Where are they now? Catch up with 30 Under 30 alumni

June 29, 2020 by  
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Where are they now? Catch up with 30 Under 30 alumni Heather Clancy Mon, 06/29/2020 – 02:30 June 22 marked the publication of the fifth annual GreenBiz 30 Under 30 , our report celebrating rising young professionals in the field of corporate sustainability.  What’s up in the worlds of the 120 alumni from past lists? We reached out this spring to check in, asking those inclined to weigh in on how current events have changed their world views. We asked them to consider two questions: With the world turned upside down, what is your focus at work? Do you think the COVID-19 crisis marks a turning point for the sustainability movement?  Following are some of their responses, lightly edited, representing perspective from all four past cohorts. We did not specifically ask the alumni to consider the broader question of systemic racism, as our outreach was completed prior to the national protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But look for future updates and essays on this topic, such as the one digitally penned recently by Jarami Bond (named in 2017). One final note: Be sure to check the end of this article for quick job updates from others who responded to our outreach but chose not to comment on the two questions. Without further ado, here’s what’s up with members of past GreenBiz 30 Under 30 cohorts. And, if you want to consult those lists in their entirety, here are the links: 2016 , 2017 , 2018 and 2019 . Jessica Artioli Centurião ( 2018 ) Digital Innovation Manager, BASF; Sao Paulo, Brazil COVID-19 will definitely change the world, and I truly hope that this will bring a new priority for sustainability topics. We as human beings and our planet are all connected. That’s why I hope that after COVID-19 we will be more human and environmental-driven than money-driven. If our environmental is suffering, we will suffer at some point. We cannot forget that a better future is 100 percent in our hands, because WE, and only WE, have the power and the resources to make better decisions, to be more conscious. Sustainability must be a must have and not a nice to have. We are constantly looking for innovation and solutions that can help us in this new way of remote work, to improve our interactions to our customers and to be more emphatic than ever. We don’t need outstanding experiences now; we need to shelter our customers, our people, our environment.  Holly Beale (2019) Program Manager, Datacenter Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft; Seattle My environmental work in Microsoft’s datacenter communities has certainly been disrupted by the global crisis. Plans for tree-planting programs have been postponed; workshops for sustainability employment training are on hold; and community gatherings for local environmental projects are on hiatus.  As I get the chance to meet in virtual roundtables with community members, it can easily get pretty discouraging. However, right now I’m focusing on two main things: Focus on being flexible and understanding the unpredictability our community groups are facing; being sympathetic and supportive in the ways they need, even if this differs from our original approach. And turning towards smaller-scale, grassroots engagement. We’ve been able to shift many environmental projects’ approaches to the home-scale, like home gardens, yard tree plantings and home recycling campaigns.  As we emerge, we are learning how to build the capability to truly understand, qualitatively and quantitatively, our communities’ vulnerabilities against a much broader set of scenarios. In a way, we are seeing this crisis as an illustration of how expensive the failure to build resiliency can ultimately prove. As we are learning, in climate change as in pandemics, the costs of a global crisis are bound to vastly exceed those of its prevention. We’re understanding that the seeds we sew today will grow our shade for the future, and without rolling up our sleeves now and getting dirty, the future will force our path in a direction we do not desire.  Can I talk about one trend that’s emerging which is giving me incredible hope? The shift towards plant-based protein has been a movement I’ve been following closely, with baited (tempeh) breath. We know that animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming. According to Project Drawdown, eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.” But even in parts of the population unconcerned with the devastating environmental effects, this virus’s life disruption is forcing our awareness of meat farms being a “breeding ground for pandemics.” Issues of health, the working poor and racial justice are making people uncomfortable, and with the supply chain disruption with the closing of meatpacking cesspools, Jonathan Safran Foer writes, “Our hand has been reaching for the doorknob for the last few years. COVID-19 has kicked open the door.” And it’s really happening. Earlier in May, sales of alternative meat products in grocery stores went up 264 percent! I’ll certainly be watching this trend, and I’m more hopeful for it than I’ve been about any singular issue in a long time. John Bello (2018) Project Manager, Skanska; Portland, Oregon After doing some research in Prague on carbon negative building materials, I have relocated to Portland and am currently working as a project manager/sustainability lead on the PDX Airport Terminal Core Redevelopment (TCORE) Project. We are using the newly developed Embodied Carbon for Construction Calculator (EC3) to support low-carbon procurement on structural steel, piles, rebar and concrete. We are also working directly with Pacific Northwest lumber suppliers to procure sustainably harvested glulam beams for the airport’s new undulating roof structure. Fortunately, we have been able to continue construction during the pandemic and have made several changes to our operations to promote social distancing, hand washing and face coverings. Despite the crisis, I am pleased to see that we have not wavered on our approach towards sustainable procurement and low-carbon development.   Sara Bogdan (formerly Lindenfeld) (2016) Manager Sustainability and ESG, JetBlue; New York  My job is typically one where I am frequently traveling and in the operation. My favorite part of my work has always been implementing emissions and waste reduction projects, allowing me to visit airports and meet crew members all across our network.  But now, being “grounded” along with everyone else, of course my day-to-day has shifted. We are inventing new ways of coordinating sustainability programs from afar. Our priority and resolve hasn’t changed. For JetBlue and my team, COVID-19’s massive impact to our business and way of life has only reinforced the importance of smart, sustained ESG risk management. Our industry was, of course, abruptly and majorly changed by the global pandemic. For us, this only bolsters the imperative of thinking through how we can mitigate additional ESG risk factors that may present themselves next — such as those associated with a warming climate. I am proud that we have already made industry-changing moves to set JetBlue up for success, including the first U.S. airline to announce a carbon-neutral domestic operation, purchasing sustainable aviation fuel and rolling out fleets of airport electric ground vehicles, to name a few. Willemijn Brouwer (2018) Lead, Internal Engagement for Sustainability, DSM; Heerlen, Holland While the dystopic headlines made me temporally get rid of my news apps, I now truly believe we can seize this global crisis as a tremendous opportunity. Albeit the virus bringing terrible consequences for the vulnerable in our society, it has demonstrated to be very inclusive and diverse in who it has hit. In other words, all countries and all people are experiencing the consequences. It’s a truly global challenge, but that also ignites a global awareness we have to build back better. In my own job at RoyalDSM, I was afraid my co-workers couldn’t be bothered less with my projects around sustainability ambassadorship. And I couldn’t be more wrong! There is a genuine and collective interest how we as a company and as individuals can contribute to the sustainable future of society at large. The past months have shown me that together we stand strong and we can achieve a lot — faster and more determined than ever. Devin Carsdale (formerly Kleinfield-Hayes) (2017) Sustainability Compliance Auditor, Inter IKEA Group; Philadelphia I do think this crisis will force business to rethink its many assumptions about how it has conducted itself up until now. I traveled quite extensively for my job, securing IKEA’s supply chain throughout the Americas and meeting with suppliers to advise or verify the compliance of its many social, labor and environmental requirements. This situation has forced our team to do all of those activities virtually; some of which have the potential of staying that way permanently and others that may still need our attention in person. I have heard IKEA leadership referring to coming back stronger than ever and there is no question that its 2030 strategy is at the heart of it; with product circularity, renewable energy investment and taking care of workers as some of the key tenants, IKEA’s stewardship continues to be part of its core business model. My hope is that customers will reward companies that prioritize workers and the environment and have their precious purchasing power signal to the markets that “sustainable” business is the only kind of business here to stay. HY William Chan (2019) Urban Designer and Planner; Sydney, Australia We won’t have business as usual again, and we shouldn’t want it. Business as usual wasn’t working. We can evolve business (and cities, governance and individuals) to be and do better. The time is now to flatten the climate change curve. My focus is on “unlearning” the urban systems that we had taken for granted, the city challenges that were hidden until now, and shifting that paradigm long term. This includes a radical redesign of sustainable high density living, the development of better public spaces that support sustainable, personal active transport of walking and cycling, and to address gaps in food supply by innovating for more localized urban “farm to fork” approaches. I see these urban challenges as long-term opportunities in sustainability, catalyzed by what we have experienced together during the pandemic. Alexandra Criscuolo (2019) Environmental Sustainability Manager, New York Road Runners; New York As New York Road Runners’ Environmental Sustainability Manager, I have been tasked with developing and driving the execution of NYRR’s organization-wide sustainability strategy, which includes improving the sustainability of the TCS New York City Marathon, NYRR’s weekly running races, and our facilities.  Just prior to the pandemic, we wrapped up measuring our sustainability baseline with Waste Management Sustainability Services, and I was developing our detailed plan for the year ahead. As our programs and offerings began to shift and events were canceled as a result of the pandemic, we pivoted to donate unused equipment and other items to help frontline medical workers and others in need. I organized virtual meetings with stakeholders across the organization to determine a plan to keep the items from the landfill and give them another life. I am optimistic and believe this major disruption of our “business as usual” will allow us to rebuild a more sustainable future. A future that is more regenerative, circular and healthy for humans and the planet we call home. While operations have come to a halt, the climate crisis has not, and this pandemic can certainly be a turning point for the sustainability movement. We are focusing on two major goals: Planning for future events to be as sustainable — and safe — as possible while also using this time to enhance our sustainability data gathering process to make it as smooth as possible for the time when we return to operating races. Joseph Gale (2018) Environmental Specialist, RS&H; San Francisco RS&H Practices and Resource Groups are pushing forward to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients, as well as are furthering internal initiatives and external growth strategies. I am pleased to announce that in May, I received the approval to initiate an enterprise approach to corporate sustainability. Through collaboration with an internal cross-practice committee, this two-year effort achieved success with development of a business case, scope of services, and presentation to the company CEO in October. The Corporate Sustainability Team will be working with our CEO and executive team to implement new initiatives as they relate to sustainability and operational resilience. Alison Humphrey (formerly Larkins) (2019) Director, ESG, TPG Capital; San Francisco The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled world leaders, companies, communities and individuals to take urgent, collective action to confront a critical issue risking harm to people across the globe. It also illuminated challenges and opportunities previously obscured in the blurred corners of complex and interconnected global supply chains. My hope is that we can harness this energy and approach to address the climate crisis. In this spirit, I’m hearing from many companies that they are seizing this opportunity to reset, reassess and consider how we enhance and “rebuild” business and civic processes through an ESG and climate lens. From where I sit, I don’t see us losing momentum. Certainly, we’ll need hold ourselves and each other accountable, but I think ruthless optimism and hard work are ultimately what will get us to where we need to go. Kamillah Knight (2019) Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Unilever; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey My focus at work has been providing tools, trainings and resources for all of Unilever’s employees in North America, focusing primarily on parents, women and our POC talent. My goal is to continue to create new and innovative ways to engage people both during and outside of their workday to ensure that they can show up as their best self no matter what. I do believe that the COVID-19 marks a turning point in the sustainability movement. We have seen countless reports during this time that make mention and provide facts around the decrease of pollution and harmful effects on the environment as a result of everyone being quarantined. This has led many people to say that they think it should be required for people to stay home for a certain amount of days in the year to give the environment a “break.” This time has not only changed the way that we see the environment and how it should be (without pollution), but it has also changed the way that people view other people and their needs given the huge disparities that exist in different communities, in addition to the value that people bring in the work that they do. The needs and diversity of communities is a huge component of achieving the SDGs and/pushing forward the sustainability movement. With the change in thought I am confident that we will see more people that will lean into sustainability than ever before. Just look at how companies are even responding. The most pressing issue on my mind right now is using the time that I am privileged to have right now to build stronger relationships and connections with my loved ones and to do the things that I didn’t have time to before. This is time that we will never get back in the same capacity. I am grateful and I know how I use this time will be reflected in how I “re-enter” the world once things open back up. Media Authorship UN Global Compact, Arlene Thompson Close Authorship Jillian Lennartz (2016) Manager, Sustainability Reporting, Teck Resources; Vancouver, British Columbia The COVID-19 pandemic has hit at a particularly interesting time for me. I moved from the U.S. to Canada in mid-February without any inkling that the border would snap shut behind me and the job market would suddenly all but dry up. Being a new immigrant looking for a job while there is a global health and economic crisis is not a situation I anticipated being in when I made plans to move. However, I was fortunate to have landed in an area with a few exciting roles that remained open despite the shutdowns. I’m beyond ecstatic to have started in a role with Teck Resources. I’ll be standing in for a fellow 30 Under 30 honoree (Katie Fedosenko, 2017 cohort) who will be going on a year of parental leave. She has built an impressive ESG program, which I anticipate will further evolve as the current global crisis plays out. SARS-COV-2 has noticeably impacted the entire process of interviewing and on-boarding. I have yet to step foot in Teck’s headquarters. Every interview, meeting and training has been remote, which has been an adjustment for both myself and the teams with Teck. Fortunately, I come from a generation and a culture that’s already very accustomed to using technology to its fullest; I believe we may have been the first generation to be referred to as “digital natives.” It therefore hasn’t been an entirely foreign experience to have meetings over teleconference and use cloud-based file sharing for collaboration. Especially as sustainability practitioners we have worked with stakeholders around the globe and formed relationships with site representatives we may never meet in person. I feel that as a profession we’re well-situated to continue our work as uninterrupted as possible. Ding Li (2018) Partner Business Development Manager, CLP Innovation; Hong Kong Ever since the COVID-19 crisis started in January in Hong Kong, I have been working from home and minimizing contact with people. As an extrovert, I have a strong need to be surrounded by people. I remember the first week of staying at home, I felt really bad. Boredom turned into negative thoughts, and negative thoughts turned into depressing thoughts. At the end of the week, I almost vomited because mentally I felt really sick.  I realized this is a problem and I have to fix it — I started to schedule virtual coffee meetings with friends in the sustainability industry. They shared with me how COVID-19 has impacted their organizations, their job roles and their personal life. Facility managers say they have discovered energy use issues in their buildings — buildings are not able to adjust loading with the decrease in occupancy; sustainability managers shifted their focuses from environmental issues to community engagement; and others say they spent more time with their family and experienced work-life balance for the first time. They have taken advantage of the situation and used it to enhance their companies’ sustainability strategy and their own personal goals. It is a rare opportunity for me to engage people who I know professionally in a personal way. It helped me to cope with the difficult self-isolation situation and allowed me and my friends to be united in this crazy time.  Meanwhile, I built an office space at my rooftop, which helps me to stay focused and separate work from personal life. I have cooked more healthy meals and now I am enjoying my time at home. If not because of COVID-19, I would not know how resilient and adaptive everyone can be.  We would not have imagined millions of people could stay at home to avoid a pandemic, just like we would not have imagined countries and businesses could truly collaborate and build a zero-carbon economy.  I am proud of what humanity has accomplished so far when facing the challenge of COVID-19, and I believe this gives us a reason to be optimistic when facing the climate crisis. We are more resilient and adaptive than we think. When there is a will, there is a way! Idicula Mathew (2019) Founder and CEO, Hera Health Solutions; Memphis Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at Hera Health Solutions has been closely interacting with leaders in the industry to build strategies and innovations that will outlast to redefine the new normal in healthcare. As a startup that is an innovator in pharmaceutical devices, Hera Health Solutions is now looking forward to help shape the future of sustainable long acting medications. Since my being featured in GreenBiz 30 Under 30 in 2019, Hera Health Solutions has closed a more than $1.25 million investment round led by leaders in healthcare venture capital firms and impact organizations. With the new funding, the Hera Health Solutions team has grown. Now even more notably, Hera Health Solutions has kickstarted new R&D for its proprietary implantables for areas of other extended release medication potentials including vaccinations. On the other side of this global pandemic is a new normal that we will establish together. And while there is an undeniable number of uncertainties, one thing for sure is that the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry has now changed. The world had to witness the sudden and overnight decline of hospital and physician resources. The new demand in contactless and physically distant healthcare has now become a precedent for the future. Now more than ever, the need for more effective and sustainable long acting medications to patients and users is highlighted more than ever.  Ana Sophia Mifsud (2019) Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute; New York Life in New York has certainly felt intense over the last couple of months. In the midst of all the chaos, my work has never felt so important. Since my 30 Under 30 nomination, I have shifted roles and am now working on deep decarbonization a little closer to home. I have joined RMI’s Building Electrification program, which is focused on eliminating fossil fuels in buildings. What many don’t realize is that roughly 70 million homes and businesses directly burn fossil fuels for heating and cooking. In addition to contributing to almost 10 percent of the U.S.’s climate impact, these emissions lead to unhealthy living situations. Even before the pandemic hit, on average, Americans spent about 90 percent of their time in buildings. Yet, indoor air quality has remained largely unregulated, leading to disproportionate health impacts, particularly in already vulnerable populations.  While our work is more important than ever, we’ve had to make some adjustments in order to continue convening and strategizing virtually. I’ve developed some best practices to help guide this recalibration and am putting them in practice while facilitating an eLab accelerator team focused on decarbonizing affordable multi-family housing in Chicago. In this decisive decade of climate action, I feel fortunate to be working on developing solutions that create sustainable jobs, reduce our climate impact and create healthier places for us all to live and work.  With regards to whether the COVID-19 crisis marks a turning point for the sustainability movement, I’m not sure. But I firmly believe we should all act in the spirit of applied hope . The type of hope that catalyzes action out of the belief that we can create the type of future we deserve. Catherine Queen (2017) Senior Manager, Sustainable Development and B Corp, Danone; Broomfield, Colorado As a sustainability professional, and a stubborn climate activist, I see the stark parallels between the pandemic and climate change. Climate change is unseen in our daily lives — until it isn’t — much like this virus. Those impacted the hardest are vulnerable populations.  Amid the uncertainty, my specific focus at work has not shifted. After leading Danone North America to become the world’s largest Certified B Corporation, I continue to work to integrate the environmental and social mission into how we run our business — inspiring and engaging teams to take action every day to balance short-term profits and results for long-term social and environmental implications, including and especially during a pandemic.  While the pandemic has shown how interconnected we all are, and I have seen many inspiring examples of our shared humanity, it is devastating to see continued areas of grave disconnectedness with ongoing inequality and inequity. Our collective response to the pandemic has also shown what we can do, as a company and as a society, when we use our collective voices and action. I hope next year when these updates are requested, we will have globally proven that collectively we made a difference, to create a better and more equitable for us all.  Similar to the mission of the B Corp Movement, this year is illustrating the importance of being bold and taking a leadership stance — even when you don’t have all the answers. We can’t address crisis on our own and my hope is this time serves as a call to action — to join together to solve the issues of our times.  Alexis Rocamora (2019) Senior Sustainability Consultant, EY Japan My focus since last year has been to help companies in Japan integrate sustainability into their supply chain management. I do so by helping them adopt supplier policies and by conducting due diligence processes to verify suppliers’ compliance with sustainability obligations (environment, health and safety, labor and human rights).  Even before the COVID-19 crisis, companies were increasingly carrying out such assessments, for several reasons (rise in due diligence legislation, ethical concerns, willingness to limit corporate risks, etc.). However, as COVID-19 is amplifying inequalities worldwide, companies are realizing that knowing their suppliers is not merely about keeping the business as usual while applying green paint on the surface, or avoiding a few inconvenient headlines in the media. As it turns out, sustainability risks of suppliers act like a cascade effect on the most vulnerable in a time of crisis: Part-time workers are being laid off, foreign workers are forced to repatriate at their own expense, workplaces with poor health and hygiene measures become hot spots for the virus to spread.  So in the future, supply chain relocalization, full transparency and mandatory supplier due diligence might become mainstream, not (only) because it is the sustainable thing to do, but because businesses depend on it. Companies have a tendency to relegate sustainability to “non-financial” issues (which doesn’t matter much to shareholders, and thus to management). I have the feeling that this crisis will contribute to the realization that businesses actually depend more than they thought on real-world considerations, which are better embedded into sustainability factors than financial statements. This might lead to giving corporate sustainability a strategic and transformational role rather than a PR and risk management one.  I’ve been re-reading “This Changes Everything” from Naomi Klein recently. In the same way that she pointed out that the sustainability movement could have been successful if it had been put at the center of mass economic transformations (such as the spread of neoliberalization since the 1980’s or the economic stimulus granted to the banks after the financial crash of 2008), I believe that the economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19 should only be addressed by measures that aim to redefine our societies’ economic model towards a sustainable and equitable one.  Regarding adaptation to the situation, my company (even in Japan) has been promoting flexible working arrangements for a long time so the transition was rather easy. What I can tell about the situation here overall is that Japanese companies are known to have a conservative corporate culture with long working hours, mandatory drinking activities with teammates and an obsession for physical workplace attendance. COVID-19 has disturbed this prehistoric work culture by forcing even the most traditional companies to massively adopt flexible working arrangements (some are even in the process of ditching the mandatory use of the Japanese “seals,” used for hundreds of years to sign every official documents!) and I hope that these changes survive the pandemic.  Alejandra Sánchez Ayala (2019) Sustainability Leader, C&A Mexico; Guadalajara, Mexico My focus for the last 12 weeks has been to make sure my team is prepared for the new normal we will be facing in the short and medium term. We have been preparing strategies for adapted versions of our programs and revisiting the ideas of what makes sense in our supply chain. In Mexico, a lot of small business have been severely affected by the economic crisis linked to the lockdown, and we have a shared responsibility to take this into account for future decisions. I do believe that this crisis has arisen questions about the implications of the environmental challenges that we might face due to climate change and what role we play as society, consumers and professionals. We are facing challenges we never believed we’d have to face. I had a conversation with some colleagues about the almost apocalyptic sight of people wearing masks all the time. Now it’s about protecting ourselves from a virus, but what if this was linked to permanently poor air quality?  Sadly, I don’t think all governments are living up to the requirements of this crisis. For example, in Mexico, due to COVID-19, some highly questionable decisions have been made regarding environmental topics, which now seems to be even a lower priority than ever. Renewable energy projects have been threatened under the excuse of COVID-19, to favor fossil fuels, a strategy the government is pushing since last year. In this context, I believe that although consumers might be willing to engage in more conversations regarding sustainability (engrained in the core of business and not as a nice to have added value), this also requires participation from governments and private industry. But in the current landscape, I don’t believe that in the short term we will be seeing the turning point we wish regarding sustainability. Devan Tracy (2018) Smart Buildings and Energy Analytics Lead, Lockheed Martin; Washington, D.C. With the world turned upside down, I’ve noticed that data visualization has been used more frequently in mainstream media to depict COVID-19 spread projections, medical supply inventory or supply chain interrelationships. We are all becoming better data scientists as a result. In the smart buildings world, this is key. I’ve partnered with our data and analytics office to continuously optimize algorithms, explore anomalies, detect faults and jump on opportunities for our newly launched, large-scale smart buildings pilot. This pilot set the stage for an expansion of the program to 50,000 additional sensors across an additional 5.8 million square feet at Lockheed Martin this year. And the beauty of smart buildings is that they were designed from day one to support remote work. It is no longer a requirement to be onsite to operate and optimize a campus.  Powerful visualization underscores the importance of the effective translation of data, allowing us to address problems quicker than ever before — and helping everybody get to the future faster, together. Check out this quick video where I talk about our smart buildings program on the LM YouTube Channel “Talk Techy to Me” series.  We are all emerging from the crisis with a refined perspective. Now more than ever, dog barks and baby cries are welcome additions to conference calls. This is humanizing and reminds us that we are all multidimensional creatures. Colleagues are increasingly accommodating, and interactions more frequently extend beyond surface level chatter. These snapshots into our personal lives bring teams closer together and make us more cohesive teams. After all, we are human beings and not just human doings. Finally, here’s a list of other comings and goings among the 30 Under 30 (presented in alphabetical order): Kelly Elizabeth Behrend (2016) left New York City for San Salvador, El Salvador, to become director of sustainability at hugo, “the first Central American superapp.” Former Easton sustainability analyst Claire Castleman (2018) has started a new position as Small Business Support Program Associate at Self-Help Credit Union. James Connelly (2016) left the Living Future Institute after eight years to become CEO of My Green Lab, a nonprofit in the life science Industry.  Fifth Element Group partner Pratik Gauri (2019) is the India host of Fintech.TV, which produces a program on ESG investing and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He’s also started a new blockchain venture and is a new global youth lead for innovation nonprofit Dream Tank .   I hear Lizzie Horvitz (2017) recently started a company (still in stealth) that helps incentivize consumers to make better purchasing decisions based on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with products.  Jeffrey Jennings (2016) in January started a new role as a senior supply chain sustainability process leader with Freeport-McMoran. He’s assisting with the development of a responsible sourcing program and assessment of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks in our supply chain.  Entrepreneur Andrew Krioukov (2016) has become an adviser to an early stage venture fund focus on artificial intelligence and internet of things, UNION Labs. His startup, Comfy, was acquired by Siemens two years ago.  Isabel Mogstad (2019) has left the Environmental Defense Fund to become director of U.S. policy and engagement at BP.  Former Sula Vineyards and PepsiCo sustainability team member Inesh Singh (2019) recently took over as manager of agro development at Anheuser-Busch InBev in India.  If you’re a GreenBiz 30 Under 30 honoree who’d love to engage — or contribute essays about the cause of corporate sustainability, environmental justice and the clean economy imperative — reach out to me by email at heather@greenbiz.com . 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Where are they now? Catch up with 30 Under 30 alumni

Scientists support use of reusable containers during COVID-19 pandemic

June 25, 2020 by  
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Since the start of the pandemic, there have been concerns that using reusable containers and bags at grocery stores and cafes could enhance the spread of the virus. However, such claims have now been refuted by a team of 119 scientists. The team, which includes scientists from 18 countries, has published a document stating that reusable containers are safe. Many cafes, restaurants and grocery stores around the world have stopped accepting reusable cups, bags and other containers for fear that these items would spread COVID-19. Environmentalists have pushed for a long time to have restaurants and other businesses adopt the use of reusable containers. But these gains made over the years risk being eroded almost overnight if people continue to revert to single-use containers. Environmentalists are now accusing plastic manufactures of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to lobby for single-use plastics. Related: COVID-19 leads to plastic ban reversals The scientists involved in reassuring the public include epidemiologists, virologists, biologists and doctors. They have compiled a statement that encourages restaurants and individuals to continue using reusable containers as long as public health requirements are observed. The team said that reusable items are safe as long as high standards of hygiene are observed. One of the signatories to the statement, professor Charlotte Williams of Oxford University, explained that COVID-19 should not stop the efforts made toward a sustainable future. “I hope we can come out of the COVID-19 crisis more determined than ever to solve the pernicious problems associated with plastics in the environment,” Williams said. According to the scientists’ statement, the coronavirus primarily spreads through aerosol droplets and not from contact with surfaces. Although surfaces can transfer the virus, washing reusable containers is much safer than relying on single-use ones. The scientists explained that most people do not bother cleaning single-use containers under the assumption that they are safe. Unfortunately, the virus can get in contact with any surface, including single-use containers. Europe plans to ban all single-use plastics starting next year. There is concern that plastic manufacturers are now using the coronavirus pandemic to delay the ban. Such a move would be detrimental, considering that plastic waste contributes 80% of all marine pollution . + Health Expert Statement Via The Guardian Image via Goran Ivos

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Scientists support use of reusable containers during COVID-19 pandemic

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

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 on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

June 8, 2020 by  
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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Anna Zhang Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:00 The COVID-19 crisis has affected most aspects of daily life, including how we get our food. Because the COVID-19 response has restricted restaurants to pick-up and delivery orders in many areas, business for on-demand food delivery apps such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Seamless and Uber Eats has increased dramatically.  Uber Eats claims to have experienced a tenfold increase in new restaurant signups, and some local restaurants say the percentage of orders placed through third-party apps has risen from around 20 percent to roughly 75 percent .  Even before the COVID era, food order and delivery apps were growing rapidly, and the sector was on track to more than double in value by 2025 — from $82 billion in 2018 to $200 billion by 2025. Projections showed that by 2023 about one-quarter of smartphone users , or 14 million Americans, will use these apps.  For the environmentally minded, the increased adoption of app-based food delivery services presents a unique opportunity to affect carbon emissions in the food supply chain. One of the leading climate change solutions is the widespread adoption of a plant-rich diet, particularly in countries with a more “Western” diet. Adopting these habits has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 66 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent, according to Project Drawdown. Compared to business as usual, choosing vegan options could reduce emissions by as much as 70 percent . Third-party food delivery apps offer a valuable opportunity to connect consumers to the knowledge they need to adopt a climate-friendly diet.  We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. While systematic change in food production at all levels is necessary to achieve goals for carbon emission reductions, influencing consumer behavior to shift towards low-carbon food options has the power to simultaneously encourage food producers up the supply chain to reduce the carbon impact of their offerings, while also empowering consumers to reduce their own personal carbon footprints. A recent study in Science magazine noted that “dietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers.” However, a major roadblock is the lack of transparency surrounding the carbon impacts of food.  Many consumers recognize that animal products have some negative impact on the planet, yet most don’t truly know the extent to which meat consumption can drastically increase carbon emissions.  Indeed, according to a recent study by the Yale Center on Climate Change Communications, about half of surveyed Americans (51 percent) would be willing to eat a more plant-based, low-carbon diet if they had more information about how their food choices affected the environment. Through a six-week climate innovation program at Yale , we envisioned two ways that on-demand food delivery apps could empower their users to make more climate-friendly food choices. We based our idea off a successful project at Yale demonstrating the effectiveness of environmental impact ratings on consumers — in this case, students at Yale’s dining halls. Rate the Plate is an initiative designed by current Yale students through which dining halls display posters containing the calculated range estimates for the amount of carbon emissions from each available entree. After running both a small-scale pilot and then expanding to all Yale residential colleges, the organizers had students complete a survey to analyze the effectiveness of the posters and ratings. The results show that 62 percent of students had a positive response when asked if they reconsidered their food choices after seeing the ratings.  Additionally, when asked if they would like to continue seeing the environmental impact posters in the dining halls, more than 86 percent of students said yes.  The results of this project inspired us to consider other ways to empower consumers to make climate-friendly food choices. We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices.  First, food order and delivery companies can create short monthly quizzes for users to test their knowledge about the carbon impacts of various food options. An interactive, visually appealing quiz can inform consumers about how their own food choices can affect the planet as a whole. Positive messaging alongside discounts or other incentives can encourage users to take the quizzes and act on the information they learn.  For example, online consignment retailer ThredUp already runs an online quiz that consumers can take to determine their environmental impacts in the apparel sector. Additionally, companies could implement carbon labeling within their order menu interface. There are various existing methods to estimate and label the carbon emissions associated with food dishes, but a simple number or range of carbon equivalents would allow consumers to compare meal options within the app.  Using color coding or symbols such as trees to indicate high- and low-carbon footprint items also would be a non-obtrusive way to represent the information. The methodology could be explained in one of the quizzes released each month so consumers feel that they have both easy-to-read and accurate data. Order and delivery apps could include discounts for consumers opting into low-carbon food selections. What’s in it for companies such as DoorDash and Snackpass?  Companies would be able to analyze the data on these strategies to fulfill internal corporate sustainability metrics on reducing GHG emissions, and such information could be advertised to demonstrate the company’s drive and success in sustainability compared to competing apps.  There is growing demand for sustainable business practices and purchasing options, especially among younger consumers . Being known as a climate-friendly option in the food-delivery ecosystem likely will be a selling point for many companies. If food delivery apps implemented these various features, tracking the environmental impact would be relatively straightforward because it relies on digital technology and data collection. By looking at the number of people taking the carbon-impact quiz every month, companies could get a sense of the reach of these efforts among their customers. Eventually, they also could use the consumer order data to look for significant shifts in the carbon impacts of dishes people order.  What’s the role for restaurants?  While the relationships between restaurants and food delivery apps sometimes can be contentious , restaurants could benefit from advertising themselves as a climate-friendly option.  Restaurants would provide information about the ingredients lists of their dishes, allowing food delivery apps to calculate carbon impacts. As previously mentioned, discounts are offered to consumers who take the food carbon quizzes, which can help restaurants draw in new customers as well as highlight some of their vegan and vegetarian options. Ideally, there would be a shift towards vegetable-based options and away from meat-heavy dishes after the carbon ratings and quizzes are implemented, which would demonstrate a positive impact on consumer decisions in terms of carbon emissions. This data from before and after the intervention also could be used to create a baseline to calculate how many kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided due to lower demand for meat-heavy dishes.  As food-delivery apps continue to gain popularity over the next decade, integrating information about the climate impact of food options has the potential to address the large impact the food-supply chain has on carbon emissions. This information gives consumers power in their food choices and allows food-delivery apps to demonstrate climate-friendly values. Pull Quote We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. Contributors Tracy Zhou Luke Browne Abbey Warner Topics Food Systems Innovation Technology E-commerce 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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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

June 3, 2020 by  
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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers Rajat Panwar Wed, 06/03/2020 – 00:00 Amidst numerous uncertainties surrounding post-COVID corporate climate, one thing is certain: Sustainability managers will face multifaceted challenges.  Many could face budget cuts, even as their stakeholders expect them to ramp up sustainability efforts and seize this unique “opportunity” to initiate fundamental corporate transformations. Many may find their companies’ post COVID-19 business strategies are no longer aligned with ongoing or planned sustainability programs. The job of a sustainability manager never has been easy, it will become even more challenging during economically turbulent times.  After the 2008 economic recession, I led a study to show that companies generally scaled down sustainability programs during periods of lowered financial performance, but they did so rather selectively. This study also shows that the extent of scaling down is contingent upon the level of economic turbulence. The latter issue is especially critical in the current context because the COVID-19 has inflicted turbulence on economic systems at a deeper level and more pervasive scale than previous downturns have, at least in the recent history.  I believe that this is a time for sustainability managers to act with foresight. They should not only concern themselves with broad sustainability goals, but they also should be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  This ambidextrous approach will help them garner more trust for sustainability units within their companies, which in turn will enhance internal support for corporate sustainability programs in the long term. Here are five ways (call them 5Cs) that together can help sustainability managers act ambidextrously:  1. Focus on communities These are times of community-level distress, manifesting in multiple ways. Community well-being is the most salient of all concerns that companies must attend to as part of their sustainability programs. Many companies are doing it through corporate philanthropy; but engaging in community-oriented projects more directly would provide companies with visibility, goodwill, improved employees pride and enhanced societal trust.  Community involvement will be the yardstick with which stakeholders will measure companies’ sustainability and social responsibility performance in the post COVID-19 recovery period and well beyond it.  2. Develop coalitions with other businesses This may be a promising approach for companies to engage in community-oriented projects. A critical part of community involvement should be the support for small and micro businesses in the area.  Initiatives taken by grocery chains, such as Publix, can play a critical role in providing much-needed support to save farmer markets and small farmers throughout the world. Local sourcing and purchasing can help revitalize small businesses and are well aligned with broad sustainability goals. Indeed, local sourcing also can uniquely demonstrate companies’ commitments to foster circular economies.  3. Display creativity This is truer than ever. As goes the adage, “If you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeroes.”  The COVID-19 outbreak has removed those two zeroes for many companies. Sustainability managers could draw on such concepts as frugal innovation to spur outside-the-box thinking and to develop and execute sustainability programs that actually help in cutting cost, reducing waste and projecting companies as originators of cool, simple solutions to complex problems.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims.   Workplace risk mitigation will be a priority for companies as economic reopening starts. Innovation in this area is already happening — combining smart scanning technologies , drone-enabled deliveries and artificial intelligence — but such high tech-high cost innovations will not be accessible to all companies.  Frugal yet effective sanitization, I believe, is the most important area in which sustainability experts can provide critical input. Keeping sanitization costs low while ensuring the safety of customers and employees alike is indeed a litmus test for creativity and innovation: Backed with expertise in design thinking, safety norms and customer expectations, sustainability managers are among the best positioned to advise companies on how to effectively handle sanitization in the most frugal way. 4. Show genuine concern A core tenet of sustainability is a concern for all. These are periods of immense hardships. Indeed, bigger threats of climate change loom at us, and sustainability managers ought to not take eyes off that big issue. Yet the open wounds need urgent treatment. It is exactly the time for sustainability managers to display concern for all and live up to their own ideals. Sustainability entails integrated thinking: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked , after all.  It is an immense opportunity for sustainability managers to institutionalize integrative thinking in their companies and cultivate fraternity across functional units. By showing empathy for communities, employees and customers, sustainability managers will further ingrain stakeholder orientation within their companies.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims and earn their trust and support for future sustainability initiatives that they may not otherwise support.  5. Get everyone on board with the changes Finally, sustainability managers will need to make their co-workers on sustainability teams comfortable with the adjustments in their corporate sustainability programs. Co-workers’ discomfort may emanate from their fearing job loss as they might perceive adjustments as curtailments. This discomfort also may emanate from a perceived value-misalignment as some co-workers simply may not value new approaches to sustainability.  Keeping up the spirits of team members and instilling in them the confidence that theirs is a critical role in helping the company recover from financial hardships is a new and important task for sustainability managers. Sharing with sustainability co-workers a short-, medium- and long-term vision of strategy will help sustainability managers keep co-workers motivated and creative.  Clearly, times are difficult. But these are exactly the times when the relevance of sustainability thinking will be put to test. After all, sustainability is about resilience and adaptation: Sustainability managers will have to show both in the coming months.  Pull Quote Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims. Topics Corporate Strategy COVID-19 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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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

June 3, 2020 by  
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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers Rajat Panwar Wed, 06/03/2020 – 00:00 Amidst numerous uncertainties surrounding post-COVID corporate climate, one thing is certain: Sustainability managers will face multifaceted challenges.  Many could face budget cuts, even as their stakeholders expect them to ramp up sustainability efforts and seize this unique “opportunity” to initiate fundamental corporate transformations. Many may find their companies’ post COVID-19 business strategies are no longer aligned with ongoing or planned sustainability programs. The job of a sustainability manager never has been easy, it will become even more challenging during economically turbulent times.  After the 2008 economic recession, I led a study to show that companies generally scaled down sustainability programs during periods of lowered financial performance, but they did so rather selectively. This study also shows that the extent of scaling down is contingent upon the level of economic turbulence. The latter issue is especially critical in the current context because the COVID-19 has inflicted turbulence on economic systems at a deeper level and more pervasive scale than previous downturns have, at least in the recent history.  I believe that this is a time for sustainability managers to act with foresight. They should not only concern themselves with broad sustainability goals, but they also should be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  This ambidextrous approach will help them garner more trust for sustainability units within their companies, which in turn will enhance internal support for corporate sustainability programs in the long term. Here are five ways (call them 5Cs) that together can help sustainability managers act ambidextrously:  1. Focus on communities These are times of community-level distress, manifesting in multiple ways. Community well-being is the most salient of all concerns that companies must attend to as part of their sustainability programs. Many companies are doing it through corporate philanthropy; but engaging in community-oriented projects more directly would provide companies with visibility, goodwill, improved employees pride and enhanced societal trust.  Community involvement will be the yardstick with which stakeholders will measure companies’ sustainability and social responsibility performance in the post COVID-19 recovery period and well beyond it.  2. Develop coalitions with other businesses This may be a promising approach for companies to engage in community-oriented projects. A critical part of community involvement should be the support for small and micro businesses in the area.  Initiatives taken by grocery chains, such as Publix, can play a critical role in providing much-needed support to save farmer markets and small farmers throughout the world. Local sourcing and purchasing can help revitalize small businesses and are well aligned with broad sustainability goals. Indeed, local sourcing also can uniquely demonstrate companies’ commitments to foster circular economies.  3. Display creativity This is truer than ever. As goes the adage, “If you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeroes.”  The COVID-19 outbreak has removed those two zeroes for many companies. Sustainability managers could draw on such concepts as frugal innovation to spur outside-the-box thinking and to develop and execute sustainability programs that actually help in cutting cost, reducing waste and projecting companies as originators of cool, simple solutions to complex problems.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims.   Workplace risk mitigation will be a priority for companies as economic reopening starts. Innovation in this area is already happening — combining smart scanning technologies , drone-enabled deliveries and artificial intelligence — but such high tech-high cost innovations will not be accessible to all companies.  Frugal yet effective sanitization, I believe, is the most important area in which sustainability experts can provide critical input. Keeping sanitization costs low while ensuring the safety of customers and employees alike is indeed a litmus test for creativity and innovation: Backed with expertise in design thinking, safety norms and customer expectations, sustainability managers are among the best positioned to advise companies on how to effectively handle sanitization in the most frugal way. 4. Show genuine concern A core tenet of sustainability is a concern for all. These are periods of immense hardships. Indeed, bigger threats of climate change loom at us, and sustainability managers ought to not take eyes off that big issue. Yet the open wounds need urgent treatment. It is exactly the time for sustainability managers to display concern for all and live up to their own ideals. Sustainability entails integrated thinking: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked , after all.  It is an immense opportunity for sustainability managers to institutionalize integrative thinking in their companies and cultivate fraternity across functional units. By showing empathy for communities, employees and customers, sustainability managers will further ingrain stakeholder orientation within their companies.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims and earn their trust and support for future sustainability initiatives that they may not otherwise support.  5. Get everyone on board with the changes Finally, sustainability managers will need to make their co-workers on sustainability teams comfortable with the adjustments in their corporate sustainability programs. Co-workers’ discomfort may emanate from their fearing job loss as they might perceive adjustments as curtailments. This discomfort also may emanate from a perceived value-misalignment as some co-workers simply may not value new approaches to sustainability.  Keeping up the spirits of team members and instilling in them the confidence that theirs is a critical role in helping the company recover from financial hardships is a new and important task for sustainability managers. Sharing with sustainability co-workers a short-, medium- and long-term vision of strategy will help sustainability managers keep co-workers motivated and creative.  Clearly, times are difficult. But these are exactly the times when the relevance of sustainability thinking will be put to test. After all, sustainability is about resilience and adaptation: Sustainability managers will have to show both in the coming months.  Pull Quote Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims. Topics Corporate Strategy COVID-19 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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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

May 29, 2020 by  
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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business Sarah Golden Fri, 05/29/2020 – 01:45 In this crazy upside-down world, the line between residential and commercial energy is getting fuzzy.  Everything changed so quickly, it makes sense that climate and energy teams have yet to figure out how to account for the shift. But as companies such as Mastercard , Facebook and Twitter look at long-term remote work policies, working from home (WFH) is adding a new dimension to corporate carbon accounting.  And it’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy.  It’s still early days for companies thinking about WFH energy usages as part of their own greenhouse gas footprint. Right now, commercial energy use is still high , and it’s not clear when or which workers will head back to the office.  It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. According to Noah Goldstein, director of sustainability at Guidehouse, there also aren’t great calculations for what the GHG impact of working from home would be. The guidance is that the company is only responsible for “additional” energy use, but that is hard to determine without baseline calculations.  “I can foresee some companies accounting for WFH in their 2020 or 2021 footprint, but very, very few in number,” said Goldstein in an email.  Five companies with residential energy programs for the COVID era With people hunkering down at home as we enter a hotter than normal summer , residential demand response will be critical to keep energy affordable and clean(er).  The pandemic began in a shoulder month — meaning a time of year where heating and cooling demands are low as most of the country experiences temperate weather. With restrictions on movement still in effect, grid operators are preparing for air conditioners alone to strain our energy infrastructure. Demand response is a promising solution. According to an analysis by Wood Mackenzie, residential demand response would unlock more than 10 gigawatts of additional energy capacity. This would help utilities and states stay on track for clean energy goals and reduce energy bills at a time when households are struggling more than ever to make ends meet.  Here are five companies with updated offerings tailored to the COVID-19 era, designed to make residential energy use smarter as our homes become our office (and bar and restaurant and concert venue and movie theater…) 1. Google Nest partners with utilities Google recently announced its partnership with Consumers Energy to bring smart thermostats to up to 100,000 households in Michigan. According to its release , those who receive a thermostat will be enrolled in the utility’s Smart Thermostat Program, which shifts energy use to off-peak hours.  The partnership is part of Consumers’ Clean Energy Plan, which is striving to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Shifting energy use during peak times is key to staying on track.  This is just the first in a series of Google Nest’s partnerships. The company is expected to announce three more utility partnerships at the start of June.  Google isn’t the only company teaming up with utilities to gamify demand response. Logical Buildings launched its GridRewards campaign last month to encourage residents to reduce energy usage at key times. Logical Buildings partnered with a consortium of municipalities in Westchester, New York.  2. OhmConnect launches AutoOhms Last week, OhmConnect announced AutoOhms , its newest program that offers cash incentives for “timely, smarter energy use.” AutoOhm will power down energy-intensive connected appliances in 15-minute increments during peak energy times. Customers will receive a text message when peak rates are about to kick in and can select appliances to power down through an app. Through this “gamified” experience, the customer can actively see their energy savings.  The program is available for customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.  3. Tesla Energy discusses Autobidder Always a big dreamer, it comes as no surprise that Tesla’s energy division has its sights on becoming a distributed global utility.  Tesla has been deploying distributed energy assets (think solar, electric vehicles, Powerwalls) while investing in grid-scale energy and storage projects. Now the company’s vision is to control these individual assets as one beast on its platform Autobidder . According to the website, Autobidder allows anyone with energy storage assets — be they EVs, solar plus storage, a home battery, anything — to engage in real-time trading and make additional money from the energy asset.  Apparently, Autobidder already has been (quietly) around for a few years, operations at Tesla’s energy storage facility in South Australia. With Tesla talking about the software, the company is likely hoping for wider adoption.  4. Leap Energy develops a demand response marketplace Leap, a newer company in the world of demand response, is working to create a marketplace to better monetize energy resources. Its vision is to engage connected energy resources that aren’t currently participating in grid flexibility — which, according to its CEO Thomas Folker, is about 90 percent of energy assets. “We are an aggregator of other aggregators,” said Folker in a phone conversation last month. “We don’t physically control any hardware, we don’t acquire any customers. We just provide the software that allows for this all to happen.” The platform allows for end energy users to bid on resources and automatically facilitates the exchange. Its users are demand response companies — such as OhmConnect and Google Nest — and works to increase the value of distributed energy resources while providing flexibility to the grid.  5. Span turns homes into microgrids New on the scene with a fresh round of Series A finance, Span bills itself as a smart panel company that works to integrate a home’s solar, energy storage and electric vehicle. It’s kind of like using a home’s energy assets as a microgrid.  Span’s selling point is energy resilience. The system works to keep power flowing to where customers need it in the event of a power outage, which, the company points out in a release , is of growing importance as California is looking at a future where shelter in place could overlap with planned power outages. (The company is initially focusing on California and Hawaii as key markets.) This increased level of control and connected energy assets also means users can rely on their own resources when the grid has more dirty energy.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. Topics Energy & Climate COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession 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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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million

May 26, 2020 by  
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Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million Heather Clancy Tue, 05/26/2020 – 06:01 While overall startup funding is down this quarter because of the economic disruption brought on by COVID-19, entrepreneurs focused on solving climate-related problems have been bucking the trend . This morning brings one of the biggest deals yet this year: an infusion of $250 million in new financing for food waste crusader Apeel Sciences . What’s more, the funding pushes the Santa Barbara, California-based company’s valuation to more than $1 billion — a status dubbed in VC circles as “unicorn.” Cumulatively speaking, Apeel has raised $360 million, including the new funding. The lead backer on the latest round is Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, which explicitly embeds sustainability considerations into its investments. Other “participating” investors are Viking Global Investors, Upfront Investors, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group. There are also two highly recognizable minority “non-participating” investors: pop star Katy Perry and media queen Oprah Winfrey, who previously invested in Apeel in 2019.  “I hate to see food wasted, when there are so many people in the world who are going without,” Winfrey said in the funding press release. “Apeel can extend the life of fresh produce, which is critical to our food supply and to our planet too.” Food waste is responsible for generating close to 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions: for perspective, that’s three times the amount generated by the aviation industry. The issue has been exacerbated by the pandemic: Farmers have been forced to bury vegetables and pour milk down drains, while livestock operations have been forced to euthanize animals with slaughtering capacity idled during the quarantine. Apeel, which got its start in 2012 with a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has attracted funding from many high-profile funds, such as Andreessen Horowitz, as well as several firms that have championed a focus on climate tech including S2G Ventures, DBL Partners and Powerplant Ventures. The startup’s product is literally a peel — made from fruit and vegetable matter — that can be used to coat everything from limes to avocados to mandarin oranges to apples. It’s applied in packaging facilities or warehouses using a water-based formula. That layer extends the shelf life of the produce so that it is less likely to spoil during its journey to the retailer and so that it lasts longer on display. The company says each item can last two to three times longer, because Apeel’s coating slows water loss and oxidation. What’s more, the coating is edible and because it’s made from plant matter, it can be used on organic products. One reason Apeel’s approach is so, well, appealing is that it’s intended to give nature a boost: fruits and vegetables already seal themselves with a substance called cutin; Apeel’s product helps make that seal last longer .   I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales. “I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales,” Adrielle Dankier, chief commercial officer for Nature’s Pride, a Dutch importer of fruits and vegetables that is applying Apeel to avocados, said in a customer video. Since 2018, the company has saved more than 3 million avocados by using the product, according to the testimonial. Other organizations featured in the customer video (below) are Cata Fresh, a Spanish exporter of everything from melons to onions, and Sage Fruit, which specializes in pears, cherries and apples. The company is working with suppliers, retails and growers — “ranging from smallholder farmers and local organic growers to the world’s largest food brands and retailers.”  Some of its partners include Kroger (the largest U.S. food retailer), Edeka (Germany’s biggest supermarket company) and Sailing Group (the largest retail group in Denmark). Apeel’s coating is being used in dozens of produce categories. This year, it could save up to 20 million pieces of fruit from going to waste in stores — it also can help extend the shelf life at home. The new funding will enable Apeel to continue is international expansion, especially in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and South America — places where there are higher rates of both food waste and food insecurity. The company operates primarily in the United States and Europe today. In a statement emailed to GreenBiz, a company spokesperson said interest in Apeel has grown since the pandemic. “Our capital raise comes at a critical time — making it possible to accelerate our efforts to improve resilience across the supply chain while it works to rebuild, and provide a better path forward now and into the future,” the Apeel spokesperson said in emailed answers to several questions submitted about the funding. “Food service organizations are also an integral part of the fresh food supply chain and another channel that has been greatly impacted as a result of the pandemic. Our efforts to improve efficiencies through the supply chain will absolutely include this sector, as well as work to help food service distributors and operators reduce waste.” Pull Quote I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales. Topics Food & Agriculture Climate Tech Food Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apeel coats fruits and vegetables with an edible layer that can is designed to extend shelf life by two to three times. Courtesy of Apeel Sciences Close Authorship

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Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million

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