Strategic Sustainability Consulting

Strategic Sustainability Consulting

TED Talk Angel Hsu: How China is (and isn’t) fighting pollution and climate change

The SSC Team November 15, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
maxim-maximov-378135.jpg

Spend 12 minutes with data scientist, Angel Hsu, and learn about how China, the most populous country on earth (and the world's biggest polluter) is now one of its largest producers of clean energy. Which way will China go in the future and how will it affect the global environment? Hsu explores the ways that China is creating a future based on alternative energy while also facing up to the environmental catastrophe it created when it rapidly industrialized.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Welcome to the New Normal – Sustainability as a Requirement

The SSC Team November 13, 2018 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
zany-jadraque-374785.jpg

Enjoy this post from the SSC Archives.

It may not be the case that sustainability programs are standardized (yet), that exact reporting methodologies are enforced across industries (yet), or even that sustainability governance issues are broadly written into law (yet), but scrutiny of company performance along sustainability measures continues to increase.

As sustainability frameworks, by organizations such as the Global Reporting Initiative, Sustainability Account Standards Board, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, CDP, and others, are solidified into the formal ways that companies are evaluated by consumers, investors, regulators, and policymakers, it becomes easier those stakeholders to compare organizations across sectors and evaluate past performance. 

It won’t be long before stakeholders take the natural next step: demanding a formal commitment to future performance.

In other words, as the language and performance metrics of sustainability become as familiar as those of the stock market, the demands that stakeholders make will become more specific.

And the impact of not meeting those demands may be as stark as the impact for not meeting other demands – like quarterly earnings or product safety.

Full, authentic integration of sustainability policy into the strategic leadership plan of any organization is today’s new normal.

Right now, every company should be realigning sustainability programs, ensuring sustainability is positioned squarely in the corporate strategic vision. Soon, a formal sustainability structure will be as important as the accounting department.

Is sustainability still a footnote in your organization’s operations? Don’t worry, there’s still time. Contact us about planning a sustainability assessment for your organization to help launch a meaningful corporate reporting and performance program.

GreenBiz19

The SSC Team November 8, 2018 Tags: , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
matt-howard-186811.jpg

It may be getting chilly, but all the more reason to make plans to head to sunny Phoenix from February 26–28 for GreenBiz19. Join more than 1,000 of the world’s brightest thinkers and most influential sustainability leaders for the chance to examine pressing challenges, emerging trends and the biggest opportunities in sustainable business today. As a regular attendee put it, “GreenBiz is such a great platform for sustainability. Our team attends every year, because it’s a fantastic source of inspiration and an opportunity for problem solving.” Who can say no to that? The “best” rate is good until November 14 and the “fall” rate expires December 14. Don’t wait too long to make your plans!

https://www.greenbiz.com/events/greenbiz-forum/phoenix/2019

Time to Do More Than Talk

The SSC Team November 6, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
nathan-anderson-194212.jpg

Have you encountered a CEO or employee who totally believes in the value of sustainable efforts, but also thinks it’s basically someone else’s problem? Unfortunately you aren’t alone. A recent feature in the Harvard Business Review noted that while many organizations these days are happy to talk about sustainable changes, they aren’t really committed to implementing those efforts.

 

Example? While carbon emissions continue to grow, only 1/3 of the 600 largest US Companies have taken steps to put systematic sustainability oversight in place at the board level. So how can we motivate companies to take that next step and actually walk the walk when it comes to making sustainable changes?

 

After interviewing more than 100 people ranging from CEOs to shop floor workers, CB Bhattacharya found that most companies fail to help the members of their team — at all levels — take ownership over these changes. In order to successfully implement sustainable solutions everyone has to believe that this is OUR problem, not someone else’s. So Bhattacharya developed a 3-step model that will help companies move away from just talking and into action.

 

Incubate

In this first phase requires examining your company’s goals and determining how your business impacts the world. In this step, businesses often gain perspective on ways they could make sustainable changes through action, but typically need further help to move their plan into place.

 

Launch

During phase two, the sustainability plan must be presented to stakeholders which helps set the element of ownership into motion. You need to determine what will be the strongest selling point for your team to get committed — focusing on financial benefits or the positive feelings of making a difference. Most likely you will need a bit of both to encourage the feeling that these efforts are for the long-term betterment of your company and the community.

 

Helping members of the team see that their efforts have a real impact can make a huge difference to their willingness to commit to changes.


Entrench

Once people have really gotten on board with the plan and sustainable changes are in place, they will (hopefully) become routine. Making sure to measure the impact of your changes so you can report back will make it clear to everyone what a difference is being made. Being able to really see the changes — say water use reduction — can be highly motivating, instilling pride in the good work and inspiring people to want to do more.

 

 

In Leveraging Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Route to Maximizing Business and Social Value, Bhattacharya and fellow authors Sankar Sen and Daniel Korschun note that the social and environmental responsibility movement doesn’t seem to show any signs of fading away.  As more and more companies commit to making real changes, there are also indirect effects of the efforts — employee retention, customer loyalty, and investor reaction and support.

 

If you can get your team to go all in with you, we know the benefits will be worth the effort.

Sustainability Consulting Round-Up: Best of Our Blog from October 2018

The SSC Team November 1, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
diana-mannik-125201.jpg

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 October.

 

Anyone can become a trash talker and help reduce waste. Are you next?

 

How to Earn Respect as a Sustainability Leader

 

What's Next for the Recycling Industry

 

 

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.

The Science of Setting Credible Courageous Sustainability Goals

The SSC Team October 30, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
ravi-pinisetti-228877.jpg

Looking for some inspiration that will help you set bold sustainability goals? Check out this webinar on Greenbiz.com. It focuses on how going big when it comes to sustainability goals can be a smart business strategy as well as good stewardship. The panel is composed of sustainability professionals from big businesses  — General Mills, Kering, McDonald’s and Quantis — and discusses topics like science-driven goal setting, the Science-Based Targets initiative, planetary boundaries, Sustainable Development Goals and more. The talk also provides concrete business cases from diverse organizations so you can see how they're working through this transition.

https://www.greenbiz.com/webcast/science-setting-credible-courageous-sustainability-goals

Find Sustainability Mentors to Help Guide You

The SSC Team October 25, 2018 Tags: , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
yuriy-garnaev-378691.jpg

Enjoy this post from the SSC Archives.

Everyone talks about mentoring, some with an eye roll and some with awed reverence of that one person who changed me forever. If you’re a sustainability consultant, you should be looking for mentors in places you may not have thought to look.

The obvious places we look for sustainability mentors: other consultants, professors, sustainability leaders.

But running a consultancy is more about sustainability, it’s about business skills. And, therefore, looking for mentors across the spectrum to help you build the support skills to run a business is crucial. And, even more interesting, you don’t even have to know your mentor to learn from her.

Look to people outside of sustainability and use best-practice from other fields to improve your own business as a sustainability consultant.

You’ll need much more than sustainability knowledge for your consultancy to succeed as a viable, profitable business. You’ll need to know how to sell, manage employees, manage clients, work with media, and keep up-to-date on everything from small-business taxes to major moves in sustainability reporting and policy.

It’s a big job, and you’re going to need all the help you can get!

Do you have a great “virtual mentor”? Tell us who it is in the comments.

ED Talk Arthur Potts-Dawson: A Vision for Sustainable Restaurants

The SSC Team October 18, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
jewad-alnabi-351610.jpg

Everyone loves a good TED Talk! Here’s one of our favorites:

If you have ever been into a restaurant kitchen, you've likely seen how much food, water and energy are wasted on a daily basis. In his talk, Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson shared his vision to drastically reduce restaurant and supermarket waste. His plan involves creating recycling, composting, and sustainable stations that will benefit the environment and allow for the creation of great food!

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

What’s Next for the Recycling Industry?

The SSC Team October 16, 2018 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
nixon-osckar-366678.jpg

The recycling industry has changed significantly since China banned the import of U.S. plastics, mixed paper, and other materials in 2017. So what happens as the demand for recyclables declines and policy continues to fluctuate? It’s time to examine the trends in the recycling industry in response to recent changes.

 

If you think the change isn’t significant, take the San Diego recycling program as an example. In 2016, it brought in $4 million in revenue. Fast forward a year, and it is expected to cost over $1 million dollars! This is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Sure, the recycling crisis is part and parcel of the recent trade disputes between the U.S. and China, but there is more to the story. According to Environmental Leader, “Even before the Chinese government’s announcement in August, bales of paper and plastic started piling up in the United States due to China’s environmental restrictions on imports.”

 

Essentially, recycled materials coming out of the United States are simply too dirty.

 

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece discussing how we can navigate the recycling crisis. David Bornstein interviewed Recycle Across America founder, Mitch Hedlund, to see what he believes is next.

 

According to Hedlund, “The crisis stems from people throwing garbage in recycling bins, which contaminates the recyclables,” a problem that China has been warning the U.S. for over 10 years.

 

The root cause is related to how recycling has been presented to the public. According to Hedlund, instructions on bins are confusing making people skeptical and, eventually, apathetic. Without clear, consistent labeling, millions of tons of garbage are thrown into recycling bins.

 

What can be done? Having a standardized system for labeling recycling bins can almost completely eliminate the problem, according to Hedlund. But there are competing interests that get in the way.

 

The primary barrier is that many of the most dominant recycling companies are owned by landfills. When recycling doesn’t work out, landfills reap the benefits of receiving the contaminated recyclables.

 

Of course, this advice from Hedlund really focuses on the larger problem. What can individuals do? Hedlund’s message is a clear one that is not new: “Reduce, reuse and Keep recycling!” Just be sure you know your local guidelines.

 

There has also been an increased focus on decreasing contamination as it was a primary factor in creating the current crisis. But how has the industry adapted to an ever-changing landscape?

 

There are numerous companies capitalizing on the recycling crisis. With many major brands focusing on 100 percent recycling and reusing in the next several decades, companies like Ecologic are beginning to find a niche.  

 

Ecologic is “a sustainable packaging company that creates bottles for the personal care, cleaning and food industries.” President and founder, Julie Corbett acknowledged it was challenging to create the product, but it has a “much lighter environmental impact” when compared to others.

 

We can take heart that not everyone has had to drastically adapt. Take Stanford University, an institution that for several decades has been leading the sustainability movement. “In 2017, only 8,190 tons of waste went to landfills (a 62 percent diversion rate), down from 14,000 tons in 1998.” Stanford is striving for zero waste by 2030.

 

While the recycling crisis is certainly less than ideal, it has created a renaissance when it comes to awareness. We can all acknowledge that, while many of us in the sustainability world have been doing our part, this is a wakeup call.

 

It is clear that recycling is in a state of flux, but with committed people like Hedlund and innovative companies like Ecologic, we can continue to be optimistic about fighting for sustainability.

Is Climate Change Human Made? (Vostock research)

The SSC Team October 11, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
oscar-soderlund-373345.jpg

Through easy to understand illustrations, Alexandre Magnin explains why global atmospheric temperature increases are due to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane (aka human made). He based this on the Vostok ice core research, published in 1999, as well as more recent research published by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that was published in 2013. Check it out!

https://sustainabilityillustrated.com/en/portfolio/is-climate-change-human-made-vostok-ice-core/