Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

February 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher Deonna Anderson Fri, 02/26/2021 – 00:30   Moving from a linear business model to a circular takes time, effort and trial and error. But it also has its hidden benefits. “It can help you with some operational efficiencies. It can also position you to be sort of a company of the future, and also, frankly, tackle the environmental challenges that we have of our consumption model,” said Tensie Whelan, director at New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business, at the end of a conversation that she moderated about circular business models at GreenBiz 21 .  Whelan led a conversation with leaders at REI, IKEA and Eileen Fisher, each of which are embracing circular practices in some parts of their businesses. For REI, transitioning to a circular model seems inevitable so it’s doing the work now. “REI, as a company, we believe that this broader kind of shift to a more circular economy is something that the world is really going to have to do over the next 10 years,” said Ken Voeller, director of circular commerce and new business development at REI. “And it’s also a shift that’s going to take many forms. There’s resale, there’s rental, there’s designing products with circularity in mind. It’s not really like there’s a silver bullet.” I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Here are four lessons about implementing and iterating circular business models from these retailers. 1. The nuts and bolts of resell sound simple on paper But they’re more complicated in action.  “There’s a lot to think about, as it relates to how do you want to build the infrastructure to support a more circular economy. And then how do you want to build the capability to support it,” Voeller said, noting that the effort aligns with the company’s broader business aspirations, including halving its carbon footprint by 2030. REI has been partnering with Trove (formerly Yerdle) to work out the kinks and operate its resell program in an effort to become more circular. “As we think about the things that we can do as a company to continue to grow revenue, without necessarily growing environmental impact, our circular businesses really hit that sweet spot of being able to do both of those things,” Voeller added. In order to make a circular economy work, a company needs a lot of partners. For REI, while Trove is one of those partners, in a sense, so are the customers that return items for the recommerce program. 2. Engaging customers before they step foot into a store IKEA, known for its flat-packed furniture, has launched buyback programs in select markets. Debuting on Black Friday 2020 , the program was temporarily launched in some countries where IKEA operates, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. And IKEA U.S. is looking forward to launching such a program in the future, after it’s able to wade through state regulations. The program is part of the company’s journey to become more circular. Here’s what the process looks like for a customer interested in selling furniture back to IKEA: Complete an online form about the piece of furniture Receive an payment offer from IKEA Drop off furniture at the store Receive payment from IKEA in the form of a voucher IKEA will sell item in its bargain section “We wouldn’t be asking a customer to lug in a big bookcase that maybe they have sitting in their basement that they haven’t used, just to see if we’ll buy it back from them,” said Jenn Keesson, sustainability manager at IKEA U.S., during the GreenBiz 21 discussion. At the time of the Black Friday announcement, the company noted that any items it is unable to resell will be recycled. “It’s really an end of life solution. … I’m sure that all of us can think of an item in our house that we haven’t gotten rid of, but we’re still not using. So we were excited to be able to offer this solution to our customers in the U.S.,” Keesson said. 3. Presenting customers with all their options Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its takeback and resale program Renew in 2009, it has collected 1.5 million returned garments, according to Cynthia Power, director of Eileen Fisher Renew. “I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it,” Power said. “It’s exciting to keep trying to figure out how to make it better and how to keep the most garments in use for as long as possible.” Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its resale program Renew in 2009, it has taken back 1.5 million garments. Photo by melissamn on Shutterstock. Eileen Fisher Renew has been experimenting with the larger main brand in some of its retail stores to display new products alongside used products, design samples and remanufactured products. “We’re really trying to give the customer a view into all the different life cycles of our clothes,” Power said. 4. A gateway for customers — new and old For both Eileen Fisher and REI, the recommerce work each company is doing seems to be getting the attention of people who’ve never shopped with them before. “We really see the renew program and resell in general as an opportunity to bring in a new customer who, whether it’s price point or environmental values, or whatever the customer likes, offers them a new way into the brand,” Power said. “We’ve definitely seen a significant percentage of new customers purchasing from Renew who haven’t necessarily purchased from the main line before.” A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. Voeller of REI noted a similar trend at the outdoor recreation company and added that its resell program also offers an opportunity to develop a different type of relationship with existing customers. “We really view the supply side of our recommerce business as a really interesting retention tool to keep customers engaged with REI and continuing to turn to us for their outdoor purchases,” he said. “They’re able to say, ‘I’ve got this backpack that’s been in my closet for three years. I’ve used it twice. I really don’t need that. Why don’t I trade that into REI, and I’ll get credit to apply towards the thing that I really do want?’”  And while most of the conversations and strategies between these business leaders focused on resale, they know it’s not the only circular business model. Companies that want to be more circular likely will need and want to take multiple approaches to get there. “A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up,” Voeller said.    Pull Quote A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Topics Circular Economy GreenBiz 21 Business Development Recommerce GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Ikea, REI and Eileen Fisher are banking on a circular model to propel them into the next era of commerce.//Images by  Graeme Dawes ,  Eric Glenn and  Helen89 on Shutterstock.

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Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

US officially rejoins Paris Agreement

February 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

As promised, President Joe Biden has helped the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate accord after Donald Trump’s reign of eco-terror. As of last Friday, it’s official. But now comes the hard part: getting the U.S. to set and meet a national target for cutting fossil fuel emissions. Although the U.S. president is also busy with COVID-19 deaths surpassing 500,000, the climate just can’t wait. As Biden said to the Munich security conference, “We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change . This is a global existential crisis, and all of us will suffer if we fail.” Related: Biden signs executive order to rejoin Paris Agreement Biden’s challenge is to set a realistic target while balancing tricky financial and political realities in a country where many citizens deny the climate is even changing. His administration wants to settle on a U.S. emissions goal by April, in time for the Earth Day summit Biden is hosting. Climate leaders are hoping that a strong U.S. plan will serve as a good role model for other countries figuring out how to cut their emissions. Many Republican leaders are skeptical. “Returning to the Paris climate agreement will raise Americans’ energy costs and won’t solve climate change,” tweeted Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the Senate energy panel’s top Republican. “The Biden administration will set unworkable targets for the United States while China and Russia can continue with business as usual.” Paris accord leaders want to keep global warming from reaching 3.6°F (2°C) higher than pre-industrial times. Already the world is up 2.2°F (1.2°C), leaving us very little wiggle room. Thanks to Trump’s stance on the environment, the U.S. was officially out of the Paris Agreement for 107 days. Some environmental leaders worried that when a Trump-led U.S. abandoned the accord, other countries would follow. Fortunately, none did. Now, Biden has the challenge of reversing Trump’s four years of climate inaction. The world awaits the nation’s new emission -cutting plan. Via AP Image via H. Hach

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US officially rejoins Paris Agreement

Corporate philanthropy becomes a renewed focus for leadership companies

February 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Corporate philanthropy becomes a renewed focus for leadership companies Myisha Majumder Tue, 02/23/2021 – 00:05 In 2020, philanthropic donations by major donors saw an almost 7 percent increase on a year-to-date basis. As companies direct more of their money to external charitable causes, internally decision-makers are assessing how the companies’ philanthropic efforts tie into their values, corporate responsibilities and sustainability strategies. For many, this includes weaving sustainability into their already established practices. Jeannette Astorga, head of sustainability at Zoetis, explained during the recent GreenBiz 21 event that the company’s philanthropy needs to be strategic and in line with the company’s sustainability strategy. During the session, Cecily Joseph, adviser for the Presidio Graduate School Initiative for Equity and Social Justice, highlighted the three major components of sustainability in business today — racial equity, climate change, and health and wellness. Joseph noted that racial equity is especially at the forefront of philanthropic strategy given a rise in calls for racial justice in 2020 in the corporate sector. “For companies, [racial equity] encompasses talent and workforce development that are internal to the company,” Joseph said. “[But also] systemic and institutional racism, policies, education.” A multifaceted approach for achieving racial equity is at the center of philanthropic efforts. For example, JPMorgan Chase committed $50 billion towards the advancement of racial justice — including $2 billion specifically for philanthropic efforts — while also working inside the company to diversify its employees. Joseph also cited Apple ’s and Intel’s recent initiatives dedicated to racial equity, pointing out that those initiatives are fueled by philanthropy dollars. While racial justice has become a top corporate priority for many companies this past year, the increased prevalence of the climate crisis has led to further emphasis on using philanthropic dollars on climate change. The violent North American wildfire season , the midwestern and southern winter storms last week and 2020 ending as the hottest year on record, tying with 2016, have made it clear we are entering a new phase of climate catastrophe. And while philanthropic donations towards climate change, in particular, have doubled in the last five years, they still only account for less than 2 percent of total philanthropic donations. But 2020 also presented an opportunity for corporate leadership to look closer to home than a typical philanthropic venture. As the coronavirus pandemic pushed people into isolation, drastically increased burnout and created intense stress, companies worked to support the well-being and the emotional sustainability of their employees.  Philanthropic donations towards climate change have doubled in the last 5 years, yet still only account for less than 2% of total philanthropic donations. In addition to her normal philanthropic work, Kimberly Paxton-Hanger, co-owner of Kwik Lok, worked to give her employees a sustainable lifestyle that supported their communities and families, and helped them be good stewards of their home environment. According to her, this holistic approach made it so that “[the company’s] values are reflected in everything you choose to do.” According to Kwik Lok’s 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility report , the company covered 100 percent of health insurance costs in the U.S. during COVID-19 and nearly one-third of U.S. employees participate in “a company well-being program.”  Astorga explained how during the pandemic, Zoetis looked for ways it could help people struggling outside the company and support healthcare workers. The animal health company donated its cold storage equipment to food banks and personal protective equipment to local hospitals. But to enact true and lasting change, both Paxton-Hanger and Astogra highlighted the need for long-term partnerships. “We want to have partnerships where we are actually interacting with them in a way that is part of our core business operations,” Astogra said. In doing so, sustainability can become a part of the business, rather than solely a one-off philanthropic goal. As Joseph looks to the future, she finds a powerful truth and wisdom in BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink’s 2021 letter to CEOs. In his letter, Fink underscores the importance that no issue is independent of social consequences. Philanthropic work is one pathway of many, that must work in conjunction with others, to achieve equity and justice. “[We are seeing] interconnectedness between philanthropy and sustainability in a way we hadn’t seen before,” Joseph said. Pull Quote Philanthropic donations towards climate change have doubled in the last 5 years, yet still only account for less than 2% of total philanthropic donations. Topics Corporate Social Responsibility Corporate Strategy Philanthropy Corporate Social Responsibility Corporate Strategy ESG GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off There is a renewed focus on what corporate money can and should be doing in the philanthropy space.  Via Shutterstock.

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Corporate philanthropy becomes a renewed focus for leadership companies

SoilKit wins recognition through Lowe’s small businesses program

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Through the “Making It…With Lowe’s” program, entrepreneurs around the U.S. had the opportunity to showcase their products and innovative ideas. Three winners were picked out of many products and various entries into the program. One of these standouts is SoilKit, and the story behind the kit is just as interesting as the product itself. SoilKit is a soil test kit created by fifth-generation farmer Christina Woerner McInnis. This Alabama resident used her grandmother’s knowledge of soil health and modern soil chemistry to create a kit that will help aspiring gardeners keep their soil healthy. McInnis spent her younger years working on her grandmother’s farm, which dates to 1908. She decided to help everyday homeowners and gardeners expand their soil knowledge and make it easier for them to achieve soil health. Enter SoilKit, a comprehensive product that allows anyone to gather and submit a soil sample for expert lab reports and extensive information about the soil. Because she found a way to simplify a process that has been mostly performed by scientists and serious soil enthusiasts in the past, Lowe’s offered her a top supplier marketing development package and a Small Business Grant for $5,000. Consumers can purchase SoilKit right now. Making It…With Lowe’s is a $55 million program designed to support small businesses and provide opportunities. Lowe’s has also released a three-part YouTube series showcasing the three standout small business owners who recently submitted their impressive ideas. “Lowe’s began nearly a century ago as a small-town hardware store, and we know small business is the backbone of our economy ,” said Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe’s president and CEO. “Our Making It…With Lowe’s program attempts to give these diverse small business owners a shot at the American Dream – and inspire others through their stories.” Small businesses that are at least 51% minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, disability-owned or LGBTQ-owned are encouraged to apply to the  Making It…With Lowe’s program. + Lowe’s Images via Lowe’s

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SoilKit wins recognition through Lowe’s small businesses program

Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead Joel Makower Mon, 02/22/2021 – 02:11 Architect, designer and author William McDonough is well-known to many in sustainability — as a pioneer in green building; as the erstwhile “green dean” of architecture; as co-author of the seminal 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle”; as a designer of breakthrough buildings and materials; as a deep thinker about how design relates to a healthy and abundant future; and as an enthusiastic framer of the concepts and language that have become part of the sustainability lexicon. On the occasion of his 70th birthday this month, I caught up with McDonough to discuss his journey and some seminal moments in his life and career, and how they influenced his work. And to take a peek into where he may be headed next. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Joel Makower: Well, Bill, first of all, happy birthday. Are you excited to be 70? Bill McDonough: Well, it is very exciting. There is so much going on, and I have so many things to do. And I expect to continue to be hyperactive for another 20 years. For me, it is one of those moments to stop and think, and celebrate all my friends and all the wonderful things that I have had a chance to participate in. So, it just feels like a great moment to reflect. And then get back to work. Makower: Let’s talk a bit about how you got here. I am sure there are some pivotal moments when you think about your journey to today. When you speak, you often start off talking about growing up in Tokyo. Tell me why that feels like such an important part of who you became. McDonough: My parents were in Japan, both speaking Japanese, because my father was a Japanese language officer for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and my mother was also trained in Japanese by the U.S. Army. They were one of 200 couples sent into Japan after the war to wage peace. My mother was in the first group of American civilian women off the boat. They were sent into the villages everywhere to meet with the Japanese people in villages — no uniforms, no weapons, no paperwork, no marked Jeeps. It felt so natural when I was a child there to be part of this amazing place and to wage peace. James and Sara McDonough visit K?toku-in, a Buddhist temple in Kamakura, Japan, 1951. All photos courtesy of William McDonough I will never forget seeing Hiroshima and saying, “Oh, my God. We had a war. What is it about people that they would try and kill each other? How could we invent something so astonishing as a device that can destroy cities in seconds?” And watching my mother do flower arranging and say, “Oh, Mom, that is beautiful.” And she says, “Yes, this is the Ma.” “What is the Ma?” “The Ma is the space between the flowers.” Makower: I can start to see how some of that connects — the space between the flowers, the idea of waging peace. Where did that take you? McDonough: Last year, I opened the G20 in two tracks: climate and energy. I did four speeches. What we were looking at was how do we look at carbon in this circular economy? How do we look at carbon itself as an element, which is both an energy source and a material? How do we really start to think about how we manage it by intention? So we created a protocol about that. I am cataloging various things that are accruing into who I am, and the title of it is, ‘Waging Peace Through Commerce by Design.’ I do a little portfolio every six months about what I am working on or what I have done, and I am cataloging various things that are accruing into who I am, and the title of it is, “Waging Peace Through Commerce by Design.” Every act can be an act of waging peace. And so, for example, the end of all the sessions for the G20, when the leaders adopted this protocol we had put forward, the message that came with it was, “Let us all put down all sharp instruments now. We are not here to complain about how you are doing something or how you are using the wrong word or this or that. It does not matter. There is only one question: How can I help you?” That is it. All of us help each other and get this done. Makower: Your family moved from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Canada and then ultimately to Connecticut, and you attended Dartmouth. I imagine that that was a critical piece of how you got into design and architecture as a profession. McDonough: Dartmouth was magnificent for me because here I am, I am 18, and my two abiding questions from childhood were “Why do people fight with each other and destroy each other?” and “How can you make something so destructive that you can make a city disappear?” So, I started studying international relations, thinking I could be an ambassador someday. But all of the international relations courses that I could enter were around détente and about mutually assured destruction. That was so depressing that I thought, “I cannot spend my whole life arguing about mutually assured destruction.” At Dartmouth, 1972 I was doing photography and I got to work with Walker Evans — who is, I think, one of the greatest photographers of all time. And I was standing with him one day and I had an 8×10 view camera. He was using an SX-70 Polaroid. And I said, “Mr. Evans, you are the greatest black-and-white photographer of all time. I would be happy to carry your camera around.” He said, “No, no. You do not understand, Bill. You are 21. I am 71. When I was your age, I could lug around 40 pounds of equipment. But then, when the 4×5 Super Graphics came along, I could go to the factories. And then, when the Rolleiflex came around, I could go into the factories. And then when the Leica silent 35mm came along, I could go into the subways in New York. And now look what I can do. [Makes whirring sound.] Here. Portrait of William McDonough by Walker Evans.” And I remember thinking, “Oh, my goodness.” And he said, “What I am trying to teach you is that every 10 years, put down your tools.” So, if I was still walking around with an 8×10 view camera, I would only have one life. And so, every 10 years, stop, reflect and take the new tools. Makower: So, what was the path from there to sustainable design? McDonough: I was at Yale, and we had the energy crisis in 1973. I decided to build a solar-heated house. And I decided to go back to my ancestors’ place to do it, which would be Ireland, so I could understand the ancients; I could understand what it is like to be humble in a place, and then what it would be like to build a solar-powered house in Ireland. So, I just started building an experimental house there by hand. And I worked on that during the whole time I was at Yale and a year after. I got to think about these things deeply because I lived it. I was freezing, and I had no money. And building was hard, and I did not know what I was doing. I graduated from Yale and came back to New York. I worked at a big firm and did a lot of competitions, and it was really fun and we were really good. Then, when I started my own firm, my first client had a ranch in Utah, so I got to go out there and work around Zion National Park designing 13,000 acres. It was pretty fabulous — bridges and buildings. At the opening of his architecture firm in New York, 1981 Then I got hired by the Environmental Defense Fund to do their national headquarters in New York. It became known as the first green office in New York City, which we did in 1984. We were looking at the lighting for the right kind of colors. We looked at the carpets — we wanted to get all the toxins out of the carpet glues. It was the beginning of the green office and the green building movement. There were a bunch of us in the States, and we slowly coalesced into a Committee on the Environment within the American Institute of Architects. One of my contractors started the U.S. Green Building Council after building a project for me in Washington. That was David Gottfried. And it just kept going. Makower: What was it about green architecture that made you realize you needed to be doing this for the rest of your career? McDonough: To me it was just obvious. This is how we can be. It literally felt natural. Why would we not want to save healthy things? Why would we want to destroy the world at all? Why would we do that? Why would we do it to each other? We are waging peace. We are not here to poison you with carpets. We are not here to make your day miserable because the light frequencies are sending you into strange sleeping patterns. We are here to make your life better, not worse. So, it just seemed natural. It just seemed obvious and normal to me. Makower: At some point you realized that buildings were only part of it. The materials themselves — not just building materials but materials in general — were another big opportunity that needed to be addressed. How did you get to that particular pivot? McDonough: I had two things occur simultaneously in 1989. One is that I won a competition in Germany for a daycare center and my proposal was called a low-entropy building. In other words, a building that is organized instead of chaotic. I designed a daycare center that was solar-powered. It had a laundry for the parents so they could wait for the kids. Purified water. It grew food. It had shutters and skylights operated by children so they could let the sun in, keep the sun out, put them to bed at night, that kind of thing. And I just thought a building as an organism operated by children would be so much fun. With Michael Braungart, 2013 While they were having that conversation I was looking at the children and they were eating the building and the furniture. They had their mouths on everything. Chew, chew, chew. I was thinking, “What are they eating?” I realized I had to get together with an ecotoxicologist and find out what all this stuff we were using was made out of, down to the molecule. That is what ultimately led me to Michael Braungart, because Michael had been the head of Greenpeace Chemistry, worrying about exactly that kind of thing. The other thing that happened, I won a competition in Warsaw for a skyscraper right before the change of government; I had designed a building. The developer said, “You win.” And I said, “Just one thing. You have to plant 10 square miles of trees to go with the building,” because I calculated how much carbon would be released from the coal to build the building and how much would be needed to operate it. It was about five square miles of trees’ worth of oxygen production or carbon sequestration required to set up one building. And so, I said, “That is part of the building. The 10 square miles of trees go with it.” With a model of the Warsaw Tower, 1980s They priced it, and it was $150,000.00. Amazing. In Poland. That 10 square miles of tree planting was one-tenth of the advertising budget. It was such a strange thing to tell the developer to do that it ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. And they said, “We will plant a forest to satisfy an architect who loves clean air.” Makower: Talk a little bit about the Hannover Principles . First of all, what they are, for people who do not know or remember them, and how those came to be. McDonough: I was in Hannover, working there with Michael. Hannover had just won the World’s Fair for 2000, and they wanted to do sustainability as the theme. They asked me to write the design principles for that World’s Fair based on our work in sustainability. We wrote them from New York. Nine design principles . I still use them. And then, later that year, in June 1992, the German government decided to give the Hannover Principles as a gift to the Earth Summit. Makower: What has happened with them since? Are they still referred to? Have they propagated in any way? McDonough: I see them referred to all the time. We did not make any big program out of it or anything. They are just there. And you can find them, and people render them and make posters out of them and call and ask me to explain them. Makower: The ’90s was in many ways a golden decade for you. You became dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. You designed a building-like-a-tree structure at Oberlin. You designed a building for Herman Miller . You designed  Nike’s European headquarters . You got a Presidential award, I think from Bill Clinton. Then, all of a sudden you seemed to be all about China. What happened? McDonough: Well, President Clinton, after they had a visit by Zhu Rongji in the White House —I think it was around ’98 — it was the first Chinese leader to visit the U.S. since the revolution, and they wanted to exchange gifts. And they had to be careful when exchanging gifts, obviously. So, they decided the exchange would be sustainable development. Let us share information about that. Because the politicians did not know what it was. So, we created the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development, based out of Portland. They looked for a U.S. chair, and they proposed governors and they proposed senators, and the Chinese kept saying, “No. No. No. We are looking for a long-term relationship. Four years is not enough.” With Madame Deng Nan, 1999 So, finally they decided “What about Bill?” because I had won that award at the White House for sustainable development and I am an academic to them, which they respect. And I know a lot of commercial people because all my clients are CEOs and chairs, essentially. And so they said, “You can represent the U.S.” And so I did. For 10 years I was the U.S. chair, with Madame Deng Nan, Deng Xiaoping’s daughter, in China. Makower: What did you learn? McDonough: When we set up the circular economy, the first version for the 12th five-year plan, which came along later, it was interpreted really as “Please recycle.” It had no depth. The second five-year plan, the 13th, became “Implement the circular economy.” So, we started putting guidelines in it. We had “Cradle to Cradle” translated into Chinese by a poet. In China, it was called “The Design of the Circular Economy.” But it is hard to make these kinds of changes. It is really hard. What we were doing was creating a de facto standard of good behavior. But we were not required to by law. We were just doing it. That is the part I really learned, is that you start with inspiration, then you move to creative work, and then you start to execute against it. And once you have executed it and it can stand on its own two feet, well then it is a reference point for people, so it can actually become a standard. The government was not involved in any of this. We just did it. A lot of the things we were working on way back then are now becoming regulations. And I am seeing really good regulation in China over the quality of packaging based on our biological and technical nutrient conversations with them. It is coming to pass. And even watching the Chinese put up the green fence on our recycling, they said, “We are just going to have to say no to all of this because they are sending us the worst of it.” Those kinds of things were people paying attention to issues of human health and dignity and trade and quality. It is slow but worthwhile. With Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute gala, 2012 Makower: A lot of people, when they think of Bill McDonough, immediately go to ” Cradle to Cradle .” Even more so than the Hannover principles, that feels like your legacy. How do you feel about where that has gone? McDonough: I am just so happy that it is meant so much to so many people. I mean, it is the core of the circular economy. I was able to chair the circular economy at the World Economic Forum and we used that as the basis. I have been able to share it with lots of people. Ellen MacArthur has adopted biological, technical, restorative, regenerative. And “product as a service,” I thought, was a really important idea we put forward that has been taken up pretty vigorously. When we first did it, people were saying we were communists because we did not believe in ownership. And we were saying, “Well, what you want from a washing machine is clean clothing, not the ownership of metals, rubber and glass.” So, there is a whole way to think about these things. And modern society has caught up with that, of course. Philips still owns the indium and the gallium and the rare earths and the aluminum from its products. That is the stuff of their business and they still have it on their books. How exciting. Those elements of “Cradle to Cradle” have been widely adopted and in all kinds of forums and programs. So I am really pleased about that. The key thing, though, is that it is really about ecological health down to the molecule. So, even though it became the basis for the circular economy, which we are happy about, at the same time we say “safe and circular.” Safe, then circular. Because a lot of people are saying, “Circular everything.” Well, some of it is toxic and if you have a circular economy, that is bad instead of good. Makower: Where do you see the biggest untapped opportunity for the circular economy? McDonough: I think the largest untapped opportunity is the way we design for the circular economy. We still have people saying, “I am designing for end-of-life,” and that term is actually referencing a scientific protocol known as life-cycle assessment or life-cycle analysis, but it is still a human projection. The idea that these inanimate objects have a life is a bit odd when you think about it. They are not biological items. They are metals and plastics or whatever. We like to say, ‘Do not say end-of-life because it scares children.’ We like to say, “Do not say end-of-life because it scares children.” We know that you are referring to sourcing and disposition, which is a good thing. But let us not say to the children, “We are designing for end-of-life.” So, we say “design for end-of-use.” And once you say “design for end-of-use” it makes you stop. Then you say, “Well, what is the next use?” because that is the obvious next question. So, then you design for next use. So, when you asked, “What is the next big opportunity?” it is design. It is design for next use in the circular economy. But safe and circular. That is somewhere we are working right now, with all kinds of tools — AI, blockchain, what we call material passports and buildings as material banks — we coined terms for all this. These things are all being held for future generations in trust and made available to them. Makower: One of the things that you have started talking about in the last couple of years is carbon — circular carbon and various types of carbon, and that not all carbon is equal. Why is carbon the next interesting place for you? McDonough: I have been involved with renewables forever, but I did not get into the carbon per se issue because there were so many people involved who were so articulate and so engaged and knowledgeable. But all of a sudden one day it occurred to me that carbon had become the enemy. And for a person who works with materials, this is really sad. Demonizing carbon? We are carbon. This is not a good message for the children. “Carbon is the enemy.” “Bad carbon.” So, it is because we worry about the climate and we worry about combustion and we say carbon is a problem and “Carbon-negative is a positive.” It is confusing. This is like saying “less bad,” as we pointed out a long time ago. “Less” is a numerical relationship. “Bad” is a human value. So what I am trying to do is bring values to value. So, the values are “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” “moral/immoral,” “ethical/unethical.” Plato, and then Aristotle, his student, talked about what he called practical wisdom. Aristotle was looking for truth in science and numbers. Smart. Plato is looking for truth in meaning. Wise. So, I prefer wise buildings to smart buildings because we can go beyond statistical significance into a natural intelligence. The idea of looking at carbon and saying it is bad — carbon is an innocent element, a magnificent thing because it is a core of life. I thought, what if we redefine our way of dealing with it and what if we had new language for carbon that does not demonize it? I wrote a paper in Nature , and it has had a wonderful effect. I am delighted that the terms get used. And it basically said we have living carbon, which we can celebrate and we should in every which way we can. The sun shines on the Earth. The carbon obviously becomes photosynthetically engaged and off to the races and we have living things. Biomass. Beautiful. And then we have durable carbon, which is carbon sitting still in a mountain or it might be a beam in a building for a thousand years. And that is what I call the technosphere. A wood beam can be in the technosphere because it is an object of human intention and use, and it is durable. That would include plastics that are recyclable. So, it is durable and it is in our technical system. I thought we needed a new language for carbon. Fugitive carbon, no. Durable carbon, careful. Living carbon, celebrate. And then there is the third kind of carbon, which is fugitive. So, let us just call it for what is. Fugitive carbon at this point in history is a toxin because a toxin in the United States is defined by dose and duration. And so, what is the dose, what is the duration? The dose in the atmosphere is way overloaded and the duration is way too long. We have turned carbon into a toxin for the atmosphere. That is why I thought we needed a new language for carbon. Fugitive carbon, no. Durable carbon, careful. Living carbon, celebrate. Makower: It strikes me that as a design guy, as a visual thinker, that you care a lot about words and language. “Less bad” is not the same as “good.” Carbon is not the enemy. And so many other things — not to mention words and phrases you have either coined or popularized. What is it about language that you see as so critical when so much of the world is a design problem? McDonough: The great thing about being a human is that we get to communicate with each other. And we use words. So if we can embed meaning and spirit and accuracy into our language, we can start to get clarity. So, I just see the obvious, like when I first said “waste equals food.” That is the clearest way I could say it. And “Carbon is not the enemy.” “What? Oh.” And so on. I just love the language. I found out that my writings are being used in a famous English university in a course on rhetoric in the English department. When I asked the professor, “Why are you using my writing?” he said, “You have a weird way of discovering the obvious. And you read your stuff and you go ‘Wait a minute’ at the end of it. ‘That was obvious.’ And then you realize it was not obvious at all before you read it. Which means you made your argument. Which is rhetoric. That is why we do it.” I like that. We all search for words that have meaning and it becomes obvious upon reflection. Makower: You talk a lot about the children. That seems to be a passion, maybe even an obsession for you. Of course, you have kids of your own. But what else is that about? I mean, obviously that we want to make the best world for future generations. Why have children become such a part of your approach? Teaching a group of sixth graders about systems design, 2011 McDonough: I always start designing with a question: “How do we love all the children of all species for all time?” I think that is a really important question because it puts us in the context of something we all share everywhere as living things. And having traveled a lot as a child — my mother called me when I was 40 and said, “I just went through your box of all your report cards. Did you know you went to 19 different schools before college in lots of countries?” — I think I got the chance to see a lot of people and say, “I wonder how I can help them.” I mean, when we had cholera in Hong Kong and all the refugees came, we all went out with our water buckets. And during the dry season, we only had four hours of water every fourth day but we would all stand in line together and we would all help each other. And we would make visits to the refugees to bring them things and try and help them. That is the way it was. We are here to help each other. It needs to be understood by the children — that it is honest, that it is pure at its core. That is why I am interested. Pull Quote I am cataloging various things that are accruing into who I am, and the title of it is, ‘Waging Peace Through Commerce by Design.’ We like to say, ‘Do not say end-of-life because it scares children.’ I thought we needed a new language for carbon. Fugitive carbon, no. Durable carbon, careful. Living carbon, celebrate. Topics Circular Economy Leadership Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off DuHun Photography

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Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations Elsa Wenzel Mon, 02/22/2021 – 01:30 A circular economy looks different within each industry, but its broad vision of healing the harm from the industrial economy’s extractive, polluting original sins is appealing more to a variety of businesses. A small number of influential large companies are creating internal funds to support sustainability goals specific to circular economy initiatives, such as designing out waste and recovering materials from products used internally or sold in the market. The eyes of traditional investors are widening to the landscape as well. It’s an early-stage, sometimes loosely defined space, where many solutions remain unproven, but the long-term payoffs in terms of sustainability and cost reductions could be enormous. That’s the hope of several early movers in circular economy investing, who shared their insights at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event in early February.  Nestlé and Microsoft are among the noteworthy corporations putting considerable investments behind circular programs involving products and services, in service of their sustainability targets and with an eye to spark broader change across their industries. “I would almost challenge people to not think of it as, ‘I have to set up a fund separate from,’ but it’s more of, ‘How do I set up our business to operate differently going forward?’” said Anna Marciano, head of U.S. legal sustainability at Nestlé USA. “If we’re going to make sure that we’re using more recycled content, if we’re going to ensure that we’re going to reduce carbon emissions, then we need to be tracking that. So then our procurement team needs to be monitoring that and they need to be held accountable for all of our ESG commitments.” If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. One goal of Closed Loop Partners (CLP), entering its ninth year, is to bring together institutional investors with strategic corporate investors who seek to build a circular economy for their supply chains while helping their sustainability goals. (CLP’s private-equity Closed Loop Leadership Fund , launched in 2018, counts Nestlé, Microsoft and Nuveen among its investors.) “I have heard more in the last few years, probably than ever before, companies talking about investing off their balance sheets to achieve some of these goals, which I think is new vernacular for a lot of companies,” said Bridget Croke, managing director at CLP. Nestlé’s circular recipe Also about one year ago, Nestlé launched its $2 billion sustainability fund , to support companies developing innovative packaging and recycling technologies through 2025. (The company’s first investment was in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund.) The producer of coffee, candy and cocoa also created a nearly $260 million venture fund in support of planet-friendly packaging technologies. Its broader sustainability targets include getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Nestlé’s circular plans include, by 2025, reducing virgin plastics in packaging by one-third and making all of its packaging reusable and recyclable. But goals aren’t enough without something to back them up, Marciano said. “If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories,” Marciano said. “And so it becomes really critical for this to be a mindset shift to say, yes, this is absolutely what we need to achieve.” Nestlé knew it had to invest in designing packaging for the future to meet its packaging commitments, so it established its Institute for Packaging Science in 2019 in Switzerland. One pocket-size result is new recyclable paper packaging for Smarties candies, popular in the U.K. “That’s really where the strong collaboration, the collective action of financial investments come into play,” Marciano added. ”So we’re really targeting investments to help transform the recycling infrastructure, so we could advance the circular economy at the end of the day.” Microsoft’s circular formula Similarly, as a corporate citizen, Microsoft aimed to look beyond the four walls of its own operations toward suppliers and customers, and other industries it touches, to enable circular markets to grow, said Brandon Middaugh, director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.  Like Nestlé, Microsoft also looks at translating its goals into circular economy action in terms of designing out waste, reusing and recycling materials and products, and replenishing natural resources that it uses — three pillars reflected by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The investment strategy includes identifying and prioritizing the major areas of waste that apply to Microsoft’s own supply chains and operations, including its devices, cloud infrastructure and campus operations, Middaugh said. One new initiative is to build Microsoft Circular Centers  to further the reuse of computer servers and other hardware from the company’s data centers.  “We really recognized that it was not enough to set the operational goal and to do that work internally. We needed to be partnering externally and reaching outside into the market to try to be an advance team for the innovation in the industry,” she said. Microsoft is one year into its $1 billion, four-year Climate Innovation Fund . Carbon, water, waste and ecosystems are the core focus areas for the software juggernaut, which is aiming to carbon negative by 2030, removing all the carbon it has historically emitted by 2050. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? The fund, a joint finance-sustainability initiative, is one of three balance-sheet ESG funds at Microsoft, in addition to others around affordable housing and racial equity.  Middaugh said it’s useful to have a unified playbook toward a single goal, which may lean on products, operational investments, employee engagement and even advocacy, using partnerships in civil society. For Microsoft, the main points are about being carbon negative, water positive, zero waste — and building a ” planetary computer ” that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend resource protection measures, tree by tree. Tangible examples of these include reducing electronic waste and packaging hardware without waste. “Then it’s also about giving the tools for traceability and transparency that we, our customers, need to be able to track circular economy themes,” Middaugh said. Those areas of strategic importance cascade to the investment strategy as well. How to prove circular success? For traditional investors, sustainability with a sound return on investment is key, according to David Haddad, managing director and co-head of impact investing at Nuveen , a subsidiary of TIAA. “We want there to be an economic viability, because our time horizon tends to be relatively shorter than many of these larger companies.”  And traditional institutional investors are challenged by the need to make a certain return within a relatively short time frame, maybe five or 10 years, which may not be enough for a market to mature.  Ways to reduce the risk around investments can include investing in research and innovation; proving that new business models are moving in a certain direction and integrating that into the business; and exploring longer-term contracts, according to Croke. Nestlé’s sustainability fund is already driving results, said Marciano, who is also division general counsel for Nespresso USA and International Premium Waters. “We have access to more recycled plastic already, we’re able to integrate it into our Stouffer’s business, into our Coffee mate business, into our water business,” she said. “So we see it working already. And it’s only been a few months in.” Middaugh noted that Microsoft focuses on metrics around the use of recyclable materials; landfill diversion in terms of solid waste and the construction and demolition waste at its campuses, and an overlapping focus on embodied carbon. “And in terms of how we integrate those with the rest of the decision process. It’s really around assessing the impact, assessing the risk and then looking for that impact and risk-adjusted return,” she said. For Nestlé, measuring circular economy success involves improving recycling rates beyond the company itself by spurring improvements in recycling infrastructure more broadly, encouraging consumers to recycle too. But that’s tricky. The question of measuring social impacts, not just the environmental ones most companies have prioritized, is another matter. Haddad noted that as an impact investor, there’s no cookie-cutter recipe, but Nuveen works closely with each young company to determine relevant metrics, and any failure to be able to report on those alongside financial performance will make it a no-go for funding. Croke agreed that limited tools for tracking certain metrics related to circular goals are difficult for companies or municipalities, but a bonus to working with large tech companies is being able to identify and address data gaps and useful technologies. Partnerships and collaborations are essential How does a sustainability advocate make the business case for investing toward circular, sustainable solutions? What’s the benefit of leveraging the company’s balance sheet or other capital? Early corporate movers may offer useful examples. Croke noted that some companies may find it hard to identify such investment opportunities and run up against limits to the size of deals they can take on. “And so the ability to invest through other funds helps sometimes open up opportunities to invest in things that might be too early-stage or small that need some de-risking,” Croke said. Partnerships with third-party leaders can help when trying to apply lessons to the rest of the business from initiatives around circular servers, recycling and reuse, Middaugh said. She, Marciano and Croke agreed that no organization should try to go it alone when addressing a systemic challenge as large as growing a circular economy. For example, it’s upon Nestlé to share its expertise in sustainable packaging, collaborating with other stakeholders to make sure it’s not introducing harmful materials into products. Such relationships can improve the wheel in multiple areas. And policy advocacy is another spoke of the wheel for Nestlé. Middaugh added that collaborations should involve early-stage innovations and pilots — such as sharing information with other companies exploring advanced materials — as well as later-stage infrastructure buildout. Microsoft is working with suppliers to update its supplier Code of Conduct to reflect its carbon and sustainability goals, also providing the tools to help its partners meet their goals.  The coming transition CLP draws connections across that ecosystem by backing circular efforts by municipalities, recycling facilities and material recovery facilities (MRFs). It has invested, for example, in Amp Robotics , which offers early-stage AI for recycling facilities, and PureCycle Technologies , whose technology turns polypropylene back into virgin-quality material. CLP started an innovation hub to support pre-competitive ideas. Croke agreed that data points around diversion of material and greenhouse gas impacts, to name just a couple, are relatively simple to understand. “What I think is sometimes more interesting, and a little bit harder to measure is the catalytic impact that’s being had, we’re all trying to completely transform a supply chain, the way that the supply chain works from being linear to being circular, and the linear supply chain is quite scaled,” she said. “The economics are very efficient today.” However, there’s going to be a lead-up time to building up the scale for new, circular models. In time, costs will expand for existing linear systems, becoming less attractive to newly affordable circular ones.  “But what we’re finding is that there are definitely specific investment opportunities today that are profitable, that makes sense for the institutional kind of partners make sense for our corporate partners, and hopefully create the levers that unlock, value and scale for the rest of the system,” Croke added. Haddad advocated for companies to recognize private equity firms as a force multiplier. “We can really bring capital to bear and our experience with boards and governance to scale those things,” he said. Marciano insisted that it’s not necessary to invest millions of dollars to get started. Pick up the phone and talk to people, and take other small steps to explore circular possibilities. “If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing?” she said. “Think of it that way, and really try to inspire others within your organization to take a chance … What’s the worst that could happen? You asked for the money and you’re told no or not yet. But at least you’ve already planted the seed, that you believe that the money is needed and could make a difference.” Pull Quote If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? Topics Circular Economy Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off  Illustration of circular economy in industry. Shutterstock MG Vectors Close Authorship

Original post:
Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations Elsa Wenzel Mon, 02/22/2021 – 01:30 A circular economy looks different within each industry, but its broad vision of healing the harm from the industrial economy’s extractive, polluting original sins is appealing more to a variety of businesses. A small number of influential large companies are creating internal funds to support sustainability goals specific to circular economy initiatives, such as designing out waste and recovering materials from products used internally or sold in the market. The eyes of traditional investors are widening to the landscape as well. It’s an early-stage, sometimes loosely defined space, where many solutions remain unproven, but the long-term payoffs in terms of sustainability and cost reductions could be enormous. That’s the hope of several early movers in circular economy investing, who shared their insights at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event in early February.  Nestlé and Microsoft are among the noteworthy corporations putting considerable investments behind circular programs involving products and services, in service of their sustainability targets and with an eye to spark broader change across their industries. “I would almost challenge people to not think of it as, ‘I have to set up a fund separate from,’ but it’s more of, ‘How do I set up our business to operate differently going forward?’” said Anna Marciano, head of U.S. legal sustainability at Nestlé USA. “If we’re going to make sure that we’re using more recycled content, if we’re going to ensure that we’re going to reduce carbon emissions, then we need to be tracking that. So then our procurement team needs to be monitoring that and they need to be held accountable for all of our ESG commitments.” If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. One goal of Closed Loop Partners (CLP), entering its ninth year, is to bring together institutional investors with strategic corporate investors who seek to build a circular economy for their supply chains while helping their sustainability goals. (CLP’s private-equity Closed Loop Leadership Fund , launched in 2018, counts Nestlé, Microsoft and Nuveen among its investors.) “I have heard more in the last few years, probably than ever before, companies talking about investing off their balance sheets to achieve some of these goals, which I think is new vernacular for a lot of companies,” said Bridget Croke, managing director at CLP. Nestlé’s circular recipe Also about one year ago, Nestlé launched its $2 billion sustainability fund , to support companies developing innovative packaging and recycling technologies through 2025. (The company’s first investment was in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund.) The producer of coffee, candy and cocoa also created a nearly $260 million venture fund in support of planet-friendly packaging technologies. Its broader sustainability targets include getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Nestlé’s circular plans include, by 2025, reducing virgin plastics in packaging by one-third and making all of its packaging reusable and recyclable. But goals aren’t enough without something to back them up, Marciano said. “If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories,” Marciano said. “And so it becomes really critical for this to be a mindset shift to say, yes, this is absolutely what we need to achieve.” Nestlé knew it had to invest in designing packaging for the future to meet its packaging commitments, so it established its Institute for Packaging Science in 2019 in Switzerland. One pocket-size result is new recyclable paper packaging for Smarties candies, popular in the U.K. “That’s really where the strong collaboration, the collective action of financial investments come into play,” Marciano added. ”So we’re really targeting investments to help transform the recycling infrastructure, so we could advance the circular economy at the end of the day.” Microsoft’s circular formula Similarly, as a corporate citizen, Microsoft aimed to look beyond the four walls of its own operations toward suppliers and customers, and other industries it touches, to enable circular markets to grow, said Brandon Middaugh, director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.  Like Nestlé, Microsoft also looks at translating its goals into circular economy action in terms of designing out waste, reusing and recycling materials and products, and replenishing natural resources that it uses — three pillars reflected by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The investment strategy includes identifying and prioritizing the major areas of waste that apply to Microsoft’s own supply chains and operations, including its devices, cloud infrastructure and campus operations, Middaugh said. One new initiative is to build Microsoft Circular Centers  to further the reuse of computer servers and other hardware from the company’s data centers.  “We really recognized that it was not enough to set the operational goal and to do that work internally. We needed to be partnering externally and reaching outside into the market to try to be an advance team for the innovation in the industry,” she said. Microsoft is one year into its $1 billion, four-year Climate Innovation Fund . Carbon, water, waste and ecosystems are the core focus areas for the software juggernaut, which is aiming to carbon negative by 2030, removing all the carbon it has historically emitted by 2050. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? The fund, a joint finance-sustainability initiative, is one of three balance-sheet ESG funds at Microsoft, in addition to others around affordable housing and racial equity.  Middaugh said it’s useful to have a unified playbook toward a single goal, which may lean on products, operational investments, employee engagement and even advocacy, using partnerships in civil society. For Microsoft, the main points are about being carbon negative, water positive, zero waste — and building a ” planetary computer ” that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend resource protection measures, tree by tree. Tangible examples of these include reducing electronic waste and packaging hardware without waste. “Then it’s also about giving the tools for traceability and transparency that we, our customers, need to be able to track circular economy themes,” Middaugh said. Those areas of strategic importance cascade to the investment strategy as well. How to prove circular success? For traditional investors, sustainability with a sound return on investment is key, according to David Haddad, managing director and co-head of impact investing at Nuveen , a subsidiary of TIAA. “We want there to be an economic viability, because our time horizon tends to be relatively shorter than many of these larger companies.”  And traditional institutional investors are challenged by the need to make a certain return within a relatively short time frame, maybe five or 10 years, which may not be enough for a market to mature.  Ways to reduce the risk around investments can include investing in research and innovation; proving that new business models are moving in a certain direction and integrating that into the business; and exploring longer-term contracts, according to Croke. Nestlé’s sustainability fund is already driving results, said Marciano, who is also division general counsel for Nespresso USA and International Premium Waters. “We have access to more recycled plastic already, we’re able to integrate it into our Stouffer’s business, into our Coffee mate business, into our water business,” she said. “So we see it working already. And it’s only been a few months in.” Middaugh noted that Microsoft focuses on metrics around the use of recyclable materials; landfill diversion in terms of solid waste and the construction and demolition waste at its campuses, and an overlapping focus on embodied carbon. “And in terms of how we integrate those with the rest of the decision process. It’s really around assessing the impact, assessing the risk and then looking for that impact and risk-adjusted return,” she said. For Nestlé, measuring circular economy success involves improving recycling rates beyond the company itself by spurring improvements in recycling infrastructure more broadly, encouraging consumers to recycle too. But that’s tricky. The question of measuring social impacts, not just the environmental ones most companies have prioritized, is another matter. Haddad noted that as an impact investor, there’s no cookie-cutter recipe, but Nuveen works closely with each young company to determine relevant metrics, and any failure to be able to report on those alongside financial performance will make it a no-go for funding. Croke agreed that limited tools for tracking certain metrics related to circular goals are difficult for companies or municipalities, but a bonus to working with large tech companies is being able to identify and address data gaps and useful technologies. Partnerships and collaborations are essential How does a sustainability advocate make the business case for investing toward circular, sustainable solutions? What’s the benefit of leveraging the company’s balance sheet or other capital? Early corporate movers may offer useful examples. Croke noted that some companies may find it hard to identify such investment opportunities and run up against limits to the size of deals they can take on. “And so the ability to invest through other funds helps sometimes open up opportunities to invest in things that might be too early-stage or small that need some de-risking,” Croke said. Partnerships with third-party leaders can help when trying to apply lessons to the rest of the business from initiatives around circular servers, recycling and reuse, Middaugh said. She, Marciano and Croke agreed that no organization should try to go it alone when addressing a systemic challenge as large as growing a circular economy. For example, it’s upon Nestlé to share its expertise in sustainable packaging, collaborating with other stakeholders to make sure it’s not introducing harmful materials into products. Such relationships can improve the wheel in multiple areas. And policy advocacy is another spoke of the wheel for Nestlé. Middaugh added that collaborations should involve early-stage innovations and pilots — such as sharing information with other companies exploring advanced materials — as well as later-stage infrastructure buildout. Microsoft is working with suppliers to update its supplier Code of Conduct to reflect its carbon and sustainability goals, also providing the tools to help its partners meet their goals.  The coming transition CLP draws connections across that ecosystem by backing circular efforts by municipalities, recycling facilities and material recovery facilities (MRFs). It has invested, for example, in Amp Robotics , which offers early-stage AI for recycling facilities, and PureCycle Technologies , whose technology turns polypropylene back into virgin-quality material. CLP started an innovation hub to support pre-competitive ideas. Croke agreed that data points around diversion of material and greenhouse gas impacts, to name just a couple, are relatively simple to understand. “What I think is sometimes more interesting, and a little bit harder to measure is the catalytic impact that’s being had, we’re all trying to completely transform a supply chain, the way that the supply chain works from being linear to being circular, and the linear supply chain is quite scaled,” she said. “The economics are very efficient today.” However, there’s going to be a lead-up time to building up the scale for new, circular models. In time, costs will expand for existing linear systems, becoming less attractive to newly affordable circular ones.  “But what we’re finding is that there are definitely specific investment opportunities today that are profitable, that makes sense for the institutional kind of partners make sense for our corporate partners, and hopefully create the levers that unlock, value and scale for the rest of the system,” Croke added. Haddad advocated for companies to recognize private equity firms as a force multiplier. “We can really bring capital to bear and our experience with boards and governance to scale those things,” he said. Marciano insisted that it’s not necessary to invest millions of dollars to get started. Pick up the phone and talk to people, and take other small steps to explore circular possibilities. “If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing?” she said. “Think of it that way, and really try to inspire others within your organization to take a chance … What’s the worst that could happen? You asked for the money and you’re told no or not yet. But at least you’ve already planted the seed, that you believe that the money is needed and could make a difference.” Pull Quote If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? Topics Circular Economy Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off  Illustration of circular economy in industry. Shutterstock MG Vectors Close Authorship

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Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

Harder but not impossible: COVID-19 and the Sustainable Development Goals

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Harder but not impossible: COVID-19 and the Sustainable Development Goals Alan AtKisson Mon, 02/22/2021 – 01:00 In 2015, the world, acting through the United Nations, set in place a system of 17 very ambitious goals to guide humanity’s development toward sustainability through 2030. Now it is 2021. Neither nature nor global politics has been especially kind to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, over the past few years. Nature’s complex mechanisms have served up a global pandemic caused (apparently) by a cross-species virus together with intensifying fires and storms that can be credibly attributed to climate change; and the global political arena has mightily distracted us with assaults on democracy and global solidarity as well as chronic conflict along multiple fronts. There are no silver linings in a global pandemic. But there are unexpected things to observe and to learn from. COVID-19 gets the lion’s share of the blame, of course, for our current troubles. In too many places and across too many dimensions of sustainable development, the pandemic has turned hard-won progress into a backslide whose momentum must first be stopped and reversed before development can again take on the shape of positive transformation. I am thinking especially of global poverty, hunger, health and education — SDGs 1 through 4 — where the latest figures from the World Bank and other centers of analysis paint a bleak picture of years lost and lives threatened. But the analysis does not stop there. The SDGs are treated as an interlinked system of goals because that is how the world actually works. I won’t bore you with the relevant SDG numbers, but you can easily build your own mental systems map from the following: Girls not getting opportunities to educate themselves contributes to reversals in gender equality, which in turn affects the quest for long-term economic prosperity, which makes it harder for girls to get educated. People who had climbed up over the poverty line, but are now falling back under it, are mostly doing so in the cities, which hardly contributes to making those cities more sustainable. Plane traffic may be reduced, which is indisputably good for the climate, but reduced as well are the investments into the greener economies of tomorrow that can prevent climate change, rescue biodiversity and create good jobs for a sea of unemployed people, especially youth. Virtuous cycles can turn vicious. That is an undeniably dismal state of affairs for those of us whose professional lives revolve around trying to help the world achieve these universally acclaimed goals (which also inform the more specific development goals set for Sida, the Swedish agency where I work, by Sweden’s government). How is it possible not to succumb to an erosion of hope? As always: by looking at the big picture, taking the long view and continuing to seek more effective levers of change. There are no silver linings in a global pandemic. But there are unexpected things to observe and to learn from — such as the dramatic acceleration of digitalization. Profound changes in working methods and styles have been reported wherever decent internet is to be had. Suddenly, meetings and conferences that previously “had to be” held in physical, face-to-face settings are working just fine on screen. Maybe better: You can include more people, under roughly equal conditions, when you don’t have to fly them around and put them up in hotels of varying fanciness. Necessity has mothered digital invention together with rapid learning advances that have proved to us that we can change must faster than our most ambitious management plans assumed was possible. Thanks to these advances, work on sustainable development has not stopped. In fact, in some critical areas, it has intensified. Consider finance. In the past year major investment leaders at the global level have pushed themselves and others to take stronger stands (and produced better measurable results) on climate change, diversity, gender equity and corporate responsibility generally. Investment levels in developing countries may be down, but new vehicles for that investment are being innovated and designed, so that when the money flow eventually accelerates again it will have more and potentially more effective places to go. It is not my purpose here to paint a rosy picture of the future with these short syntheses and personal impressions gleaned from dozens of recent digital meetings, reports, dialogs and conferences. As a world, we have a tough road ahead. People living in rising poverty and oppression have it toughest of all, and I challenge everyone reading this to keep that reality in the forefront of their minds as we continue down that road. But it is important also to bear in mind that COVID-19 has not made the achievement of sustainable development impossible. It has, of course, made achieving those goals by 2030 a whole lot harder (and it was already very hard). Yet it has also shown us that even in the midst of serious global calamity, when the goalposts are still shifting away from us, we can (and must) keep pressing forward. Working to prevent greater damage where we have to. Making positive change where we can. Believing that the tide eventually will turn again in our favor. Because that is what will make it turn. Pull Quote There are no silver linings in a global pandemic. But there are unexpected things to observe and to learn from. Topics COVID-19 Sustainable Development Goals / SDGs Featured Column North Star 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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Harder but not impossible: COVID-19 and the Sustainable Development Goals

Backing Up Statements with Action: The Intersection of Business and Human Rights with Sanda Ojiambo

February 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Backing Up Statements with Action: The Intersection of Business and Human Rights with Sanda Ojiambo UN Global Compact CEO Sanda Ojiambo addresses the evolution of business and human rights in the context of today’s social justice movement. This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s GreenBiz 21, February 9-11, 2021. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/greenbiz-forum/online/2021 Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3o41UIXmx5sBWJwZfEwg OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenbiz-group Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz YanniGuo Fri, 02/19/2021 – 12:22 Featured Off

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Backing Up Statements with Action: The Intersection of Business and Human Rights with Sanda Ojiambo

Setting the Stage with GreenBiz Founder Joel Makower

February 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Setting the Stage with GreenBiz Founder Joel Makower GreenBiz Founder Joel Makower shares the top trends in sustainable business and insights into the year ahead. This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s GreenBiz 21, February 9-11, 2021. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/greenbiz-forum/online/2021 Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3o41UIXmx5sBWJwZfEwg OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenbiz-group Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz YanniGuo Fri, 02/19/2021 – 12:00 Featured Off

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Setting the Stage with GreenBiz Founder Joel Makower

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