Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain

March 29, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain

Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain Jerome Brustlein Mon, 03/29/2021 – 00:01 Many serious concerns have hung over the supply chains of global corporations for decades, ranging from human rights issues to lack of transparency about sourcing and other matters. In the jewelry industry, the issues have ranged from unsafe mining practices and child labor to money laundering through the supply chains themselves.  The rise of conscious consumers has altered how brands compete, and ethical supply chains have become a source of competitive advantage as brands leverage prestigious certifications such as B Corp status to closely align themselves with mindful consumers who value sustainability, transparency and accountability.  But what defines an ethical supply chain and what does it look like in practice?  Put simply, an ethical supply chain focuses on the need to embrace corporate social responsibility and produce products or services in a way that treats both workers and the environment ethically. In practice, this means weaving these principles into the fabric of the business. For example, at Fenton, our teams believe everyone involved in the process of creating the company’s beautiful products should benefit from the value creation and come to no harm.  Unsurprisingly, to adhere to these principles, ethical supply chains require much more vigilance to set up and to crucially oversee (in comparison to traditional supply chains). We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Weekly audits remain an integral aspect of the responsible sourcing process and have been shown to improve working conditions, health and safety, environmental sustainability along with bribery and anti-corruption.  It’s Fenton’s mission to bring transparency and accountability to the jewelry industry, an industry once synonymous with opaque supply chains, riddled with middlemen adding no value to the product and driving prices up. The company’s business model centers around diligently overseeing its supply chain and sourcing exclusively from world leaders in ethical mining, such as Sri Lanka. Thus, I take this opportunity to offer tangible advice on how to audit an ethical supply chain and relate it to my own anecdotal experiences at Fenton. Embed internal teams on the workshop floor Audits receive criticism for being deceptive and disconnected from true accountability.  Often audits do not detect unauthorized subcontracting arrangements, and most audit firms have no investigative powers and limited capacity to verify that the information presented to them is both true and accurate. Secondly, auditors usually only inspect specific areas that suppliers choose to show them and are only able to speak to employees that they happen to see. Thus, it begs the question: What is the true state of play? Can a brand be truly vigilant of its supply chain if this is how it is managed? I suggest not.  Fenton has taken a different approach. The company has embedded several people on the workshop floor in South East Asia on a daily basis to ensure its values, ethical standards and best practices are adhered to at all times. This involves ensuring the right production and quality assurance steps for Fenton pieces are being respected along with coaching the team where needed (for example, on how to set a stone correctly) and ensuring the company’s code of conduct is upheld. Of course, this requires a much greater investment from the business, but it is fundamental to ensuring Fenton’s values are upheld on a daily basis. Implement stringent Know Your Customer procedures Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures are a critical function to assess customer risk and a legal requirement to comply with anti-money laundering laws. Effective KYC procedures involve knowing a customer’s identity, the risks it poses and their financial activity.  KYC procedures were first implemented by financial institutions but since have become a core component of ethical supply chain management practice. The process obviously differs depending on the industry, but the core framework behind the KYC procedure remains the same. Establish a mandatory process of identifying and verifying a customer/client/etc. Ensure you know and understand the ownership structure of all your suppliers Validate the legitimacy of their claims Verify or halt the relationship if the KYC standards are not met Fenton scrutinizes the operations of any potential supplier before agreeing do to business with it. This includes requiring it to prove the salaries that it pays employees, the beneficial owners of the business, and making sure it is in good stead with its taxes. Set a strict code of conduct all vendors need to abide by It’s also vital to expect all suppliers to meet — and where possible exceed — all applicable laws and regulations in force in the countries where your company operates.  Having “boots on the ground” will enable your company to remain attentive to this at all times, and encourage your partners to go beyond legal compliance and abide by all relevant international and brand standards with a commitment to continuous improvements. Having our team embedded on the workshop floor has been crucial to this process at Fenton. We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Apply for BCorp status There is obviously notable prestige in being granted such a certification; however, there is a lot of value in the application process itself.  As a brand, it forces your company to place itself under the microscope and scrutinize its processes from a third-party specialist perspective. From my own experience at Fenton, applying (and getting approved) for BCorp status really made our teams think deeply about what we do and how we continually can strive to uphold the values of the certification. For instance, we realized we could do more to source gemstones from smaller independent dealers and miners directly in Sri Lanka. As a result, Fenton tries to prioritize these sources as opposed to the larger dealers it works with in Mumbai. Pull Quote We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Topics Supply Chain Human Rights Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

View original post here:
Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain

This long-standing natural soap company started by accident

February 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on This long-standing natural soap company started by accident

Throughout each day, we are exposed to a variety of potential toxins in our home, office and outdoor environments. Making the choice to commit to natural materials and product ingredients within the home is a powerful tool in ensuring minimal chemical exposure. Starting with your morning shower, you have the option to choose fragrant, all-natural and plastic-free soaps while supporting a small business at the same time. April Showers Soaps is a soap line that started by accident. In 1999, owner April Spehar became interested in soap-making as a hobby and gift-giving opportunity. Then the creativity took over, motivating her to experiment with a variety of scent combinations. When it became clear her family of four couldn’t possibly use all of the soap she was producing, she decided to try her hand at selling it. Related: Pela offers biodegradable phone cases and other zero-waste products It’s difficult to simply fast forward 22 years, but in the time between then and now, the business has fed Spehar’s passion and helped support her family as she and her husband, Chaum, raised two children. The 35 or so different soaps are now sold in several retail locations in and around the surrounding community of small university town Corvallis, Oregon, where they live and run their business. Natural ingredients The consistent growth of April Showers Soaps is a result of Spehar’s connection with her customer base early on. While natural ingredients and a concern for the environment are hot topics now, neither were highly en vogue a few decades ago. Regardless, it was important to Spehar to develop products that are good for the health of humans and the planet. With this goal in mind, all April Showers Soaps are scented with pure essential oils instead of fragrance oils. A variety of natural and plant materials such as clays, charcoal, grains, seeds, spices, pumice, coffee , cocoa and herbs add texture, color and skin benefits to the soap. To round out the ingredient list, “The only animal products we use are beeswax and honey. We use sustainably harvested, fair trade , organic palm fruit shortening,” Spehar told Inhabitat. The company also incorporates olive oil, coconut oil and apricot kernel oil. Because experimentation is central to the business, finding the right scent, feel and texture means exploring many options. “Patchouli soap has added hemp oil, our Shaving soap and Shampu bar have added castor oil, and our Vanilla soap has added cocoa butter,” the company’s Etsy site states.  Preparing the soaps for sale Even after 22 years, April Showers Soaps are handmade the old-fashioned way using a cold-process recipe . The soap mixture is stirred and poured into a mold, where it sits for several days. The resulting block is then hand-cut into individual bars and is allowed to cure for three to six weeks before being packaged for sale. The company partners with local suppliers within the state of Oregon , although ingredients come from around the globe. This streamlines material transport and aligns with the company’s goal to minimize driving for supply pickups and product shipments. Special consideration is also given to sustainable packaging. Labels are made from recyclable and compostable paper. Online and in-person sales are packaged using paper bags or tissue paper before going into a cardboard box or bubble mailer. April Showers Soaps reuses clean packing materials whenever possible. The full natural skincare lineup In addition to bar soap, April Showers Soaps offers a salve , soap balls, body butter, bath salts and a custom-made metal soap dish. It’s always fun to anticipate what will come next from the company. Spehar told Inhabitat, “We have a new soap, Bandit Blend, which is inspired by the medieval tale of the four thieves with clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils, comfrey root, and French pink & yellow clay.” Overcoming challenges With a lifelong desire to own her own business, Spehar has enjoyed building up her customer base and interacting with customers at community craft fairs throughout the state and in nearby states. The COVID-19 pandemic has added challenges for the business, with nearly every show canceled for vendors. While Spehar reports that sales on her Etsy store have increased, it hasn’t been enough growth to counterbalance the loss from selling directly to the customer. Spehar said, “I miss chatting with customers in person and getting immediate feedback on new soaps.” Even without immediate feedback, it’s clear that customers love these soaps. The store has over 500 reviews and a 5-star average on Etsy. In a rarely-seen American small business success story, the Spehar household is actually supported by two small businesses. While Chaum helps with photography and other aspects of April Showers Soaps, he spends most of his time making jewelry for a second business the duo runs together, Northwest Goods . As a second generation metal worker, Chaum curates ornaments, jewelry, key chains, the custom soap dish and more — all equally focused on quality materials and craftsmanship. Review of April Showers Soaps I discovered April Showers Soaps around 10 years ago, and it instantly became my go-to brand. Like many Inhabitat readers, I enjoy supporting local and small businesses, especially when the products bring me joy. Over the years, I’ve sampled different combinations and spent many hours sniffing the options at April Showers Soaps. I typically go back to one of several mint options, simply because I’m drawn to it. These products are made using Willamette Valley Peppermint essential oil, another local (to me) company. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed some of the oatmeal and spice combinations for both the feel and the scent. Maybe it’s psychological that the oatmeal is soothing to the skin, but I’ve enjoyed using it as a hand and body soap during harsh, dry winter weather. I also really like the bright citrus options such as lemon-lime and geranium-grapefruit. Lemongrass is another traditional option with a pleasant finish. Then, there are some options that will transport you to the forest, the café or the garden, like licorice, spiced mocha, cinnamon-clove (another favorite of mine) and eucalyptus tea tree. I’m a scent-sensitive person, so standing in front of a display smelling soap after soap can be overwhelming for me. But individually, each soap offers a unique interaction with the ingredients. I’m forced to avoid the ever-popular lavender and rosemary combinations due to sensitivity, but I have no doubt they are as lovely as every other meticulously contoured soap that April and Chaum produce. + April Shower Soaps Images via April Shower Soaps and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by April Showers Soaps. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

More here: 
This long-standing natural soap company started by accident

Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

January 28, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting Heather Clancy Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:30 The events of 2020 thrust the issue of corporate sustainability front and center in many C-suites. With that heightened visibility comes questions about accountability and accounting — specifically carbon accounting. It’s a dilemma decades in the making: How to properly track and declare a company’s carbon dioxide emissions in real time, not just in lag time after an annual data hunt. One year ago, cloud software powerhouse Salesforce began touting its answer with the general availability of the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, a platform for providing real-time access to ESG data such as energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The application was first developed internally for the company’s sustainability team and then spun out into a product meant to help companies collect data for sustainability reporting purposes. This week, Salesforce turned to digital services firm Accenture to accelerate its push to get more companies — especially those already using its Customer 360 platform — to adopt its carbon accounting platform.  Their pitch is that businesses need a digital platform of this nature in order to truly embed ESG metrics and considerations into business decisions. It’s a push to produce “investor-grade” climate data. And, with the leap forward in digitization over the past year, they’re amplifying their push. The announcement also dovetails with a declaration of support this week for “universal” ESG reporting standards advocated by the World Economic Forum. More than 60 big companies have endorsed the framework — including Accenture and Salesforce, but also the likes of KPMG, Deloitte, EY, Dell, Mastercard, IBM and PayPal ( it’s a long list ).  This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets. By teaming with Accenture, Salesforce hopes to help companies add industry-specific considerations to their dashboards. What’s more, Accenture and Salesforce intend to work together to expand the platform so it can be used to track other metrics that are front-of-mind for companies, including waste management, water consumption and diversity and inclusion data. “Our research shows that more and more companies realize that a sustainable business strategy means more than just ‘doing good’ — it means ‘doing well by doing good,'” noted IDC senior research analyst Bjoern Stengel in a statement. “This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets.” Salesforce is clearly the biggest cloud software company staking a claim in the emerging carbon accounting software category. While few players are on the field, it’s certainly not the only one positioning to score. I fully expect this year to be abundant with declarations of funding and such by cloud software companies focused on making sustainability reporting more accessible and investor-friendly.  Here are four players I’ll be watching more carefully. (I’ve excluded those linked to energy consulting services or those focused on compliance or managing safety regulations.) Refreshingly, none of them are from Silicon Valley:  Accuvio , an accredited CDP reporting partner, hails from the U.K. and many of its clients are there, including Cobham, West Fraser and Babcock International. ClearTrace (formerly SwychX), which automates carbon emissions and energy data collection for enterprises, investors and real-estate firms, in December raised $4 million. Among early users of its platform are Brookfield Renewables (also an investor) and JPMorgan Chase. Envizi , an Australian firm with customers including Microsoft and Qantas. Its partner list is impressive and includes Accenture, CBRE and Cushman Wakefield.  FigBytes , which last year integrated the reporting metrics from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, cites customers including Akamai and Taylor Farms.  My question from last week’s column bears repeating: When was the last time you spent time with your company’s CIO? If companies with net-zero goals have any hope of making those targets, the metrics need to be part of core business IT systems — and the carbon accounting software for supporting that progression is finally starting to emerge.  Pull Quote This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy Reporting Information Technology Decarbonization Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

See more here:
Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

Trash-monitoring cameras help McDonald’s clean up its waste stream

December 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Trash-monitoring cameras help McDonald’s clean up its waste stream

McDonald’s is one of a growing number of businesses that are installing cameras in dumpsters to give more intel on their waste streams. This data can help each company recycle more efficiently and save money. The idea to place cameras inside dumpsters to track waste comes from Jason Gates, CEO of the San Francisco-based start-up Compology . Since 2013, Compology has used artificial intelligence to process more than 80 million photos from 162,000 trash-monitoring cameras. The system has helped companies cut the volume of non-recyclables thrown in with trash by up to 80%. Related: McDonald’s introduces McPlant, its first plant-based burger “We’ve found that most businesses and people have the right intentions about recycling , but oftentimes they just don’t know what the proper way to recycle is,” Gates said . The Compology system uses a combination of sensors and cameras that take multiple photos per day. Artificial intelligence software alerts the customer when something is in the wrong place, such as a bag of trash thrown in with the recycling. The people onsite then receive a text telling them to move that bag before the recycling truck comes as well as explaining how trash contaminates recycling. Customers can also track how full their dumpsters are. On the individual level, business owners will save money if they only pay for service when the receptacle is full. On the societal level, we all save thanks to fewer emissions and the reduced burning of fossil fuels used for hauling. Brent Bohn, owner and operator of many Phoenix and Las Vegas McDonald’s outlets, is a happy customer. “The cameras have really streamlined that for us and provided accountability for us, but also for our suppliers and the haulers that we work with,” Bohn said. Customers pay between $10 and $20 per dumpster per month. The service can save them thousands annually on the cost of waste hauling. Gates hopes that his company can improve the inconsistent waste measuring and reporting in the U.S. “You’ve been able to measure how much electricity , water, gas you’ve used for decades,” he said. “What we’re doing is being able to meter how much waste you produce.” Via CNN Business Image via RJA1988

Read the rest here:
Trash-monitoring cameras help McDonald’s clean up its waste stream

Bamboo Compression Socks offer support via natural and recycled materials

December 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Bamboo Compression Socks offer support via natural and recycled materials

Life is busy. Sometimes, it is so busy that it becomes difficult to take proper care of ourselves. One tool for handling long days on your feet or sitting at a computer is a trusty pair of compression socks. Now, Ostrichpillow offers the newly released Bamboo Compression Socks that are made to pamper and support your feet. Ostrichpillow has already made a name for itself as a self-care brand with carefully curated, high-quality products focused on improving sleep and offering pain relief. The latest addition to the product lineup, these compression socks aim to prevent problems like blood clots in the legs by improving circulation, even when you’re not moving. Related: These bamboo socks by Flyte are anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic Pablo Carrascal, CEO of Ostrichpillow said, “We noticed how today’s sedentary lifestyle lacks movement, especially for the legs. The recommendation is to walk about 10,000 steps a day, however, in the US that average is lower than 5,000. We spend so much time still: commuting, in front of the computer, the TV, the tablet… This negatively affects blood circulation, increasing foot and leg swelling, fatigue, and the pooling of blood. In the long term that can be a problem. We thought then of a product which could help to supply that lack of movement effortlessly.” The socks incorporate recycled and natural materials into an eco-fiber blend made up of 50% bamboo, 25% recycled polyester, 10% recycled nylon and 15% spandex. The product earned Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, which means it is free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances known to be damaging to human health . The Ostrichpillow Bamboo Compression Socks are available in two sizes: S-M (shoe size 5-9) and L/XL (shoe size 9-14). They retail for $29.99 with two color options. Well, actually there are two color combination options, because each pair is intentionally mismatched. You can select from pairs of yellow and blue or red and olive green. Bamboo Compression Socks review The company provided a sample pair of compression socks for me to try at home. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I assumed they would be like other compression socks I’ve worn in the past. They’re not — in all the best ways. These socks feel amazing, like a giant hug of support up and down the leg. I’m fairly tactile-sensitive, so I was happy to find that the fabric felt good against my skin. While I wouldn’t describe it as soft, it certainly was less plastic-like than other compression socks I’ve put on. This is also true when crossing my ankles or otherwise rubbing the socks together. There was nothing abrasive in the contact. As for fit, the socks are much longer than I anticipated. For me (5’6” on a good day), they land a few inches above the knee. I thought that would be annoying, but the additional support throughout the knee region is welcome in alleviating the discomfort from joint issues. I appreciate that the fabric doesn’t bunch up behind the knee or crease when I bend the knee. The pressure is snug but not restrictive. This allows for easy movement without any sort of pinching. Although I didn’t hit the trails in them, I didn’t experience any slipping and never had to pull them up after putting them on for the day. I wore the socks on a fairly cold day, with outdoor temps around 36°F. They feel thick, although they are actually quite thin. I would say these bamboo compression socks are thicker than dress socks but not nearly as thick as winter wool socks. They are equivalent to or even a bit thinner than typical athletic socks. This makes them easy to wear with a variety of shoe options. Due to this thickness and coverage, I thought they would be hot. However, there is a noticeable breathable quality in the fabric, especially where the stripes are located. The construction of the socks felt durable, with a cushioned sole and reinforced heel. The toe seam is often an issue for me if it rubs, pinches or sits off-kilter. This toe bed seems very roomy, perhaps in contrast to the snug fit of the rest of the sock. This allows for plenty of wiggle room for the toes. It will be fun to see if the company offers more color options for the stripes in the future. During my conversations with the company, Carrascal had remarked, “somehow they might remind [of] the kinesiological tapes.” That resonated with me, because they really do! Personally, I think the mismatched colors add character without being overly whimsical. However, the two-tone look might not appeal to some. Because I spend much of my day sitting in front of a computer, I expect to get a lot of use out of these bamboo compression socks. They would also be great for air travel and use in jobs that require long hours on your feet. I can’t personally imagine wearing these during exercise , although I can see how they could offer support and a layer of warmth during a morning fall run. Even if you do break them in with a good sweat, bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, which should keep away foot odor. If you decide to gift the Bamboo Compression Socks to the desk jockey, road warrior or respected elder, know the company responsibly packages shipments with recyclable paper . + Ostrichpillow Images via Ostrichpillow and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Ostrichpillow. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own .

Here is the original post: 
Bamboo Compression Socks offer support via natural and recycled materials

Electric tractors, agribots and regenerative agriculture

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

Comments Off on Electric tractors, agribots and regenerative agriculture

Electric tractors, agribots and regenerative agriculture Heather Clancy Thu, 12/17/2020 – 01:30 Without the benefit of their favorite search engine, I’m certain many readers would be hard-pressed to name the largest, pure-play agricultural equipment company in the world. But digging into innovations being advanced by that organization — AGCO, based in Duluth, Georgia — reveals much about the potential future of technology for cultivating regenerative and precision agriculture. With about $9 billion in annual revenue in 2019, AGCO is behind some of the best-known global brands in tractors, combine harvesters, balers and other farm equipment, including Massey-Ferguson, Fendt, Challenger and Valtra.  AGCO has made many, many acquisitions to amass this portfolio, including the buyout of Precision Planting from Monsanto (now Bayer) in 2017. With new CEO Eric Hansotia poised to step up Jan. 1 , AGCO is sowing the seeds for a global refresh of its mission — including electrified farm machinery, autonomous field robots that swarm through fields and smart tractor retrofits that provide farmers with insights into metrics such as the organic matter in their soil. AGCO is testing the battery-powered Fendt e100 Vario for a range of farming and municipal applications. “It has always been about the economic return for the farmer; now we’re trying to pull sustainability into that,” AGCO’s new (and first) director of global sustainability, Louisa Parker-Smith, told me when we chatted in early December. For perspective, the market for agricultural equipment was sized at $139 billion in 2018, and it’s expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 8.9 percent through 2025. Earlier this year, market research firm IDTechEx predicted $50 billion in sales of electric farm equipment during the next decade — some of these are updates to tractors and other big machinery but others are entirely new autonomous, robotic vehicles, such as agribots that can pick weeds or plant seeds. Parker-Smith, an eight-year AGCO veteran, said enabling sustainable farm production — using less energy and inputs — is a core tenet of future product design. Moving away from heavier equipment, for example, could help reduce soil compaction, allowing fields to absorb and sequester more atmospheric carbon dioxide. And, through its Precision Planting division, AGCO is developing more devices — many of which can be retrofitted to existing equipment from AGCO and competitors — that help farmers track organic matter or water metrics, among other data. “How do we allow a farmer to understand the potential of their field,” Parker-Smith said. One example of how the future looks on the ground is Xaver , a robotic approach to seed planting being developed and tested as part of the company’s Future Farm initiative . The robots, far smaller (maybe the size of a motorized tricycle) than a traditional piece of equipment, can be orchestrated via satellite positioning and a cloud-based software application. In one videos about the technology, AGCO estimates a “swarm” of six robots can cover roughly 7.5 acres in an hour. Parker-Smith notes that not only do the bots have a much lighter footprint, they use 90 percent less energy than a traditional tractor. AGCO is also electrifying some of its larger tractors, notably several from the Fendt division, although the weight of this equipment makes this a tough development challenge — it takes a lot of batteries to get to the horsepower required for certain farming tasks, such as plowing or tilling.  Parker-Smith’s new role is to help the entire company, from designers to dealers, rise to the occasion. “My focus is really to harness the energy of the entire organization. There’s a huge amount that is happening,” she said. “We don’t want just to be caught up with the risk management aspects of this. We are really looking at value creation from the customer perspective.”  Billed as the first fully electric driver-optional tractor, the Monarch will be available in fall 2021 at a pricetag starting at $50,000. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Monarch Tractor Close Authorship AGCO isn’t the only ag equipment provider, of course, that envisions a hybrid, electric future in agriculture. U.K. startup Small Robot Company is developing farmbots that can weed, plant and feed crops; and Japanese company Kubota is pitching an autonomous, electric tractor with four treads instead of wheels that can traverse all sorts of terrain. Just last week, another upstart, Monarch Tractor, introduced a fully electric, “driver optional” smart tractor that carries a pricetag of $50,000. It’s supposed to deliver the first models in fall 2021 and claims “hundreds” of pre-orders. The mammoth John Deere, which had close to $40 billion in 2019 revenue across farming, construction and forestry equipment, is also developing electrified farming equipment, including an autonomous, electric tractor .  It takes a long time for aging farm equipment to be put out to pasture permanently, so convincing farming organizations to invest in these emerging technologies — regardless of the potential benefits they might have for regenerative ag — is definitely a long-term proposition. But given how much the big food companies are banking on convincing their supply chains to invest in regenerative agriculture, it would be a mistake to overlook the role that electric, autonomous vehicles can play in the field. Topics Innovation Food & Agriculture Electric Vehicles Agtech Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off AGCO is testing electrified agricultural robots that can plant seeds, weed or handle other activities using less energy and causing less soil compaction. Courtesy of AGCO Close Authorship

Read the rest here:
Electric tractors, agribots and regenerative agriculture

How two companies are building systems to scale reuse, which is vital for a circular economy

November 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on How two companies are building systems to scale reuse, which is vital for a circular economy

How two companies are building systems to scale reuse, which is vital for a circular economy Deonna Anderson Fri, 11/06/2020 – 01:15 In the past few years, as consumers looked to cut down on plastic waste at the grocery store, more mainstream supermarkets turned to bulk shopping bins as a solution. But scoop bins quickly have become a thing of the past this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For MOM’s Organic Market, a chain of family-owned and operated grocers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States that has the purpose of protecting and restoring the environment, it was only a small adjustment. “[Our reuse] programs are all still in operation, and we’re minimally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alexandra DySard, environmental and partnership manager at MOM’s Organic Market, during GreenBiz Group’s clean economy conference VERGE 20 last week. The chain has taken an innovative tack: it’s still encouraging its shoppers to use reusable containers for all areas of its stores, but it’s changed the way the bulk shopping operates. While scoopable bins are off limits in its stores, the chain is using gravity bins (the ones pictured above), which have a pull-down lever to dispense food without its having any contact with a person’s hand. It’s easy to use and easy to sanitize. On the B2B side of commerce, there’s another opportunity for reuse. In 2017, when LimeLoop, an IoT solution for sustainable e-commerce shipping logistics, started, it was in response to the amount of waste caused by e-commerce. “Online shopping was resulting in huge waste piles,” said Chantal Emmanuel, CTO and co-founder of LimeLoop. Additionally, she said, the brands that LimeLoop was working with faced challenges in making the transition from in-store experiences to an online one. “We saw an opportunity to solve both of these problems through use,” she said. We knew that we had to have a holistic approach to this solution, because it’s not enough to just drop off 2,000 shippers to a retail company and say, ‘Good luck getting these back.’ In 2017, containers and packaging made up a significant portion of municipal solid waste (MSW), about 80.1 million tons (29.9 percent of total MSW generation), according to the EPA . Reuse can reduce the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators.  “[Reuse] is needed. It is possible. It is beneficial. It can be profitable, and it can work for all sizes of business, small, medium and large,” said Holly Kaufman, president of Environment & Enterprise Strategies, who moderated the session about advancing reuse. How to meet people where they are LimeLoop partners directly with retail companies and provides them with a set of reusable packages made from upcycled billboard vinyl and lined with recycled cotton. The partner companies are able to use those to fill orders in the same way that they would with a cardboard box or plastic poly mailer, except they’re reusable — for an estimated 200 uses — and include a prepaid return label.  When a person receives their package, they pull out the product, flip over the label and return the package by putting it into their mailbox. The package is returned to the retail company, which sanitizes it and then puts it back in rotation for another customer. “We like to remind people that it’s actually easier than recycling a cardboard box,” Emmanuel said. But for retailers, making sure the LimeLoop packages are actually reused also can be a challenge.  “We knew that we had to have a holistic approach to this solution, because it’s not enough to just drop off 2,000 shippers to a retail company and say, ‘Good luck getting these back,’” Emmanuel said, noting that they need the whole logistical system and supply chain technology to make sure that those packages get from point A to point B, then back to point A. “Otherwise, we’re creating more waste than we would have if we were using a disposable cardboard box,” she said. With that in mind, the retailers get access to LimeLoop’s software platform, which acts as an order management system and also as a tool for communicating directly with consumers.  Emmanuel said moving to such a reuse model demands an education process, because you need to let people know what to do with this packaging as it’s so different from a single-use cardboard package. Pushing the goalposts Back in 2005, MOM’s banned single-use plastic bags in its stores to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. That was nearly a decade before California became the first state in the United States to ban them. And in 2010, the grocery chain banned the sale of plastic flat bottled water in an effort to eliminate even more single-use plastic from its stores. In place of bottled water, it installed bulk water filling stations. We all know that there is actually no such thing as disposable — nothing’s disposable and ends up someplace, right? Everything goes somewhere. In addition to making these changes in its own stores, DySard said MOM’s is very active in local and federal advocacy and policy, by submitting testimony and attending hearings on plastics-related legislation. “I feel like that’s the direction that we need to go [if] we want to continue to grow this movement of reusables and really give it legs,” DySard said. Establishing a reuse program won’t be easy for every company Like the pivot that MOM’s had to make with its scoop bins during COVID-19 — as it works to open more locations, it is designing them to have mostly gravity bins — reuse models will need to be iterated. Emmanuel also shared a hiccup from LimeLoop’s first fleet of 500 shipping packages, which had a solid plastic envelope on the front of it to put the label in. She and her team didn’t realize that it’s customary for USPS to use permanent markers to mark on the labels. That wasn’t ideal. “I had to spend a couple of days literally just like popping out holes in the middle of the plastic so that they could start marking on the labels,” she said. For the next generation of its shippers, the company designed the packages in a way that USPS workers could mark directly onto the paper labels when they needed to. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but reuse is a practice worth working to improve and scale. “We all know that there is actually no such thing as disposable — nothing’s disposable and ends up someplace, right? Everything goes somewhere,” Kaufman said. “We want it to go where we want it to go. And not into the ocean, the soil and bits of them go into our bodies. “Even with dental and surgical equipment — those are the ultimate reuse. And if we can do those safely, we can certainly do all kinds of packaging safely.” Pull Quote We knew that we had to have a holistic approach to this solution, because it’s not enough to just drop off 2,000 shippers to a retail company and say, ‘Good luck getting these back.’ We all know that there is actually no such thing as disposable — nothing’s disposable and ends up someplace, right? Everything goes somewhere. Topics Circular Economy Design & Packaging Reuse VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  Rosie Parsons  on Shutterstock.

Read more from the original source:
How two companies are building systems to scale reuse, which is vital for a circular economy

Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes

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

Comments Off on Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes

Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes Myisha Majumder Wed, 09/16/2020 – 01:30 Skyven Technologies, founded in 2013, is a company with a unique proposition for companies in the industrial sector — a way to save money through decarbonizing. Skyven CEO Arun Gupta said the idea came when he applied the thinking behind his Ph.D. dissertation in microelectronics to an entirely different field: climate change. “I was able to figure out how to apply the technological concepts of the work that I was doing for Texas Instruments for a partial solution for climate change, and that inspired me to start working on is basically a technology that captures heat from the sun and uses that heat to reduce fuel consumption,” he said. The component of the industry sector emissions Skyven seeks to decarbonize is process heat — such as the creation of steam — which accounts for a large component of the emissions from the industry sector. In order to manufacture products, companies in the industry sector must burn fuel, typically natural gas, to create heat. Technologies such as geothermal, biomass and solar, which Skyven initially focused on, can provide an alternative to natural gas to generate heat for industrial processes. This is particularly relevant in the sectors Skyven works in: the food and beverage manufacturing industry; pulp and paper; chemicals; pharmaceutical manufacturing; textiles; and primary metals and lumbers. Rather than trying to fit one technology or one solution into every plant, we found that the plants are all unique and they have unique needs. In 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the three largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions were transportation (28 percent), electricity (27 percent), and industry (22 percent). Even with decarbonizing the electric and transportation sector, to reach long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, the United States would need an 80 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide emissions by 2050. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions found five core imperatives to reaching climate neutrality, including electrifying or switching to low-carbon fuels in the industry sector. While providing an alternative using solar technology was the original technological goal for Skyven, the company has evolved significantly, adapting to the individual needs of different companies in the industrial sector, Gupta said. Rather than focusing solely on deploying the company’s initial in-house solar technology, Skyven transformed quickly into a company offering a multipronged approach for decarbonizing the industrial sector. “The need for decarbonization in the industrial sector spans far beyond solar. Rather than trying to fit one technology or one solution into every plant, we found that the plants are all unique and they have unique needs,” Gupta said. “It makes a lot more sense to meet those unique needs with unique solutions.” Typically, in order to determine these needs and gauge applicable solutions, Skyven employs a four-step procedure: initial plant analysis; addressing and mitigating concerns about potential solutions; deployment and implementation of solution; and operations and maintenance (O&M). This highly customizable procedure allows Skyven to determine the best fit solution company-to-company, and within that company, plant-to-plant, rather than deploying a general technology. As part of this process, Skyven’s team completes a thorough initial analysis using its custom platform, asking the customer specific questions and collecting data about where in the plant thermal energy is consumed. From there, Skyven identifies where there are opportunities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reduce fuel consumption and save money. Interacting with the customer is especially important for the manufacturing industry, where production is profit, Gupta said. Using that analysis, Skyven implements the technologies best suited for the plant, which can include Skyven’s solar technology, but does not always. Because of this, Skyven frequently partners with other startups and technology manufacturers. When the new system is in place, Skyven hires a third-party maintenance contractor with extensive experience with industrial hardware. Typically, Skyven pays for everything involved in the process — from initial analysis to equipment and to O&M, Gupta said. The only cost to the customer is a newly lowered fuel cost amount, he said. These payments cover more cost-efficient and sustainable thermal energy at a cost that is less than the customer otherwise would have paid for fossil fuel, according to the company. While Gupta did not communicate the names of Skyven’s current customers, citing sensitivity around publicly disclosing information about manufacturers, he discussed recent press coverage around the Copses Dairy Farms in New York state.

Here is the original post:
Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes

Shifting your Business Model: How to Rental

September 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Shifting your Business Model: How to Rental

Shifting your Business Model: How to Rental How can your company implement a rental business model? While the concept of renting is anything but new, recent years have seen an expansion of products traditionally bought and kept by consumers now available for rent. From formal wear to scooters to furniture, rental products promote access over ownership, providing consumers with an often easier and cheaper alternative to purchasing something outright. In return, rental models allow companies to extend their customer relationship from one-off products to long term service. This paradigm shift requires businesses to evolve in numerous ways, shifting internal operations and financial models alongside external value propositions, communications strategies and sales tactics. Hear from companies at the forefront of the new and improved rental industry as they discuss the benefits, challenges and best-practices for building a successful rental business model. Speakers Hélène Smits, Initiator and Lead, Circle Textiles Program, Circle Economy Gustav Hedström, Business Developer, Houdini Sportswear Amy Kang, Director of Product Platform Systems, CaaStle Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 23:22 Featured Off

The rest is here:
Shifting your Business Model: How to Rental

Scaling Circular Fashion in North America: Part 2

September 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Scaling Circular Fashion in North America: Part 2

Scaling Circular Fashion in North America: Part 2 What will it take to transition the fashion industry toward circularity at scale? The need for urgent action is clear: While the lifespan of individual garments dwindles, the environmental footprint of the apparel industry continues to grow. But where there’s inefficiency, there’s often opportunity. From renewable and recycled inputs to new business models such as repair, rental and recommerce to end of life management and more — like enabling technologies, policies and partnerships — the apparel industry is ripe for a makeover. Building off the aspirational ‘future of circular fashion’ explored in part one, part two of this two-part session will focuses on redesigning the apparel industry of today, unlocking untapped value and scaling circular fashion in the North American market. A continuation of Part 1: https://youtu.be/_lTD3p5g6rA Speakers Beth Esponnette, Cofounder, Unspun Beth Rattner, Executive Director, Biomimicry Institute Debbie Shakespeare, Senior Director Sustainability, Compliance & Core PLM, Avery Dennison Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 23:11 Featured Off

View original here:
Scaling Circular Fashion in North America: Part 2

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2148 access attempts in the last 7 days.