Corporate sustainability leadership during a pandemic

November 2, 2020 by  
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Corporate sustainability leadership during a pandemic Tove Malmqvist Mon, 11/02/2020 – 01:00 As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating social and economic effects, companies are continuing their efforts to become more sustainable — and some are being recognized for their efforts. The 2020 Sustainability Leaders , a GlobeScan- SustainAbility survey of experts worldwide, reveals which companies are perceived to be leaders on sustainability during this challenging time by sustainability professionals representing business, government, NGOs and academia. Over 700 experts were surveyed online across 71 countries in May. Results show that Unilever continues to dominate as a recognized leader among the sustainability community, securing the leading position for the 10th year in a row, with Patagonia and IKEA following in the second and third spots, respectively. Data from the survey indicate that corporate sustainability leaders need to navigate an increasing sense of urgency for almost all sustainability challenges. At the same time, about half of experts fear that the impact of the current pandemic will deprioritize the sustainability agenda over the next decade. While environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and water pollution dominate the list of issues that experts say are the most urgent — these are all considered more urgent than they were in 2019 — the perceived urgency of social issues is also on the rise. Experts express significant increases in concern about poverty, economic inequality and discrimination, and growing attention is also given to accessibility of needs such as education, food and energy. Although the issues we are facing are becoming more urgent, most experts believe that the pandemic will have a negative impact on the sustainable development agenda over the next 10 years, potentially making the transformation to sustainable business much more challenging. The pandemic and its economic aftermath are expected to further exacerbate inequalities and poverty, emphasizing the importance of the social aspects of the sustainability agenda. However, almost a third of experts also believe that the pandemic will lead to a renewed focus on environmental issues, and some point to shifting supply chains and changes in consumer behaviors and travel as potentially positive outcomes. In this challenging context, experts in North America as well as globally continue to recognize the efforts made by Unilever to advance the sustainability agenda. Unilever has dominated perceptions of sustainability leadership among sustainability professionals for a decade, but there are some signs that the leadership landscape may be beginning to shift. At the global level, four new companies enter the list this year: Microsoft; Ørsted; L’Oréal; and Tata. North American experts’ views on which companies are leaders largely line up with the global average, although recognition of both Unilever and Patagonia is even stronger among this group. Experts based in North America also recognize additional North American-based companies as top-tier sustainability leaders, including Mars, Nike, Walmart and Maple Leaf Foods. While having sustainability as part of the core business model continues to be a major factor of recognized sustainability leadership, setting ambitious targets and committing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are the top issues in the eyes of experts. As we confront a global pandemic and the economic hardship it is producing, efforts around communications and advocacy alongside health, social engagement and human rights have become increasingly important criteria as well. In order to increase resilience and their ability to withstand future systemic shocks, businesses are first and foremost expected to double down on their ESG commitments. Beyond ensuring business continuity and risk preparedness, the private sector is encouraged by experts to take far-reaching action by rethinking business models, transforming supply chains and focusing on lowering GHG emissions. Collaboration and partnerships with governments are also pointed to as urgent actions that companies should take to build resilience. The findings of this 2020 survey make it clear what the private sector must do to increase resilience and the ability to withstand future shocks in the wake of COVID-19: embed environmental sustainability and ESG in strategy, develop new and sustainable business models, improve risk management and business continuity planning and transform supply chains. The time to act is now. Topics Consumer Trends Public Opinion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Corporate sustainability leadership during a pandemic

Trump administration appoints climate change deniers to NOAA

September 28, 2020 by  
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The Trump Administration is set to appoint two people who oppose the mainstream climate science to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this month. University of Delaware professor David Legates, who has openly questioned the scientific census that human activity drives climate change, has already been named the deputy assistant of commerce for environmental observation. In previous remarks, Legates has argued that carbon emissions are beneficial to the environment. The Trump administration is also ready to appoint meteorologist Ryan Maue as the chief scientist of NOAA. Maue, who runs the site weathermodels.com, has openly criticized both the worst-case scenario climate predictions and the link between fossil fuels and extreme weather events. Speaking to the Washington Post, two NOAA officials confirmed that Maue is being considered for the above position. Related: Biden vs. Trump on environmental issues and climate change “For the second time this month, a person who misrepresents, distorts, and disagrees with climate science is being placed in a science position at NOAA,” Professor Katharine Hayhoe tweeted . Most recently, Maue has spoken out against California governor Gavin Newsom for saying the state’s record-breaking wildfires are connected to climate change. In a tweet, he insinuated that the Democrats are using the weather events to score political points. “Seems the Democrats have coordinated their efforts to use the devastating California fires as an opportunity to score political points in the upcoming election by blaming them solely on climate change (and Trump ),” Maue tweeted. The tweet has since been deleted but is available on The Washington Post . While the new appointees have argued openly against mainstream science, studies show that recent extreme weather events are linked to climate change . Unfortunately, the new appointees would greatly influence the NOAA agenda. “Normally, when people are chosen for high-profile positions relating to climate change, I’ve heard of them. I have no idea who this person is, other than I’ve seen him saying things about climate that are wrong on social media and in op-eds. I suspect that he has the one and only necessary qualification for the job: a willingness to advance the agenda of climate deniers,” tweeted Andrew Dessler , a Texas A&M climate scientist. If climate deniers are put in control of research and policymaking, chances are that much of the efforts that have been made in the past could be eroded. Via EcoWatch and The Washington Post Image via NOAA

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Trump administration appoints climate change deniers to NOAA

ASOS launches first circular fashion collection

September 28, 2020 by  
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This fall, online retailer ASOS is launching its first collection of circular fashions . A collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion , the 29 women’s, men’s and unisex styles aim to prove that eco-friendly clothing can also be chic. Circular design refers to a constant recycling loop, with no materials ending up in the landfill. Instead of waste, ASOS aims to create an endless series of new fashions. According to ASOS, each style from the autumn collection meets at least two of these three goals: designing out waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use; and regenerating natural systems. Related: The Redress Design Award is making sustainable fashion an industry standard To create the new Fall 2020 collection, ASOS designers put together a set of goals. First was to attain a zero-waste collection, or at least to minimize waste. When possible, they chose materials that were already at least partially recycled, yet still durable. The designers also aimed for versatility, so that each garment could be styled in multiple ways. The collection also makes use of upcycling , or turning something old into something new. Using one recyclable material for the entire product, called a mono-material approach, means that at the end of each garment’s life, it will be easier to recycle. The fashions were also created with eventual ease of disassembly in mind. Some of the new collection’s items include oversized dresses, pants, blouses, shoes and denim. Black, white and lavender are some of the line’s recurring colors. The new line is a direct response to ASOS’ promise at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2018 to train its designers in circular design by 2020. In the last two years, ASOS has started a training program in conjunction with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, which is part of London College of Fashion, to educate all ASOS designers on sustainable fashion principles. + ASOS Image via ASOS

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ASOS launches first circular fashion collection

Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business

August 13, 2020 by  
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Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business Joana Kleine Jäger Thu, 08/13/2020 – 01:45 Remember the time when milk was delivered to your door in reusable glass bottles? If not, you were probably born during the plastics-era, which began about 50 years ago. Until the 1980s, glass or cotton bags were the go-to packaging materials for many products, such as milk and flour. Today, plastic has taken over. In 2018, 40 percent of the 360 million tonnes of plastics produced globally were converted to packaging. Prized for its durability and ultimate convenience, the plastic addiction from business to consumer is proving hard to shift. But the increasing presence of post-consumer plastic littering the natural environment is a sobering reminder of the extent of damage our love affair with plastic has delivered. Ultimately, we cannot fix this with recycling alone. Alternative materials and models such as bio-based packaging and reuse offer a prime opportunity to extend the lifetime of valuable materials and deliver financial savings to businesses. The case for reusable packaging If we succeed in building and scaling reuse systems, they will outperform single-use systems. This not only benefits the environment but also businesses. About 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material ($83 to $124 billion annually) is lost to the economy after a very short first-use cycle. Most of it ends up in our environment. The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model. In contrast, research and on-the ground experiences with reusable packaging by Searious Business, a solution provider for zero plastic waste practices, show yearly financial savings of up to 30 percent compared to throw-away versions. Thus, reusable packaging is not only key to achieving a circular economy and solving the plastic pollution problem, but also equally presents untapped business potential. To grasp this potential, business must explore collaborations and capacity sharing to achieve wide-scale success and profit. Benefits of teaming up Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. Replacing single-use with reusable packaging may seem straightforward — technically speaking. Most reuse concepts, such as “bring your own” are rather simple. However, our current packaging system is geared toward single-use packaging. Take the food sector, for example. In today’s fast-paced world, ready-made meals are the preferred option for many consumers. Producers parcel ready-made food in small portions in thoughtfully designed packaging, which ends up in the bin soon after consumption. Reusable packaging provides an environmentally friendlier, financially viable alternative: Together with three major retailers, Searious Business has identified opportunities to reduce carbon footprint by 43 tonnes per year through reusable food containers. Financial pay-offs have appeared within eight months. Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. However, these results cannot be achieved alone. They require close collaboration with waste management players, cleaning facilities and logistics companies. Where the packaging was previously disposed of, the retailer needs to arrange collection points, ensure timely collection by the cleaners and likewise timely return so that the packing can be reused. The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model, so that the system is well used and adequate scale can be realized to make a successful change. Numerous stakeholders need to engage in coordinated actions to reduce plastic waste and gain financial benefit for all parties involved. For reuse platforms to be financially viable and make an impact, scale up through collaboration and capacity sharing is inevitable. How to get started As the above example demonstrates, collaborations are crucial for reuse endeavors. But how can a business get started? Circle Economy’s guide for collaborations in a circular economy directs businesses through the process of identifying attractive partners and establishing successful partnerships. The impact organization found that in scoping a potential new collaboration, businesses first need to understand the local context, market and material flows. This includes relevant legislation, consumption habits, the distance to sourcing and the existing reuse infrastructure, which can vastly differ between locations. Choosing the right partner to implement reuse packaging systems further depends on the company vision. Once a business has a clear vision for the future, it needs to assess which capabilities and resources are needed to reach this vision and what can be filled internally. Gaps identified can be filled by partners. Crucial roles a partner can take Based on the gaps identified, businesses can determine which type of collaboration they need to make the circular transition happen. To illustrate this process, we identify three major roles that a reusable packaging partner can take on, as well as five significant characteristics. 1. When McDonald’s and Burger King joined food delivery platform Deliveroo, they did not only want to meet evolving consumer demands for mobile ordering. They also recognized the benefits of serving as each other’s impact extenders. When competitors collaborate to reach common goals, they can learn together, overcome hurdles, increase volume and scale, share investments or establish standardization of packaging. Such “coopetition” is often pooled under reuse platforms such as Deliveroo. 2. Businesses looking to introduce reusable packaging also can partner with companies that serve as promoters, and help to make reusable packaging accepted and ordinary (again) — or even desirable — through marketing campaigns. Social enterprise Dopper, known for its reusable water bottles, has collaborated with the Amsterdam-based Van Gogh museum to create a Special Edition of their bottles with prints of the famous painter’s works. 3. Returnable packaging schemes such as BarePack meal containers in Singapore and RePack packages in Europe work much in the same way that library books are borrowed, enjoyed and returned. With both consumers and businesses recognizing their environmental and financial benefits, these schemes are gaining market share and increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. Here, we see how businesses tapping into the potential of product-service-systems and product-life-extension business models can serve as use-phase-supporters or businesses seeking to introduce reusable packaging. As reuse system operators, BarePack and RePack support businesses with elements such as (reverse) logistics, cleaning and refilling. What makes a winning partner Deciphering the gaps that your business needs filled is the first step, but the nitty-gritty is crucial too: certain characteristics that can amplify your partnership also should be on your radar. Partnering companies should aim to find a strategic fit: your vision on circularity aligns and your market, context and geographical fit. While knowledge exchange collaborations might operate globally, geographical proximity is needed to ensure resource efficiency and profitability when implementing reusable packaging on the ground. Reusable packaging is a playground for innovation, so creativity is a desirable characteristic: out-of-the-box thinking and novel business models. Open communication and collaborative learning are also important as they can enable joint progress towards successful reuse models and uncertainties can be reduced. Partners should also show alignment with the mission. Being on the same page in terms of sharing interests and benefits will result in flexibility. Finally, circular economy collaborations are characterized by mutual dependence and long-term goals. Therefore, a partner should show commitment in terms of wanting the change and investing resources. Pull Quote The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model. Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. Choosing the right partner to implement reuse packaging systems further depends on the company vision. Contributors Willemijn Peeters Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Plastic Circle Economy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Reusable packaging comes in many forms. Shutterstock Oleksandra Naumenko Close Authorship

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Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business

City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego: Building a thriving city

March 9, 2020 by  
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City of Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego discusses her efforts to make Phoenix a leading city for its businesses and residents. With a focus on job creation, public safety, medical care, transportation planning and sustainability, Mayor Gallego is passionate about building a Phoenix that works for everyone. From GreenBiz 20.

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City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego: Building a thriving city

How Danone, Kashi and Land O’Lakes are backing sustainable farming

February 11, 2019 by  
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More companies are exploring new finance mechanisms and other efforts to benefit farmers in search of change.

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How Danone, Kashi and Land O’Lakes are backing sustainable farming

The profession of corporate sustainability gets specific

February 11, 2019 by  
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CSR programs are turning out to be, well, sustainable — and it’s showing.

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The profession of corporate sustainability gets specific

The multimobility model: a new type of transportation

February 11, 2019 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: Alisyn Malek of May Mobility discusses how innovation in first- and last-mile solutions can make needed emissions reductions for the transportation sector.

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The multimobility model: a new type of transportation

Sustainable finance ideals thrive in Asia

November 16, 2018 by  
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From Malaysia to Australia, more investors are funding renewable energy, sustainable supply chains and other efforts to future-proof economies against climate change.

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Sustainable finance ideals thrive in Asia

Is your business wasting money on waste?

November 16, 2018 by  
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Excess product poses a material risk to your company and to the planet. Here’s how to recover those losses.

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Is your business wasting money on waste?

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