Developing a Comprehensive Circular Economy Strategy

September 11, 2020 by  
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Developing a Comprehensive Circular Economy Strategy How can companies establish an organizational circular economy strategy that’s owned and embraced by key internal stakeholders? The impacts of circular initiatives can ripple throughout a business and its supply chain, creating opportunity and disruption in its wake. But no matter how visionary or comprehensive, a circular economy strategy will translate into real-world impact only if it breaks through silos and takes hold across an organization. Hear from leaders who not only have established comprehensive circular economy strategies, but also effectively implemented them across their organization. This discussion explores the structure of different circular economy strategies — including core focus areas, KPIs, ownership and impacts on compensation — as well as actionable tactics to engage colleagues, assure alignment and create cross-functional initiatives without derailing existing operations. Speakers John Davies, VP, Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group   Xavier Houot, Global SVP Safety, Environment, Real Estate, Schneider Electric Natasha Scotnicki, Program Manager, Circular Economy, Cisco Holly Secon Thu, 09/10/2020 – 20:19 Featured Off

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Return to Sender: Navigating Reverse Logistics

September 11, 2020 by  
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Return to Sender: Navigating Reverse Logistics How can companies establish efficient reverse logistics to reclaim products and enable more circular outcomes? Product take-back programs are commonplace at retailers keen to have customers walk their used printers and sweaters back into the store. Manufacturers commonly offer mail-in programs, and even cosmetics brands have begun accepting empty packaging for discounts on the next purchase. But all this is very old fashioned, and oftentimes the path of used items is not circular, or even sustainable. This discussion examines efforts to modernize take-back and reverse logistics to forge stronger links in a circular supply chain. Speaker Katie Fehrenbacher, Senior Writer & Analyst, Transportation, GreenBiz Group  Ezgi Barcenas, Global VP of Sustainability, Anheuser-Busch InBev Crystal Lassiter, Senior Director of Global Sustainability, UPS Holly Secon Thu, 09/10/2020 – 20:15 Featured Off

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Ensuring Performance and Safety in Recycled Plastics

August 26, 2020 by  
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Ensuring Performance and Safety in Recycled Plastics As companies and consumer brands incorporate recycled plastic content into their products and as part of their circularity goals, product integrity becomes an important consideration. There are many ways to evaluate the performance and safety of recycled materials. This one-hour webcast will show you tools to evaluate these aspects and how brands like HP are increasing recycled content in their products and assessing performance and sustainability.  Topic include:  How regulations and brands are driving the use of recycled plastics The safety and performance considerations of recycled plastics How companies can develop mitigation strategies and reduce risk with testing and certification How to ensure that claims of recycled content are valid and to avoid greenwashing Moderator: John Davies, Vice President & Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group Speakers:  Fred Arazan, Innovation & Partnerships Manager, UL Bill Hoffman, Corporate Fellow & Research Scientist, Environment & Sustainability Division, UL Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer, HP Inc.  If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Wed, 08/26/2020 – 10:17 John Davies VP, Senior Analyst GreenBiz Group @greenbizjd Fred Arazan Innovation & Partnerships Manager UL Bill Hoffman Ph.D, UL Corporate Fellow, Research Scientist UL @ULdialogue Ellen Jackowski Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer HP Inc. @ellenjackowski gbz_webcast_date Tue, 09/22/2020 – 10:00 – Tue, 09/22/2020 – 11:00

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Florida to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes

August 21, 2020 by  
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It sounds like the premise for a 1950s horror movie: release 750 million genetically altered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys and see what happens. But Florida and the federal government have approved this plan for 2021 and 2022. “What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know, because EPA unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks, now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed,” Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. Related: Rare blue bee spotted in Florida The GMO mosquito, named OX5034, is a modified version of Aedes aegypti developed by the biotech company Oxitec . This species carries dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. The new-and-improved mosquito produces female offspring that die while still in the larval stage. For mosquitoes, females feed on blood and males on nectar. So, female babies born to OX5034s will die before they mature enough to bite humans and spread disease . The EPA approved the pilot project for the Florida Keys in May to test whether the OX5034 approach will work better than controlling Aedes aegypti by spraying insecticide. The project just received final approval by local authorities — often over the protests of residents worried about the implications of modifying mosquitoes. Some Floridians have called OX5034 a “Robo-Frankenstein” mosquito and a “superbug” and worry that it will endanger the birds , insects and mammals that eat mosquitoes. While dengue fever is uncommon in the U.S., local outbreaks occasionally occur. Hawaii, Florida and Texas have suffered the most cases. Outbreaks in the Florida Keys in 2009 and 2010 strapped the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which budgets upward of $1 million per year — a tenth of its funding — to fight Aedes aegypti . This species accounts for only 1% of the area’s mosquito population. Harris County, Texas, also plans to release OX5034 in 2021. Both Florida and Texas officials are basing their decisions on field tests Oxitec conducted in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands. In a trial area of Brazil, OX513A, a predecessor to OX5034, reduced the Aedes aegypti population by 95%. Via CNN Image via Hans Braxmeier

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HIVE Project proposes biophilic, self-sufficient homes of the future

August 21, 2020 by  
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As part of RIBA’s The Home of 2030 design competition, Gianluca Santosuosso Design has created The HIVE Project, a honeycomb-inspired modular solution for lower carbon and low-energy housing. Developed for scalability, the prefabricated timber-framed hexagonal structures would offer residents a great degree of flexibility in customizing their homes throughout different stages of life. The honeycomb-inspired homes are also designed for energy self-sufficiency via renewable energy sources and would be integrated with a water recycling strategy that sustainably handles wastewater as well. The HIVE Project — short for ‘Human-Inclusive & Vertical Ecosystem’ — is a scheme for a circular economy that includes residences as well as shared facilities and onsite food- and energy-generating systems. This “Socio-Eco-System” promotes social cohesion and nature regeneration by incorporating the needs of not only humans, but also the existing site and local flora and fauna. For instance, the ideal starting site for the HIVE Project would be a brownfield that would be rehabilitated and enriched as the community grows. Related: Green-roofed Hive home opens and closes with the sun The hexagonal modules would be prefabricated offsite, where they would be bound together with a mix of locally sourced industrial hemp and natural binder that also provides strong insulation properties. As the community expands, more modules can be quickly added with minimal site impact. At the end of the solar-powered building’s lifecycle, the biodegradable construction materials can be easily disposed of while the remaining elements can be reused for new construction. “HIVE combines the properties of the honeycomb with the shape of the archetypal house and creates a new hybrid type of living space able to merge nature’s efficiency with the ingenuity of humans,” the architects explained. “We intend to provide the HIVE with a wide spectrum of co-owned and shared facilities that will empower individuals, families and communities to be self-sufficient while allowing local authorities and administration to limit the need for public investments. … Using these ‘Kits-of-Parts’, every single plot development will be unique and diverse.” + Gianluca Santosuosso Design Images via Gianluca Santosuosso Design

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To B or not to B? More tech companies should ask themselves that question

June 25, 2020 by  
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To B or not to B? More tech companies should ask themselves that question Heather Clancy Thu, 06/25/2020 – 02:00 Fifth Wall, the biggest venture fund dedicated to funding disruptive ideas in real estate and retail, this week revealed that it has become a Certified B Corporation (B Corp) — a move that requires it to embed concerns about equity, inclusiveness and sustainability into its portfolio. The disclosure caught my attention not just because it’s a relatively unusual move but because it’s the second company from the tech world that has made such a gesture: WeTransfer, the well-known file sharing service, also has adopted similar changes to its business model.  For Los Angeles-based Fifth Wall — whose portfolio includes sustainable footwear company Allbirds and “gear for good” company Cotopaxi (both B Corps), smart-bike firm Lime and a slew of other startups that beg my attention — the adjustment reflects that reality that buildings and real estate account for an estimated 40 percent of raw materials consumption and 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.  “We recognize that today’s announcement is a small step and that there is a lot more work to be done,” said Fifth Wall co-founder and CEO Brendan Wallace in a statement. “As a member of the venture capital and technology ecosystems, we’re hopeful this commitment will be shared by our peers and ultimately catalyze an industry-wide shift in mindset.” The catalyst was the $200 million Carbon Impact Fund that the firm announced earlier this year — and that is preparing to launch in collaboration its limited partner base, which includes big names such as CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Hines and Marriott.  “What needs to be done is a collective action problem,” wrote Fifth Wall partner Tyson Woeste in a blog about the fund. “By convening the world’s largest and most forward-thinking real estate leaders in this alliance, we can collectively take responsibility and bold, proactive actions to identify, develop, and adopt critical new technologies to reduce the industry’s GHG footprint.” Keep in mind that the fund was announced before the COVID-19 pandemic sent shock waves through the real estate world. As the economy restarts, many believe that the sector is in for a massive reboot, as companies reconsider the safety and necessity of mammoth corporate campuses and begin allowing a chunk of their workforce to work permanently from home. “Over the next few years, sustainability and decarbonization issues will be a dominant theme for every company in real estate and the technology companies that support the industry,” Woeste noted this week. We believe in accountability for the products and technology we put into the world, and we will strive to push our peers to transform our industry into a more responsible one. Right now, there are an estimated 3,300 Certified B Corps. When I spoke with WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby about why the Amsterdam-based company decided to join their ranks, he said the move created more supervisory clarity. WeTransfer appointed its first non-executive chairperson, British businesswoman Martha Lane Fox, as part of the shift, which took about six months to pull off. “We believe in accountability for the products and technology we put into the world, and we will strive to push our peers to transform our industry into a more responsible one,” he said in a statement. To be clear, many of these policies aren’t yet baked into WeTransfer’s strategy. For example, Willoughby told me that the company is in the process of setting renewable energy policies — that plan will include recommendations for sustainable energy suppliers for employees who work at their homes.  One of the more intriguing policies it already has adopted, however, is a 20 percent discount on advertising rates for other B Corps. Considering that half of WeTransfer’s revenue comes from ad sales, that’s not a token gesture. The company’s original file-sharing service serves about 50 million monthly users, with more than 1 billion files sent per month. Are these two companies outliers? I prefer to think of them as the leading edge. After all, Danone, the world’s largest B Corp , has proven that it’s possible to make the shift, although it certainly won’t take just six months. Here’s hoping. This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe  here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote We believe in accountability for the products and technology we put into the world, and we will strive to push our peers to transform our industry into a more responsible one. Topics Corporate Strategy Standards & Certification Technology Venture Capital 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 WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby Courtesy of WeTransfer Close Authorship

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Whether pandemic or climate crisis, you better get your data right

June 25, 2020 by  
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Whether pandemic or climate crisis, you better get your data right Paolo Natali Thu, 06/25/2020 – 00:30 According to polls, it was  mid-March  when most of us in the United States understood the severity of COVID-19. At the same time, we collectively were searching for data to drive lifesaving decision-making. Close all business and keep people inside homes? Or allow some degree of freedom? What would be the exact growth curve of virus cases, and most important, how could we flatten it? By early April, a consensus had emerged around the role of accurate data, even if it could not help contain a first wave of infections. This lesson on the importance of actionable data did not go unnoticed for those of us working on industrial decarbonization. With growing consensus on the gravity of the climate crisis, countries and companies are adopting carbon reduction targets. If we are to learn from the pandemic, there’s one critical element for any effort to have a chance of success. Less catchy than a target reopening date, and perhaps more like an immunologist telling you to get tested: Do we have the right data to act upon? Pressure is growing to take action The question is relevant because there is mounting pressure to take action against the climate crisis. Pressure to make emissions visible has been around for a while: Consumers want to know how much carbon is embodied in the products they buy. Investors are concerned about the viability of long-term assets in high emissions sectors at risk of being hit by negative policy or market developments. For example,  one chocolate bar  could emit as much as 7 kilograms of CO2, equivalent to driving 30 miles in a non-electric car. Alternately, if the cacao is grown alongside agroforestry or reforestation, the same bar could have zero or even negative emissions via the trees removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If consumers knew the difference, would they pay a premium for the climate-smart chocolate? A company’s financial accounts are used to make reasonable decisions about how that company will do in the future. Alas, to date the same isn’t true of carbon performance. This year, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management company, made thundering news in his  annual letter to investors , touting, “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.” Since then, the asset manager  backed two proposals  at the annual general meetings of both Chevron and Exxon, related to the manner these companies conduct themselves in relation to Paris Agreement targets. Earlier in the year in Australia, investors at both Woodside Petroleum and Santos passed annual general meetings motions to  adopt a “Scope 3 ” (indirect emissions) reduction target. This trend of shareholder and consumer scrutiny has strengthened in recent months, and most S&P 500 companies — in fact, 70 percent of them — already make climate-related disclosures to the reporting platform CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). Translating demands into dollars Yet, to date, there is no way to exactly translate these demands for action into dollar figures. You walk around trade conferences (or, more likely these days, Zoom workshops) and everyone is asking: What’s the premium that a consumer is willing to pay for low-carbon products? Is a bank really willing to decline loans for an investment that fails to fulfill certain sustainability standards, for example as pledged by the 11 global banks that signed the  Poseidon Principles  for shipping finance in 2019? If the European Union agrees on a border price for carbon, what should it be? All of this pricing talk begs the question: How can we have such discussions without clear metrics that everyone can stand by? A company’s financial accounts are used to make reasonable decisions about how that company will do in the future. Alas, to date the same isn’t true of carbon performance. For a start, while financial accounts are reported via one of two standards — U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) — a variety of methods can be used for carbon accounting (CDP accepts 64 of them). While financials make the performance of a chemicals company comparable to an iron ore miner, the carbon accounting metrics differ in a way that is difficult to reconcile. This becomes a problem for an automotive company, which needs to combine the performance of both to make an accurate declaration about the carbon content of a product that has over 30,000 parts. It is also a challenge for a fund manager who needs to combine stocks of different sectors, and has a fiduciary duty to use financially material metrics to do so; or for a commercial banker who lends money to different asset classes, and needs to determine the amount of “climate risk” involved in each investment decision. From the perspective of the climate crisis, we still haven’t figured out how to attribute the right price to something nobody can see, such as the amount of noxious gases emitted by a factory in a land far, far away. Remember the core of the coronavirus debate: The number of confirmed cases are better known than the total number of cases. This uncertainty generates debatable data, upon which it is difficult to make decisions that will have an enormous impact on the destiny of societies. From the perspective of the climate crisis, we still haven’t figured out how to attribute the right price to something nobody can see, such as the amount of noxious gases emitted by a factory in a land far, far away. And if the cost of those gases to a community and ecosystem isn’t clearly visible, conversely, how can we measure good interventions so that investors feel confident to put their money toward them? This is particularly ironic because market demand for product sustainability creates a win-win situation for everyone involved: make a plan to increase product sustainability, shape the world to be a better place. In most cases, low-carbon technologies are either readily available, such as in the case of low-carbon electricity and carbon-neutral concrete, or less than a decade away, such as hydrogen-based trucking. But if it’s so easy, why isn’t it happening? And most importantly, what needs to happen? Harmonizing the efforts The current ecosystem of reporting is built on bottom-up efforts that are not harmonized. The previously mentioned CDP has a large database of disclosures. The Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has a widely adopted set of metrics that companies use to report (including to CDP). The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has — you guessed it — standards solid enough to guarantee “financial materiality,” that is, to allow the analyst in the above example to “buy with confidence” when making investment decisions based on sustainability. The Science-Based Targets Initiative promises to take all this to the next level and link carbon disclosures to the trajectories that companies need to undertake in order to comply with the Paris Agreement. Companies that need to report emissions lament that this is too complex or that it doesn’t allow apples-to-apples comparisons due to discrepancies in the way different methods prescribe calculations. Investors lament that they can’t base financial decisions on current metrics, because they aren’t reliable or standardized. Consumers still have to see eco-labels that are truly credible. It is imperative that emissions accounting shifts from a notion of disclosures (a still image of current emissions) to climate alignment, a forward look into a company’s future emissions. As confusing as it sounds, the good news is that between existing methods, standards and platforms, the elements of a functional system do exist. Despite the gloomy portrait that we often read in the news, of a humankind sleepwalking toward climate disaster due to a selfish inability to act together, this ecosystem actually represents a wonderful testament to the ability of society to recognize a challenge and address it. The importance of climate alignment A few years ago, the Smart Freight Center introduced the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework, creating a common guidance for logistics companies to report in a unified manner. The GLEC Framework is a guidance that specifies how disclosures need to be made in each of the existing methodologies and platforms. Once a company discloses according to the GLEC Framework, analysts will be able to compare a disclosure made for different purposes using different methods, and trace back what it actually means. It is urgent that this expand to supply chains at large. It is also imperative that the emissions accounting focus shifts from a notion of disclosures (a still image of current emissions) to climate alignment, a forward look into a company’s future emissions. With unified and simplified standards, companies will be able to be easily ranked based on their actual and projected contribution to meeting the Paris Agreement, thus keeping climate change at bay. Why do this? To reap the benefits of being in sync with what stakeholders request more and ever louder. This is only wise, considering that not even a global pandemic and looming economic recession has silenced these requests. According to a recent Deloitte  report , 600 global C-suite executives remain firmly committed to a low-carbon transition. They are perhaps finding opportunity in shifting from risk and need clear data to make their decisions. Pull Quote A company’s financial accounts are used to make reasonable decisions about how that company will do in the future. Alas, to date the same isn’t true of carbon performance. From the perspective of the climate crisis, we still haven’t figured out how to attribute the right price to something nobody can see, such as the amount of noxious gases emitted by a factory in a land far, far away. It is imperative that emissions accounting shifts from a notion of disclosures (a still image of current emissions) to climate alignment, a forward look into a company’s future emissions. Contributors Charles Cannon Topics Energy & Climate COVID-19 Data Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute 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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PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2018 wildfire deaths

June 18, 2020 by  
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Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) pled guilty this week to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawful fire starting, admitting its faulty power lines began a horrendous 2018  wildfire . Dubbed the Camp Fire, the blaze in question started in Butte County,  California  on November 8, 2018. The fire killed at least 84 people, destroyed about 18,000 buildings and devastated the town of Paradise, making it California’s most destructive wildfire ever. Related: Climate change heightens California’s drought and wildfire risks Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems read out the names of people who’d died in the fire one by one as their photos flashed on a screen. After each charge, PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said, “Guilty, your honor.” “Our equipment started that fire,” Johnson admitted. A year-long investigation led by Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey determined that PG&E’s outdated equipment caused the 2018 fire. The brutal grand jury report concluded the  utility  company ignored repeated warnings about old, poorly maintained power lines that failed to adhere to state regulations, showing a “callous disregard” for people’s lives and property. PG&E’s plea is part of an agreement with Butte County prosecutors to avoid further criminal proceedings against the utility company. The plea deal includes pledging billions to improve safety and assist Camp Fire victims and accepting closer oversight. The company will pay $3.5 million in fines and a half million in costs. PG&E will also put $15 million towards water for residents, as the Camp Fire destroyed Miocene Canal, one of the area’s vital water sources. “I am here today on behalf of the 23,000 men and women of PG&E, to accept responsibility for the fire here that took so many lives and changed these communities forever,” Johnson said in a written statement. In January 2019, wildfires drove PG&E to file for bankruptcy. The utility has paid out tens of billions in victim settlements and lost billions more in damaged equipment during 2015, 2017 and 2018 wildfires. PG&E has agreed to skip paying out shareholder dividends for three years, which will save about $4 billion. Ramsey said this is the first time any major utility has been charged with homicide stemming from a reckless fire. Still, he is not satisfied with the fine and thinks PG&E should pay much more for the  deaths  and damage that Camp Fire caused. + NPR Image via Pexels

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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

June 4, 2020 by  
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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop Jesse Klein Thu, 06/04/2020 – 01:45 Cranberries are more than just an American Thanksgiving Day tradition; they also are a tradition of the American land. The crop is one of only three native cultivated fruits in North America. Because the plant is actually meant to grow in the natural environment, many growing and harvesting practices already help the surrounding land and could be considered sustainable, under normal conditions. The berry grows best in boggy, water-soaked soil that can’t be used for many other crops. And every one acre of cranberry bog requires 5.5 acres of wild marsh needed around it — a built-in wetlands preservation strategy.  “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Chris Ferzli, director of global corporate affairs and communications for Ocean Spray, the well-known agricultural co-operative, which generates annual revenue of about $2 billion. “The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land.” Ocean Spray recently took advantage of the crop’s natural sustainability to become the first major food manufacturer in the United States to have its entire crop be certified “100 percent sustainable.” Specifically, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) used its Farm Sustainability Assessment to verify that each organization within Ocean Spray’s 700-farm co-op is operating with regenerative agriculture in mind.  The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. SAI’s Farm Sustainability Assessment dives into 112 questions over 17 categories to evaluate a farm’s investment in sustainable practices. The questions range from the safety of workers to nuanced issues of greenhouse gas emissions, and they are categorized in three ways: “essential,” “basic” and “advanced.”  For example, one question — “Do you take measures to maximize energy use efficiency such as optimizing your farm equipment and optimizing electricity use?” — checks if farmers are reducing non-renewable sources of energy, avoiding forest degradation or conversion and optimizing farm equipment usage.  In order for the crop to be considered 100 percent sustainable, all of Ocean Spray’s farms had to score well for 100 percent of the 23 essential questions, at least 80 percent of the 60 basic questions and at least 50 percent of the 29 advanced questions.  A third-party auditor, SCS Global, verified each Ocean Spray farm’s answers.  “The biggest challenge was the gap in how we define things and how a certifying body might define things,” Ocean Spray farmer Nicole Hansen wrote in an email when asked to describe how tough the certification process was from the farmer’s point of view. “In the end, we are all talking the same language. Maybe just a different dialect.”  Hansen’s farm, Cranberry Creek Cranberries, joined the Ocean Spray co-op in the late 1990s and is one of the largest producers in Wisconsin. According to Ferzli, the adjustments the farmers had to make were few and mostly centered on upgrading technologies that made sense for the specific bogs.  There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. For example, moisture probes help farmers conserve water by collecting real-time data and only watering when the soil dips below a certain limit instead of on a set schedule. Temperature monitors feed into smart systems and are able to more accurately measure temperatures at both the top and bottom of a cranberry bed than traditionally handheld thermometers.  When building new beds, laser levelers help ensure the bed is flat and even, so that floodwater moves efficiently during harvest season, keeping the amount needed at a minimum. Farmers also addressed irrigation systems and sprinklers that had unnecessary runoff, causing water waste.  While most of these changes were inexpensive, Ferzli said Ocean Spray does help its farmers apply for grants so they can put the most innovative and sustainable technologies in place, including the Baker-Polito Administration grant that awarded $991,837 to 21 cranberry growers in 2019, 15 of which are part of the Ocean Spray co-op. Another factor leading to Ocean Spray’s milestone was the structural history of the cranberry crop. Cranberries are already a very consolidated operation with almost all of the U.S.’s cranberries grown in Wisconsin or Massachusetts. In 2017 , Wisconsin produced 5.4 billion barrels and Massachusetts produced 1.9 million. Ocean Spray’s co-op makes up a large percentage of those farms. In fact, of the 414 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, 65 percent are part of the Ocean Spray family.  The coalition of cranberry growers and the administrative structure in place was vital. Ocean Spray growers already submit a farm assessment survey required by retail partners such as Walmart that covers the health and safety of their workers and renewable energy.  That meant the co-op had the structure to distribute the SAI Platform survey, collect the data, make adjustments and comply with an audit, making getting to 100 percent much more feasible and streamlined than if the structure weren’t already in place.  “The farmers wanted to do it,” Ferzli said. “There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it.” The verification applies to Ocean Spray’s agriculture program and operations for three years. The company plans to survey the farmers every year and continue the verification process every three years when it comes up for audit. Only then will we know if growing sustainably is sustainable for the business.   Pull Quote The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An Ocean Spray cranberry farm. Courtesy of Ocean Spray Close Authorship

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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

June 3, 2020 by  
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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers Rajat Panwar Wed, 06/03/2020 – 00:00 Amidst numerous uncertainties surrounding post-COVID corporate climate, one thing is certain: Sustainability managers will face multifaceted challenges.  Many could face budget cuts, even as their stakeholders expect them to ramp up sustainability efforts and seize this unique “opportunity” to initiate fundamental corporate transformations. Many may find their companies’ post COVID-19 business strategies are no longer aligned with ongoing or planned sustainability programs. The job of a sustainability manager never has been easy, it will become even more challenging during economically turbulent times.  After the 2008 economic recession, I led a study to show that companies generally scaled down sustainability programs during periods of lowered financial performance, but they did so rather selectively. This study also shows that the extent of scaling down is contingent upon the level of economic turbulence. The latter issue is especially critical in the current context because the COVID-19 has inflicted turbulence on economic systems at a deeper level and more pervasive scale than previous downturns have, at least in the recent history.  I believe that this is a time for sustainability managers to act with foresight. They should not only concern themselves with broad sustainability goals, but they also should be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  This ambidextrous approach will help them garner more trust for sustainability units within their companies, which in turn will enhance internal support for corporate sustainability programs in the long term. Here are five ways (call them 5Cs) that together can help sustainability managers act ambidextrously:  1. Focus on communities These are times of community-level distress, manifesting in multiple ways. Community well-being is the most salient of all concerns that companies must attend to as part of their sustainability programs. Many companies are doing it through corporate philanthropy; but engaging in community-oriented projects more directly would provide companies with visibility, goodwill, improved employees pride and enhanced societal trust.  Community involvement will be the yardstick with which stakeholders will measure companies’ sustainability and social responsibility performance in the post COVID-19 recovery period and well beyond it.  2. Develop coalitions with other businesses This may be a promising approach for companies to engage in community-oriented projects. A critical part of community involvement should be the support for small and micro businesses in the area.  Initiatives taken by grocery chains, such as Publix, can play a critical role in providing much-needed support to save farmer markets and small farmers throughout the world. Local sourcing and purchasing can help revitalize small businesses and are well aligned with broad sustainability goals. Indeed, local sourcing also can uniquely demonstrate companies’ commitments to foster circular economies.  3. Display creativity This is truer than ever. As goes the adage, “If you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeroes.”  The COVID-19 outbreak has removed those two zeroes for many companies. Sustainability managers could draw on such concepts as frugal innovation to spur outside-the-box thinking and to develop and execute sustainability programs that actually help in cutting cost, reducing waste and projecting companies as originators of cool, simple solutions to complex problems.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims.   Workplace risk mitigation will be a priority for companies as economic reopening starts. Innovation in this area is already happening — combining smart scanning technologies , drone-enabled deliveries and artificial intelligence — but such high tech-high cost innovations will not be accessible to all companies.  Frugal yet effective sanitization, I believe, is the most important area in which sustainability experts can provide critical input. Keeping sanitization costs low while ensuring the safety of customers and employees alike is indeed a litmus test for creativity and innovation: Backed with expertise in design thinking, safety norms and customer expectations, sustainability managers are among the best positioned to advise companies on how to effectively handle sanitization in the most frugal way. 4. Show genuine concern A core tenet of sustainability is a concern for all. These are periods of immense hardships. Indeed, bigger threats of climate change loom at us, and sustainability managers ought to not take eyes off that big issue. Yet the open wounds need urgent treatment. It is exactly the time for sustainability managers to display concern for all and live up to their own ideals. Sustainability entails integrated thinking: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked , after all.  It is an immense opportunity for sustainability managers to institutionalize integrative thinking in their companies and cultivate fraternity across functional units. By showing empathy for communities, employees and customers, sustainability managers will further ingrain stakeholder orientation within their companies.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims and earn their trust and support for future sustainability initiatives that they may not otherwise support.  5. Get everyone on board with the changes Finally, sustainability managers will need to make their co-workers on sustainability teams comfortable with the adjustments in their corporate sustainability programs. Co-workers’ discomfort may emanate from their fearing job loss as they might perceive adjustments as curtailments. This discomfort also may emanate from a perceived value-misalignment as some co-workers simply may not value new approaches to sustainability.  Keeping up the spirits of team members and instilling in them the confidence that theirs is a critical role in helping the company recover from financial hardships is a new and important task for sustainability managers. Sharing with sustainability co-workers a short-, medium- and long-term vision of strategy will help sustainability managers keep co-workers motivated and creative.  Clearly, times are difficult. But these are exactly the times when the relevance of sustainability thinking will be put to test. After all, sustainability is about resilience and adaptation: Sustainability managers will have to show both in the coming months.  Pull Quote Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims. Topics Corporate Strategy COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

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