This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

February 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact Heather Clancy Thu, 02/18/2021 – 01:00 For more essays by Heather Clancy, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. In early January, I covered personal care products company Aveda’s project to trace and verify the provenance of its vanilla supply using blockchain — and to allow consumers to peek into that information by later this year. It’s not the only consumer brand dreaming about that sort of connection or looking to digital technology as the answer.  Fashion brand Covalent, created to showcase the potential of a biomaterial called AirCarbon made by biotech firm Newlight Technologies, has started communicating with its customers in a similar way. It’s using blockchain software from IBM to track and disclose carbon impact data related to the production of its products, marketed as carbon-negative. Covalent’s metric is called Carbon Date, a 12-digit number stamped on the roughly three dozen SKUs in its product catalog — items ranging from wallets to clutches to smartphone sleeves to tote bags. Consumers can see the data by visiting the Covalent website and entering their unique code. (The test drive at the link shows you the sort of information that is shared.) The Carbon Date is verified with footprint information from carbon accounting firm Carbon Trust, which created a cradle-to-cradle analysis of AirCarbon after an assessment in 2020.  Newlight CEO Mark Herrema told me his company created the Carbon Date concept to appeal to consumers seeking to dig deeper into the environmental claims being made by consumer products brands. “We had this epiphany that GHG emissions seem like such a vague issue … It was about turning this into something tangible,” he says. The material used to create the products, AirCarbon, is made through a renewable energy-powered anaerobic production process in which microorganisms digest air, saltwater and captured greenhouse gases to create a bioderived polymer. According to Newlight, for every one kilogram of AirCarbon produced in this manner, 88 kilograms of CO2 equivalent are sequestered. Hence, Covalent’s ability to make a carbon-negative claim.  Right now, this is a pretty niche brand: The only place you can buy the Covalent items is on the company’s e-commerce site, and at $480 for a tote bag, they’re obviously not meant for the average consumer.  But Debbie Kestin-Schildkraut, marketing and alliances lead for IBM AI applications and the tech firm’s global blockchain ecosystem, says the importance of proving environmental claims is growing. “We are seeing in every study that we do that more and more consumers are willing to change their shopping habits … Blockchain can help build involvement,” she said. IBM’s blockchain technology is being used in some pretty compelling ways, including to track scallop fishing and offer a premium price to certain boats that fish more sustainably than others; and for food safety applications, such as the ones being deployed by Walmart . Recycler Plastic Bank is also using IBM blockchain services to verify its claims . (The same integrator that wrote that application helped Covalent with the Carbon Date project.) To be clear, the life-cycle analysis used for the Carbon Data calculation includes just raw material extraction, transport of raw materials and manufacturing. It doesn’t include the e-commerce cycle, nor does it include end-of-life considerations that are part of circular economy assessments. AirCarbon is billed a “natural, biologically degradable material” similar to wood. If it winds up in the ocean, it can be eaten by microorganisms — much like a banana peel, according to the company’s FAQ. Is this all a publicity stunt? The skeptic in me says yes but I love the creativity and you can’t argue with the need for transparency initiatives that include the consumer. In this way, the Carbon Date initiative echoes similar moves to label food with their carbon impact that have been embraced by the likes of Unilever, Chipotle and Panera Breads. The challenge will be finding an approach that doesn’t require a translation guide for every single consumer production category. Topics Carbon Removal Consumer Products Zero Emissions Blockchain Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Every Covalent product comes with a Carbon Date to help educate consumers about the impact of its production. Courtesy of Covalent

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This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

February 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior Mike De Socio Thu, 02/18/2021 – 00:05 These days, it’s hard to argue that sustainability is a niche consumer interest. A vast majority of consumers worldwide believe we need to consume less, according to research by GlobeScan . More to the point, 57 percent of consumers in that survey were willing to pay more for sustainable products. But only about a quarter of them actually made any sustainable changes to their lifestyle or consumption. So what gives? “There’s this really marked intention-action gap when we’re asking people to change their behaviors to be more sustainable,” said Katherine White, professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia. White shared her research on sustainable consumption during GreenBiz 21. She was among industry leaders from Amazon and Procter & Gamble, as well as nonprofit executives, who shared insights on the trends in sustainable consumption. Here are three takeaways from the session: 1. Attitude has shifted, but behavior lags Across the board, indicators for consumer interest in sustainable products are up, according to the GlobeScan survey. The 2020 results, for example, showed that 73 percent of consumers wanted to reduce the impact they have on the environment by a large amount, up almost 10 percentage points from the year prior. During the session, Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, described it as a “remarkable shift” in consumer attitude that bodes well for the sustainable products market. But he was quick to underline the shortcomings of that progress. “There is still a gap between our desire to change and what we’re actually doing, but we do see significant movements happening across the world,” he said. White’s research in behavioral science looks into what levers could be most effective in convincing consumers to align their choices with their concern for the planet.  A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. “This is a real challenge for marketers, for organizations, for public policymakers,” she said. “We really need to understand, what are the key drivers of behavior change in particular?” White identified a few factors that stakeholders can focus on to shift behavior — social influence (in other words, peer pressure), habit formation, individual values, emotional buy-in and tangible outcomes.  But ultimately, no one should think about hitting consumers with all of those efforts at once, White said. The shifts are more likely to be gradual. 2. Price and performance are still king Todd Cline, as director for Procter & Gamble’s North America fabric care research and development, is trying to focus consumers on one tiny change that could drastically slash the climate impact of his company’s product: Wash their clothes in cold water. Cline said what consumers do with Tide, one of the company’s sub-brands, once they take it off the shelf accounts for two-thirds of the product’s carbon footprint. The biggest chunk of that is the energy used to heat the water in the washing machine. But Cline knows if he wants consumers to change to cold, the performance can’t suffer. So his plan is simple: “Make products that work great when consumers use them on cold,” he said. This highlights a fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. So sustainable products must tick those two boxes before showing off their climate bona fides.  Adam Werbach, global lead for sustainable shopping at Amazon, knows this well. He led the development of a “Climate Pledge Friendly” label on the site that uses external certifications to direct customers to the most sustainable products. The experience so far has shown Werbach that customers, even at Amazon’s eco-conscious Whole Foods, primarily seek out price and performance before considering sustainability.  But the “Climate Pledge Friendly” label can be a quick, easy way for them to make that decision. “Customers like the cognitive load being taken off them,” he said. 3. Less (information) can be more The success of a simple label for Amazon speaks to another important tactic for nudging customers to more sustainable options: Sometimes less information is better. The average consumer, according to White, doesn’t have the time or interest to know all the details on ingredients, manufacturing or packaging. They just want to know it’s not going to harm the planet. “At the end of the day, if it’s really quick and easy and enjoyable and pleasant, I’m going to do it,” White said. That’s where labels can help. Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal, said his company has worked to simplify the way it communicates its own sustainability certifications. “It can really be difficult to communicate the various attributes to the consumer,” he said. So rather than listing 20 or more claims on one label, Green Seal developed a “compass” that identifies four main categories — water, waste, health and climate — and acts as a shorthand to evaluate products. Cline keeps this in mind, too, as Procter & Gamble refines its own packaging and labeling. “If we can make it simple and make it so it’s a great experience for people, they’ll adopt the behavior and stick with it,” he said. Pull Quote A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. Topics Consumer Trends GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Consumer trend surveys show a shift towards an environmental mindset among shoppers but they need to start putting their money where their mouth is.//Image courtesy of Unsplash 

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The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

Is it scooter company Lime’s moment to shine?

May 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

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Is it scooter company Lime’s moment to shine? Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 05/20/2020 – 02:20 If you look at the headlines about the shared scooter industry — with service shut-downs and cratering valuations — you easily could predict the long-hyped sector’s demise. But what if now is the moment for scooters to really shine and deliver the unique transportation value that the new world needs? At least for a company that remains standing.  For Andrew Savage, Lime’s head of sustainability and impact, the time for scooters has arrived, in a similar way that online meeting platform Zoom, food delivery services and connected biking company Peloton are exploding during the shelter-in-place order. “I believe that post-pandemic, it will be micromobility’s moment,” said Savage in an interview.  If you haven’t been following the roller coaster ride of Lime lately, here’s a recap. The company, along with some of its peers, shut down most services when the pandemic hit, laid off some employees, ended up raising a $170 million round led by Uber and in the process also acquired Uber’s shared bike service Jump. Plus, the funding forced it to reportedly lose 80 percent of its valuation.  But in recent weeks Lime has started to open up services, as more of an essential operation, in Paris, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Oklahoma City, Austin, Columbus, Washington, D.C. and other cities. It appears that riders in these cities are turning to scooters as a major transportation service. Lime has seen median trip times double in Oklahoma City and Columbus since reopening, indicating that riders are using scooters for full commutes instead of just first mile and last mile.  Now more than ever, people are demanding open-air, single-occupancy transportation. Part of the shift obviously comes from consumer need and preference. “Now more than ever, people are demanding open-air, single-occupancy transportation,” Savage noted. It also has to do with distrust in the safety of public transportation, which has seen spikes in operators falling ill to COVID-19 in places such as New York. Another part of the transformation has to do with policy. Some cities such as Paris are working hard to make sure that a post-pandemic world isn’t overrun with single occupancy vehicle driving . Paris is building 404 miles of lanes for micromobility, including bikes and scooters, and last week Lime relaunched its 2,000-scooter service as the city has started to ease its lockdown. The scooter companies are being forced to adapt to the new world in order to survive. “We spent the first two years as an industry as disruptors of the status quo. What we’ve seen during the pandemic is scooters are being established as more of an essential service,” Savage said.  City leaders and transportation planners have long called for scooter companies and cities to align more closely to offer riders better service. It looks as if a crisis might be able to make that a reality.  Of course, this can only be a big moment for scooters if the operators make it through the hard times. For Lime, the pandemic shut-down came at a particularly inopportune time for the company. “We were on the doorstep of being the first micromobility company to reach profitability and be cash-flow positive,” Savage said.  Post-pandemic, Lime might be a smaller company with a lower valuation, but it has the opportunity to grow its position as the dominant micromobility provider. It has the Jump bikes, a new round of funding, a deeper partnership with Uber and the most widespread reach. Savage said: “I think we’re in the best position to take advantage of the moment.” What do you think? Will scooters surge like Zoom? Funny, I always thought Uber and Lyft eventually would dominate the scooter market.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote Now more than ever, people are demanding open-air, single-occupancy transportation. Topics Transportation & Mobility COVID-19 E-scooters Public Transit Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A lime scooter in San Diego in April. Shutterstock Simone Hogan Close Authorship

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Is it scooter company Lime’s moment to shine?

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