Survey Shows Weak Collaboration Around Sustainability In Companies

11 11 2013

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

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

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

Additional topline findings from this survey include:

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

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

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

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

 

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The Aspirational Consumer: 2.5 Billion People Redefining Responsible Consumption

8 10 2013

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

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

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

Key characteristics of Aspirational consumers include:

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

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

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

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

 

Read the original press release on CSR Wire.





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

23 09 2013

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

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

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

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

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





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

14 05 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





WFA: Marketers Lag Consumers On Importance Of Responsible Brands

9 03 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

28 02 2013

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

– Oxfam Statement

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

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

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

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

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





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

20 02 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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