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TED Talk Chad Frischmann | 100 Solutions to Reverse Global Warming

The SSC Team January 24, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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Everyone loves a good TED Talk! Here’s one of our favorites:

Chad Frischmann believes that if we can take more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than we put in is our only hope of averting climate disaster. In this TED Talk he explores current solutions for climate change including the traditional concepts like using renewable energy as well as some lesser-known approaches, such as changes to food production methods, better family planning and improvements to the education of girls. Take a listen and learn more about ways we can work to reverse global warming and create a better world.

Circularity 19

The SSC Team January 17, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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!

https://www.greenbiz.com/events/circularity/minneapolis/2019

C&I Report: From Data to Action: Bridging the Gap on Three Best Practices for Sustainable Resource Management

The SSC Team January 15, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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.

https://www.greenbiz.com/whitepaper/ci-report-data-action

Ecological Footprint

The SSC Team January 10, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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!

Purpose Driven Companies Gain Consumers’ Hearts and Minds

The SSC Team January 8, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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.

Exploring Innovative Solutions to Plastic Recycling

The SSC Team January 3, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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!

Don’t Insult Employees With Sustainability “Nudges”

The SSC Team November 22, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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 Enjoy this post from the SSC Archives.

Just a few years ago, everyone seemed to have a signature block pleading for the trees – “Don’t print this e-mail for our planet” or “Think before printing this email.”

And then those tree-loving messages mostly disappeared.

Marketing and behavioral research may be indicating that “nudge” marketing, or deliberately manipulating choices to change behavior, may backfire.

Nudges can be condescending If your employees need to print a report, then they need to print the report. Using an email signature line to signal to one another that individuals aren’t capable or committed enough to make green choices without constant reminders can come off as condescending and put employees on the defensive about sustainability communications.

Even when nudges “work,” they may not achieve the ultimate goal To print or not to print, that isn’t the question. When the formerly ubiquitous email signature became popular, maybe companies did see a decrease in paper use for a time. But did the nudge truly make a difference over the long term? Was there a paper use policy in place to create lasting institutional behavioral change? Were employees motivated and engaged enough to carry the behavioral change over to their home lives or their next job? That’s sustainability. Nudge marketing is a blip in the radar.

Nudges may backfire! Imagine putting up a sign in the office restrooms over the paper towel dispenser (100% post-consumer recycled paper towels, mind you) that reads: “Remember: Paper towels were trees once.”

Although you’re trying to nudge employees into using less, thus landfilling less, you may immediately find that employees not only aren’t using less paper in the restrooms, but they’re also not participating in any other office sustainability efforts. What went wrong?

Look at the bigger picture. Employees may be infuriated that the air conditioning is still set at 60 degrees and the building lights are on all night, but “you want us to walk around with wet, clammy hands all day so you can save a few dollars on paper towels?”

Just stop nudging altogether in sustainability efforts. Don’t rely on a potentially condescending, ineffective tool to alienate employees. Instead, try educating employees, involving them in the process, and using motivational tools to create lasting change.

Have you seen workplace or marketing “nudges” that backfired? Let us know in the comments

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

The SSC Team November 1, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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

 

 

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

The SSC Team October 18, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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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
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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.