Can manufacturing green sand beaches save our planet?

June 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

It sounds too good to be true — spread some rocks on a beach and the ocean will do the work to remove carbon dioxide from the air, reversing global warming. But that’s a very simplified explanation of what Project Vesta hopes to accomplish. The idea is to accelerate a natural process. When rain falls on volcanic rocks, it weathers them down, then flows into the ocean. There, oceans further break down the rocks. Carbon dioxide removed from the air becomes bicarbonate, which helps grow the shells of marine organisms and is stored in limestone on the ocean floor. Project Vesta wants to speed up this process by grinding up olivine — a common, gray-green silicate that weathers quickly — and spreading it on beaches and in shallow shelf seas around the world. It has worked in a lab, but will it work in the real world? We’re about to find out, as Project Vesta is now preparing a pilot beach in the Caribbean. Related: Demand for sand — the largest mining industry no one talks about Origins of Project Vesta Project Vesta has rounded up an international crew of scientists, environmentalists, futurists and financial experts since its founding on Earth Day 2019. The not-for-profit organization sprang from a think tank called Climitigation , Project Vesta executive director Tom Green told Inhabitat. “It’s very clear at this point that in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming, reducing emissions will not be enough,” Green said. “Maybe 20 years ago that would have been a viable path. But at this point, even though we should reduce emissions , that on its own will not be enough to avoid the worst scenario.” Climitigation examined different ways to reverse global warming , prioritizing them according to their viability. The idea of coastal weathering came to the top, Green said, “as being potentially very, very cheap, very scalable, a permanent carbon catcher, with relatively little attention that had been paid to it so far. So Project Vesta was founded out of that think tank, and we exist to further the science of enhanced weathering ultimately to galvanize global deployment that will help reverse climate change.” The idea of coastal weathering has 30 years of academic research in the fields of biology and geochemistry behind it. But it had stalled out, unable to cross the financial chasm from academic to mainstream, said Green, who trained as a biologist before spending 20 years in business at various tech companies. “Nobody had come along and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to push this forward.’ That’s what we’re here to do.” The pilot beach Scientists at Project Vesta had a set of criteria for finding the right pilot beach. “We scoured the world for an ideal site,” Green said. “This initial site that we found is great for our pilot beach site. It’s a fairly enclosed cove, which means the water has a pretty low refresh rate. Which means that as the chemical reaction happens, there’s enough time for the biogeochemical indicators to change before the water gets washed away into ocean.” In a few months, after thoroughly measuring the test cove, Project Vesta will cover the pilot beach with ground olivine. Then comes the monitoring phase. Scientists will sample water and sand, measuring indicators like DIC, or dissolved inorganic carbon , which directly measures the amount of carbon in the water. “These indicators are designed to measure the speed of the reaction that’s happening and actually look at the carbon as it is being removed from the atmosphere,” Green explained. “On the biological side, we’ll also be measuring the prevalence of various species that are there, both macroscopic and microscopic species, and looking at any changes in that as the experiment proceeds.” A nearly identical cove less than a quarter mile away will serve as a control cove. One concern is whether olivine could release nickel or other heavy metals into the water. Green told Fast Company that this nickel won’t be bioavailable, so it won’t harm marine species. But the pilot study will monitor metal concentrations to assess the real life impact to sand , water and local marine organisms. In addition to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Project Vesta hopes that more green beaches will reverse the ocean’s rising acidity. “The reaction that happens when olivine dissolves actually makes the ocean less acidic,” Green said. “ Ocean acidification is a major problem and is causing problems for a lot of species. It’s very clear that doing this will reduce acidity at the site where it’s done. And then there’s a hypothesis that that will actually be beneficial for local marine ecosystems. But we don’t know that yet for sure. We need to test it out.” Green beaches could also be a tourism draw. Papakolea on Hawaii’s Big Island is the world’s most famous green sand beach. It does more than alright for itself, tourist-wise. Future green beaches The Project Vesta folks hope that they’ll see a positive impact on their pilot beach within a year. If it’s successful, they’ll work with interested governments to expand the project. Green anticipates that members of the V20 — countries especially susceptible to climate change — may be especially receptive to green sand beaches. Island nations with lots of shoreline will be top candidates. If all went perfectly, how long would it take for green sand beaches to reverse climate change? Project Vesta scientists estimate they’ll need to dump ground olivine in 2% of the world’s shelf seas — the shallow coastal waters surrounding every continent — for the plan to work. “The scale of the problem is so big that any solution will also be largescale,” Green said. Project Vesta plans to find local or nearby sources of olivine to save financial and carbon costs of transporting the green rock. Even when factoring in the mining and transportation, the project claims it can capture 20 times the carbon it takes to make a green sand beach. Moving all these rocks will cost money. The credit card processing company Stripe is one of the project’s backers, in keeping with its pledge to spend $1 million a year on carbon removal technologies . Individuals can make donations of any size on Project Vesta’s website or support the project by buying a Grain of Hope necklace for $25. Fittingly, the jewelry sports a single grain of olivine suspended in a sand timer vial, symbolizing that time is running out on reversing climate change. + Project Vesta Images via Project Vesta

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Can manufacturing green sand beaches save our planet?

Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

June 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact Jim Giles Fri, 06/26/2020 – 01:00 One of the most significant projects in sustainable food in 2020 was unveiled last week. The news is important partly because of the company involved: CPG behemoth Unilever, which reaches 2.5 billion consumers every day through 400 brands, which range from Ben & Jerry’s to Hellmann’s and appear on shelves in 190 countries.  The other reason is that the plan is genuinely ambitious . The company is committing to net-zero emissions from all products by 2039, spending $1 billion on climate and nature projects over 10 years, and planning on labeling each of its products with information about the carbon emitted in the product’s creation. This last point is particularly significant. Consumers, especially younger adults, consistently say that climate concerns influence their purchasing. Yet this influence is diluted because most people have little insight into the emissions linked to specific products. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. So will Unilever’s labeling decision change the way people shop? We can’t say for sure, because most consumers have never seen a carbon label. But there’s evidence for optimism. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. There’s data on the impact of other kinds of labels, for instance. Over the past five years, several countries, including Chile, Mexico and Israel, have attached health warnings to sodas and other sugary beverages. A meta-analysis of 23 studies of these initiatives , released last month, showed the labels work: Consumers who see them are less likely to purchase high-sugar drinks. When carbon labels have been deployed, usually in small experiments, they also seem to work. Researchers at Chalmers Technological University in Sweden, for example, looked at the impact of emissions information on meal choices at their institution’s cafeteria. Sales of high-carbon meat dishes fell by almost 5 percent — a modest drop, but significant for an initial experiment based on a simple intervention.  A final reason for optimism is that while Unilever is by far the biggest food company to roll out carbon labels, it is not alone. Oatly and Quorn recently announced plans to start displaying carbon footprint data on products. Twelve food and beverage brands also have earned the new Climate Neutral certification and began displaying the associated label. Put all that together, and it looks like Unilever’s move could trigger structural change. But before I get carried away, let’s look at two factors that could undermine its impact. First up is the label itself. In an email, Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s CSO, told me that her company is focusing on collecting footprint data and will turn to the labels once that’s in place. How Unilever eventually communicates carbon levels will be critical. How big will the label be? Where will it appear? Will consumers be able to make sense of it? It won’t be an easy challenge. Space on food packaging is extremely tight, and consumers are already exposed to multiple labels relating to sustainability. (457, by one count ). The second issue is cost. Of those 457 labels, organic is probably the most well known. Demand for organic food has shown double-digit growth in many recent years, yet it still accounts for around only 5 percent of U.S. food sales and less than 1 percent of planted acreage. Cost is critical here: Surveys show that organic food has a 7.5 percent premium, with some goods, including milk, eggs and bread, costing close to twice as much.  This is a reminder that for many consumers, cost trumps environmental concerns. In a way, though, that’s what makes the Unilever announcement so exciting. We’re talking here about the company behind Knorr, Lipton and Magnum. These are not niche brands targeted at affluent, sustainability-minded consumers willing to pay more. By introducing carbon labeling into everyday products found in the biggest chains and the smallest corner stores, Unilever is testing whether environmental concerns resonate with a much, much larger segment of consumers. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. Topics Food & Agriculture Marketing & Communication Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff 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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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

June 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice Rachel Ramirez Fri, 06/26/2020 – 00:30 This story originally appeared in Grist;  and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story . “I can’t breathe.” These were among the final words that George Floyd and Eric Garner gasped before their deaths at the hands of white police officers. That plea has become part of the current rallying cry for racial justice and an end to police brutality in the United States. But for Black people living near industrial facilities, the phrase has an additional layer of meaning: a reminder of their disproportionate pollution burden. “While many in power seemed surprised that COVID-19 is killing twice as many Black Americans, those of us in the environmental justice movement know that the health impacts of cumulative and disproportionate levels of pollution in our communities have created underlying health conditions that contribute to our higher COVID-19 mortality rates,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said at a virtual press conference in mid-June. Shepard is part of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) , a national coalition of Black environmental justice groups and grassroots activists founded in 1991. Although the network took a hiatus in 2006 after executive director Damu Smith died , the network just announced that it’s making a comeback against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed calls to fight racial injustice. We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. The network’s mission sends a clear message: Environmental injustice is not a single issue. Rather, it’s a constellation of issues including discrimination in housing, jobs and healthcare. It’s impossible to untangle Black communities’ current risks from America’s long history of racist policies and practices. Discriminatory policies such as banks’ government-sanctioned refusal to approve home loans and insurance for people in communities of color, also known as redlining, forced Black families into neighborhoods more likely to be exposed to industrial pollution and extreme heat . Now these same communities face a surge in unemployment and poverty rates as a result of the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, and they also are  disproportionately dying from the novel coronavirus as a result of a lack of health insurance, unequal access to test sites and higher workplace exposure via employment in essential services. As if that weren’t enough, a recent Harvard study also found a link between air pollution and death from COVID-19. Given the systemic conditions that disproportionately expose Black people to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other worsening crises, NBEJN members — including the network’s co-chairs, environmental justice pioneers Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright — say they are looking to bring in Black lawyers, engineers, leaders and other experts to join forces to help create an equitable green stimulus package, take on the fossil fuel industry and fight the Trump administration’s seemingly endless orders to weaken environmental protections . “We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries,” said Bullard, an author and professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. “The NBEJN is about dismantling systemic racism, and we’re talking about turning the dominant paradigm on its head.” Network leaders say COVID-19 recovery legislation could be an opportunity for lawmakers to pass a robust green stimulus package that would focus on environmental justice. Such a green stimulus package, the coalition said, needs to address core issues of systemic racism by, for example, providing green jobs to communities of color. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. “Green stimulus packages often only look at protecting the world, but not protecting people like us,” said Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “Any stimulus package dealing with transportation to housing or whatever they’re talking about doing will have to include us and need to be viewed with equity and justice lenses.” Even if an equitable green stimulus package makes it through Congress and the White House, there still will be a lot more work to be done. Bullard said that even if the Democratic party wins the presidential election or takes control of the Senate, it will take time to reverse Trump-era environmental policy damages, including the country’s withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement. Even then, he added, policymakers will need to take additional steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and center frontline communities. And NBEJN leaders say the network will stick around to make sure those steps are taken. “Racism is baked into America’s DNA,” Bullard said. “NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America.” Pull Quote We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. Topics COVID-19 Policy & Politics Environmental Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Tverdokhlib Close Authorship

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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

Episode 225: Lyft’s electrifying declaration, please open the windows

June 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Episode 225: Lyft’s electrifying declaration, please open the windows Heather Clancy Fri, 06/19/2020 – 02:30 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (4:27). To make offices safe during COVID-19, buildings need a breath of fresh air Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste The unmasking of Corporate America Features Moving from analysis to action on circular food (29:10) Emma Chow, project lead on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Food initiative, chats about the role menus play in counteracting food waste and sharing practical steps for addressing the “brittleness” of the existing food system. ESG and the earnings call (39:40) Most companies don’t directly address environmental, social and governance concerns on their quarterly earnings calls. That needs to change. Tensie Whelan, director of the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, offers tips for how companies can buck that trend most effectively.  Lyft drives toward electric vehicles (49:30) Ride-hailing service Lyft has committed to electrifying all of its cars by 2030. GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher has the scoop. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere:  “4th Avenue Walkup,” “Arcade Montage,” “I’m Going for a Coffee,”  “Here’s the Thing” and “As I Was Saying” Happy 20th anniversary , GreenBiz.com! Virtual conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. Supply chains and circularity. Join us at 1 p.m. EDT June 23 for a discussion of how companies such as Interface are getting suppliers to buy into circular models for manufacturing, distribution and beyond.  Fleet of clean fleet . Real-life lessons for trucking’s future. Sign up for the conversation at 1 p.m. EDT July 2. In conversation with former Unilever CEO Paul Polman . One of the most influential voices in sustainability joins Executive Editor Joel Makower at 1 p.m. EDT July 16 for a one-on-one conversation about redesigning business and commerce in the post-pandemic era to better address sustainability and social challenges. Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Katie Fehrenbacher Deonna Anderson Topics Podcast Transportation & Mobility Food & Agriculture Circular Economy Electric Vehicles Supply Chain Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 56:15 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 225: Lyft’s electrifying declaration, please open the windows

Lyft plans to electrify all of its cars by 2030

June 17, 2020 by  
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Lyft plans to electrify all of its cars by 2030 Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 06/17/2020 – 10:00 In an unprecedented move, the ride-hailing company Lyft revealed Wednesday it plans to electrify every car on its platform — those owned by Lyft and rented to drivers as well as cars owned by drivers — by 2030. The decade-long goal could result in millions of electric vehicles purchased for ride-hailing operations, encourage greater electric vehicle charging deployments and motivate stronger city, state and federal policies that could make EVs more economical. Lyft said its electric vehicle transition would remove more than 16 million tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by 2030, equivalent to taking 3 million traditional cars off the roads.  On a media call Wednesday, Lyft Chief Policy Officer Anthony Foxx (former Secretary of Transportation under President Barack Obama) described the announcement as “a big deal.” Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer said, “It’s on us to lead. We’re looking at bold opportunities. We intend to push hard and lean into this.” Lyft has been exploring how to make its vehicle fleet more sustainable for a couple of years. But the new EV goal is a huge step for the company, which is in fierce competition with Uber and has been positioning itself as the friendlier ride-hailing choice.  Two years ago, Lyft launched a program to buy carbon offsets for all of the rides organized on its network. Lyft followed that up by launching “green mode” on its app. That feature lets riders in certain cities request a ride in an electric car, and drivers can rent electric vehicles through Lyft’s Express Drive program. In addition, Lyft operates bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters in certain regions and integrates its app with public transit data.  The new electric vehicle target, however, is a game-changing move that could transform the company and could provide environmental leadership to the rest of the ride-hailing industry. Lyft says in its release that “Lyft is willing to go first, but others need to follow if we want to hit mass-market electrification.” Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship GreenBiz Collage Close Authorship The move won’t be easy. Lyft recently announced a first-quarter loss of $85.2 million on quarterly revenue of $955.7 million, and said it plans to cut $300 million in expenses by the fourth quarter. While EVs can be cheaper to operate, compared to gasoline costs, high battery costs still can make many EVs more expensive than traditional cars. Many regions also still lack adequate public charging infrastructure. Shelter-in-place directives adopted to combat spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have battered ride-hailing companies as riders have stayed inside and avoided rides. But as states nationwide — and cities around the world — have started to open up for business, ride-hailing services have started to pick up.  Lyft says that the COVID-19 crisis forced the company to “rethink our priorities and focus on cost-effective investments. COVID-19 presented us with a choice to ‘hunker down or ‘grow back better’ by accelerating the transition to EVs. We are choosing to ‘grow back better’ by making sustainability an integral part of our path to profitability,” said the company in a statement. Light-duty electric vehicles, such as the General Motor’s Bolt or the Nissan LEAF, are being adopted by some public and commercial fleets for administrative work and are helping companies and cities cut fuel costs. These vehicles are particularly attractive in states such as California that have strong policies in place to incentivize EVs.  But ride-hailing companies face a unique challenge when it comes to electrifying their fleets. Most cars on their network are owned by drivers, many of whom already operate on low margins.  Lyft will need to take a systemic approach to try to make electric vehicles more attractive to its drivers, including influencing state policies, providing incentives and encouraging infrastructure providers to build out EV chargers for drivers.  All of the initial projects will be in the United States. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Lyft Close Authorship Charging networks could be the biggest hurdle for the EV goal. A couple of years back in Washington, D.C., a lack of charging infrastructure flummoxed taxi drivers that agreed to adopt electric taxis. Like taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers will have various needs for when they’d want to charge a vehicle, whether at home or at a ride-hailing charging depot, depending on where they live and their preferred routes. While the pandemic and recession likely will dampen sales of passenger EVs in the short term, electric vehicles are still expected to grow substantially over the next two decades. The researchers at Bloomberg New Energy Finance predict there will be 500 models of EVs available by 2022, and 28 percent of new vehicle sales globally will be electric by 2030. That percentage is supposed to grow to 58 percent of new sales by 2040.  Aggressive policies around the world are helping spur this electric transition. California’s clean air regulators (the California Air Resources Board, or CARB) are in the process of implementing a first-of-its-kind clean miles standard that requires the ride-hailing companies to have a certain portion of the miles driven through their platforms be with zero-emission vehicles.  Under the bill SB 1014, Lyft and Uber are required to submit electrification plans at the beginning of 2022, with the program beginning in 2023. In the first phase of the legislation, CARB established that the carbon emissions of Lyft and Uber’s vehicle fleet per passenger mile are over 50 percent higher than regular cars that drive on the roads. That’s largely because ride-hailing drivers travel around looking for passengers (called dead-head miles) for about 40 percent of their time. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) put out a report earlier this year that found that ride-hailing trips are 69 percent more polluting than the trips they replace. UCS’s Don Anair, the lead author on the report, said in an interview with GreenBiz: “It’s very clear that steps need to be taken to reduce climate emissions from ride hailing. Electrification is one of the largest steps to address these emissions.” Lyft says it plans to join The Climate Group’s EV100 group, which asks members to make commitments to electrify 100 percent of their fleets. Lyft is already a member of the RE100 group, which has pledged to use 100 percent clean energy by 2030.  Updated: This article was updated June 17 with information from Lyft’s media call. Topics Transportation & Mobility Ride Hailing Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Electrify America and Lyft partnered to bring chargers to Lyft EV drivers in Denver. Courtesy of Electrify America Close Authorship

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Lyft plans to electrify all of its cars by 2030

How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste

June 17, 2020 by  
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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste Heather Clancy Wed, 06/17/2020 – 02:00 Food companies have a dual responsibility when it comes to waste reduction aspirations: optimizing their operations to minimize food waste while reducing the amount of other materials — especially the waste associated with packaging — sent to landfill. The aspiration for a growing number of them is “zero waste.” But meat companies that raise animals such as poultry, pigs, cattle and other livestock for protein also must take into account something else few widget, gadget or electronics makers need to worry about — how to manage water and materials contaminated by organic, biological waste. This work continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has rocked the meat supply chain and forced closures of facilities across the United States, according to the executives interviewed for this article. It also has complicated matters, as procedures around the expanded use of personal protective equipment were embraced to protect the health of workers and consumers. More precautions have meant more PPE, which usually has come in contact with biological matter that causes management challenges for recycling facilities. “The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse,” said Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability for well-known chicken purveyor Perdue Farms. Another vivid example: plastic that has been used to wrap meat, which cannot be sent to traditional facilities without first being decontaminated. “That’s the one material that we have not found the perfect solution for at this point, whether it be at a plant or at your home,” he said. That’s why the recent GreenCircle zero waste certification for Perdue’s harvest operation (industry parlance for a slaughter and processing facility) in Lewiston, North Carolina is noteworthy. The designation indicates that 100 percent of the waste stream at the facility is reused, recycled or incinerated for energy. That includes packaging scraps, chicken litter (which includes bird excrement, feathers and materials used for bedding), oils and personal protective equipment worn by the workers. For this particular facility, that translated into 8.3 million pounds of waste diverted during 2019, according to the company’s press release about the achievement. The zero waste certifications granted by some other certification bodies allow for up to 10 percent of waste to go to landfill — and still earn that label, Levitsky said. “We wanted to make sure if we go through this process …  it’s rigorous enough and that people feel when we say ‘zero waste to landfill’ that we’re doing every effort to get to that higher standard,” he said.  Perdue’s corporate-level waste goal calls for it to divert 90 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2022; it plans to have five more facilities certified by the end of 2022 (of about 20 meat production operations in total). The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse. Some measures Perdue uses to divert waste in Lewiston include composting for all the organic matter such as litter or shells from the hatchery and food waste from the cafeteria; refurbishing end-of-life equipment by sending things such as engines back to the original manufacturer; sorting of plastics, cardboard, metals and glass; turning spent grain into animal feed or feed additives; and sending some organic matter to an anaerobic digester for energy applications. A GreenCircle certification isn’t simply a matter of filling out a survey. It requires on-site auditing not just of the company hoping to earn the recognition but also of all third-party waste management organizations hired to reduce waste, said Tad Radzinski, certification officer at GreenCircle. (When GreenBiz spoke with him in early May, his team was sorting out how to accomplish this using virtual tools.) “The one thing we always do is push for continuous improvement,” he said. Perdue made changes over the past year about how to handle damage or broken pallets, based on information gathering during the GreenCircle auditing process, Levitsky said. Specifically, it discovered that the company it was sending them to wasn’t remanufacturing them as Perdue believed and instead was sending certain damaged ones to landfill. Using that knowledge, the Lewiston team now sorts those materials into its waste-to-energy dumpster. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Perdue Farms Close Authorship Generally speaking, zero waste strategies for animal protein companies don’t cover the meat, organs or bones of the slaughtered animals. Finding partners that can use those items is embedded into the core business strategy. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, for example, created the Smithfield BioScience division in 2017 to come up with solutions for using meat production by-products such as mucosa, glands and skin for medical applications.  From a corporate perspective, Smithfield’s commitment is to reduce overall solid waste sent to landfills by 75 percent by 2025. In the U.S., it plans to certify at least three-quarters of its facilities as zero waste by that time frame. (It has 35 of them.)  The designation calls for it to recycle or reuse at least 50 percent of the waste at a given facility. So far, Smithfield has certified 30 percent of its U.S. sites including its largest facility in Vernon, California, according to the company’s 2019 sustainability report released this week. The site required a proprietary solution for treating peptone waste associated with its production of heparin, used for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and medical device applications. The packaging conundrum One of the most difficult processes for any animal protein company is reducing the impact of packaging while complying with health considerations and the requirements of recycling organizations.  “Packaging is one valuable component within our supply chain where we are focused on reducing waste,” said John Meyer, senior director of environmental affairs for Smithfield Farms, in responses emailed for this article. “Smithfield has partnered with packaging suppliers to ideate, research and test emerging recyclable and sustainable product materials for future development and implementation.” Three examples of ideas that already have found their way into practice:  It changed the packages for its Prime Fresh line of pre-sliced delicatessen meats to look like the bags a consumer would receive from someone cutting them on the spot; these packets use about 31 percent less plastic than traditional offerings. It’s using product trays for the Pure Frame plant-based products made from 50 percent recycled materials. Its Omaha facility moved away from paper labels to printed film, saving more than four tons of waste annually. Silver Fern Farms, a New Zealand meat purveyor that specializes in beef, lamb and venison, permanently has removed close to 80 tons of plastic from its supply chain annually through a combination of measures, according to Matt Luxton, director of U.S. sales for the company. Silver Fern is New Zealand’s largest red meat producer; it started exporting to supermarkets in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in 2019.  One of the biggest changes was the shift to “consumer-ready” packaging that includes pre-trimmed portions, a process intended to help minimize food waste both at the retail point of sale (where meat is traditionally butchered and repackaged) and with consumers concerned about portion control.  “We have done a lot of research into what a consumer wants and what volume meals they are consuming,” Luxton said. Silver Fern is also using vacuum-sealed packaging that extends the shelf life of the meat for an additional 25 days, while maintaining health and hygiene standards, and it also has eliminated some plastic liners and opted for thinner gauge plastics for export. While the company is studying ways of using recycled plastics, it hasn’t been able to find a material that duplicates the shelf life it can achieve with options already available, Luxton said. Perdue also has been studying ways to package chicken in recyclable trays, an idea it borrowed from Coleman Natural, an organic meat company it acquired in 2011. While the idea works well for the organic brand, cost considerations kept the company from introducing it for the broader Perdue product lines.  “The problem with it is it’s more than double the cost of a foam tray,” Levitsky said. “And to put that cost into a conventional chicken product just would not be feasible … We’re trying to drive that cost down and are looking at other companies that can maybe produce that tray. But right now, the price is just so high for those recyclable trays that we have not done it.” Pull Quote The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse. We have done a lot of research into what a consumer wants and what volume meals they are consuming. Topics Food Systems Circular Economy Packaging Zero Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Smithfield Farms Close Authorship

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

June 16, 2020 by  
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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion Cecilia Keating Tue, 06/16/2020 – 00:30 Unilever has announced it will invest €1 billion (about $1.12 billion based on exchange rates this week) over the next decade in efforts to tackle climate change and deliver on a new goal to ensure net zero emissions across its value chain by 2039. The consumer goods giant unveiled its new Climate and Nature Fund on Monday as it set out a raft of fresh sustainability goals, which include plans to end deforestation in its supply chain and communicate the carbon footprint of every product it sells. The new 2039 target builds on existing sustainability goals to reach carbon neutrality across its operations and halve its value chain emissions by the end of the decade. Unilever CEO Alan Jope emphasized the company intended to eschew a sustainability strategy that focused on emissions alone and instead take a holistic approach. “Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity — all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously,” he said. “In doing so, we must also recognize that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.” To reach its new value chain emissions goal, Unilever said it would prioritize partnerships with suppliers committed to science-based climate targets and work with partners across the value chain to drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Under the plan, the Anglo-Dutch company said it intends to set up a new system where suppliers are required to declare the carbon footprint of the goods and services while invoicing. It also outlined its intention to work with other businesses and organizations to standardize emissions data collection, sharing, and communication. The new fund will support a raft of initiatives, including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation projects, the company said. While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … The firm also confirmed that it is aiming to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. As such it pledged to increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies — such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain systems — to enhance oversight, accelerate smallholder engagement and improve its approach to derivates sourcing. Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at the company, said that empowering farmers would deliver a “step change” in regenerating nature. “If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems,” he said. “In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests and helping regenerate nature. In the end, they are the stewards of the land.” Unilever also has committed to step up its efforts to preserve water, with plans to make all its “product formulations” biodegradable in order to minimize their impact on aquatic ecosystems. It also said it would implement water stewardship programs for local communities in 100 locations by the end of the decade. Jope concluded that the suite of new initiatives would complement the company’s ongoing mission to curb its reliance on virgin plastic. “While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life — in the sourcing of materials — as well as in their manufacture and transport,” he said. “We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.” Last year, the company pledged to halve its use of virgin plastic and ensure it collects and recycles more plastic packaging than it sells. The announcement came the same day as the publication of an open letter to governments from leading green businesses and NGOs, calling on policymakers to prioritize nature restoration projects as part of their imminent coronavirus economic stimulus packages. Pull Quote While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … Topics Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Removal BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Early evening view of Unilever office The Bridge in Feijenoord neighbourhood in Rotterdam

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

The unmasking of Corporate America

June 15, 2020 by  
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The unmasking of Corporate America Joel Makower Mon, 06/15/2020 – 02:11 The past two weeks have seen an outpouring of concern and commitment by companies about racism in the United States. Pronouncements on company social media accounts often take the form of graphics — white type against a black background seems to be de rigueur in the current environment. It’s all a welcome sign but also treacherous territory. For one simple reason: Words, no matter how compelling, compassionate or committed, aren’t enough to undo the injustices and structural challenges employees and others face when it comes to race and equity. Companies are being asked to show, not just tell. And hypocrisy, or lack of action, is being called out. Consider the backlash already on social media. As companies post their support for Black Lives Matter and racial justice in general, activists are asking these companies to also post a picture of their leadership team and/or board of directors. Words, no matter how compelling, compassionate or committed, aren’t enough to undo the injustices and structural challenges employees face when it comes to race and equity. You can probably guess why: Corporate board and leadership teams are all too often overwhelmingly white and male. And while gender diversity has improved significantly over the past few years —  according to Institutional Shareholder Services , 45 percent of new board positions among the Russell 3000, representing 3,000 of the largest U.S.-traded stocks, were filled by women in 2019, up from just 12 percent in 2008 — racial diversity has not.  According to the 2019 Registry of Corporate Directors published by Black Enterprise magazine, there were just over 300 African-American board members among S&P 500 companies, out of nearly 4,500 board seats overall. That’s progress, but barely. (Full disclosure: GreenBiz Group’s six-person leadership team, four men and two women, is all-white.) Board seats and leadership positions are only one aspect of corporate performance on diversity and inclusion, but it’s a critical one, as modeling behavior starts at the top. Companies are responding in a range of meaningful ways: devoting tens of millions of dollars to racial justice initiatives (Apple, Google, NBCUniversal), establishing an internal committee to advance racial equity and justice solutions (Walmart), committing that black candidates are on the succession list for all senior-level positions (Estée Lauder), as well as pledging to direct more investment capital to minority entrepreneurs, publicly advocating for action at the state and local levels, and developing anti-racist workplace initiatives, among other things. But there are also corporate statements that risk being seen as window dressing. Take the Business Roundtable, a group of companies whose 2019 Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation has received copious press coverage. Earlier this month, the group tapped seven of its board members to form a committee on “racial equality and justice solutions.” As Politico reported : Critics pointed out that there are no specific benchmarks or funding. The committee is led by two black and five white executives from Eaton, Vista Equity Partners, AT&T, Marriott International, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase and Johnson & Johnson. Most of these companies have no more than two people of color on their boards. … A spokeswoman for the Business Roundtable said the group is “committed to taking thoughtful action on issues of racial injustice,” which includes “CEOs listening to their employees, customers and members of the communities they operate in, with the goal of strengthening unity and justice.” The spokeswoman also noted that 19 of the group’s more than 180 CEOs are people of color, while another 19 are women (just one of whom is nonwhite). Which begs the question, not just for the Business Roundtable but for all companies: What actually will change as a result of these statements and commitments? How will progress be measured and tracked? Who will be holding companies accountable? Probably not Wall Street. “Your standard research analyst is not going to ask, ‘Please articulate your efforts to become an anti-racist, multicultural organization,’” Erika Karp, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital and a Wall Street veteran, told me last week. “You’re not going to hear that on an analyst call.” She added: “But I think you should.” I asked Karp, whose firm published a 2018 research report, “Investing to Advance Racial Equity,” how she’d like to see companies judged, and whether company actions could be boiled down to the kind of environmental, social and governance metrics analysts are coming to expect from publicly traded companies. Instead, Karp pointed me to an undated, but presumably recent, matrix pulled from the psychoanalytic world: “Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist, Multicultural Institution.” It plots companies across six stages, from Exclusive (“a segregated institution”) to Fully Inclusive (“a transformed institution in a transformed society”). The continuum tracks companies from monocultural to multicultural to anti-racist to anti-racist multicultural. Most companies, from my perspective, can be found in the early stages of the continuum, such as Passive (“tolerant of a limited number of people of color with ‘proper’ perspective and credentials”) and Symbolic Change (“makes official policy pronouncements regarding multicultural diversity”). The tougher stuff is yet to come. Said Karp: “This came from the psychoanalytic world, but it might as well be from McKinsey.” In many ways, we’ve seen this movie before. The anti-racist continuum could be applied, with only modest modification, to corporate sustainability or social responsibility, from reactive and recalcitrant polluters at one end, to proactive and regenerative beacons at the other. And, as with sustainability, how a company is perceived on racial justice and equity is a delicate dance between showing and telling — that is, meaningful actions paired with stories, with great care given to not let the latter get too far ahead of the former. When the two are unaligned is when companies find themselves called out on social media and beyond. For most companies, having an open dialogue is a critical first step, but if things don’t progress from there, it will be more than a lost opportunity — it increasingly will become a risk factor. That’s a lesson of this moment: Be careful out there. Show, don’t just tell. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Words, no matter how compelling, compassionate or committed, aren’t enough to undo the injustices and structural challenges employees face when it comes to race and equity. Topics Leadership Marketing & Communication Diversity Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Group

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The unmasking of Corporate America

Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration

June 15, 2020 by  
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Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration Heather Clancy Mon, 06/15/2020 – 00:15 Over the past year, agricultural commodities giant Cargill stepped up its global sustainability initiatives substantially, with a series of programs created to support its science-based target of reducing supply chain emissions by 30 percent by 2030.  Like many other food companies, it’s dedicating resources to promoting regenerative agricultural practices among the farmers and seeking ways that farms can profit from their efforts to sequester carbon dioxide. That’s the backstory behind its relationship with the Soil & Water Outcomes Fund , a program intended to support farmers who design and implement initiatives aimed at improving water quality and mitigating flooding and runoff, increasing carbon sequestration, reducing emissions from on-farm operations, and creating or protecting habitat. These include practices such as planting cover crops, reducing tillage and preserving edge-of-field wilderness buffers or wetland. The effort, which includes close to 10,000 acres in the pilot phase this year across 15 farms in Iowa, is administered by the Iowa Soybean Association , promoting the idea with members and advising them on best practices; and investment firm Quantified Ventures , helping with cost-benefit analyses and other operational aspects of the effort, including fundraising. The goal is to include up to 100,000 acres in Iowa next year and expand into at least two more states, according to the companies managing the program. They come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do. Progress against a farm’s individual carbon removal or water stewardship efforts will be measured using COMET-FARM , a carbon reporting and accounting system developed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Division and Colorado State University. “[Farmers] come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do,” said Adam Kiel, director of conservation and external programs at Iowa Soybean. Farmers will be paid between $30 and $45 per acre this season, depending on the outcomes. The metrics for success are being defined by the fund in collaboration with local municipalities that feel the downstream effects of agricultural activities within their watersheds. To be clear, the program isn’t limited to soybean operations but it does require that the approaches being adopted are additive or new — farmers won’t be rewarded for regenerative practices that were already in place. The program started specifically to address water quality measures but evolved to embrace the broader carbon sequestration mandate.     Cargill’s role is twofold: Not only is it encouraging farmers to participate as way of helping address its Scope 3 emissions, it also will buy carbon credits through the fund on an annual basis. “The innovative nature of this program was compelling,” said Ryan Sirolli, director of row crop sustainability at Cargill. While Cargill is the only named company participating in the new fund, Mark Lambert, director of Quantified Ventures, said it is in discussion with other large companies. “We want a diversity of customers,” he said. “We see a variety of opportunities to support sustainability goals.” What does success look like? A program that touches “millions” of acres, he said. Given the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the global food system , it’s more important than ever to help farmers reap the financial benefits of investing in a more sustainable approach, Sirolli said. “Agriculture is getting absolutely hammered right now,” he said. Aside from this specific effort, Cargill is a founding member of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, which seeks to create a national marketplace by 2020. “We would love to see customers, competitors, others saying, ‘I would love to be in this space,’” Sirolli said. This isn’t the only carbon marketplace scheme in the works — and the model is raising questions about how actions are measured and verified. Startup Indigo Ag, backed by companies including recent investor FedEx , for example, is planning to pay farmers based on how much carbon they have stored in their soil — it collects soil samples to that end. Software company Nori, another rising player, is using blockchain to manage the transactions. An important actor Cargill’s influence on transforming to a more sustainable food system cannot be underestimated — it employs 160,000 people in 70 countries. The footprint of its sustainability activities, detailed in its latest sustainability report published in early June, is extensive. Among some notable highlights of its work: Using digital technologies and barcodes, the company can trace 50 percent of its “sustainable cocoa beans” supply from farm to factory; it’s also using mapping services, which will be important for identifying regions where forests are at risk. The company has reduced its “aggregated gross CO2 reduction” related to its maritime vessels — it owns an ocean fleet of over 600 vessels — by 800,000 metric tons. It’s also working closely with the Global Maritime Forum.  It’s “on track” to eliminate deforestation related to commercial palm concessions in its “third-party supply chain” by the end of 2020.  Cargill also has completed a Brazilian supply chain mapping exercise related to building “deforestation-free” supply chains for soybeans. Earlier this year at GreenBiz 20, Cargill CSO Ruth Kimmelshue acknowledged that progress to protect forests has been tougher within the soy supply chain than it has been for cocoa or palm oil. The company’s overall pledge has been to halve deforestation within its supply chains by the end of 2020 and to eliminate it entirely by 2030. Pull Quote They come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do. Topics Carbon Removal Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Removal 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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Britain hits a new record going two months coal-free

June 11, 2020 by  
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For the first time in over a hundred years, Britain has gone for a record two months without using coal energy. This new milestone is due in part to the coronavirus pandemic and investment in renewable energy. A decade ago, almost half of the country’s energy was coal -based. Britain is changing this narrative by adopting renewable sources of energy. Midnight on June 10 marked two straight months since the country last used coal energy. Due to the coronavirus lockdown, power demand in the entire country went down. As a result, Britain closed the only four remaining coal power plants. According to a BBC publication, 40% of Britain’s power supply was coal-based just 10 years ago. However, a drastic shift to renewable energy has allowed for this coal-free energy record. In ten years, Britain has transformed from wind and solar generating only 3% of the country’s electricity to having renewables account for 37% of the total energy supplied. Britain has stepped up to become home to the largest offshore wind industry in the world. Drax, Britain’s biggest power plant, has been gradually shifting to renewable energy. According to Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax, the company has put in place a plan that fully eliminates coal power. “We here at Drax decided that coal was no longer the future,” said Gardiner. Britain’s green energy achievements may give hope to any country striving to eliminate coal. Though there are still many steps left for ending coal energy usage worldwide, Gardiner expects renewable energy to overtake fossil fuels in 2020. This prediction may not be far off, according to Dr. Simon Evans of Carbon Brief. “So far this year renewables have generated more electricity than fossil fuels and that’s never happened before,” said Evans. Given that coronavirus has slowed down global energy consumption, now may be the time for each nation to make progress towards cleaner energy. Via BBC News Images via Pexels

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