Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting

September 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting Steven Bullock Mon, 09/28/2020 – 00:00 This article is sponsored by Trucost, part of S&P Global . The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is helping to bring transparency to climate risk throughout capital markets, with the aim of making markets more efficient and economies more stable and resilient.  Many stakeholders are involved in the initiative, across corporations and financial institutions. Each can apply TCFD reporting intelligence to inform better decisions in different ways. Image of seven stakeholders; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global. 1. Finance director: Developing a business case to increase capital expenditure on carbon-mitigation projects  A global manufacturing company wanted to undertake a carbon pricing risk assessment to understand the current and potential future financial implications of carbon regulation and related price increases on operating margins. The finance director felt the results could strengthen the business case for investment in low-carbon innovation at operational sites around the world. He used the carbon pricing risk assessment in Figure 1 to illustrate the differences the company might see in its operating margins under different climate change scenarios and highlight where investment in carbon-mitigation projects would matter most.  2. Purchasing manager: Minimizing supply chain disruption by identifying suppliers vulnerable to physical risks A global energy company wanted to undertake a physical risk assessment to understand the firm’s potential exposure to climate hazards, such as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and sea-level rise that could lead to supply chain disruptions and increased operating costs for the business. The purchasing manager felt the results could help identify raw material suppliers that may be affected by these hazards and provide an opportunity to speak with them about steps they are taking to address these risks. As shown in Figure 2, a physical risk assessment can pinpoint vulnerable sites that could cause problems down the road.  3. Sustainability manager: Setting science-based targets for company greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions  A global beverage company wanted to quantify its carbon footprint for its own operations and global supply chain. The sustainability manager saw this as an excellent starting point to set science-based targets for a reduction in emissions, with the targets reflecting the Paris Agreement and carbon reduction plans for countries in which the company did business. As shown in Figure 3, targets could help the company understand the reduction in emissions needed to move to a low-carbon economy and enhance innovation. 4. Investor relations manager: Publishing a TCFD-aligned report  A large consumer goods company wanted to assess the firm’s climate-related risks and opportunities in accordance with the recommendations of the TCFD. Using four core elements — governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets — the TCFD assessment helps quantify the financial impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities. The investor relations team wanted to report these findings alongside traditional financial metrics to publicize that the company was taking steps to manage climate-related issues. To illustrate what could be done, the team pointed to the TCFD report shown in Figure 4 completed by S&P Global for its own operations.   5. Portfolio manager: Screening a portfolio for carbon earnings at risk using scenario analysis An asset management firm wanted to test its investment strategy by assessing the current ability of companies to absorb future carbon prices so its analysts could estimate potential earnings at risk. Integral to this analysis is the calculation of the Unpriced Carbon Cost (UCC), the difference between what a company pays for carbon today and what it may pay at a given future date based on its sector, operations and carbon price scenario. A portfolio manager wanted to use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 5, to report these estimates of financial risk to stakeholders and engage with portfolio constituents on their preparedness for policy changes and strategies for adaptation.  6. Chief investment officer (CIO): Using TCFD-aligned reporting as a way to engage asset managers on climate issues A large pension plan wanted to undertake a climate change alignment assessment of its global equity and bond portfolios to understand how in sync it was with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and where there could be potential future carbon risk exposure. The CIO wanted to publish the results and use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 6, to engage with the firm’s asset managers to determine how they were integrating climate risk into investment decisions. 7. Risk officer: Assessing exposure to climate-linked credit risk  A large commercial bank wanted to estimate the impact of a carbon tax on the credit risk of companies in their loan book. The Risk Officer felt this would add an important dimension to the assessment of creditworthiness. Figure 7 highlights the changes that might be seen in quantitatively derived credit scores for the materials sector under a fast-transition scenario. This shows a rapid increase in carbon tax, with companies reacting in various ways. Some invest in greener technology to meet the reduction targets in 2050 (green bars), while others do not invest and pay a high carbon tax or experience lost revenue resulting from bans on the use of certain materials (red bars). There are many more examples of how TCFD reporting is helping organizations inform better decision-making and capture new opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy.   Please visit spglobal.com/marketintelligence/tcfd or watch our on-demand webinar to learn more.   Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience Sponsored Trucost, S&P Global Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article On Taking action to keep the world green; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global.

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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting

Earth911 Reader: Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science Articles For Concerned Citizens

September 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Eco Tech

Every week, the Earth911 team combs news and research for … The post Earth911 Reader: Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science Articles For Concerned Citizens appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Reader: Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science Articles For Concerned Citizens

First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

September 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action? Sarah Golden Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:00 It’s Climate Week: the time of year that climate leaders and professionals usually descend upon New York City in a cloud of transportation emissions to talk climate ambitions and targets.  Like everything else this year, Climate Week wasn’t the usual. Sessions and panels were virtual. There were no breakfast buffets. People presumably drank alone instead of mingling at happy hours. From an emissions standpoint, Climate Week 2020 may go in the books as the greenest of all time.  But some things stayed the same: Corporations seized the opportunity to announce climate commitments.  Corporate commitments roundup Climate Week has become a favorite for heads of states and companies alike to make bold climate commitments.  This week, dozens of corporations re-upped goals, reflecting that the private sector is internalizing what’s at stake — physically, reputationally and economically — if climate change is left unchecked. Some of the most notable (some announced in the run-up to Climate Week) include:   Morgan Stanley became the first major U.S. bank to commit to net-zero emissions generated from its financing activities by 2050.  AT&T pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035, a step up from its previous goal to reduce Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent and Scope 2 emissions by 60 percent. This comes following AT&T’s leadership in wind corporate procurements .   Walmart pledged to become carbon-neutral across its global operations by 2040 — without relying on offsets. In a separate announcement, Walmart joined forces with Schneider Electric to “educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy” and accelerate deployment with the aim of removing a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain (aka Scope 3 emissions).  Google committed to becoming powered by clean energy — in real time — by 2030.  General Electric announced it will exit the market for new coal-fired power plants and instead prioritize renewable energy investments — a smart move for the climate and its return on investment .  Amazon got more companies to sign on to its Climate Pledge , including Best Buy, McKinstry, Real Betis, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. Signatories agree to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. Intel Corporation , PepsiCo , ASICS (Japan-based apparel company), Sanofi (healthcare company in France), SKF (Swedish manufacturer) and VELUX Group (Danish manufacturer) all signed on to RE100 , a commitment to procure the equivalent of the company’s annual electricity consumptions from renewable sources.  Talk is cheap  I love seeing these commitments rolling in. I love that major companies want to communicate they are on the right side of climate action. I love that consumers care about the climate enough to make it worth consumer brands’ time and effort.  But these commitments are the beginning of something, not the end. And these companies need to be held accountable for reaching their goals in meaningful ways — and to continue to uplevel their commitments to meet the scale of the climate challenge.  Already, climate hawks are pushing corporations for more details.  Following the Morgan Stanley announcement, Rainforest Action Network’s climate and energy director Patrick McCully, wrote in a statement, “We look forward to Morgan Stanley quickly putting meat on this barebones commitment by using the Principles for Paris-Aligned Financial Institutions, and in particular by setting an interim target to halve its emissions by 2030.” Walmart is working hard to let the world know about its new carbon-neutrality commitment (including taking over all ads in my Podcast feed). Yet, as Bloomberg pointed out, this commitment applies to the retail giant’s direct and indicted emissions (Scope 1 and 2), which make up about 5 percent of the company’s total emissions. Whatever happened to last year’s Climate Week’s corporate commitments?  Last year on the eve of Climate Week 2019, employees from big tech companies planned a walkout , demanding their employers take climate seriously across operations. Among the complaints were the companies’ duplicit policies; while companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon were procuring massive amounts of renewables , they also were working with fossil fuel companies to extract oil more efficiently. Employees rightfully pointed out that one does not cancel out the other.  Take Amazon, for example. Last year, the retail giant’s employees formed a group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, demanding its corporate overlord do more on climate. The result: Amazon’s Climate Pledge ( announced during Climate Week 2019) and the company’s founder Jeff Bezos, a.k.a. the richest person on earth, pledged $10 billion of personal wealth to fight climate change.  According to E&E News , Bezos said he would begin issuing grants this summer. “[Tuesday] is the first day of fall, and the Bezos Earth Fund” — as he dubbed the venture — “has yet to announce a single grant.” In the cycle of activism and corporate climate commitments — company profits off climate destruction; employee/customers are mad; company makes a pledge; company doesn’t deliver on pledge — the ball is back in the activists’ court. Making commitments is not the same thing as taking action. In fact, Microsoft just announced another deal with Shell that will expand the oil giant’s use of the software company’s artificial intelligence technology to make extraction more efficient.  In the words of climate journalist Emily Atkins , “The West Coast is now in flames, the Gulf Coast is now waterlogged, and Bezos is now the richest man in the world. And in some people’s eyes, he’s a climate hero, because he promised to spend $10 billion solving climate change. And this, my friends, is exactly why rich people and corporations make voluntary climate pledges. It makes them seem benevolent and wonderful. And there’s no consequence if they never follow through.” Where is everyone else?  We have a terrible habit of scrutinizing companies that have made climate commitments more than those that have done squat.  I’ve spoken to many corporate sustainability professionals that say they don’t publicize their climate commitments. Why? Because yahoos such as me write critical columns about how they’re greenwashing or failing to do enough. Or environmental campaigns target them for hypocrisy.  I’m not saying we should stop holding companies accountable for their commitments. But we certainly shouldn’t give companies doing nothing a free pass. Right now, companies are punished more for speaking out than staying quiet.  In the aftermath of this Climate Week, consider asking the last company you patronized, “What is your organization doing to ensure a safe climate future?” It’s time to make staying quiet more dangerous than taking action.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Topics Energy & Climate Corporate Strategy Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Procurement Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

September 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet Heather Clancy Fri, 09/25/2020 – 00:30 As with virtually all gatherings of the climate community during the COVID age, this year’s Climate Week was convened as an online event — one hosted from more than 20 countries across myriad time zones rather than its usual host city of New York.  Instead of running between Manhattan locations, attendees platform-hopped among more than 450 presentations, panels, screenings and other events, including those hosted by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations, while iconic structures such as the Empire State Building turned their lights green to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis. As is their wont, many companies used the occasion to proclaim updated commitments — the buzzword du la semaine was “net-zero” with Walmart declaring a zero-emissions target by 2040 along with a big clean fleet promise and a pledge to “protect, manage or restore” at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030. GE made headlines with its decision to stop making equipment for new coal-fired power plants to focus on its renewables business (although it doesn’t say anything about fixing the old ones).  More than 1,500 companies are committed to net-zero emissions, triple the number that had made those pledges by the end of 2019. Morgan Stanley offered its own twist with a promise to reach “net-zero financed emissions” by the critical 2050 timeframe. The intention is to align its portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement. (Morgan Stanley, along with Bank of America and Citigroup, has agreed to deeper disclosure.) In other words, stop financing the emitting stuff, as it has been criticized for in the past. The biggest national-level news of the week came out of the United Nations General Assembly, where Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country aims to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Given the country’s status as the world’s largest emitter, the development is essential for progress against climate change.  While words aren’t action, the commitment stands in sharp contrast with the extensive environmental protection rollbacks adopted by the Trump administration, which has announced its plan to pull out of the Paris climate accord. At the state level, California Gov. Gavin Newsom put the transportation industry on notice with his executive order banning new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2035. Newsom also was named to a two-year term as co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, a network of states and regions looking to integrate the Paris Agreement goals with a mind to social justice.  On the other side of the U.S., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo finalized a ban on hydrofluorocarbons, a superpollutant found in refrigerators, air conditioners and other cooling equipment. And the mayors of 12 cities — representing 36 million residents — announced their plans to divest from fossil fuels. Among the signatories to the C40 campaign: Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. Throughout the week the heightened attention to supporting nature and biodiversity and to going beyond carbon emissions reductions was also a frequent theme — with a particular focus on the role of science-based targets in driving corporate action.  The Science Based Targets Network has created new guidance for companies interested in setting goals for land and freshwater use, biodiversity or ecosystem impacts using science-based principles, as many are doing to set emissions reduction targets.  “The best companies in the world are no longer satisfied with ‘doing better’,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, in a statement. “They insist on ‘doing enough’. That’s what science-based targets provide them.” Wondering what you missed from your home office? Below is a curated list of notable corporate commitments and campaign updates that emerged during Climate Week.  Accounting bigwigs suggest ‘universal’ ESG metrics Four iconic accounting firms — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC  — teamed up with Bank of America to develop and release a set of standard metrics and disclosure frameworks that companies can use to report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.  The new guidance, released by the World Economic Forum as part of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit , focuses on four pillars: Treatment of employees, including diversity, wage gaps, and health and safety Dependencies on the natural environment related to emissions, land and water use How a company contributes to community well-being, including what it pays in taxes Criteria for accountability  Amazon signs more Climate Pledgers, curates sustainable products shopping site Five more companies have signed the Climate Pledge, an initiative orchestrated by Amazon and Global Optimism : retailer Best Buy ; engineering firm McKinstry ; professional sports club Real Betis ; energy firm Schneider Electric; and manufacturer Siemens . This gesture commits them to reaching a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040, one decade before the deadline for the Paris Agreement.  The mighty e-commerce retailer also created a new “Climate Pledge Friendly” shopping section on Amazon.com dedicated to showcasing consumer products that hold one or more of 19 sustainability certifications such as Cradle to Cradle, Energy Star and Fairtrade.  The focus is on grocery, household, fashion, beauty and consumer electronics options — and some initial brands showcased are Burt’s Bees Baby, HP Inc. and Seventh Generation. Amazon also created its own externally validated certification, Compact by Design , which will recognize products designed to require less packaging, which makes them more efficient to ship.  Jenny Ahlen, director of EDF+Business, praised Amazon’s new strategy but said it doesn’t go far enough. “Certifications are a good starting point for companies to help shoppers make more informed and sustainable choices,” she wrote in a blog about the announcement. “But to truly make progress on creating safer, more sustainable products, retailers — Amazon included — need to work with their suppliers to improve the quality of all the products they sell and share that information with shoppers. Calling out a small portion of products that have met environmental standards isn’t enough.”  Climate Group tallies up more members for RE100, EP100  Beverage and snack company PepsiCo set a new global target to source 100 percent of its electricity for company-owned and controlled operations using renewable power by 2030, and across its entire franchise by 2040. (It expects to reach this goal for its U.S. operations by the end of this year.) This move could result in the equivalent of removing 2.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca amped up its renewable energy with a deeper commitment to addressing industrial heat by joining the Renewable Thermal Collaborative, dedicated to decarbonizing tough-to-abate manufacturing and production processes. Currently, 13 percent of AstraZeneca’s power load comes from combined heat and power, and the company has committed to identifying renewable alternatives by 2025. Two energy-centric campaigns managed by the Climate Group welcomed new members this week. The EP100 initiative , which encourages companies to commit to higher levels of productivity and revenue while using less energy, has more than 100 members, with Japan’s Daito Trust Construction among the latest joiners. The RE100 , which represents more than 260 companies committed to using 100 percent renewable power, added new signatories including Intel , ASICS (the apparel company), pharma firm Sanofi and manufacturers SKF and VELUX .  Formidable food purveyors forsake food waste A group of powerful food retailers including Kroger , Tesco and Walmart and food service company Sodexo created the “10x20x30” initiative , which commits them to convincing at least 10 of their suppliers to halving food waste and loss by 2030. The effort is part of Champions 12.3, a group focused on addressing the challenge of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for a 50 percent reduction in food loss and waste by the end of this decade.  One example of the actions we might see as a result is Walmart’s move to source cucumbers that use a coating provided by startup Apeel that extends their shelf life through a natural coating that extends shelf life. “Cutting food loss and waste in half  — from farm to fork — by 2030 will require ambitious, collection action,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability for Walmart, in a statement. “The 10x20x30 initiative is accelerating progress by aligning and training shareholders across the industry on how to dramatically reduce food waste.” IKEA, Unilever, others bring 1.5 Celsius mindset to supply chains The Exponential Roadmap Initiative in Stockholm launched the 1.5 Degrees Supply Chain Leaders initiative , a group of multinational companies that have set targets to halve their absolute GHG emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions across their supply chains by 2050 — in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. Initial supporters include BT Group , Ericsson , IKEA , Telia and Unilever . Among the commitments is making climate-related targets and performance a “key supplier purchasing criteria” by this time next year.  “To tackle the climate challenge, it is not enough for us to collaborate with the big global suppliers,” said Mikko Kuusisto, senior director of strategic sourcing for Telia, in a statement. “We need to engage also with the smaller, more local and often nonlisted companies to get them to commit to halving their emissions by 2030.” To help facilitate that transition, the Exponential Roadmap Initiative teamed up with the International Chamber of Commerce, the We Mean Business coalition and the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign to create the SME Climate Hub . The website will provide a set of resources intended to help smaller suppliers take these steps, including measurement tools, best practices frameworks and services.  Mars, Carrefour giants cultivate new coalition for forests The Forest Positive Coalition of Action, which includes close to 20 companies with a collective market value of $1.8 trillion, is a CEO-level group under the umbrella of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) vowing to address key commodity supply chains that often contribute to deforestation. Among the actions they are advocating include joining forces for forest conservation in “key production landscapes,” policy initiatives and regular reporting.  Aside from sponsors Mars and Carrefour , the list of participants includes Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Danone, Essity, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Jerónimo Martins, METRO AG, Mondel?z, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart. The launch was greeted with skepticism by environmental NGOs including the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), SumofUs, Friends of the Earth U.S. and Amazon Watch, which notes that the involved companies so far have fallen short on deforestation commitments and on protecting the rights of Indigenous people. “We’ve see 10 years of inaction, half-measures and greenwashing from the CGF, while human rights defenders and frontline communities have been putting their lives on the line to defend forests from rampant corporate expansion,” said Brihannala Morgan, senior forest campaigner at RAN, in a statement. Microsoft shares ‘positive’ vibes for water Building on its “carbon negative” pledge in January, a goal that will see it remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it historically has emitted, Microsoft is applying that same mindset to its water strategy. Only in reverse. Its new commitment will see it reduce the per-megawatt consumption of water related to the energy that powers its operations and also focus on water replenishment in 40 “stressed” regions in which it operates. The goal is to replenish more water than it uses by 2030. That will inspire measures such as: Wetland restoration Removal of impervious pavement Installation of on-site rainwater collection and water recycling systems across its newest offices, including the new Silicon Valley campus, the redesign at its central campus in the Seattle area and facilities in India and Israel A heightened focus on evaporative and “adiabatic” (outside air) cooling technologies for its data centers AI for Earth technologies, such as a project called Vector Center, for helping measure water risk and scarcity  It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s new strategy prioritizes not just availability but also accessibility, the issue of safe drinking water and sanitation. Were there other announcements this week? Sure, and I’m also sure I’ll get plenty of emails about what I “missed.” While I am grateful for every company that commits to taking practical, meaningful, un-greenwashed action, the common thread of the visions advanced above is that they set the bar higher — even if just a little bit. That’s what we need to move entire industries to support taking action on the climate crisis. Topics Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A moment in time for the climate clock on the metronome in New York’s Union Square.

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From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

A corporate water strategy manifesto: We can and will do better

September 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

A corporate water strategy manifesto: We can and will do better Will Sarni Wed, 09/23/2020 – 01:30 We have decided to craft this brief manifesto to challenge the status quo, accelerate innovation, solve wicked water problems and achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” The pandemic has strengthened our resolve to do better. Our observations and point of view for 2020 so far are: The pandemic has been an accelerator of trends, such as the digital transformation of the water sector, attention on lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and the appalling underinvestment in water infrastructure in the U.S. and globally. The recent interest and commitment to water pledges has diverted scarce resources and funds from actions such as watershed conservation and protection, reuse, technology innovation and adoption, public policy innovation, etc. The corporate sector has too narrow of a view of the opportunities to solve wicked water challenges. We no longer can be silent on the tradeoff between pledges versus actions. The belief that more of the same is unacceptable. We also believe that scale of investment in solving wicked water problems is grossly inadequate, whether at the watershed level, supply chain, operations or engagement on public policy and with civil society. The statistics on water scarcity, poor quality, inequity and lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene remain appalling and unacceptable. We held these beliefs before the pandemic, which have only accelerated this year and prompted us to share our view. Most important, the statistics on water scarcity, poor quality, inequity and lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene remain appalling and unacceptable. For example: About 4 billion people, representing nearly two-thirds of the world population, experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year ( Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2016 ). 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030 ( Global Water Institute, 2013 ). Globally, it is likely that over 80 percent of wastewater is released to the environment without adequate treatment ( UNESCO, 2017 ). The World Resources Institute has revised its predictions of the water supply-demand deficit to 56 percent by 2030. Our intention is not to offend or not acknowledge the work done to date by those dedicated to solving water. Instead, it is to push all of us towards doing better together, not more of the same. All of us means the private sector, governments and civil society (community groups, NGOs, labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations and foundations). None of us is doing the job required fast enough. We realize this is hard, complex work and that your efforts are important. We do believe the answers exist but not the fortitude to take on big water risks and make the necessary investments. So, consider the questions below and let’s do more, invest more and scale efficient and effective solutions. Less talk, more action. For businesses: Is sustainability and water stewardship integrated into your business or is it a fringe activity from a sustainability, corporate social responsibility or water team? Does it support your business strategy? If the answer is no, your efforts will be underfunded and understaffed because they, at best, create partial business value. How many “non-sustainability” colleagues from other areas of your business participated in sustainability or water-related conferences/webinars over the last five years? If not many, see the question above. Do you have a water replenishment/balance/neutrality/positive goal? If yes, why, and do you believe these goals actually solve water problems at scale and speed to have an impact? Did you commit to these goals because your competitors have done so, for communications, or to drive the needed improvements at the local level? Is your goal designed to improve access to water and sanitation for everyone at a very local level? Asked another way, in five or 10 years when you claim success, will you have really improved water security in that basin? Can you more effectively use your resources to improve water policies or leverage resources by working collaboratively with others? Water is not carbon, it isn’t fungible and as a result, achieving water-neutral or water-positive goals can be misaligned with watershed impacts. We believe these kinds of goals are complex and can lead to chasing numbers that may not yield the desired business, environmental and community benefits. See WWF for important considerations before developing and issuing them. For all: Are the pledges, memberships and carefully worded water stewardship statements and goals on path to produce the necessary long-term results? Do we really need more private-sector pledges? How about fewer pledges, more actions? In the last five years, from all the water conferences you attended, how many ideas did you take back and implement? Why not take those travel dollars you’re saving in 2020 and what you’ll save in the future because you found new ways to work and invest in actions with others at the basin level? We believe in learning by doing. When did you last talk with a government agency in charge of water or wastewater about improving policies (allocations, cost of water, enforcement of water quality standards, development, tax dollars for green and grey infrastructure, etc.)? We believe improving water-related policies is the ultimate prize, and we need to start taking action, now. How much time do you spend on positioning your organization as a water stewardship leader? Too often, we sustainability professionals at NGOs, businesses and trade organizations get bogged down with labor-intensive marketing and communication efforts instead of focusing on execution. Let your actions speak for themselves. The bottom line: Less talk, more action and investment. Let’s recommit and focus so we can solve water in our lifetime. It is possible. Pull Quote The statistics on water scarcity, poor quality, inequity and lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene remain appalling and unacceptable. Contributors Hugh Share Topics Water Efficiency & Conservation Water Scarcity Water Operations Featured Column Liquid Assets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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A corporate water strategy manifesto: We can and will do better

17,000 Tiehms buckwheat, rare wildflowers of Nevada, destroyed

September 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

While most people seem to appreciate the beauty of wildflowers , somebody in Nevada clearly doesn’t. Last weekend, more than 17,000 Tiehm’s buckwheat plants, a rare wildflower, were destroyed — deliberately. Some person or people used shovels to dig up, mangle and cut buckwheat taproots, seriously impacting all six subpopulations of the flower. “This is an absolute tragedy,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Tiehm’s buckwheat is one of the beautiful gems of Nevada’s biodiversity and some monster destroyed thousands of these irreplaceable flowering plants.” Related: The Ray integrates plants and pollinators along I-85 Tiehm’s buckwheat is a controversial wildflower. Ioneer Corp., an Australian mining company, wants to build an open-pit lithium mine in southwest Nevada. Lithium is a white metal used for making the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles . The plan is for construction to begin in 2021, with the mine opening for business by 2023 and operating for at least 26 years. Ioneer Corp. expects an annual lithium production of about 20,600 tons each year . But the lowly wildflower has been a roadblock, as the mining plan would pretty much wipe out Tiehm’s buckwheat. Federal agencies have also been involved. The Center for Biological Diversity accused the Bureau of Land Management of mismanaging the species and in 2019 petitioned for protection under the Endangered Species Act . This request is currently being reviewed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Donnelly and Naomi Fraga, director of conservation at the California Botanic Garden, estimate that the weekend’s attack has destroyed approximately 40% of the species . “This appears to have been a premeditated, somewhat organized, large-scale operation aimed at wiping out one of the rarest plants on Earth, one that was already in the pipeline for protection,” Donnelly said. “It’s despicable and heartless.” Fraga and Donnelly have recommended to federal and local authorities that the area around the remaining Tiehm’s buckwheat plants should be fenced with 24-hour security. If the survivors are stabilized, rehabilitated, propagated and transplanted, there’s still hope for this species to survive. “I was absolutely devastated when I discovered this annihilation of these beautiful little wildflowers,” Donnelly said. “But we’re not going to let this stop our fight against extinction . We’ll fight for every single buckwheat.” + Center for Biological Diversity Images via Sarah Kulpa/USFWS

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17,000 Tiehms buckwheat, rare wildflowers of Nevada, destroyed

ESG investments: Exponential potential or surfing one wave?

September 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

ESG investments: Exponential potential or surfing one wave? Terry F. Yosie Mon, 09/21/2020 – 00:30 Amidst four concurrent crises — health, economic, race relations and climate — one stand-out 2020 development has been the rebound of major stock markets and, particularly, the growing performance and prominence of environment, social and governance (ESG) traded funds. ESG portfolios not only have outperformed traditional financial assets this year, but also a data analysis prepared by Morningstar, a financial advisory research firm, concluded that almost 60 percent of sustainable investments delivered higher returns than comparable funds over the past decade. Morningstar also found that ESG funds have greater longevity than non-ESG portfolios. About 77 percent of ESG funds that existed 10 years ago are presently available, whereas only 46 percent of traditional investment vehicles maintain that survivorship. These developments raise two overriding questions: what factors have converged to catapult ESG portfolios into the front rows of investment strategy, and what challenges can transform (for better or worse) ESG fund performance in the future? ESG investing has made important strides in the past decade and possesses significant momentum to expand its reach into the broader economy. ESG’s arrival at the Big Dance Since the rebound from the 2007-08 financial crisis, it would have taken a singularly motivated unwise investor to lose money in U.S. equity markets. ESG investors were not unwise. Several sets of factors converged to make these funds an even better bet than the S&P 500, Dow Jones or NASDAQ exchanges that covered a broad array of individual equities, mutual funds or indexed portfolios. These factors include: Less risk and volatility. ESG asset managers and their customers generally prefer a longer-term planning horizon than many of their traditional competitors whose reliance upon program trading or other methods result in more frequent turnover in holdings. In retrospect, it also turned out that ESG portfolios contained less financial risk because they had more accurately identified risks from climate change and considered other variables — such as resilience — for which no accepted risk methodology exists. The response to the international COVID-19 pandemic has become a de facto surrogate to measure corporate resilience and has previewed the economic and societal chaos that is increasingly expected to arrive from accelerating climate change. For investors, ESG portfolios have provided a welcome shelter in the storm and a more profitable one at that.   A declining investment rationale for fossil fuels. What was once a trend is now a rout. ESG asset managers, closely attuned to climate-related risks, recognized the receding value of first coal, and now, petroleum investments that are in the midst of an historic decline. Prior to the 2007-08 financial crash, ExxonMobil enjoyed a market capitalization in excess of $500 billion. By 2016 (and accounting for the rebound from that crash), it stood at about $400 billion. Today, it is $159 billion even as overall equity valuations reach historic highs. Asset write-offs from the oil sector continue to mount and include BP’s write-down of $17.5 billion and Total’s cancellation of $9.3 billion in Canadian oil sands assets. By virtually any established financial metric — net income, capital expenditures, earnings per share — petroleum companies are shrinking. As an industry group, energy is one of the smallest sectors in the S&P 500.   Convergence of transparency and governance. While there are frequent complaints about the lack of robust financial metrics to evaluate ESG investment opportunities, the fact is one of growing convergence around some critical reporting measures. For climate change, these include the information obtained from companies adhering to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) that provide for voluntary and more consistent financial risk reporting. CDP is widely respected among asset managers, and there is growing interest in the efforts of the Global Reporting Initiative-Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to arrive at a simpler, sector-specific, financially relevant set of performance metrics. Governance expectations also have accelerated as more financial firms seek not only fuller disclosure but understanding of actual plans to achieve an impact through, as one example, Scopes 1, 2 and 3 reductions within specific time frames.   Collaboration among financial asset management firms. No longer is it necessary for nuns organized through the Sisters of St. Francis or the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to maintain their lonely vigil to persuade management of their social and environmental concerns. In recent years, their cause has been transformed by the world’s largest asset management firms that have the added advantage of being very large investors in the companies whose practices they wish to change. These organizations — including BlackRock, BNP Paribas Asset Management, CalPERS and UBS Asset Management — generally have no difficulty in meeting with CEOs or, more recently, obtaining increasingly large support for the shareholder resolutions they support. Most significant, in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, these firms increasingly collaborate through organizations such as Climate Action 100+, known as CA100+ (which presently has more than 450 investor members with over $40 trillion in assets), Ceres and the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change. Their climate change action agenda includes setting an emissions reduction target, disclosing climate-related financial risks through the TCFD reporting framework and ensuring that corporate boards are appropriately constituted to focus upon and deliver climate results. In reflecting on this evolution, long-time sustainability investor John Streur of Calvert Research & Management wrote, “We need to spend more of our engagement time pressing for change, as opposed to asking for disclosure.” Disrupting and being disrupted — the road ahead The ESG investment movement has every reason to be optimistic in the short term. There is growing investor and stakeholder momentum for the goals of expanded disclosure, improved corporate governance and measurable plans and impacts, especially for climate change. There is significant expansion in the staff sizes and expertise that better enable firms with ESG portfolios to evaluate financial risks. And their financial performance continues to impress. What could go wrong, come up short or require adaptation? Several factors bear a closer scrutiny. ESG’s value proposition is principally based on de-risking assets. This is too limited a value proposition to meet future needs . For example, ESG data does not reveal much insight for identifying research and development priorities, product innovation opportunities or effective branding and marketing strategies. As Brown University professor Cary Krosinsky has commented, “ESG data doesn’t tell you the most important thing: who will win the race” in future business competition and success for the long-term. In short, is ESG investment too disconnected from the very purpose of an enterprise — to innovate new products, gain customers and make money over time through business development?   As ESG investment goes mainstream, it will face new challenges and risks. A current advantage that ESG managers possess is that their decisions focus more on pure-play outcomes such as de-risking companies from climate change or other sustainability challenges. As more traditional investment firms acquire or expand ESG capabilities, more complexity will enter into investment decisions to reconcile clients’ needs or manage the trade-offs between ESG performance measures and those applied through shareholder value driven outcomes (earnings per share, quarterly financial reporting). Aligning expectations concerning executive compensation, independence of directors and future investment opportunities are major unresolved issues between ESG and traditional investment practitioners.   To be more impactful, the composition of ESG portfolios will need to change. Currently, ESG funds are dominated by equities, but significant capital is invested in other sectors such as bonds, exchange traded funds (ETFs) and real estate. The methodology for evaluating these asset classes will need to be modified from that applied to the assessment of equities. At the same time, ESG funds are heavily weighted in ownership of technology stocks, particularly the so-called FAANG companies — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google — in addition to Microsoft. A number of these firms have inadequate data security and privacy protections, weak corporate governance and poor business ethics. The long-term wisdom of piling so many investment eggs into a single sector basket, combined with the multiple ESG problems of current technology portfolios, challenges ESG asset firms to become more transparent about their own evaluation criteria and decision making about portfolio diversity.   ESG assessments should assign a higher priority to social issues. The “S” in ESG is the least understood of the three factors, and it will be the most challenging to apply. As diversity, inclusion and equity become a greater focus of corporate sustainability policies and programs, the methodology for their evaluation is the least advanced. In part, this reflects the cultural and racial filter of a largely white and wealthy investor class lagging in its comprehension that race and social justice are material investment criteria. Simultaneously, data on social indicators will be more difficult to collect. Large numbers of companies are reluctant to disclose such information because it will expose gender and racial gaps in pay and promotion and general under-representation of minorities. Again, the technology sector is a major laggard on such issues. More broadly, the collection of social data, especially for racial diversity, is made more difficult as a matter of policy by many governments outside the United States, including in Europe where it is illegal in some countries to collect ethic and racial information. Some ESG investors are beginning to expand their dialogue around these issues, but they are much further behind when compared to their assessments and investment policies on environmental and governance issues. ESG investing has made important strides in the past decade and possesses significant momentum to expand its reach into the broader economy. Karina Funk, portfolio manager and chair of Sustainable investing at Brown Advisory, sees an approaching convergence between ESG and traditional investment philosophies. “ESG is a value-add,” she noted in a recent conversation. “It provides an expanding array of tools — financial screening, data analysis, issue-specific consultations with companies, proxy voting and an emerging focus on social risks — so that, in five years, ESG will be a standard expectation in asset evaluations. The key will be to focus on all risks facing a company, quantifiable or not, the exposure of business models and identifying what factors are within a company’s control.” Will management listen to ESG investors? Voices as varied as the U.S. Department of Labor and Harvard economics professor Gregory Mankiw are urging company executives and fund managers to tip the scales against what they consider to be economically risky and materially irrelevant ESG factors. In re-asserting the primacy of shareholder value, they remind us that voice of Milton Friedman still echoes from the crypt even as it grows fainter within the rapid humming of today’s marketplace and changing society. Pull Quote ESG investing has made important strides in the past decade and possesses significant momentum to expand its reach into the broader economy. Topics Finance & Investing ESG GreenFin Featured Column Values Proposition Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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ESG investments: Exponential potential or surfing one wave?

Rihanna’s new Fenty skincare line leads the industry in sustainability

September 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Fans of Rihanna’s trendy cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, have a lot to look forward to with the new addition of her latest enterprise, Fenty Skin. The Fenty Skin line, released in July 2020, boasts a clean, vegan and earth-conscious system that incorporates recycled post-consumer materials and refill systems for products that embrace sustainability in all the right ways. Rihanna spent years frustrated and overwhelmed by the vast number of skincare choices available and even had a few bad experiences with a product that discolored her skin. “Fenty Skin is my vision of the new culture of skincare,” Rihanna said . “I wanted to create amazing products that really work, that are easy to use, and everyone can apply it.” Fast forward to 2020, and the talented singer and entrepreneur has created an approachable and simple skincare system that celebrates the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her own skincare journey. Related: Haeckels delivers zero-waste skincare with Bio Restore Membrane Globally sourced, clean ingredients It’s no secret that Rihanna’s successful career has brought her around the world, from her home country of Barbados to New York, Los Angeles and Paris, and the Fenty Skin ingredients certainly reflect that. Everything is clean, vegan , gluten-free and mineral oil-free, combining global ingredients like vitamin C-rich Barbados Cherry with popular skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide (vitamin B3). The affordable products also feature refreshing, tropical fragrances like coconut and wild desert Kalahari Melon, with synthetic fragrance never exceeding 1% of the total formula. Other thoughtful and unique ingredients include Japanese Raisin, a natural and ancient detoxifying botanical; Australian Lemon Myrtle, a healing flowered plant that reduces oil; and Ginkgo Biloba, a tree used in Chinese healing techniques to clarify skin. “I’ve lived and traveled all over the world and I wanted to make sure that Fenty Skin represented the best-of-the-best when it came to our ingredients,” Rihanna said on the company’s website. “I wanted safe, clean, effective formulas that celebrated and respected what our planet has to offer.” You won’t find any harsh ingredients here, either. Fenty Skin’s formulas are free from parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, formaldehydes, thiazolinones, paraffins and sodium lauryl sulfate, to say the least. Even better, the SPF products don’t use any reef-harming or coral-bleaching oxybenzone or octinoxate, and all products are free from the plastic microbeads that have been shown to harm marine life. It’s inclusive, too, with every Fenty Skin product tested on all skin tones, textures and types. Sustainable packaging Fenty Skin is designed to have less of an impact on the environment by striving to reduce, reuse and recycle at every opportunity. “I wanted the packaging to be beautiful, but also functional with an earth-conscious approach,” Rihanna explained on Fenty Skin’s site. “We eliminated boxes where we could, we have refill systems, and we use recycled materials where possible. Nobody is perfect, but I really believe we can try our best to do right and we’ll keep evolving as we go.” The company makes an effort to eliminate excess packaging , and even those products that require protective paper boxes have recyclable elements. Fenty Skin also utilizes refillable systems so that customers can buy a product once and purchase a refill when they run out without having to throw away the entire container. The system requires less packaging and makes the products less expensive in the long run, a win-win. Where possible, the bottles, tubes and jars incorporate post-consumer materials, and all shipping boxes are fully recyclable. Fenty Skin Start’rs Fenty promotes 2-in-1 products with its three main “Fenty Skin Start’rs,” consisting of the Total Cleans’r Remove-It-All Cleanser ($25), the Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum ($28) and the Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen ($35). The regime starts with a gentle makeup remover-cleanser complete with a creamy lather that removes dirt, oil and makeup without drying, then moves into a toner-serum hybrid to target pores, improve dark spots and fight shine, and finishes with a moisturizer-sunscreen combination for hydration and sun protection. One of the most compelling aspects of Rihanna’s new skincare line is that it doesn’t showboat its sustainability (which is hard to come by nowadays, considering the uptick of greenwashing in the beauty industry). Looking at the products themselves, there’s no gaudy green label or wood-capped packaging to make it appear more eco-friendly. Packaging is minimalist and chic, not unlike the Fenty Beauty products that highlight the superior colors and formulas in simple-yet-stylish containers. Instead, the brand is transparent about its goals to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious behind the scenes. As Rihanna herself puts it, Fenty Skin is a “vision of the new culture of skincare.” This earth-conscious business model is a role model for all companies, no matter the industry. + Fenty Skin Images via Bold PR

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Rihanna’s new Fenty skincare line leads the industry in sustainability

Why agtech is critical for regenerative agriculture

September 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Why agtech is critical for regenerative agriculture Heather Clancy Thu, 09/17/2020 – 01:30 Early this month, McDonald’s made headlines when it teamed with Cargill, Target and The Nature Conservancy to put $8.5 million toward helping Nebraska farmers cultivate regenerative agriculture practices over the next five years. The initiative, like others emerging in the past several years from Cargill , General Mills, Danone and other big companies in the food system, is aimed at promoting natural carbon sequestration practices — and it is piloting ways farmers can be rewarded for embracing them. As much as I’m encouraged by these efforts, I’ve often wondered: What metrics are being used to evaluate them? What does success look like? What will it take to scale these pilots? And how on earth is this all being measured? A new relationship between Microsoft and Land O’Lakes points to part of the answer. The multiyear alliance centers on the farmer cooperative’s agtech software portfolio, including its Winfield United forecasting tools and Truterra , a platform developed to manage sustainability programs such as no-till cultivation, precision nutrient management and cover crop planting. The deal calls for the Land O’Lakes apps to become part of Microsoft’s burgeoning cloud service focused on agriculture, Azure FarmBeats ; the two companies are developing a resource specifically for serving dairy farmers and are collaborating to deploy broadband in rural communities to help make the connections. It turns out that grain silos and elevators are pretty good hosts for wireless antennae. We’re moving away from intuition-based decisions. Your cost might stay the same, but your output will go up. … And food companies can trace it back to certain practices. What is particularly intriguing to me is the future of an app called Data Silo, which captures historical data. Microsoft and Land O’Lakes plan to create a cloud service that combines that data with artificial intelligence and other data streams, such as weather forecasts, to suggest better management practices. Considering more than 150 million acres of cropland are in the Land O’Lakes network — nearly half of the 349 million acres under crop production in the United States — that’s pretty valuable information. “We’re moving away from intuition-based decisions,” Teddy Bekele, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Land O’Lakes, told me when we spoke about the deal this summer. “Your cost might stay the same, but your output will go up. … And food companies can trace it back to certain practices.” One organization that’s already gathering this sort of insight is the U.S. division of Tate & Lyle, the 160-year-old U.K. food and beverage ingredients company. Two years ago, Tate & Lyle began enrolling corn suppliers in a sustainability program focused on emissions reductions, soil wellness and water conservation. The initiative covers 1.5 million acres of sustainably grown corn, which represents the yield Tate & Lyle buys globally on an annual basis, according to information it has published about the results . Corn was chosen because this crop represents the majority of the company’s emissions in the U.S. Using Truterra, the company has gathered some compelling insights from 148,000 acres it has been tracking since 2018, noted Anna Pierce, director of sustainability for Tate & Lyle. Among the 100 data points it is measuring are fertilizer applications, pest management practice, nitrogen levels, the use of cover crops and other practices advocated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Here are four specific results for those fields: 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions 38 percent increase in nitrogen efficiency (applications are more targeted) 6 percent reduction in sheet and topsoil erosion 4 percent improvement in the “soil conditioning” index, which is an indicator of how well soil can absorb carbon dioxide Pierce took pains to note that Tate & Lyle doesn’t dictate what farmers should be doing on their land. “They match the right practice to the field,” she told me. But Tate & Lyle has signaled it intends to refine its procurement policies around certain priority ingredients as part of its science-based Scope 3 commitment to reduce absolute CO2 emissions in its supply chain by 15 percent by 2030. And it is sharing this information with its own customers, which could become a point of differentiation. “We provide environmental impact data to those customers who opt into the program equating to acres used to produce the ingredients they procure from Tate & Lyle,” she noted. Among the ingredients that will receive particular attention are corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and palm oil. Tate & Lyle is not paying farmers for participation; rather, the focus is on illustrating the linkage between certain soil wellness practices and their crop yields. “They’ve never connected some of this data before,” Pierce said. As the focus on regenerative ag scales, data will be central. Multiple projects for farm management software suggest a big increase in adoption by 2025, with Grand View Research projecting $4.2 billion in sales that year — in large part because of concerns over sustainability of the farm system. What makes the Microsoft-Truterra combination so compelling is that the data is being considered from the farmer’s point of view, not someone trying to sell seeds, fertilizer or farm equipment. You should also keep your eye on upstarts such as OpenTEAM, an open-source resource that Stonyfield Farm is championing, and Farmers Business Network , which raised $250 million in venture funding in August. It represents 12,000 members who farm 40 million acres in the U.S. and Canada. Tell me more about the other organizations I should track by emailing heather@greenbiz.com . Pull Quote We’re moving away from intuition-based decisions. Your cost might stay the same, but your output will go up. … And food companies can trace it back to certain practices. Topics Food & Agriculture Information Technology Agtech Climate Tech 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

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Why agtech is critical for regenerative agriculture

Circular Electronics: Creating a Responsible Supply Chain, Part 1

September 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Circular Electronics: Creating a Responsible Supply Chain, Part 1 Can we create a responsible circular supply chain for circular electronics? This more in-depth series of case studies will explore how electronics companies are designing waste out of products and offerings, including easily repairable and modular consumer electronics. This discussion explores deeper nuances of the circular economy approaches to recycling electronics.” Part one of a two-part breakout session: https://youtu.be/c4esivyFbhY Speakers Dan Reid, Senior Environmental Program Manager, Responsible Business Alliance Remco Kouwenhoven, Social Innovation Lead, Fairphone Jordan Tse, Sustainability Program Manager, Facebook Shelley Zimmer, Sustainability Program Manager, HP Holly Secon Wed, 09/16/2020 – 01:10 Featured Off

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