues.

In this year’s survey, nearly half of CEOs said they would change their companies’ strategies within the next three years because they expect stakeholders to factor companies’ environmental and corporate responsibility practices into purchasing decisions (see figure). Companies are planning to adapt their offerings—or develop entirely new ones—to address society’s changing sentiments. They’re also planning to answer questions about their environmental and corporate responsibility practices—which includes the practices of their suppliers—to stay in their customers’ good graces.

“Most corporations want to do the right thing. They want to be responsive regarding energy use. The people we’re hiring expect us to be. They want to work for a company that has a value system built around sustainability. I don’t think you need government regulation to drive it.”

– Stephen A. Roell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Controls





New Report: 70% of people won’t buy a brand if they don’t like the parent company.

23 01 2012

Weber Shandwick has released the results of “The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust,” a study finding that 70 percent of consumers won’t buy into a brand if they don’t like the parent company. Among senior execs, 87 percent said that having a strong brand for the parent company is as important as having a strong product brand.

Responsible brand behaviors also influence purchase decisions.  57% of Americans said “more and more I try to buy products made by a company that does good things for the environment or community” – with 83% of Chinese consumers agreeing to the same statement.  57% of Americans say they “get annoyed when it’s not obvious what company is behind a product.” and 56 percent said they “hesitate” to purchase a product if they can’t tell which company makes it.

Says Micho Spring, Global Corporate Chair of Weber Shandwick, “In this always-on, multi-platform, uncertain world, corporate brands are more important than ever because they provide an anchor of trust and credibility in a sea of dynamic, continual change. A strong corporate brand is essential to unlocking the full value of the enterprise and strengthening its brands, products and services as a result.”

Implications from the report included: invest more time and energy in branding the parent company like making website improvements that go into greater detail, clear labeling (more than two-thirds of respondents said they’re checking labels), and use promotional campaigns as an opportunity to talk about the parent company and the individual brands.

The study concluded:

“Corporate reputation and brand reputation are now nearly indivisible. The importance of a firm’s reputation matters more than ever and is unified with the reputation of product brands to create one powerful enterprise brand. Consumers want assurance that their well-earned dollars, yuan, pounds or reais are spent on products produced by companies that share their values. They have higher expectations for the companies and the brands they like and are not hesitant to turn their backs when they are disappointed or fooled.”

Download a copy of the report here.

KRC Research, IPG’s market research firm, polled 1,375 consumers and 575 senior execs at companies with annual revenue of $500 million or more in October and November 2011. Research was conducted online in the U.S., U.K., China, and Brazil.

Original post on PR Newser





She’s Alive. Beautiful. Finite. Hurting. Worth Dying For.

22 01 2012

The anthem for 2012.  

This cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (www.sanctuaryasia.com).





Bloomberg: EPA Providing Water to Homes Near Pennsylvania Fracking Site

21 01 2012

By Mark Drajem – Jan 19, 2012 8:48 PM CT
The Environmental Protection Agency will deliver water to four families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, where residents say their water has been contaminated during hydraulic fracturing by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG)

The EPA will also test water at 60 homes to assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances, the agency said in a statement.

“EPA is working diligently to understand the situation in Dimock and address residents’ concerns,” EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement. “Conducting our own sampling will help us fill information gaps.”

Residents and activists protested outside a venue where EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was speaking in Philadelphia last week, urging her to force Houston-based Cabot to clean up wells they say were contaminated after drilling started nearby. The company is using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that injects water and chemicals to free gas in rock.

Cabot has no data that indicates natural gas operations are the cause of the concerns identified by the EPA, George Stark, a company spokesman, said. He said the agency is conducting an “unwarranted investigation.”

“Cabot looks forward to helping educate the U.S. EPA on the ground water and geological features of Susquehanna County,” where Dimock is located, Stark said in an e-mail.

The agency offered water to the families earlier this month and then reversed the decision the next day. The EPA now has agreed to start water delivery tomorrow, Michael Kulik, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Court Case Pending

Dimock residents say their water went bad more than three years ago. In an agreement with state environmental regulators, Cabot pledged to install methane-removal equipment on wells and set aside $4.1 million to pay residents who say they were harmed. The company didn’t admit fault.

Some residents settled. Others went to court and their lawsuit is pending. EPA officials visited residents at the end of last year, and told some not to drink their well water.

In Pennsylvania, the economic losses from possible environmental damage could be high. Drilling in the state’s portion of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation could generate $20 billion for the state’s economy by 2020, up from $13 billion last year, according to an industry-funded study published by researchers from Pennsylvania State University.

Separately, the U.S. House Oversight Committee led by California Republican Darrell Issa today asked the Energy Department for transcripts of interviews regarding fracking.

In an e-mailed statement, Issa said the committee also asked Jackson to explain documents obtained by the panel that “appear to indicate” that the EPA “is planning for a future where new supplies of natural gas are limited because of the agency’s concern about the environmental impacts” of the process.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at +1-

mdrajem@bloomberg.net





24/7 Wall St.: The Ten Most Hated Companies In America.

18 01 2012

Are you surprised?

24/7 Wall Street’s analysis was based on a rigorous study of two dimensions.  One is public research about consumer satisfaction, customer care, pricing of products and services, and brand impressions. Wall St. research takes into account another set of factors, which include present earnings, profit forecasts, product development and quality, and brand valuations.

Here is how they did their research.

“We examined each company based on several criteria. We considered total return to shareholders in comparison to the broader market and other companies in the same sector during the last year. We reviewed financial analyst opinions on those companies that are public. We analyzed data from a broad array of sources, including Consumer Reports, JD Power, the MSN/Zogby Poll, ForeSee and the University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index. We also considered negative press based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of media coverage and the Flame Index, which uses a proprietary algorithm to review more than 12,000 websites and ranks companies based on the frequency of negative words. Finally, we considered the views of taxpayers, Congress and the White House — where applicable.”

Read the article here.





Portfolio 21 Investments: PEAK > Investing at the edge of ecological limits.

16 01 2012

Congratulations to Portfolio 21 Investments in Portland for a remarkably blunt, clear and inspiring strategic approach to managing investments in “the age of volatility.”

In one of the most compelling presentations regarding the need to re-think investment criteria in a world of ecological crises, Portfolio 21 Investments calls for re-thinking traditional criteria for investment and puts forward a unique pov to navigate a new landscape.  They are making a commitment to factor in new levels ecological risks and to seek the rewards from those that are bringing forward innovation and new ways to confront new realities.

By evaluating companies’ energy and resource efficiencies as well developing new strategies for operating in an ecologically limited world, Portfolio 21 is bringing timely and refreshingly enlightened thinking to the investment sector.

Portfolio 21’s report cautions:  “Investors must be aware of a stark and fairly recent truth:  Our economic system has become so large that is is overpowering and threatening the natural systems that support it.  Our failure to anchor the economy within the earth and its systems facilitates a fallacy:  the belief that the economy can grow infinitely, regardless of the planet’s physical limits.”

Kudos to Portfolio’s 21 fresh and importantly provocative pov.  Let’s hope investors listen and companies heed the wisdom.

Get the PEAK report here.





American Sustainable Business Council: Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

16 01 2012

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), a coalition of 45 business organizations, urged President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“Contrary to the claims of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute and other pipeline advocates who threaten political retaliation if the pipeline is not approved, Keystone XL would not deliver on jobs, energy, safety or economic competitiveness,” said ASBC Executive Director David Levine.

  • Most of the oil that Keystone XL would carry from Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas is destined for export, and the jobs the pipeline would create would be just as fleeting. The State Department estimated the pipeline construction workforce at 5,000 to 6,000 workers and as the Vice President of Keystone Pipeline for TransCanada told CNN, long-term jobs would be in the “hundreds, certainly not in the thousands.”
  • Keystone would deliver far less bang for the buck when it comes to job creation than alternative energy. A dollar of spending in clean energy generates three times as many jobs as a dollar spent on oil and gas, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.
  • Keystone is a boondoggle for oil companies, not an investment in our nation’s economic competitiveness. Keystone will leave us even further behind Germany, China and other countries that are dominating the rapidly growing global clean technology market.
  • Keystone would increase the kind of catastrophic environmental risk the World Economic Forum warns about in its just released Global Risks 2012. Keystone oil will be extracted from tar sands and its carbon emissions are 82% greater than the average crude refined in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Keystone will increase carbon emissions and environmental risk. The pipeline would threaten the Ogallala aquifer, a large and irreplaceable supply of drinking water and irrigation in the Great Plains.

“Keystone is a sneak attack on American’s wallets,” said Frank Knapp, Vice Chairman of ASBC and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.” Its real aim is to import oil from Canada, refine it, and then export it to foreign buyers. For most businesses and consumers in the mid-west, the pipeline will serve up higher energy prices and higher food prices, since food prices include the price of energy and oil-based fertilizer needed to grow crops. That’s the last thing we need for real economic recovery.”

“The Keystone pipeline endangers the Ogallala aquifer — the only clean and reliable water source for drinking and agriculture for much of the Great Plains,” said Fran Teplitz, ASBC board member. “If this supply were contaminated by an oil spill, the costs to the public and business would be incalculable, and some of America’s most productive farmland would be lost.”

“Keystone makes no economic sense for America,” said ASBC co-founder and Director David Brodwin.  “Once we take into account the true cost of oil including subsidies, environmental damage, and military costs, oil is far more expensive than the alternatives.  The best thing we can do for the American economy and for American businesses as a whole is to wean ourselves from oil as quickly as possible.”

About The American Sustainable Business Council

The American Sustainable Business Council is a growing coalition of businesses and business networks representing over 100,000 businesses and more than 200,000 entrepreneurs, owners, executives, investors and others committed to advancing policies that support a vibrant and sustainable economy. www.asbcouncil.org.





BrandAsset® Valuator: Fewer trust brands but trust is key to building brand equity.

16 01 2012

Kudos once again to our friend John Gerzema and his team at BrandAsset® Valuator for another compelling report on the key trends related to trust, brands, and the rise of the what they deem “The Citizen Marketplace”.

The headlines from their analysis and research demonstrate two inter-related factors as it relates to trust and brands:

That trust is the true, new brand differentiator.

  • 25% of people surveyed trusted brands in 2009, down from 49% at the beginning of the decade.
  • 45% cite trust as key to future potential or brand strength, up from 29% in 2001.

Other key findings in the research is the rise in social media as social contract with trust of social media outlets outpacing that of traditional media (and Twitter leading the trust game among social media outlets).

John and his BAV team conclude the following branding imperatives in the era of the Citizen Marketplace.

  • Trust is the new differentiator
  • There are numerous pathways to trust for companies and brands to pursue based on category requirements and their purpose and values
  • As communications evolve into conversations, social media is moving past social currency to social contract
  • Companies must not think social media, but ‘social as business model’.

Download a BAV presentation on the research here.

Thanks again BAV team for sharing this insightful work.





Edelman Trust Barometer: Only 46% of Americans trust business to do the right thing.

12 01 2012

In their 11th annual global survey on trust, Edelman research reports that people’s trust of institutions and returned to levels comparable to the height of the worldwide financial crises in 2009.

When asked how much they trust various institutions, only NGO’s were trusted by the majority of U.S. respondents.  Business, government and the media are not trusted by the majority of people and media’s trustworthiness as reached record lows.

  • 55% trust non-government organizations
  • 46% trust business.
  • 40% trust government.
  • 27% trust the media.

The drivers to corporate reputations are quality, transparency, trustworthiness and employee well-being.

The study concludes that businesses must align profit and purpose for social benefit.  It reports that people’s demands for authority and accountability are setting new expectations for corporate leadership and that trust is the essential component to both protect reputations and gain tangible benefits.  Lack of trust is a barrier to change.





MIT & BCG: Sustainability “Embracers” Seize Advantage.

29 12 2011

24% of companies surveyed answered positively to three questions –

indicating they were fully embracing the business benefits of sustainability.

In their new report, MIT’s Sloan Management Review – nearly 49% of executives reported that “improving brand reputation” was the greatest benefit to their organization in addressing sustainability.  Brand reputation was the number one drive selected by all companies.

Other key findings in the survey included:

  • 68% of companies plan to increase sustainability commitments in 2012.
  • 57% say that sustainability related strategies are necessary to be competitive.
  • 34% believe that sustainability related activities have added to their organization’s profitability.
  • 45% report that top management responsible for overall business strategy are responsible for sustainability decision-making.

Even Cautious Adopters of sustainability initiatives report significant increases in

attention and investment over the past two years.

According to the report,”Companies that are moving most aggressively on the sustainability agenda are doing more than reducing their environmental impact. And yet by heading down one path – by taking the leap of faith – they are finding many unexpected benefits emerge.  Employees are more engaged in meeting environmental goals than had been anticipated.  Brand value is enhanced, often in unexpected ways.  Partnerships generate unanticipated sources of innovation.  In short, sustainability is revealing new paths that will enhance companies’ long-term ability to compete.”

The survey was conducted with more than 3000 business executives from around the world.  You can download a copy of the report here.

Sustainability- The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage





Asda UK: The new weird is to do nothing.

14 12 2011

The retailer Asda has 500 stores across the United Kingdom, serves more than 18 million customers a week, and has a home shopping busienss that serves over 98% of UK homes.

Adsa just released the results of research it did with over 6,000 Asda customers – who they affectionately have labeled Everyday Experts.

Results from the research are encouraging and revealing.  One of the most compelling findings is that levels of caring about sustainability issues did not vary among high, middle or low income participants.

Other key findings in the report included:

  • 80% said they plan to continue or increase the number of green products they buy.
  • 80% said they buy green products because they think it’s just the right thing to do.
  • 70% said they care about being green—no matter what their gender, age, location or income level, with more than a quarter (28%) saying they care very much indeed.

You can access the Asda research here.





KPMG: U.S. companies “scratching the surface” in Corporate Responsibility reporting.

2 12 2011

In its 18th year of tracking the reporting of Corporate Responsibility, KPMG has issued its latest annual CR Reporting survey.  KPMG analyzed the reports of 3400 companies in 34 different countries.  Among the findings, companies based in the U.S. are lagging behind other regions of the world in terms of the walking the walk vs. talking the talk on corporate responsibility.

According to KPMG, “Companies that can be seen as ‘Scratching the Surface’ are those that have the highest risk of failing to deliver on the promises they make in their CR report and/or targets they have set. These companies have chosen to focus more heavily on communicating their CR achievements effectively by choosing multiple channels and integrating CR in the regular annual reporting without focusing equally on the CR systems and processes. As a result, they may reach their audiences more effectively than the group that ‘is getting it right.’ However, they could also risk increasing feedback and pressure from their stakeholders, including their investors.”

Among other interesting insights and facts in the report include:

  • Of the 250 largest global companies, fully 95 percent now report on their CR activities. This represents a jump of more than 14 percent over the 2008 survey.
  • With almost half of the largest companies already demonstrating financial gains from their CR initiatives, and with the increasing importance of innovation and learning as key drivers for reporting, it is clear that CR has moved from being a moral imperative to a critical business issue.
  • Companies that continue to utilize only one channel of communication (such as an annual report) for their CR reporting will quickly find that they are losing ground to competitors who offer their data across multiple forms of media that appeal to a wider variety of stakeholder groups. However, the design of the specific systems and processes to facilitate this level of communication and specificity may prove complex for many organizations.

Download a copy of the KPMG Survey here.





The Enlightened Trend: Shared Value vs. Shareholder Value.

1 12 2011

93% of CEOs believe sustainability issues will be key to business success in the future.  The concept of creating shared value vs. shareholder value is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of many corporate boardrooms. This new report from FSG – the nonprofit consulting firm – gives best in class examples of social engagement strategies where corporate and social issues are aligned.

According to FSG, “the most advanced companies have begun to look at social engagement through a different lens entirely.  Rather than seeing business and society in opposition, they recognize the enormous potential of business to contribute to social progress.  At the same time, they understand that firms depend on healthy and well-functioning societies to thrive.  Such companies seek to create “shared value” – incorporating social issues into their core business strategies to benefit both society and their own long-term competitiveness.”

Says Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, “What’s happening now is really a redefinition of the boundaries of capitalism.  Creating shared value is the next stage of evolution in the sophistication of the capitalist model.”

The report was sponsored by HP and features examples from global business leaders committed to creating shared value, including Alcoa, GE, Cisco, and Nestle among others.

You can download a pdf of the report here.

(Figure from FSG)





Consumer Environmental Behaviors Have Shifted For Good.

30 11 2011

In a recent survey revisiting consumer attitudes toward environmental issues vs. 20 years ago, GfK Roper and S.C. Johnson demonstrate how much progress has been made.

 

The research study reports that 73 percent say they know a lot or a fair amount about environmental issues and problems, up from 50 percent earlier. Compared to 20 years ago, twice as many Americans are taking proactive steps to help the environment. Today, 58 percent of Americans recycle, 29 percent buy green products regularly and 18 percent commute in an environmentally friendly manner.

And the impact can be dramatic.  According to Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson, “Simply recycling one aluminum soda can yields enough energy to power my laptop for five hours or light up my office for 20 hours using a 60-watt energy-saving light bulb. These individual steps are made possible because individuals have a desire to modify their behavior, but also because businesses and governments have taken a leadership role in facilitating these changes by providing the right tools, products and processes.”

 

Three-in-four respondents agree that “a manufacturer that reduces the environmental impact of its production process and products is making a smart business decision.” Those are much higher marks than Americans gave business in 1990. Individuals place themselves higher at 38 percent and rank businesses lower at 29 percent when asked who should take the lead in addressing environmental problems and issues.

Said Semrau, “We all have a role to play to protect our earth, and 75 percent of American consumers say they feel good when taking steps to help the environment. That’s huge. Through increased environmental knowledge and with the right products and tools, we can all appeal to that sentiment to make smarter choices for a greener lifestyle.”

Green shopping photo via Shutterstock.





Don’t Buy This Jacket: Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative

29 11 2011

In a daring and unprecedented move, the long respected Patagonia brand decries consumerism run amok and pledges to improve its own sustainability performance and asks for the same commitment from its customers.  

For a brand inspired by and dependent on the environment, Patagonia is asking customers to pledge to reduce the products they buy and only buy what they need.  It also is asking consumers to repair what’s broken, pass the product onto someone else, and keep it out of landfills or incinerators.

In exchange for the pledge, Patagonia’s pledge is to make products that last a long time, help repair gear that needs it, find home for products you no longer need and will take back Patagonia products that are worn out.

In advertising placed on Black Friday in The New York Times and on-line on Cyber Monday, Patagonia calls itself on the carpet for the environmental impact of the products they manufacture.

“The environmental cost of everything we make is astonishing,” the ad reads. “Consider the R2 Jacket shown, one of our best sellers. To make it required 135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product. This jacket left behind, on its way to Reno, two-thirds its weight in waste.

“And this is a 60% recycled polyester jacket, knit and sewn to a high standard; it is exceptionally durable, so you won’t have to replace it as often. And when it comes to the end of its useful life we’ll take it back to recycle into a product of equal value. But, as is true of all the things we can make and you can buy, this jacket comes with an environmental cost higher than its price.”

The ad concludes: “There is much to be done and plenty for us all to do. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Think twice before you buy anything. Go to patagonia.com/CommonThreads, take the Common Threads Initiative pledge and join us in the fifth R, to reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.”

Cheers to Patagonia for honest and authentic communication and for its call for balance and collaboration in a world of too much self-interest and scary levels of divisiveness.

This is world class sustainable branding.

Read more about the campaign on Patagonia’s blog





GREENPEACE: HP Leads Greener Electronics Race. Research in Motion in the cellar.

17 11 2011

In releasing its latest guide to Greener Electronics, Greenpeace has ranked 15 leading technology companies and how they are performing on key measures around sustainability.  The guide is intended to help consumers make better informed decisions when purchasing technology products and help businesses evaluate the performance of their technology vendors in helping them achieve their own sustainability objectives.

Download the Greenpeace Guide here

The comprehensive analysis will help consumers understand the impact of specific products, as well as the sustainability performance of the overall corporation. New criteria added to this edition of the Guide are based on the creation of truly sustainable electronics industry, Greenpeace said, and include a holistic examination of key supply chain issues.

“Right now, HP takes the top spot because it is scoring strongly by measuring and reducing carbon emissions from its supply chain, reducing its own emissions and advocating for strong climate legislation. However all companies we included in the Guide have an opportunity to show more leadership in reducing their climate impact”, Tom Dowdall of Greenpeace said in a statement.

Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) is ranked for the first time and scored well on conflict minerals and sustainable paper policy. But the company ranked bottom of the table because it needs to improve reporting and disclosure of its environmental performance, Greenpeace said.  It is interesting to note that failure to communicate progress – the opposite of the idea of sustainable branding – was a key factor in RIM receiving such a low ranking.





Congrats Honest Tea. Will report sustainability progress on Tumblr.

10 11 2011

Honest Tea’s decision to expand to this new communication channel reflects a trend among sustainable brands to find the most effective way to leverage corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting to increase dialogue and engagement with consumers.

The organic bottled tea company released the second edition of its annual Mission Report in combination with a new Tumblr site that will update regularly with posts about the company’s progress on social and environmental initiatives.

Honest Tea released a digital version of the report, which is becoming standard practice, and some companies – led by outdoor companyPatagonia’s example – are building entire microsites dedicated to tracking the sustainability of products and services. Others are choosing to incorporate CSR reporting into the traditional annual report, as Clorox did this year, indicating that sustainability performance is reaching the same level of importance as other corporate disclosures.

Honest Tea’s report, called Keeping It Honest, details the company’s initiatives related to products, packaging, people and partners. It highlights achievements, such as the conversion of all teas to Fair Trade Certified, the company’s first annual service day, and the launch of a new product, Honest CocoaNova.

The report also addresses sustainability challenges, such as packaging, providing consumers with an introspective look at how the company strives to scale a mission-driven business.

Acquired by Coca-Cola earlier this year, Honest Tea also will utilize its Facebook page to host a Keeping It Honest tab, during Honest’s “Mission Month”, where Honest fans can choose a personal mission each week, creating their own agenda for change, the company says.

Go to the Keeping it HONEST site here.

Since Honest Tea was founded in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998, the company has sustained an impressive double-digit annual growth rate. The company was listed as one of PlanetGreen.com’s Top 7 Green Corporations of 2010. It also received Greenopia.com’s coveted 4-Leaf Rating as “the greenest beverage company” for the third year in a row and was recently ranked by The Huffington Post as one of the leading “8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies.”



Original article published at Sustainable Brands Weekly