Matter of opinion: What the 2021 Earth Day polls reveal

April 6, 2021 by  
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Matter of opinion: What the 2021 Earth Day polls reveal Joel Makower Tue, 04/06/2021 – 02:11 For more than a decade, this has been the time of year — the run-up to Earth Day — when I’ve surveyed the public opinion polls, of which there have been many, to assess consumer and citizen trends on environmental issues, notably related to shopping. I started doing this in 2007 and, with a few exceptions, continued it annually through last year . This year, I’m changing it up, for several reasons. First, the number of polls has continued to dwindle. For whatever reason, pollsters, and those who commission them, aren’t as interested in understanding consumers’ green sentiments. Or, to the extent they are, they’re conducting these polls privately, not for public consumption. (That also suggests that fewer companies are interested in being seen as thought leaders on green consumer issues.) The second reason is that these polls rarely change, a drum I’ve been beating for decades . In general, a large swath of consumers — typically, two-thirds to three-fourths — claim they are ready, willing and able to make green choices at home and when they shop. The reality, of course, suggests otherwise. So, even when the surveys are new, the insights aren’t. (Is it any wonder that I once suggested that the whole green marketing thing may not be worth the effort?) Third, the pandemic has roiled just about everything. More shopping is done online, which can make green shopping habits easier (by enabling us to find and buy products not sold in our local shopping haunts) and harder (by creating barriers to inspecting products and scouring labels). For example, despite nearly every survey showing that a sizable majority of consumers want to reduce their own plastic waste, the pandemic has necessarily increased the use of single-serve and disposable products and packaging. It will be interesting to track how those habits shift as we enter the post-pandemic era, but for now consumers aren’t willing to trade their own health for that of the planet. Some of the more interesting survey findings come from groups who seem more credible than consumers — or, at least, have fewer incentives for virtue-signaling. Beyond all that, some of the more interesting survey findings come from groups who seem more credible than consumers in their opinions — or, at least, have fewer incentives for virtue-signaling. Economists, for example. Consider a recent global survey conducted by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, focused on climate change risks and their related costs. Nearly three-quarters of the 738 economists around the world who responded said they agree “immediate and drastic action is necessary” to address the climate crisis. Fewer than 1 percent said climate change is not a serious problem. Of the economists surveyed, about three-fourths (76 percent) said the climate crisis likely or very likely will have a negative effect on global economic growth rates. And 70 percent said climate change will make income inequality worse within most countries, with 89 percent saying it will exacerbate inequality between high- and low-income countries. There’s good news for companies and policy makers here: 66 percent of economists agreed “the benefits of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would likely outweigh the costs,” compared with just 12 percent who disagreed. As the report noted: “Costs are often cited as a reason to delay or avoid strong action on climate change, but this survey of hundreds of expert economists suggests that the weight of evidence is on the side of rapid action.” The people speak One citizen poll I found credible and intriguing, and without any apparent preconceptions or agendas. The Peoples’ Climate Vote , the largest survey of public opinion on climate change, polled 1.2 million people, including half a million younger than 18, across 50 countries, covering more than half the world’s population. The survey, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme and the University of Oxford, was distributed across mobile gaming networks in order to include audiences hard to reach through traditional polling. The results reveal a strong global appetite for climate action. For example, in eight of the 10 survey countries with the highest emissions from the?power sector, most respondents backed?more renewable energy. In four of the five countries ?with the highest emissions from land-use change, there was majority support for?conserving forests and land. Nine of 10 of the countries with the most urbanized populations backed?more use of bicycles or electric vehicles. Young people (under 18) are more likely to believe climate change is a global emergency than other age groups, but a substantial majority of older people still agreed with them. Nearly 70 percent of under-18s said climate change is a global emergency, compared to 58 percent of those over 60.  Of course, there can be a yawning gap between respondents’ stated desire for change and their willingness — and that of their political leaders — to implement said change. But political action starts with public demand (at least in theory), so it’s an encouraging sign. The corporate view And then there’s the global survey of business leaders conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Navex Global, a firm that provides risk and compliance management software and services. It found most corporate managers and executives say their companies are falling short when it comes to meeting their goals, objectives and commitments on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Although an overwhelming majority of respondents (81 percent) said their company has a formal ESG program in place, they did not express a high level of confidence their organization was following through as measured against its own standards. Only 50 percent said their company performs very effectively in meeting its environmental goals; only 37 percent rated their company’s performance as “very effective” on social issues. That feels like an honest appraisal, more so than most survey results by purportedly green-shopping consumers. And, as I’ve pointed out in the past, it once again raises the issue of who’s really greenwashing here — everyday consumers who swear they are engaging in responsible habits in their daily lives but aren’t, or companies that have set meaningful commitments, are measuring and reporting against them annually and are pretty candid about how they’re doing? Let’s just say that as yet another Earth Day approaches, there’s plenty of room for improvement on everyone’s part. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Some of the more interesting survey findings come from groups who seem more credible than consumers — or, at least, have fewer incentives for virtue-signaling. Topics Consumer Trends Public Opinion Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage  

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Matter of opinion: What the 2021 Earth Day polls reveal

Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks?

February 17, 2021 by  
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Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks? Diane Osgood Wed, 02/17/2021 – 00:05 ESG may be all the rage, but what about retail banking? The deposits you make at your retail bank for personal and business accounts sustain the bank’s ability to make loans and investments. Loans and investment fuel growth. Put simply, a bank’s capital can flow towards fossil fuels or renewable energy, towards local business loans or financing environmentally damaging projects. Imagine if all retail banks required environmental impact assessments for loan applications. Or committed a certain percentage of loans and investments for renewable energy projects. Certainly, this is a vision all climate-concerned citizens can support, and the opportunity to influence banking as citizens is large. Most U.S. households (93 percent) have a checking or savings account while only 52 percent own stock. Why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? So why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? Last February, I began empirical research to discover the reasons people don’t change to green banks. I narrowed the pool of participants to people who self-identify as either “climate activists” or “environmentalists.” The study was designed to hold a series of in-person focus groups in Europe and the United States. I finished two focus groups in Europe before pausing the project due to COVID-19. While more research is required, a few insights can be drawn from this small data set. I share here the interim results for the first time. In the opening discussion in both groups, the majority said that they’d not made clear decisions about where to bank. One participant in her early 20s, an ardent Swiss climate change activist, said that her parents had set up her banking account and she’d never questioned it. Others said they’d picked the least-worst option for service and didn’t think about the choice again. The most common responses from both focus groups related to a lack of information about good alternatives and how to find out more information about their current banks’ investment policies. Many participants expressed a sense of being overwhelmed at the thought of trying to find this information and make the change. What I heard aligns with published research. Many people only move bank accounts during a moment of transition such as starting college, moving to a new city, starting a new job or getting married, then remain there unless a disruptive event happens. Many folks simply begin with the most convenient bank and stay. The U.S. national average age of a checking account in the U.S. is 16 years. I am no different; I opened my first account where my parents banked and kept it there for more than a decade. As the conversations developed, emotive reasons surfaced as driving forces behind the inertia. Two of the younger participants (age 20-25) expressed frustration that they don’t feel that they have any power as a young client of a big bank. One said bluntly: “Who am I to ask them about the bank’s investment policies? The bank manager has all the power. My account is tiny.” Older respondents (in their 50s) expressed a different emotional factor: cynicism. In the first focus group, the conversation moved to how could they really believe anything a bank says, including the well-known green banks? The responses fell into three categories that correspond to Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch framework . This framework applies the image of a rider on an elephant trying to steer the elephant down a path. The elephant, symbolizing our emotional body, must want to go. The rider, symbolizing our mind, must want to go as well. Our minds are lazy, so the change needs to be easy. Finally, the path must be clear with no obstructions or unacceptable costs. If any of these three conditions aren’t met, change will be difficult. The customer will not change banks. Using this simple framework, we see focus group results hit all three types categories. Banks need to respond to all three types of barriers to enable more people to make the switch. In other words, providing only the information won’t suffice. Banks need to ensure the process of switching is low-friction and that feelings of loyalty, security and possible skepticism are addressed. Clients also need to feel welcomed as valued and equal partners. We’re itching to get back out when it’s safe to hold more in-person focus groups and build out this research. In the meantime, the lessons from banking can be applied to other products and services. How are you addressing: The rider: Do your customers know your climate-friendly, “green” product exists? Can they easily find relevant information? The elephant: How do you help customers believe your claims? How do you make them feel genuinely welcome? The path: Are your products really easy to find? Do you need to woo new customers away from “sticky” loyalty programs? Let’s keep the conversation going. Leave a comment here or reach out to me at diane@osgood.com . Pull Quote Why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? Topics Consumer Trends Banking Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production

January 27, 2021 by  
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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production Jesse Klein Wed, 01/27/2021 – 00:30 Decarbonizing steel has a chicken or the egg problem. Industry experts say current processes for doing it are so extremely expensive that few manufacturers have the financial ability. And right now, there isn’t enough demand for decarbonized steel for manufacturers to justify investing several millions of dollars into lower-carbon steel facilities. But there has been little demand because the end product is so expensive. “Can we borrow $100 million or $200 million to make something more expensive than our competitors is a hard business case?” said Matthew Wenban-Smith, policy and standards director for the nonprofit standards and certification organization, ResponsibleSteel.  A new initiative called SteelZero , created by The Climate Group in partnership with ResponsibleSteel , hope to break the cycle on the demand side. The program brings together the top steel buyers across the globe — including construction companies, real estate groups and property developers — and challenges them to commit to procuring 100 percent net-zero emissions steel by 2050. Members include Lendlease, Mace Group, Multiplex Construction Europe and WSP UK. Most of the carbon footprint for steel companies comes from Scope 3 emissions, emissions from suppliers downstream, as is the case with many businesses. According to Joshua Davies, sustainability manager for Multiplex Europe, 42 percent of his company’s overall 2019 footprint came from embodied carbon from its suppliers. Multiplex already has sustainability commitments written into contracts with its suppliers and subcontractors including committing to the responsible sourcing of steel, having science-based carbon reduction targets for 2023 at the latest and providing low carbon alternative materials during the build process. But there’s only so much it can do on its own. The hope is collective action can spur faster change, Davies said. If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years. “We’re really wanting to show a commitment directly to steel producers that the buyers are ready,” said Jim Norris, the senior project manager for SteelZero. “It’s up to steel producers and policymakers to step up to market and really accelerate the decarbonization of steel production.” Last year saw a huge jump forward in green steel technology. Sweden saw the first hydrogen powered commercial steel production . According to the Rocky Mountain Institute , last year, Swedish steel maker SSAB working with iron ore producer LKAB and utility Vattenfall, created a pilot plant for hydrogen-based primary steel. By using hydrogen instead of coal in blast furnaces, they were able to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional furnaces generate a minimum of 1.8 metric tons of CO2 per metric ton of finished product, while burning hydrogen produces only water. In Germany, the steel production company ArcelorMittal is reducing its carbon emissions by using hydrogen for iron ore reduction, reported by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association .  According to a 2019 Rocky Mountain Institute report, full-scale hydrogen-based steel production would cost 20 to 30 percent more than conventional steel-making processes. That increase comes mostly from the energy source and doesn’t take into account the costs of building new hydrogen facilities, a huge hurdle for manufacturers, according to the RMI analysis.  Steel, like most industries, follows the money. Norris’ goal is to use the steel industry’s collective buying power to shift market forces towards lower-carbon technologies for production. By driving demand for net-zero steel, the hope is to signal to the steel producers that they can invest in creating the supply.  22 Bishopsgate in London is another of Multiplex’s skyscrapers that was built with sustainability in mind.//Courtesy of Multiplex “It requires people to change the way we think,” said Diego Padilla Phillips, associate director of Structures at WSP UK. “For many years, our brains have been wired to focus on constructability or reducing cost programs. And to make that shift towards reducing carbon, it requires a conscious effort.”  Sustainability managers of the member organizations said they aren’t afraid to cut ties with steel manufacturers that don’t follow the trends to meet their 2050 targets. But it would be a huge loss, and members would rather help their suppliers and business partners along in the decarbonization journey.  “There’s not a lot of different subcontractors out there who do steelwork,” Davies said. “So considering that, we can’t just completely say we’re not going to work with you again. What we will probably do is make it more uncompetitive, so they will have to come along with us.”  SteelZero also will be a working group where competitors and companies up and down the supply chain can work together to innovate solutions and break down the obstacles to decarbonization, according to Norris. “It’s about scalability,” said Catherine Heil, head of sustainability at LendLease. “Acknowledging the fact that LendLease can’t do it on our own. We need to find commercially viable solutions and dig into some of the pain points around why the sector is still slowly, slowly transitioning.”  By working collectively, the group can create a roadmap to decarbonize because the steps to getting there are not clearly defined. But SteelZero has set up at least one. By 2030, each member needs 50 percent of its steel demand to come from steel producers that have committed to an approved science-based emissions reduction target, have a ResponsibleSteel Certification or have a low embodied carbon steel profile by recycling end-of-life scrap steel.  “This is critical to the future business resilience and the way we move forward,” Davies said. “If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years.”  Pull Quote If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years. Topics Emissions Reduction Advanced Materials Energy & Climate Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Skyscrapers such as Multiplex’s White Collar Factory in London are erected using thousands of tons of steel. //Courtesy of Mutliplex 

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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production

Predicting Environmental Trends for 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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For the past couple of years, Earth911 has made predictions … The post Predicting Environmental Trends for 2021 appeared first on Earth 911.

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4 alternative protein trends to watch in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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4 alternative protein trends to watch in 2021 Jesse Klein Mon, 01/04/2021 – 01:30 It is highly probable your children will be vegans eating a Christmas ham Dec. 25, 2050. Alternative proteins will be the norm very soon and we might look back at this decade as the time when real shift in diets occurred.  Don’t believe me? Here are a few stats. Venture capital invested $1.5 billion in alternative proteins in 2020. The plant-based meat market is predicted to grow from $3.6 billion in 2020 to $4.2 billion by 2021 . And by 2040, 60 percent of meat sales will be plant-based or cultured meat products.  Every movement has the trends that significantly shape its future and others that quickly die and are forgotten. Here are four trends for 2021 that are expected to last beyond the initial excitement.  1. Fermentation is king  Fermentation, using genetically engineered microbes to mass-produce plant-based proteins, is on the verge of dramatically altering our protein food system. The value of fermentation lies in the system’s simplicity, effectiveness and flexibility to be used across food categories. Perfect Day uses fermentation to make dairy-like products while startups such as Clara Foods are focusing on egg substitutes . And there is about to be even more competition. According to a Prepared Foods report , 44 new fermentation companies launched in late 2019 and early 2020, a 91 percent increase compared to 2018.  But it looks like there will be plenty of money to go around. Even as COVID-19 upended global markets, alternative protein companies focusing on fermentation raised $435 million in venture capital by July, 58 percent more than in 2019. High-profile investors such as Al Gore and Bill Gates got in on the 2020 action, leading an $80 million investing round for Nature’s Fynd in March. And in December, Nature’s Fynd added $45 million from Oxford Finance and Trinity Capital. The company uses microbes found in Yellowstone National Park’s famous geysers to grow a protein with all nine amino acids. As we move to 2021 and beyond, fermentation technology likely will become a pillar of the alternative protein supply chain.  2. A move to direct-to-consumer In early 2020, some premier alternative protein companies had restaurant-only strategies. Impossible Foods had chefs such as David Chang serving the burger at its trendy restaurants. Soon after, the focus expanded into fast-food chains. But when the pandemic shut down restaurants, it expedited a shift to grocery stores and even direct-to-consumer purchasing.  You can buy Impossible’s ground “beef” at 15,000 Safeways, Krogers, Trader Joe’s and many other grocery stores across the country. Beyond Meat, which was in grocery stores before Impossible, can be shipped directly to your door. Impossible Foods also created a shop section on its website, bypassing the grocery store middlemen completely.  Eclipse , a vegan ice cream company based in the Bay Area, shifted from partnerships with popular ice cream shops such as Salt & Straw to chef collaborations on limited-edition pints ice cream lovers can buy directly from Eclipse online. Next year, alternative protein companies will continue to take the pandemic’s lessons to heart by giving consumers the convenience of direct purchasing while the companies get to rake in dollars without the help of restaurants or grocers. Atlast and Meati are two companies using precise mushroom cultivation to produce whole cut substitutes that taste and act like the real heterogenous meat versions. Photo by  Ksenia Lada  on Shutterstock. 3. An opportunity in whole cuts  While the alternative protein industry has made huge strides in the areas of ground beef and processed products such as chicken nuggets or fish sticks, a huge section of the meat market that has yet to be successfully tapped into is whole cuts. In fact, according to a USDA agricultural marketing and economic report , about 80 percent of meat purchases are whole cuts such as chicken breasts, steaks and loins. In 2021, the alternative protein industry will need to focus on innovating in this very valuable part of the market. Some are already doing it and planning on coming to market with consumer products next year. Atlast and Meati use precise mushroom cultivation to produce whole cut substitutes that taste and act like the real heterogenous meat versions.  “The way we make bacon is the equivalent of making mushroom pork belly,” said Eben Bayer, CEO of Atlast. “We grow this blob of mushroom like a big piece of meat, and we run it right through a conventional pork slicer.” To create bacon that has different layers and doesn’t act like a standard mushroom, Atlast tightly controls and changes environmental factors such as airflow and temperature during the growing process to create mushroom sections that taste fattier and other sections that get crispy to create that true bacon experience. While the industry inches towards whole cuts in 2021, the companies that figure out how to make convincing plant versions of steaks, chicken breasts and hams at scale will have cracked the alternative protein market wide open. 4. A focus on non-allergenic substitutes  Many standard ingredients for alternative proteins are soy, oats, legumes and nuts. These are also some common allergens. One percent of the U.S. population is allergic to nuts. And estimates suggest up to 6 percent of the population has a gluten sensitivity, along with the many who have jumped on the trend of cutting out gluten without any intolerance. Legume allergies, such as peanuts and soy, are also frequent. In 2021, the industry will need to start creating products that cater to this demographic. Going vegan or vegetarian for people with allergens can be extremely difficult and limiting. Soy and gluten-free vegan options such as Sophie’s Kitchen seafood products or Atlantic Natural Foods’ Neat Meat will be important in making alternative proteins accessible to everyone.  Topics Food & Agriculture Alternative Protein Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The plant-based meat market is predicted to grow from $3.6 billion in 2020 to $4.2 billion by 2021 . Photo by Line Tscherning for  LikeMeat on Unsplash .

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5 sustainable packaging developments to watch in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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5 sustainable packaging developments to watch in 2021 Meg Wilcox Mon, 01/04/2021 – 01:15 For companies with sustainable packaging goals, 2025 is fast approaching. That’s the year when many have pledged to become zero waste, or to use 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging. But COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in those plans, with single-use packaging skyrocketing, low fossil fuel prices and disrupted recycling systems, already weakened by China’s 2018 plastics waste ban.  Yet, at the same time, the pandemic has led to a surge in environmental and sustainability awareness by showing how much carbon emissions can drop, or wildlife can flourish, when the world’s economic engine slows down.  As TerraCycle founder and CEO, Tom Szaky, put it, “The world is waking up, but the systems that are there that allow them to act are going the other way. There’s this divergence, which is a great opportunity for anyone who can bridge the gap.” Bridging that gap with novel solutions and collaborations, in a race against the clock, is one of five key themes to keep an eye on for sustainable packaging in 2021.  1. A year for reckoning — and opportunity In September, Waste Management published a report identifying gaps in the plastics recycling system, in response to shareholder pressure from As You Sow and Trillium Asset Management. The report provided a bit of a roadmap for 2021, according to Nina Goodrich, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and executive director of GreenBlue. It was critical for helping stakeholders understand the system, the supply chain, and the role that emerging tech will play, and it “provided the environment for everyone to buckle down and say, ‘Uh-oh, how are we going to do this?’” she said. That is, how will stakeholders meet their recycling goals? Noting, for example, that the report revealed that only 30 percent of PET is collected, and most of that goes into fiber, Goodrich queried, “How does one create a system where there’s 100 percent recycled content and recyclability when you have more than one market demanding that material?” Clearly, stakeholders will have to get out of their silos and collaborate across sectors.  Although it’s a challenging time, with companies’ 2025 sustainable packaging goals coming due and the recycling market in disarray, Szaky said he believes that 2021 will be an interesting year: “We’re going to see a lot of people leaning in on these topics in a way they haven’t before.”  For Loop, the reusable packaging platform that allows consumers to buy goods in durable packaging and return it to producers after use, that means opportunity. “It’s a pretty exciting time for us,” Szaky told GreenBiz. “We’re booming.”  2. Reuse models will continue to grow Loop is fast growing, raising $25 million last year. It’s moving into quick service restaurants including Burger King, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons in 2021. “The big theme for next year is retailers are starting to do in-store quite aggressively,” said Szaky. Carrefour already has begun in France. Many of the other 15 retailers that Loop works with are starting store rollouts in six countries in 2021, according to Szaky. Loop isn’t the only reusable packaging platform seeing strong growth. Algramo expanded into New York City last summer. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Algramo Close Authorship Plenty of new reuse pilots are springing up, such as Good Goods, a New York City startup that incentivizes customers to return their wine bottles to the point of sale, or the dozens of other projects summarized in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, ” Reuse — Rethinking Packaging .”  In fact, experimentation is the name of the game with reuse models, according to Kate Daly, managing director at Closed Loop Partners.  “We’re very much in an age of experimentation, and need to continually interrogate what are the unintended consequences when you switch from one system to another,” said Daly. “We really want to make sure that sustainable choices like reusable packaging aren’t just limited for people who can pay extra for their goods.” Also key is ensuring that reusables get the longest life and largest recapture rate, and that they’re recyclable and recoverable at the end of their life. To foster learning about what works and doesn’t work, Closed Loop Partners will release a report this month on its 2020 pilot initiative with Cup Club, a NextGen Cup Challenge awardee, and its experience marketing reusable cups across multiple cafes in the Bay Area.   3. Compostable packaging finds a niche with food waste Biopolymers and compostable materials are quickly becoming an alternative to disposable packaging, but there’s a confusing array of materials being developed. Some bio-based materials such as bio-PET are derived from biological materials, but are not biodegradable. Meanwhile, other bio-based materials such as PLA, (polylactic acid), a natural polymer made from corn starch or sugar cane, is biodegradable, although not in the way a consumer might assume it to be.  To help brands and others understand the fast-evolving landscape of bio-based materials, Closed Loop Partner’s released ” Navigating Plastic Alternatives in a Circular Economy .” We’re very much in an age of experimentation, and need to continually interrogate what are the unintended consequences when you switch from one system to another. Among its conclusions, the report finds that compostable alternatives are not a silver-bullet solution, in part because there is not enough recovery infrastructure to recapture their full value efficiently. Plus, among the 185 commercial composting facilities that exist, many don’t accept compostable-certified packaging.  “We have to rethink where composting is appropriate and where it isn’t. It is a really good solution where you have food waste,” Goodrich said. Daly agrees: “What we wouldn’t want to see is any format that is being successfully recycled being converted to a compostable format when there isn’t the infrastructure possible. That would create a misalignment between the material and infrastructure that would exacerbate the challenges already in place today.” 4. Extended producer responsibility takes off Last month, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) and Product Stewardship Association (PSI) released a joint statement calling for extended producer responsibility at the end of life for flexible packaging and paper. The statement lays out eight policy elements that could go into legislation, including a mechanism for producer funding for collection, transportation and processing of packaging, among other critical funding needs for municipal recycling facilities.  “With this agreement, FPA member companies and PSI member governments, companies, and organizations have started down a path together to provide desperately needed fiscal relief for municipalities while fixing and expanding our national reuse and recycling system,” said Scott Cassel, PSI’s chief executive officer and founder, in a press release.   Goodrich called it “groundbreaking.”  Remarkably, FPA wasn’t the only industry association to step up on extended producer responsibility. The Recycling Partnership released ” Accelerating Recycling ,” a policy proposal outlining fees that brands and packaging producers would pay that would help fund residential recycling infrastructure and education. A proposed per-ton disposal fee could be required at landfills, incinerators and waste-to-energy plants, with the revenue going to local governments for recycling programs. The American Chemistry Council also came out with a position paper supporting packaging fees across multiple material types, in addition to disposal fees to equalize the costs of disposal versus recycling. “Two years ago, you couldn’t even mention this, and now you have a series of industry proposals being put on the table. That is incredibly significant,” said Goodrich.  5. Rising action to eliminate toxics from food packaging Amazon was the latest among more than half a dozen major food retailers — from Whole Foods to Trader Joe’s to Ahold Delhaize — to announce a ban on certain toxic chemicals and plastics in food packaging materials. The new restrictions apply to Amazon Kitchen brand products sold through the tech giant’s various grocery services, but not to other private-label or Amazon brand-name food contact materials, such as single-use plates.  Still, it’s a good start. And Amazon’s actions “send a strong signal to competing grocery store chains that they need to get their act together, and also tackle some of the same chemicals of concern that scientists are sounding the alarm on,” Mike Schade, campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, Mind the Store, told GreenBiz. We really see a sense of urgency around these issues, as plastic production continues, as more and more materials are lost to landfill that we’re not able to recapture as a valuable resource. Schade has seen rising attention over the past few years on the part of both food retailers and fast casual restaurants, such as Sweet Green, towards not only banning specific chemicals, but also restricting classes of chemicals.  Getting toxics out of packaging, in flexible films in particular, was also on the agenda at a 2020 RCD Packaging Innovation workshop that brought together 80 representatives from consumer brands, waste managers and the plastics industry over a nine-month period. Such attention on toxics is critical, as a comprehensive report on the health impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in packaging and other plastics materials underscored last month. Bisphenol A, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and dioxins are among the chemicals that disturb the body’s hormone systems, and can cause cancer, diabetes and reproductive disorders, and harm children’s developing brains. Expect more food retailers and fast casual restaurants to ban or restrict endocrine-disrupting chemicals from their packaging. But, as Schade point out, those chemicals are just the “tip of the toxic iceberg.” Much more work is needed to get to the larger universe of chemicals.  More work is needed all around in 2021 to advance a circular economy. “We really see a sense of urgency around these issues, as plastic production continues, as more and more materials are lost to landfill that we’re not able to recapture as a valuable resource,” said Daly. “And the approaches must be collaborative and systemic. None of us can do this alone.”  Pull Quote We’re very much in an age of experimentation, and need to continually interrogate what are the unintended consequences when you switch from one system to another. We really see a sense of urgency around these issues, as plastic production continues, as more and more materials are lost to landfill that we’re not able to recapture as a valuable resource. Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Circular Packaging Packaging Plastic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Rawpixel.com Close Authorship

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5 sustainable packaging developments to watch in 2021

4 tips for changing consumer behavior

November 23, 2020 by  
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4 tips for changing consumer behavior Lauren Phipps Mon, 11/23/2020 – 01:00 When I cover solutions to the plastic waste crisis, I typically focus on infrastructure development and bringing recycling systems to scale, standardizing materials, inventing new ones and designing out unnecessary single-use items, and rethinking business models and supply chains. But once these structures are in place, they only work if consumers embrace new models and ensure that materials move through the system as planned. Otherwise, the entire system breaks down. And if you thought it was hard getting your colleagues to recycle rigid plastic or compost paper towels, or to stop wishcycling — that whatever they throw into the bin will, in fact, be recycled — think about the complexity of changing consumer behavior across a city, country or beyond.  During a recent webcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Natalie Hallinger, a behavioral scientist and behavior change adviser working to translate research on human motivation into real-world behavior change strategies.  Here are four tips Hallinger recommends for designing large-scale interventions:  Make it relatable: “People often think they need to force people to do something they don’t want to do,” Hallinger shared. But brute force is rarely the path of least resistance. “The easier route is to find a way to relate to them. What’s an intersection of a goal they already want that aligns with your goal?” For example, if your generic environmental appeal to an individual doesn’t resonate, perhaps an individual will relate more with a personal desire to visit a clean beach in the summer.  Make it desirable: Culture and social norms are strong drivers of consumer behavior. “The most desirable thing for humans is to fit in,” Hallinger explained. “If you design interventions that create community norms of waste reduction behavior, reusing and repairing, then everyone wants to be doing the same thing. You don’t want to stand out. You do it because of your desire to be part of the community.” Make it contextual: Behavior change interventions must be relevant and salient. Hallinger explained that if you’re engaging employees in a work context about actions they can take at home, it likely will go in one ear and out the other. Focus on actions that people can implement immediately.  Make it easy : The “right” choice from a sustainability perspective should also be the easy choice. “If you create the infrastructure and design built environments that make the behavior you want the default, then you have behavior without even needing to persuade the person.” To eliminate the guesswork that consumers face at the bin, Hallinger suggested that single-stream recycling with back-of-house sorting would design out confusion and contamination and lead to higher recycling rates in certain contexts.  I invite you to listen to the entire webcast here , which includes additional insights on behavior change from Jacob Duer, president and CEO of Alliance to End Plastic Waste; Jeff Kirschner, founder and CEO of Litterati; and John Warner, distinguished research fellow at Zymergen.  Topics Circular Economy Consumer Trends Featured Column In the Loop 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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4 tips for changing consumer behavior

Unilever sets $1.2B sales target for meat and dairy alternatives

November 23, 2020 by  
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Unilever sets $1.2B sales target for meat and dairy alternatives Cecilia Keating Mon, 11/23/2020 – 00:30 Unilever has announced plans to dramatically increase sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives over the next seven years as part of a new sustainability program designed to shrink the environmental footprint of its food brands. The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant said last week that it plans to sell more than $1.2 billion worth of plant-based foods and dairy alternatives within the next five to seven years, largely by boosting sales from its The Vegetarian Butcher brand and increasing the number of vegan alternatives across its extensive portfolio. Unilever acquired plant-based meat company The Vegetarian Butcher in late 2018 and since has expanded the brand into more than 30 countries and secured a major supply deal for the firm’s vegan patties and nuggets with Burger King. In the same time frame, it has launched a number of vegan products for its most high profile brands, including Hellman’s, Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s. “As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system,” said Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever’s food and refreshment division. “It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. These are bold, stretching targets which demonstrate our commitment to being a force for good.” The plant-based meat market is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years to meet burgeoning consumer demand for sustainable food products, with one analysis from Barclays predicting the market will grow by more than 1,000 percent over the next 10 years to reach $140 billion by 2029. It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. Unilever also announced plans to bring forward its goal of halving food waste from its global operations by five years to 2025, a move commended by Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director of food loss and waste at the World Resources Institute. “Food loss and waste have massive impacts in terms of cost to the global economy, the environment and society,” she said. “We know that food loss and waste contributes about 8 percent of global greenhouse emissions as well as wasting the land and water used in production of food. We need as many companies as possible to step up and prioritize the issue of food loss and waste and take action to reduce it.” In addition, Unilever committed to lowering calorie, sugar and salt levels across all its products and doubling the number of products that deliver “positive nutrition” globally by 2025, which it defines as products containing “impactful” amounts of vegetables, fruits, proteins or micronutrients such as vitamins and iron. Jessica Fanzo, associate professor of global food and agriculture at John Hopkins University, commended Unilever for its commitment, which she said would encourage people to embrace more sustainable diets. “The average person’s daily diet will need to change drastically during the next three decades to make sure everyone is fed without depleting the planet,” she said. “By improving food production and food environments, transforming eating habits, and reducing food waste, we can begin to solve these problems.” Pull Quote It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. Topics Food Systems Alternative Protein Plant-Protein BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Jaap Korteweg is a ninth generation farmer and founding father of The Vegetarian Butcher.  Courtesy of The Vegetarian Butcher Close Authorship

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Unilever sets $1.2B sales target for meat and dairy alternatives

The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen

September 22, 2020 by  
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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen Suzanne Shelton Tue, 09/22/2020 – 01:00 I hope you’ve downloaded our latest free report, “Engaging Middle America in Recycling Solutions.” . We conducted that research because we were curious about whether Americans were aware of what was happening with our recycling system — that most Asian countries no longer will take our plastics off our hands, many municipal curbside programs are shutting down and many plastics we’re all putting in our recycling bins are being landfilled — and, if they were aware, what was the impact on their recycling behaviors? We also wanted to understand what could keep them engaged once they understood that they need to do things better or differently to ensure everything they chuck in the bin actually gets recycled. That led us to ask the following questions: How often do you look for an item’s recycling label before discarding it? Some companies have started including new labeling on their packaging showing which parts of the package are recyclable (see sample image). Have you noticed any new recycling labeling on the packaging of things you buy? We made a high-level, perhaps seemingly cavalier recommendation in the report (and in my GreenBiz article about it ) that most Americans haven’t noticed the How2Recycle label — a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public — or find it too hard to read and that we need a massive campaign to teach people to look before they toss. It’s worth unpacking this because there’s a key insight for brands. First off, only 22 percent of Americans say they always look for an item’s recycling label before discarding the item — so one in five people. Of those, 66 percent have noticed the new label, the How2Recycle label pictured above. One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly. For the folks who have noticed — the 66 percent of the 22 percent — the vast majority (86 percent) find the label helpful and feel that the label makes it easier to know which parts of a package are actually recyclable. Two-thirds of this group of “Always Recyclers” who’ve noticed the How2Recycle label say they feel frustrated that parts of the package aren’t recyclable. (If you read the free report , this makes sense — we all really want to believe in the guilt-absolving promise of recycling.) Half of this group say the label is too small to read, and 63 percent say if they weren’t already aware of the label, they wouldn’t know to look for it. Bottom line: One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly, and the How2Recycle label makes it easier for them to do it right. Thus, they think that brands should be promoting the label, making it easier to see on packaging, AND that companies need to make more parts of their packaging actually recyclable. If you represent a consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brand, you have a vested interest in encouraging better recycling behaviors. As we note in our report, people want the recycling system to work (76 percent of us say recycling makes us feel better about our purchases). They feel like it’s a promise that’s been made to them by CPG companies: “You don’t have to feel guilty about all the buying of stuff you do … just recycle it when you’re done, and it will become something else for somebody else! It’s the circle of life! You’re doing your part!” Once that promise begins to fall apart, most Americans won’t blame themselves — they’ll blame the companies who made the promise. So, let’s make it work. Let’s create a massive campaign encouraging people to look for the How2Recycle label so that recyclable items actually get in the recycling bin and non-recyclable items go in the trash. Brands, use that label as an internal pressure point to design packaging that’s actually recyclable. It’ll be great for your brand. Who’s with me? Pull Quote One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly. Topics Marketing & Communication Consumer Trends Recycling Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen

It’s urgent to reshape our economy towards justice and sustainability

June 15, 2020 by  
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It’s urgent to reshape our economy towards justice and sustainability Diane Osgood Mon, 06/15/2020 – 00:30 Right now, talking about shopping can seem trite. Yet, to address systemic racism, we need a more just economy. An economy slanted towards white ownership plus discriminatory labor practices perpetuate systemic racism. As discussed in earlier columns ( here and here ), consumer demand drives 70 percent of the economy. Consumers and citizens have significant influence over the shape of the economy because we — in aggregate — ultimately control almost 70 percent of it. As sustainability professionals, we need to ensure our companies do more than take a stand against racism and unfair labor practices. We must urgently guide the economy now because: In the face of worldwide protests against systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic, many people became more conscious of what they value. How do we draw clear links between the action of shopping and what we value? So much about shopping is reflexive yet shopping and consumption patterns have been deeply altered during the pandemic. People everywhere have had to learn new behaviors. In this moment, can we introduce new behaviors to support a more just and sustainable economy? What can we do to reinforce changes and create lasting habits? Governments are making huge capital investments in their economies. Those trillions of dollars will not be readily available again for at least the next 10 years. Thus, this capital injection will define the shape of the economy for the next decade. Climate scientists say these are the exact 10 years that we have to reduce greenhouse gases. The climate horizon and COVID horizon are merging. We can’t wait 10 years to advance economic change on both fronts. If we want a more just economic system, we have two levers, voting and shopping: Vote for local, state and national leaders and policies that support minority-owned businesses and require fair and safe labor standards. Shop at minority-owned businesses and buy products from companies with a verified track record of fair and safe labor standards, just hiring practices and diverse leadership. Today we have a unique opportunity to reimagine and reshape the 70 percent of the economy that is consumer-driven. By doing so, we can shift the economy towards justice and environmental sustainability. As sustainability professionals, we need to ensure our companies do more than take a stand against racism and unfair labor practices. We need to help our companies operationalize true equality and fair labor practices throughout all its activities from board and executive representation down to supply-chain partners. Then we can guide consumers and help drive the changes our economy needs. Join me in the conversation, in the comments below or at diane@osgood.com . Pull Quote As sustainability professionals, we need to ensure our companies do more than take a stand against racism and unfair labor practices. Topics Consumer Trends Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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It’s urgent to reshape our economy towards justice and sustainability

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