Earth911 Reader: Your Weekly Sustainability, Business, and Science News Summary

November 14, 2020 by  
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Earth911 Reader: Your Weekly Sustainability, Business, and Science News Summary

This Air Duster Is a Better Alternative to That Canned Stuff

November 14, 2020 by  
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This Air Duster Is a Better Alternative to That Canned Stuff

Briiv air purifier uses renewable materials to naturally clean indoor air

October 29, 2020 by  
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U.K.-based Briiv has claimed to have created the world’s most sustainable air purifier . The design features a natural, compostable air filter made from the micro-structures of renewable materials , giving it the purifying power of 3,043 medium-sized houseplants. The air purifier requires almost no maintenance, so busy or traveling owners don’t have to worry about watering or trimming like regular houseplants. Everyday, tiny particles and harmful gases are released into our homes through things like cooking, lighting fireplaces, using cleaning products and playing with pets. These pollutants are linked to increased risk of respiratory conditions, poor cognitive function and sleep disruption. Briiv uses the power of plants to filter harmful pollutants out naturally without the use of plastic filters. Related: Sead Pod offers grassroots solution to air pollution and global warming The innovative, four-layered filter is made using a combination of sustainably sourced dried moss, natural coconut husk fiber, activated charcoal and wool. Astino wool is the same chosen by NASA for its spacecraft air filtration for its natural ability to remove harmful bacteria and particles while fighting off airborne viruses. The 100% natural filter removes harmful toxins, animal dander, VOCs, mold spores and fine particles from an average-sized living room in about 30 minutes. It is completely plastic-free and meant to return to the earth at the end of its life, degrading into the soil of your garden or in your compost pile within a matter of months. With the look of a high-tech miniature terrarium, this minimalist device is aesthetically pleasing enough to fit pretty much anywhere, from apartment shelves to office desks and everywhere in between. The filter can even be connected to smart home devices through Alexa and Google integration, so you can control it remotely. Briiv also comes with a user-friendly app to automatically track your filter usage, so you don’t have to guess about when it’s time to change it. The project is now live on Indiegogo after a successful run on Kickstarter. + Briiv Via Yanko Design Images via Briiv

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Briiv air purifier uses renewable materials to naturally clean indoor air

Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry

October 28, 2020 by  
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Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry Elsa Wenzel Wed, 10/28/2020 – 02:02 It’s probably fair to say that nobody expressly set out to devise a sunscreen to bleach coral reefs or a yoga mat to emit carcinogens. Yet toxic substances circulate in waterways and bloodstreams, leached out from all the consumables of everyday life. Shortsightedness and paltry data in the cycles of product design and engineering are partly to blame for this collateral damage of modern chemistry. Most product designers are unlettered in chemistry, and the practice of green chemistry remains in its early years. Even a basic count of all the industrial chemicals in use is scarce — somewhere over 80,000 , according to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory, although the EPA total for recent output is less than 9,000 . It’s simply asking too much of most people formulating a consumer product only to include ingredients that are proven not to harm living systems. But what if design teams seeking safer ingredients didn’t have to know much about the molecules that comprise the stuff they’re making? What if they had a handy menu that graded each chemical? In theory, picking a less-toxic choice could be as simple as shunning an “F” or “C” ingredient for an “A” or a “B” on the list. We really saw this as a key to unlock in order to improve safe and circular chemistry. That’s the vision being advanced by ChemFORWARD, a mission-driven nonprofit backed by leading corporations with serious ambitions to accelerate safer chemistry. The effort is attracting pioneers in green chemistry, design and data to build a first-of-its-kind clearinghouse to help design teams and supply chains ditch hazardous chemicals for good. Leaders on board “We really saw this as a key to unlock in order to improve safe and circular chemistry,” said Mike Werner, circular economy lead at Google, who serves on the nonprofit’s advisory board. The search giant pushes for safer chemistry and a circular economy on myriad levels , including within its office spaces, at its data centers and inside the devices it sells. “ChemFORWARD fits [into] this really big important puzzle toward making materials healthy and safe.” Google is among ChemFORWARD’s roster of “co-design” partners that includes Sephora, Target, Levi’s, HP, Levi Strauss, H&M, Nike, Steelcase and Method, each recognized for various leadership efforts toward safer chemistry. Last year, for example, Sephora became the first major cosmetics retailer to broadcast its policy on chemicals. Target’s Sustainable Product Standard came on the scene in 2013. Nike has its own Chemistry Playbook . Levi’s innovations include its recyclable Wellthread denim line. Other ChemFORWARD partners include the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals.  ChemFORWARD’s technical advisory board is led by Art Fong, Apple’s green chemistry lead. Corporate scientists and chemists also come together via ChemFORWARD for regular meetings and peer reviews with third-party toxicology firms. The nonprofit is betting that teaming up with such pathfinders will help spark lasting industry innovation via its tool, in the process lowering the cost for even small companies to find safer chemical alternatives for their products. “Our intention is to reverse decades of negative impacts from the inundation of toxic chemicals that we find in our products, our economy, our environment and our bodies,” said ChemFORWARD Executive Director Stacy Glass, who has led the effort from a project within the  Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute to its current iteration, housed within the Washington, D.C.-based Healthy Building Network , a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable building materials. “We need new solutions, new ways of thinking about things to have safe, circular products.” We are fundamentally changing the way that chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed and financed. ChemFORWARD seeks not only to display what chemicals not to use, but also what’s available instead. This aim progresses away from the longtime industry reliance on restricted substances lists that can leave product makers empty-handed, while liberating data that until recently has been trapped in various PDF reports or proprietary databases. ChemFORWARD seeks to stand apart from other data plays by building bridges in the supply chain with its “collaborative, harmonized” approach. “We are fundamentally changing the way that chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed and financed,” Glass said. What’s inside However, ChemFORWARD is entering an area that’s already seeing a lot of activity. Multiple hazards assessment standards are available in increasingly usable formats to help companies identify problematic chemicals. The for-profit firm Scivera , launched in 2008 in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers a subscription database SciveraLENS, with color-coded grades for chemicals based on their inherent hazards. ChemFORWARD’s web-based software pools together data from some of the best-known chemicals assessment methodologies. A color-coded letter grade rolls up information from the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification , Cradle to Cradle (on material health) and the EPA SaferChoice Safer Chemical Ingredients List . That results in offering users more than 50 pieces of interpretation and over 20 human and environmental endpoints, such as around neurotoxicity or aquatic toxicity, for each chemical. A view inside a ChemFORWARD display of dimethyl phthalate, used in plastics. “The work that ChemFORWARD is doing and proposes to do will provide important additional information to a community of organizations seeking real-world data to better understand the safety implications of their materials choices,” said green chemistry trailblazer John C. Warner, a distinguished research fellow at synthetic biology startup Zymergen. Think of nearly any consumer-product chemical villain that’s dominated recent headlines for disrupting ecosystems or being linked to cancer or hormonal havoc. Chances are ChemFORWARD is building a collection of alternatives to it. These include ortho-phthalate plasticizers found in flexible toys, UV-blocking oxybenzone in sunscreens and halogenated flame retardants in electronics. ChemFORWARD has portfolios of alternative cleaning solvents , cosmetics preservatives and fragrance fixatives. The goal is for ChemFORWARD to scale up from about 200 to 2,000 safer chemicals in 2021. “The more technical person can see the technical data they need,” Glass said. “But most companies need, ‘Can I use it [or] can I not use it?’ for an answer.” More than skin deep ChemFORWARD is building clearinghouses for electronics and food packaging, but one of its earliest repositories coalesces data in beauty and personal care, with hundreds of safer alternatives. Someone shopping around to include a safer surfactant in a skin cleanser or an emollient in a moisturizing lotion can consult the tool for the green “A” or “B” options. Sephora, which is mindful of its many eco-conscious young customers and became a co-design partner with ChemFORWARD in March, recently took steps to advance beyond its restricted substances list. The company says 94 percent of all the products it sells eliminate potentially negative “high-priority” chemicals. The Clean at Sephora label for sustainable beauty care products in its catalog features goods from more than five dozen smaller companies, including BeautyCounter . “We knew the importance of creating a baseline expectation for all brands in terms of safety and the environment,” Carley Klekas, Sephora’s senior manager of product sustainability, said. “Sephora already had rigorous requirements in place, specifically with our in-house brand, Sephora Collection, that goes beyond EU regulations, but we also wanted to expand this even more across the brands we carry.” These chemicals used in cosmetics display letter grades according to safety. It teamed up with ChemFORWARD and EDF on a research project that prioritized four chemical categories common within beauty and personal care: preservatives; benzophenones; silicones; and ethanolamines. Sephora then sponsored chemical hazard assessments for the alternative ingredients named in the research. As a result of the partnership, safer alternatives have been assessed for 73 percent of Sephora’s high-priority chemicals — and made available to industry via ChemFORWARD. “We needed a credible and innovative resource to help us assess alternatives to chemicals within our policy, to ensure they were safe, and that we were avoiding regrettable substitution,” Klekas said. “We know this is important work to be done and will ultimately help showcase that there are safer alternatives to the high-priority chemicals we seek to reduce in our assortment, while also help the industry identify gaps where more innovation is needed.” The innovation puzzle Glass sees ChemFORWARD’s highest mission as its potential for furthering innovation. But that requires buy-in not only from retailers and product manufacturers, but also from the chemical producers themselves. The process of making chemical substitutions is only one step along the path to optimizing shiny, new, safer chemicals, which Glass hopes to help propel. Enter Pat Harmon, industry manager at chemicals powerhouse BASF. He’s been involved with ChemFORWARD for many years after meeting Lauren Heine through a Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (G3C) event. Heine was then executive director of the nonprofit Northwest Green Chemistry and had just joined MaterialWise, the early iteration of ChemFORWARD, where she’s now director of safer materials and data integrity. BASF’s sustainability strategy hinges upon developing chemicals that advance sustainability, called “accelerators,” which account for more than 25 percent of its sales. Ninety-five percent of BASF’s products have been evaluated for potential sustainability contributions. BASF has a history of involvement in collaborative assessments, and it quantifies the sustainability benefits of its products through life-cycle assessments and its Sustainable Solutions Steering methodology. It’s really powerful in terms of thinking about moving to green chemistry. Harmon aligned with Heine on the need for better third-party assessments for alternatives to troublesome ortho-phthalates, which are tied to multiple health problems. He also liked what she described of how the fledgling nonprofit chemical clearinghouse might lower the cost to companies of chemical assessments while moving away from “negative lists.” ChemFORWARD’s involvement with leadership brands and retailers, which are ultimately BASF’s downstream customers, also helped to elevate the case for BASF getting involved.  Eventually, BASF shared details for ChemFORWARD about several of its plasticizer accelerators, including its ortho-phthalate alternatives Hexamoll DINCH and Palatinol DOTP . These are used in flexible PVC and in a broad range of applications including children’s toys, yoga mats, wiring cable, vinyl flooring and automotive interiors. A bridge? “Now, chemical suppliers have the option to market their safer alternatives and to validate their low-hazard claims through an independent, trusted platform,” Glass said. “In this way, we create a bridge between chemical suppliers, their customers and prospective customers with data that has been traditionally hard to come by, difficult to interpret and sometimes hard to trust.” Harmon sees ChemFORWARD as a useful tool for companies that ultimately use BASF’s chemicals as well as a resource that can help move safer chemistry forward in industry, demonstrating for BASF’s customers the value of the safer decisions behind their product formulations. And the involvement with CHEMForward may help BASF to identify potential market gaps in areas where the number of attractive chemical alternatives is slim.  “This is why the ChemFORWARD project is so important,” Harmon said. “It’s one of the ways to help understand that you’re making the right decisions to move to new substances. I would really like to see this approach be used more and more.” For example, what if ChemFORWARD could grow to include the broader area of plastics additives in addition to plasticizers, such as flame retardants and light stabilizers? That could bring more of the plastic industry onboard, he added. “If you make it broader for the whole plastics industry, then you have a lot of people who would have interest in using this type of tool,” Harmon said, optimistic that ChemFORWARD may help to advance plastics circularity longer term. For example, if it identifies safer plastics used, say, in medical equipment that’s currently discarded, then more IV bags or other consumables finally might be recycled without the possibility of circulating harmful chemicals into the marketplace and the environment, Harmon said.   Here’s a view of inherent hazards for benzophenone, known to damage coral reefs. It has been banned in sunscreens in Hawaii. ChemFORWARD’s small team hopes to encourage more chemical suppliers to get involved by providing them a means to bring forth their safer chemicals in a way that’s trustworthy, verified and peer-reviewed by a third party, also broadening the availability of their chemicals for certifications and reporting. Companies can use this information for marketing purposes, including for consumer labels, but it’s also critical for risk management and verifying internal claims about a product. “As we get more and more eyes on our platform, we’ll be able to make that case even more strongly that: ‘Hey, chemical suppliers, if you have good stuff and you want to verify those claims, this is a great place to do it,'” Glass said. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to not only stop unknowing toxic chemical exposure, but to empower those who are working to create a safe and circular future for all.” Data driven Glass spent a decade in green building, serving as VP for the built environment at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute , which shaped in 2016 the earliest version of ChemFORWARD. Research across industries, up and down supply chains, found that companies lacked information to use better chemistry. Good attempts by other nonprofits had failed to gain traction. Recognizing a larger industry need, the institute spun out the effort, which currently counts less than 10 staff members distributed across the U.S. and a network of toxicologists. I realized this was a data organization problem, our not knowing what was in our stuff and what we’re exposed to. “I realized this was a data organization problem, our not knowing what was in our stuff and what we’re exposed to, and the incredible tax this exposure is causing to society,” Glass said. “I’m not a chemist, I’m not a toxicologist — I said, we can fix this. I see the solution clearly. I’ll take any data solution, any scalable solution, that will get this information into the hands of designers and formulators so (they) can make safer decisions.” It’s possible ChemFORWARD ultimately could feed data into life-cycle analysis or supply chain management tools. It can’t hurt to have Google as a partner, and it’s worth noting that the advisory board’s latest addition is Kimberly Shenk, co-founder of the AI-driven supply chain transparency startup Novi. The movement, however, has a long road ahead. It’s still relatively cheap for companies to crank out new molecules, and the chemicals industry is a powerful economic engine and lobbying force. Nevertheless, ChemFORWARD and others pivoting away from the conventional focus in managing chemical risks and instead toward making decisions based on inherent toxicity is a huge paradigm shift, said Mark Rossi, executive director of Clean Production Action, who also created the GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals hazard assessment method with Heine. “It’s really powerful in terms of thinking about moving to green chemistry,” he said. “All chemistry should be green chemistry, and how do you get there? This is all part of that movement toward making choices based on hazards.” Pull Quote We really saw this as a key to unlock in order to improve safe and circular chemistry. We are fundamentally changing the way that chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed and financed. It’s really powerful in terms of thinking about moving to green chemistry. I realized this was a data organization problem, our not knowing what was in our stuff and what we’re exposed to. We create a bridge between chemical suppliers, their customers and prospective customers with data that has been traditionally hard to come by, difficult to interpret and sometimes hard to trust. Hey, chemical suppliers, if you have good stuff and you want to verify those claims, this is a great place to do it. Topics Chemicals & Toxics Data Eco-Design BASF Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Industrial chemicals have proliferated exponentially since the time of this antique medical cabinet, and new ways of organizing them are sorely needed. Shutterstock Triff Close Authorship

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Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry

Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity

October 27, 2020 by  
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Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity Elsa Wenzel Tue, 10/27/2020 – 02:00 Apple’s Lisa Jackson is moving social justice to the top of the list for protecting the environment. Coming from one of Fortune’s “most powerful women in business ” at one of the world’s largest companies, she has views that could have a long-term global impact. Apple’s big-ticket sustainability goals released this year for 2030 include becoming carbon-neutral and achieving a net-zero impact in all operations. The company also recently embraced an outward-facing leadership role on its social impacts, with a $100 million investment to create a Racial and Equity Justice Initiative (REJI), which CEO Tim Cook asked Jackson to lead in June. How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? It’s not new for Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives to see racism and climate change as intertwined. She capped off her two-decade career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as its chief under President Barack Obama. Jackson recalled a key lesson from her New Orleans childhood to GreenBiz co-founder Joel Makower during a VERGE 20 virtual event Monday. 1. Identifying intersections “I know what it means to be at the receiving end of our industrial society, whether it’s the air quality coming from petrochemical facilities, of wind, or the water quality coming down the Mississippi River, or the Gulf of Mexico’s health — and that ecosystem and diversity, all those issues, conflate to me around the place I call home,” the chemical engineer said. For example, she has seen the resources of the world flow upward to the people who make inequitable decisions around land use and then profit from them — but not flowing back to the people who become victims of flooding, fires or other consequences of poor planning. “Those are the questions we have to solve if we’re really going to solve the climate crisis,” Jackson said. Fighting for equality and justice for my community has driven my career as an environmentalist. I’ll continue the work leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/JKuaQP3I2r — Lisa P. Jackson (@lisapjackson) June 11, 2020 Jackson’s passion for addressing these problems deepened recently when she witnessed the combustive mix of poor air quality and high COVID-19 fatalities within historically underserved frontline communities. “It all comes together because we know that the co-pollutants of CO2 from fossil fuel, and from the fossil fuel-burning power sector and transportation sectors, are all part of that justice equation,” she said. 2. Empowering communities As part of its REJI initiative, which centers around representation, inclusion and accountability, Apple describes using its voice and cash to transform systemic disempowerment into empowerment. One way is to hire more coders of color and to build up wealth in underserved communities by doing more business with suppliers owned by people of color. “One of the things we did in the economic empowerment space is come up with this idea of an impact accelerator,” she said. “How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally?” Plus, Apple is also nurturing coding hubs at historically Black colleges and universities. Apple’s $100 million toward REJI is nine to 10 times the investment committed by Amazon, Google and Facebook each toward racial justice causes. 3. Making the human factor material It’s been two years since Apple planted the seeds to grow a circular economy by committing to make all of its devices from recycled or renewable materials eventually. Jackson described how the iPhone maker quickly found that its “moonshot” of shunning ingredients that need to be mined is not just about closing the loop on material resources, but on human resources as well. The tech giant prioritized eliminating conflict minerals and questionably sourced rare earths early on because of the labor and supply chain difficulties involved. In this area, Apple so far has created its own recycled aluminum alloy for devices including the Apple Watch, MacBookAir and iPad, and it uses recycled tin in solder in some logic boards. It has developed profiles of 45 materials in terms of their impacts on the environment, society and supply chains, singling out 14 for early action on recycled or renewable sourcing. The haptic engine, which enables a variety of vibrations in iPhone models 11 and up, uses recycled rare earths. The Daisy disassembly robot gained a cousin, Dave, which recovers rare earth elements, steel and tungsten from spent devices and scrap. Apple is still aiming to make all of its products and packaging from recycled and renewable materials. So far all paper materials are recycled, and plastics have been reduced by 58 percent in four years. The company is more quietly progressing on safer chemistry. Toward its goal of gathering data on all the chemicals that comprise its products, it has information from 900 suppliers on 45,000 parts and materials. “As much as we want to continue to engage in communities to try to lift up the standards and use our purchasing power to lift up, we also have to be honest with ourselves and say, there’s also a need for us to show an alternative path,” Jackson said. 4. Being first and bigger Where Apple leads, others in the market listen. For instance, so far it has nudged more than 70 of its suppliers to adopt clean energy, which Apple has fully implemented in its offices, data centers and stores without leaning on offsets. The company’s supply chain partners of all sizes are ripe for doing something differently, Jackson said.  Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally? “They’ve seen what COVID can do, or a crisis can do, to a business that hasn’t thought about resilience and sustainability,” Jackson said. “Apple can help by modeling and also taking a risk on technologies and ways of doing business, and quickly scaling them.” For example, Apple was able in a single year to embed 100-recycled rare earth elements in the magnets of its iPhone 12 series. “If we can come up with a cleaner alternative, then our belief is that these other places will have no alternative but to clean up as well so that they can be competitive not just on an economic level, but on a social and environmental level as well,” she said. “That’s going to be the exciting work for Apple … in the next few years is to not only do it first but to do it bigger, and to hopefully leave behind a supply chain that’s now economical and accessible for other people. Because those industries, those enterprises will say, ‘OK, there are probably more people who want to buy recycled material as well’ — and that’s the circular economy.” Pull Quote How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally? Topics Human Rights Equity & Inclusion Supply Chain VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apple’s Vice President, Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson. Apple Close Authorship

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Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity

Episode 241: Thinking long-term with three sustainability think tanks

October 16, 2020 by  
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Episode 241: Thinking long-term with three sustainability think tanks Heather Clancy Fri, 10/16/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (4:08). A plan for “Lithium Valley” begins to take shape Grocery retailers will feel the sting of pollinator declines Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change? Features Building the B Corp movement (16:40)   While some large multinationals including Danone and Natura have embraced the B Corp certification, others have been slower to move. That was a catalyst for the new B Movement Builders initiative, launched in September. Marcelo Behar, vice president for sustainability and group affairs for Natura & Co., chats about why his organization became a mentor. ERM wants to help institutionalize sustainability (26:44) This week, global consultancy ERM launched the SustainAbility Insitute, created to define, institutionalize and scale sustainability performance. Keryn James, ERM’s group chief executive, and Mark Lee, head of the new organization, drop by to chat about the mission.  Can we use disruption to create true transformation? (35:20) The past month has seen the publication of dozens of reports highlighting paths to action for corporate sustainability as the world looks forward to life after the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Forum for the Future added to that body of work with its map of the multiple pathways ahead of us, “From System Shock to System Change — Time to Transform.” We spoke with the forum’s CEO, Sally Uren, about what’s ahead, and why decisions of the next six to 18 months are critical. A collaborative approach to “Drawdown” (44:45) This week also marks the launch of Drawdown Labs, formed to help companies test how to use their resources, partners, employees and customers to reduce carbon emissions, not just avoid it. Some early participants: Allbirds; Google; Grove Collaborative; IDEO; Impossible Foods; Intuit; Lime; and Trane Technologies. Jaime Alexander, director of Drawdown Labs, weighs in on how they’re leading.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Keeping Stuff Together,” “Night Caves,” “How I Used to See the Stars,” “Southside,” “As I Was Saying” and “Sad Marimba Planet”  *This episode was sponsored by IHG Resources galore Lessons in resilience from the produce industry. Subject matter experts from Kwik Lok, Walmart and Second Harvest Food Bank join us at 1 p.m. EST Nov. 10 to discuss responding to disruption and how to balance food safety and security to minimize food waste. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Corporate Strategy Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 54:12 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 241: Thinking long-term with three sustainability think tanks

A vote for clean energy

October 16, 2020 by  
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A vote for clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:45 I recently joined the most impressive group of clean energy leaders I’ve known, and it happens to have come together in support of Joe Biden for president. The network: Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B).  It includes more than 9,500 clean energy professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. There are entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers, technicians and investors. There are thought leaders I’ve long admired and business leaders that have made clean energy more accessible to all people. Clean energy professionals as a voting bloc CE4B is evidence that the clean energy sector is, perhaps for the first time, a significant voting bloc in the United States.  Before the start of the COVID crisis, the clean energy sector employed nearly 3.4 million Americans in all 50 states. In 42 states, more people are included in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. If mobilized, these millions of Americans could have a major impact in this and future elections.  CE4B shows that support for clean energy as a voting issue is already widespread. The self-organizing, all-volunteer effort has more than 25 active state teams and organized more than 100 grassroots events, which collectively have raised more than $2.6 million on behalf of the Biden campaign.  The executive council is more than 50 industry leaders, including household names (for energy nerds) and representation from major companies, including Kate Brandt of Google, Jigar Shah of Generate Capital, Kate Gordon of California’s Office of Planning and Research and Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why get political now? We don’t write about politics much at GreenBiz (although I’m sure regular Energy Weeklyians have a sense of my personal politics).  Much about this presidential contest is outside of the purview of my job as an energy analyst. But when it comes to accelerating the adoption of clean energy, I would be remiss to not call attention to what may be the starkest difference in energy platforms in American history.  If I may simplify the two men’s stances, Donald Trump’s energy policy looks backward to the energy that powered our past, and Biden is looking forward to the fuels of the future. I’m not going to dive into either candidate’s specific platform; others already have written much on the topic. Rather, I’m here to highlight that candidates who support clean energy policy are also supporting economic, climate and social justice policies.  Clean energy policy is economic policy As the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic is coming into focus and the job creation is leveling off, the clean energy transition represents an opportunity to put Americans back to work.  First, clean energy is more jobs-rich than fossil fuels, meaning more people are employed per unit of energy created. A 2010 study found that for every $1 million invested, oil and gas would create roughly five jobs, while wind and solar would create 13 or 14 jobs.  Second, clean energy jobs are distributed. While dirty energy is usually centralized — think coal miners in West Virginia or roughnecks in North Dakota — clean energy manufacturers, technicians and installers are needed in every community, and provide options at every skill level. According to E2, all but two of America’s 3,007 counties are home to clean energy jobs.  Third, prioritizing clean energy gives America a chance to be a global leaders in advanced energy technologies. Getting ahead of the innovation curve means the country could be exporting technologies as other nations race to meet climate goals. Which I find a lot more exciting than trying to prop up dinosaur industries.  My two cents: if you are worried about the economy, supporting candidates that understand the jobs potential in the clean energy sector is a smart move.  Clean energy policy is climate policy  Scientists agree that the next decade will be critical to addressing climate change and avoiding the worst of its economic impacts and human toll.  So it makes sense that voters are beginning to see climate as a voting issue. A recent poll from Pew Research shows that 68 percent of likely voters rank climate as “very” or “somewhat” important, up from 44 percent in 2009. Luckily, the same policies that will create clean energy jobs will curb energy-related emissions. While energy is not the only source of climate-changing emissions, it is a sector that has carbon-free solutions today, meaning it must rapidly decarbonize to give us a chance at a safe climate future.  We’re already seeing the economic impacts of extreme weather across the country and world. Politicians that work to curb the worst impacts of climate change are working to curb the human and economic tolls.  Clean energy policy is social justice policy Like so many other issues, those most affected by pollution from dirty energy are low-income communities and communities of color.  If you’re Black in America, you have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma, and are more likely to have (and die from) heart disease, all linked to living with dirty air. Nearly one in two Latinx people in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA smog standards. People of color are more likely to live near highways, airports, power plants and refineries.  That all takes a toll on health, economic potential and quality of life. Supporting a just energy transition is synonymous with supporting marginalized communities to become more resilient, prosperous and healthy.  Clean energy technologies — the same that uplift the economy and address climate change — can help all communities thrive. Politicians who understand that are taking the realities of environmental racism seriously.  Vote Clean energy is a rare issue that is win-win-win: it uplifts the economy, creates jobs and helps curb climate change. The only downside is incumbent energy powers need to get out of the way.  Of course, the sector isn’t perfect. Clean energy advocates are working hard to not replicate the same inequities or unintended consequences as the old, dirty energy sources. But I, for one, am ready for political debates about how to best create energy systems for the future, rather than debate if we should stay in the past.  And, no matter what your political ideology is, if you’re a U.S. reader, vote in whatever way you can. It’s what being American is all about.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Social Justice Clean Energy 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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A vote for clean energy

Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond

October 16, 2020 by  
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Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond Elisa Niemtzow Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:00 Business as usual for the luxury industry is over. 2020 brings with it the end of a positive growth cycle, as analysts expect global luxury sales to contract 25-45 percent in 2020 , with a recovery that could take up to three years. And yet, the coronavirus pandemic, for all the havoc it has wrought on the industry, has pushed the sustainable business agenda even further, forcing business leaders to reevaluate their role in society and better articulate their value, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of corporate purpose and the way they contribute to the world.   Recent months have revealed several fragilities and also several strengths as the luxury industry navigates its future. Companies demonstrated the depth of their commitment and a certain financial resilience by shifting production lines to manufacture hand sanitizer and masks or forgoing government aid to demonstrate social solidarity. Brands have reimagined design and distribution of products in a context of lower sales volumes and digital acceleration. The crisis also has multiplied the insecurity of some workers and left some precious material supply chains, such as cashmere and exotic skins, even more vulnerable.   As luxury fashion brands adapt and survive in the “new normal,” they can drive a renewed vision of the luxury business that demonstrates how to decouple volume growth from value growth. They can seize opportunities to strengthen resilience and further set the example when it comes to long-term value creation, business transformation and progressive leadership. To drive innovation and demonstrate leadership in the years ahead, luxury leaders should consider these three opportunities: 1. Deepen luxury’s value proposition Luxury brands can deepen their value proposition by further embedding efficiency, sustainability and inclusion into business models and practices, building on the new approaches that the pandemic accelerated. Designers are streamlining collections, focusing on evergreen best sellers and incorporating upcycling, regenerative materials and use of dead stock (French) in collections. Meanwhile, digitization is accelerating efficiency and agility. Design teams are working together online and using virtual sampling. Showrooms and fashion weeks have gone digital. And brands are hurrying to transfer business to online outlets. Supply chain experts argue companies can make less product and increase margins as they reduce waste (via better inventory management), better connect supply and demand (via strengthened omni-channel programs) and optimize understanding of client needs and trends (via enhanced client data). For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial — less environmental impact, more financial resilience and, potentially, redistribution of investment across the supply chain to benefit primary raw material producers and workers upstream. For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial. Optimized distribution of value creation is important in a context where the pandemic has rendered raw material and manufacturing workers more vulnerable. For example, the Sustainable Fibre Alliance raised the alarm of COVID-19’s considerable consequences for the economic security and well-being of cashmere goat herding families. In the case of exotic leather, a controversial material prior to the pandemic according to animal rights activists, conservationists recently have raised their voice about the necessity of protecting the benefits to species, people and ecosystems generated by this trade. At the moment, luxury brands are still struggling to develop the business cases and financially support all of these actors. One promising mechanism to explore is a “reverse-sourcing” approach whereby value chain actors for a specific raw material pilot interventions to drive positive change and then connect the dots to create a traceable, sustainable supply chain. In one example, this approach allowed vulnerable suppliers who committed to improved environmental and social practices to broker a long-term contract with a global beauty company at a premium — enabling investment in long-term sustainability while the beauty brand achieved the security of a traceable, sustainable supply chain. Additionally, luxury brands can leverage sustainable finance mechanisms and growing investor interest in ESG to partner on long-term value creation. Following on the heels of Prada, Burberry, Moncler and other players outside the sector, Chanel made its first public offering on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange in September. Its sustainability bond will support business transformation including raw material extraction, regenerative agriculture and innovation across its supply chain. This announcement is notable as it signals the emergence of a deeper value proposition and the importance of communicating this value to key stakeholders. 2. Build on luxury’s predisposition for circular and regenerative practices Over the last several years, the industry has adopted several circular economy initiatives, such as the CEDRE recycling platform  (French) initiated by LVMH, support for innovation via Fashion for Good and training designers on circular economy principles. Yet huge barriers still exist to scaling an efficient luxury fashion circular ecosystem — whether it’s closing the loop on certain product categories such as luxury leisurewear and sneakers, which have shorter lives than typical luxury items; acquiring sustainable, regenerative materials in sufficient quality and quantity (such as leather); or fully embracing the idea of producing fewer new items, including encouraging the multiple lives of products and brand-controlled secondhand markets (as Gucci has just done with The RealReal). Further, as luxury companies make their way in the “new normal,” there is a strong rationale to focus on the third leg in the circular economy stool: regenerating the natural and agricultural systems they rely on for their high-quality natural materials . With 60 percent of species and ecosystem functionality lost, the clock continues to tick. In 2021, the Convention on Biological Diversity will launch a new 10-year strategic plan with the Business for Nature coalition driving business support for policy changes and new targets. Additionally, late last month, an informal working group, Task Force on Nature-related Disclosure, was launched. The work will take several months but signals an expectation of increasing accountability for companies and investors related to their impacts on nature. Luxury brands are well-poised to demonstrate leadership on this and other aspects of the circular economy. Luxury brands also can explore two newer areas: first, assessing their performance against a comprehensive set of circularity indicators to focus on circular economy practices across entire operations and increase robustness of efforts. Second, brands can explore how to take a people-centered approach to circular fashion systems which ensure that as new infrastructure and business models are created, they are inclusive and fair for people from the outset. 3. Demonstrate socially progressive leadership As described above, in the urgency of initial responses to the coronavirus, luxury companies relied on their financial resources and business infrastructure to contribute to their workforce and local communities. Against the profound upheaval transforming our world, luxury leaders have significant opportunity to continue using this power to drive positive change. Doing so will help to preserve the social acceptance of luxury and create the stable operating environment needed by all businesses. Earlier this year, BSR published a report discussing five principles for business action to contribute towards creating a 21st century social contract that supports economic prosperity and social mobility. While the luxury industry can contribute to all principles, it is well-placed to focus on contributions to developing stakeholder capitalism, an approach to business strategy focused on long-term value creation and based on a multi-stakeholder model. Specific actions luxury companies can take include: ensure that corporate governance structures, including board and executive leadership, are inclusive and consider the interests and perspectives of all; pay their fair share of taxes; and align policy advocacy, participation in industry associations and monetary contributions with environmental and social objectives. What’s next Given luxury’s outsize influence on society, luxury brands and their leaders have significant opportunity to build on their efforts and demonstrate the behaviors we need to drive resilient and thriving societies. When will we see every luxury CEO’s bonus dependent on achieving Scope 3 climate targets, paying a living wage in supply chains and achieving zero product destruction? Thriving in the “new normal” will take nothing less than bold leadership such as this. Pull Quote For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off LVMH’s partnership with CEDRE centers on finding second-life uses for its products.

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Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond

China plans to go carbon-neutral by 2060

September 24, 2020 by  
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China, the world’s biggest source of carbon dioxide , is aiming for carbon-neutrality by 2060. President Xi Jinping announced this goal while speaking to the UN General Assembly by video. Xi took the assembly by surprise. Since world events and political tensions have stalled global climate negotiations, the general assembly had expected little progress on climate change until 2021. “We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” Xi said, according to the official translation. China is currently responsible for about 28% of the planet’s carbon emissions . Related: Google becomes retroactively carbon-neutral Xi and then U.S.-President Barack Obama came to a climate change understanding in 2014, which laid significant groundwork for the 2015 Paris Agreement. President Trump immediately backed out of the Paris Agreement upon taking office. Some experts believe that Xi is making an advantageous statement to the world at a time when the U.S. won’t address climate change. “Xi Jinping’s climate pledge at the UN, minutes after President Donald Trump’s speech, is clearly a bold and well calculated move,” said Li Shuo, a climate policy expert from Greenpeace Asia, according to BBC. “It demonstrates Xi’s consistent interest in leveraging the climate agenda for geopolitical purposes.” While many observers agree that Xi’s pronouncement is a significant step, lots of questions still remain to be answered, such as exactly what he means by carbon-neutrality and how China will get there. “Today’s announcement by President Xi Jinping that China intends to reach carbon neutrality before 2060 is big and important news — the closer to 2050 the better,” said former U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern. Richard Black, director of the U.K.-based think tank Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, is hopeful about Xi’s pronouncement. “China isn’t just the world’s biggest emitter but the biggest energy financier and biggest market, so its decisions play a major role in shaping how the rest of the world progresses with its transition away from the fossil fuels that cause climate change.” Via BBC Image via Ferdinand Feng

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China plans to go carbon-neutral by 2060

Critical Antarctic glaciers are drifting away

September 24, 2020 by  
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New findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have revealed that two of the most important Antarctic glaciers are breaking away. The findings, which follow analyses of satellite imagery, indicate that a natural buffer that prevents the glaciers from breaking away is deteriorating at a rapid rate and could lead to destructive sea level rise. The two Antarctic glaciers in question, Pine Island and Thwaites, are located along the coast of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica. For years, scientists have been carrying out studies to determine the best way to ensure that these two glaciers do not drift off into the ocean. Currently, the two glaciers already contribute to about 5% of global sea level rise . It is feared that if the glaciers drift, they could contribute up to a 10-foot sea level rise, which could lead to devastating losses of life and property. The survival of Pine Island and Thwaites is so critical that the U.S. and the U.K. have already invested millions into research concerning these glaciers. Related: Canada’s last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed Stef Lhermitte, one of the authors of the study and a satellite expert at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, said that the images are alarming. “The stresses that slow down the glacier, they are no longer in place, so the glacier is speeding up,” Lhermitte said. “We already knew that these were glaciers that might matter in the future, but these images to me indicate that these ice shelves are in a very bad state.” Ice shelves are very important in retaining seawater in the form of ice. As explained by The Washington Post, they are vast, floating ice sheets that extend across the ocean’s surface to the outer edge of glaciers . Although they freely flow over water, the ice shelves can attach themselves and freeze into the mountainsides. After freezing into mountainsides, they anchor into the seafloor. But warming oceans can cause the ice shelves to thin and glaciers to break away. As they drift off, the glaciers can melt and release more water into the oceans. If this happens, the resulting sea level rise could critically change the world as we know it. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via The Washington Post Image via Kate Ramsayer / NASA

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Critical Antarctic glaciers are drifting away

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