It’s clear that companies need to respond the increased pressure to reduce waste in a world that is rapidly running out of resources. At Circularity 19, more than 500 leaders and practitioners will meet to discuss, define and increase the impact of the circular economy. There will be six tracks at the conference: Business Strategy & Innovation, Circular Cities, Design & Materials, Logistics & Infrastructure, Next-Gen Packaging and Standards & Metrics. Registration is open!
For more than 20 years sustainable resource management leader ENGIE Insight has watched as businesses of every size and across every industry have been facing increasing pressure from customers, employees, shareholders, and governmental entities to develop sustainable practices. As businesses evolve in their efforts, they are also developing plans that incorporate sustainability and resource management into their operations. In order to track their efforts, sustainable resource management programs are being implemented more often and are becoming more complex.
ENGIE Insight believes the process has been driven by three forces impacting companies around the globe: digitization, decarbonization, and decentralization.
In an effort to explore how businesses see these global forces influencing the creation, expansion, and complexity of their sustainable resource management plans as well as their greatest opportunity for growth and their biggest challenges ENGIE Insight partnered with Zpryme, a market-research firm, to survey 250 representatives from commercial and industrial businesses and get their perspective. You can check out their findings in From Data to Action: Bridging the Gap on the Three Best Practices for Sustainable Resource Management.
Feel like you don’t totally understand our ecological footprint and how we fit in on the planet? It seems so complex, but Alexandre Magnin explains it wonderfully in this six-minute cartoon. Check it out and see how we can work to reduce our footprint!
It’s not a new concept, but it does seem to be a growing one — the general public’s desires for greener offerings are driving more businesses to use product certification. While branding has long played a big role in decision making when it comes to making a purchase, the rise of “purpose-driven” brands is heartening.
Whether it’s groceries, coffee, clothing or home products, there is a growing awareness among consumers that making more ethical choices when spending money can actually make an impact.
Although we’ve discussed the concept of consumer desires driving the ambitions of a business to “go green” for their clientele in the past, there has been tremendous growth in this area since 2013.
Iaian Patton recently pointed out that during this is a time of intensified feelings about the environmental challenges and climate change issues we are facing as a society it’s clear that consumers are differentiating brands by their authenticity, values and sustainability credentials at an unprecedented rate.
In fact, this rise in mindful buying shows that when it comes to the world of sustainability, customers can be a part of the solution and not just the problem. Recent research by Deloitte showed that nearly 90 percent of millennials believe that a company’s success should be measured not only by it’s financial performance but also by its social and environmental impact.
And to help demonstrate to consumers that a product is working toward being sustainable, many businesses are pursuing more rigorous, industry-recognized certifications, which serve as a tool for those in the same industry to work toward unified standards.
There is simply no doubt that companies have the opportunity to change and influence consumption habits. And this is where corporate responsibility really comes into play.
Patton notes that from a long-term perspective, certification can help ensure the future viability of farming and agriculture, which likely will confront increasing pressures from climate change and socio-economic factors. By applying best practices related to environmental management, worker health and safety, and farm productivity, certified farms are preparing to be able to deliver high-quality, sustainable produce in the future.
Whether it’s in agriculture or another industry, it is never too late to implement your brand’s purpose driven ethics into the marketing strategy.
For many consumers these days, sustainability is basically the same thing as quality. So push your company to make long-term decisions, and we bet your consumers are going to be more apt to buy in.
A new year is around the corner, and it’s important to make the time to take stock of sustainable efforts that are working, as well as those that can be improved. Without much effort, it is clear that we need to continue making global changes to reduce the world’s plastic obsession and subsequent clogging up of our streams, lakes, and oceans with the unrecycled waste.
According to Euromonitor, in 2016 about 480 billion drinks in plastic containers were sold but fewer than half of the containers were collected for recycling. Where did more than 240 billion bottles end up? In landfills, being burned for energy, and being dropped when the user was done with them – ending up making their way to the watershed.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, of all the plastic made in the U.S. in 2015, less than 10% made it to a recycling center.
Clearly we need solutions.
While the idea of embracing an alternate substance for single serving use items can be appealing, it can also be cost prohibitive. We need a multi-faceted approach to disposable plastic waste reduction that might include:
· Reducing single use plastic consumption as much as possible. Think straws, bags and to-go food containers – they gotta go. Paper, reusable container incentives, and simply figuring out a new way to tote things around can’t be that hard, albeit inconvenient at times.
· Incentive Reverse Vending. Like a traditional bottle deposit, people return plastic bottles into a machine in exchange for things like cash refunds, donations to charity, discounted tickets for movies, paid phone cards, etc.
· Plastic as Currency. Another interesting approach is The Plastic Bank. The Plastic Bank’s founder, David Katz said, “We have built out the largest chain of stores in the world for the ultra-poor, where everything in the store is available to be purchased using plastic garbage. Most proudly, we offer school tuition, medical insurance, Wi-Fi, power, sustainable cooking fuel, high-efficiency stoves and everything else the world needs and can't afford.” While most efforts are focused on getting plastic out of the ocean, Katz hopes that The Plastic Bank will encourage people to keep their plastic waste from going in the ocean in the first place. How does it work? People go door-to-door or through the streets collecting plastic, which they then bring to a Bank locations, where it's weighed and checked for quality, then the value of the plastic is transferred into a personal online account. Plastic becomes money. No one wants to throw money away.
What other innovative plastic reuse and recycling ideas have floated across your Twitter feed? Share them in the comments!
We try to post a new blog at least once a week, just to share our insights into the world of sustainability strategy and what it takes to be a sustainability consultant or professional today. Here are our most-read posts from December.
If you like an article, please consider sharing it online via your favorite social media platform. Helping us grow our audience is the #1 way you can show your support for the work that we do.
Sometimes less is more, so we offer this brief video with a focus on explaining sustainability using simple natural science. Do you need a new way to make sustainability make sense to your clients? Try showing them this video by Alexandre Magnin, which also discusses the four root causes of unsustainability.
In our growing global economy, there are so many risks to be considered when a company establishes their supply chain. From forced labor to human trafficking it is vital that those in the sustainability industry make every effort to address these atrocities if they arise.
On January 1, 2012, California enacted the Transparency in Supply Chain Act, requiring retailers and manufacturers with annual sales of $100 million or more conducting business in California to disclose their efforts to eliminate human trafficking and slavery from their supply chain. Ensuring disclosure of "to what extent if any" a company engages in the five following activities: verification, auditing, certification, internal accountability, and training are required.
In October, the US House of Representatives introduced H.R. 7089: Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2018, in an effort to amend the Securities Act of 1924. This resolution, like the Transparency Act, would require certain companies to disclose information describing any measures they have taken to identify and address conditions of forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and child labor within the company’s supply chains. In 2014, the Department of Labor identified 136 goods from 74 countries around the world made by forced labor and child labor. That information, and the current challenges of prosecuting the perpetrators of such crimes, are the driving force behind this legislation which states “the United States is the world’s largest importer, and in the 21st century, investors, consumers, and broader civil society increasingly demand information about the human rights impact of products in the United States market.”
With the impact that that this bill could have on business around the country in mind, we wanted to look back at the way the Transparency Act impacted midsize clothing retailer Eileen Fisher when it went into effect. The business was already committed to sustainability so they weren’t starting from scratch, but they aren’t a business empire like Adidas or Nike so their resources for these efforts were limited.
Shortly after the act was in place, the company’s Human Rights Associate Luna Lee spoke about what actions the business had taken to comply with the new law. What the team at Eileen Fisher did in order to implement efforts to meet the requirements of the Transparency Act will likely be applicable and beneficial to companies that would be impacted by HR 7089.
A key takeaway is that you might know all about your company’s sustainability obligations, but your suppliers may not. It’s vital that you take the time to educate them. And while you're at it, ask how they can help you. They may have great ideas, but believe you don’t really care. Let them know that you do!
Everyone loves a good TED Talk! Here’s one of our favorites:
Got 12 minutes? Of course you do! Spend it with sustainability expert Johan Rockström as he explains the path for building a robust future without wrecking the planet. In his talk, he debuts the Earth3 model — a methodology bringing together the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth's vital systems could become unstable. Rockström examines five transformational policies that may provide inclusive and prosperous world development, while assisting the earth in a move toward being more stable and resilient.
Enjoy this post from the SSC Archives.
This video from Harvard Business Review introduces a methodology for helping you choose the best decision-support tool for your specific business situation. While the tool is not sustainability-focused, we found it fascinating to think about how to use a decision-tree model like the one presented for thinking about high-stakes decisions like:
Accounting for climate change impacts on capital investments.
Introducing new "green" products into the marketplace.
Rolling out a new telecommuting program.
Planning new freight routes for global distribution.
Watch this 6-minute video and let us know if you think this tool helps identify better ways to make high-stakes sustainability decisions? Leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter!