Last fall, the first phase of our series on the Refrigerant Revolution® explored the challenge in depth, looking at the history, policy backdrop, key issues including R-22 phase-out, and implications for future sustainability. We continue with a series of posts focusing on multi-sector solutions to this global environmental challenge.
Common coolers face an uncertain end.
A tale of two fridges
After years of quiet, dedicated service in our homes, more than 9.4 million fridges and freezers reach the end of their useful life in the U.S. each year.
Every wonder what happens to these unsung heroes of modern life?
First, we should point out that refrigerators and freezers are unique from other appliances and household items because they contain refrigerants and blowing agents, which are powerful greenhouse gases. They also contain polyurethane foam, another GHG contributor. Depending on the type of refrigerant and blowing agent, a single refrigerator can contain the climate equivalent of driving an SUV for an entire year and up to 8 cubic feet of foam.
In the U.S., most refrigerators take one of two paths once leaving our kitchen or garage. The “common cooler” ends up heading directly to a metal scrapyard where its refrigerant and insulation foam are rarely dealt with properly. Conversely, the “lucky fridges,” like those Triple Pundit profiled last September, are properly de-manufactured in accordance with EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program.
She looks pretty great as she is, right? Maybe she just needs bigger pants.
This month’s lead story in Fast Company covers the apparently brilliant Jenna Lyons of J Crew. She’s been with the company for 23 years and has worked her way up to a position as top creative executive and president, due to a remarkable combination of design chops and a head for sales. Annual revenue at the brand has tripled since 2003 and in the last decade the company has moved from making uninspired polos to designing fashion that everyone from bloggers to Michelle Obama rave about. She was even named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people last month.
But the article doesn’t open with any of that.
Nope, the hook to this story is Lyons’ temporary anorexia – and not just that, but how it means we can all relate to her that much better. The day of her interview with Fast Company marks her tenth day of a juice fast to deal with temporary weight gain:
Leila Janah (right) is founder of Samasource, an Impact Sourcing Service Provider
By Dave Haft, Founder, Impact Hub
Africa will soon have the largest workforce on earth, but its economy isn’t creating jobs fast enough to meet a growing labor supply. Despite decades of development, few solutions have delivered job creation at scale.
However, as our industries advance from analog to digital, there’s plenty of work to go around. This is the principal tenet of impact sourcing – bringing traditional outsourced work to disadvantaged communities:
By tapping into the global outsourcing market worth about $500 billion, impact sourcing leverages the power of business to create livelihoods. There is plenty of digital work to be done: entering data, online research, tagging videos, managing content and so on. Impact sourcing brings this work to economically depressed areas, utilizing talented women, youth and the disabled, so they can earn a living wage.
The Kroger Co. came up with an inventive solution to prevent food that is not fit to be sold or donated from ending up in a landfill. The retailer installed an anaerobic conversion system at its distribution center (DC) in Compton, California. The Southern California 59-acre DC serves Kroger subsidiaries, Food 4 Less and Ralph’s. Called the Kroger Recovery System, it converts food into energy to help power the 65,000 square foot DC. The system is able to process 55,000 tons of organic food waste a year and turn it into energy. Diverting that amount of food waste is equivalent to 150 tons a day, and will reduce truck trips in the area by over 500,000 miles a year.
The Kroger Recovery System converts the carbon in organic material into methane, which is then used as energy. By using anaerobic digestion, which occurs naturally, organic food that is not fit to be sold or donated, and onsite food-processing effluent, is turned into biogas, which is used to help power the DC. The system provides enough biogas to provide 20 percent of the DC’s power. The conversion process is enclosed in an oxygen-free environment, so it doesn’t generate odors. A Boston-based clean technology company called FEED Resource Recovery Inc. designed and operates the system.
Those of you who missed last Friday’s twitter chat with Unilever’s CSO Gail Klintworth, can fear not. We’ve got a transcript of the chat’s highlights right here for you to reference.
The bulk of the chat concerned Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. The plan has received a lot of attention and inspection since it was launched in 2010. On April 30th the company was awarded, for three years in a row, the #1 score by Globescan – SustainAbility ‘Sustainable Leaders 2013’ survey.
Intel’s 2012 CR Report is chock-full of impressive accomplishments, but the company still wastes too much water and produces too much chemical waste.
Intel Corporation has released its 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report, summarizing the chipmaker’s performance across a range of sustainability activities. The report – the company’s 12th – also provides updates on Intel’s progress toward its 2020 environmental goals.
“Intel’s annual Corporate Responsibility Report allows us to transparently track our progress and aggressively work toward new goals in areas ranging from supply chain responsibility to K-12 education,” said Michael Jacobson, director of corporate responsibility at Intel.
The report documents the company’s corporate responsibility efforts along several fronts, including employee engagement, renewable power, green building design, supply chain responsibility, and education.
Given these and other stories, I was a little suspicious when I opened JPMorgan’s CSR report. I wasn’t sure if I could be persuaded that JPMorgan is a responsible company or working hard to become one, so I decided to set up three criteria to make my final decision on the report as objective as possible: 1. Materiality of the achievements described, 2. Transparency and ability to acknowledge failures, 3. Involvement of external stakeholders in the report.
1. Materiality of the achievements described – The report, just like any other CSR report presents many of the company’s achievements in 2012, from increasing its lending to small businesses by 18 percent over 2011 to providing $6 billion to low- and moderate-income individuals or communities to growing the amount of capital committed to impact investments to nearly $50 million. But how material these achievements are?
Trader Joe’s continues to disappoint environmental activists seeking to pressure the company to improve its seafood sourcing practices.
Trader Joe’s most recent update to its sustainable seafood policy has left environmental groups largely skeptical of the grocery chain’s commitment to preserve the planet’s ocean wildlife.
In a statement posted on the company’s website, Trader Joe’s said it has ceased buying swordfish caught in Southeast Asia and is “evaluating sources from U.S. Pacific waters,” which the company acknowledged may result in “gaps in supply before being able to offer swordfish fitting our goal.”
The company also said it will buy its canned tuna from sources with more ethical catching methods and will no longer offer genetically engineered salmon or shrimp from dubious farms.
Its reputation for responsibility notwithstanding, Trader Joe’s has long been the black sheep of the grocery industry for its failure to adopt sustainable sourcing policies for its seafood. In 2009, Greenpeace launched the bruising “Traitor Joe’s” campaign to pressure the company into halting the sale of endangered species and seafood caught with environmentally destructive methods.
Can you stand to invest in ways that make the world worse? Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital and a founder of several household names including Lotus and Mozilla asked this question of an audience of revered angel investors at HUB Venture’s Angel Squared event on May 13th. According to Kapor, nearly all investors have made deals that make them guilty as charged. Even most foundations – the very institutions that are established to do good with our money – “invest 95 percent of their endowments [with professional money managers] to help create problems that the remaining 5 percent [given to program officers] are trying to fix.”
It’s not easy to accept that we may in fact be contributing to behavior that has a negative effect on people and the planet. Yet by simply handing over our money to the stock market or a popular mutual fund, we join the herds to help perpetuate a system that traditionally rewards companies that yield the highest and quickest return. The fact is that many of us who strive to fight climate change and promote values like human health and ethical business are funding big oil, tobacco companies and casinos. Even so, isn’t this a small price to pay for a functioning economic system that provides us with jobs and rewards our investment risks with acceptable returns? After all, what would come of our world if we shifted the focus of our investments from profit to impact?
Tabreez Verjee of Uprising offered the Angel Squared crowd a glimpse into the potential for such a world. Hang onto your hats and turn a minute of your attention to findings from Verjee’s study assessing the performance of recent venture capital investments in companies that are creating positive social impact.
In the world of motorized transportation, the global electric bicycle business is a pretty major concern. Navigant research recently published a detailed analysis of the industry, finding that in 2012, sales of e-bikes reached 29.3 million units worldwide, with 90 percent of the market residing in China. Here in America, the market is minute by comparison, with sales of only 53,000 – but manufacturers are increasingly taking an interest in the U.S. market, hoping to build on the potential growth in affordable transportation.
Last month we reported that major bicycle company Specialized was getting in on the action by launching its own e-bike, The turbo – while this month, established electric bicycle maker A2B, is relaunching its range of bikes under the new ownership of India’s Hero Eco Group.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in the Bowman v. Monsanto case, which dealt with issues surrounding patent exhaustion—limiting how long patent holders can control the use and sale of an item—and the patenting of living organisms.
The court ruled unanimously in favor of Monsanto, concluding that patent exhaustion does not apply to this case and that Vernon Hugh Bowman violated Monsanto’s seed license.
In delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Elena Kagan wrote:
“Under the doctrine of patent exhaustion, the authorized sale of a patented article gives the purchaser, or any subsequent owner, a right to use or resell that article. Such a sale, however, does not allow the purchaser to make new copies of the patented invention. The question in this case is whether a farmer who buys patented seeds may reproduce them through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission. We hold that he may not.”
Earlier this week, H&M joined other retailers in signing a landmark Bangladesh factory safety plan. The five-year plan, according to USA Today, “requires independent inspections with public reports and signers to pay for mandatory safety upgrades. It also requires companies to cut off business with any factory that refuses to make necessary upgrades, and it gives workers and their unions a role in the process.”
After H&M’s announcement, the Dutch retailer C&A also joined the agreement, as did the British retailers Primark, Marks & Spencer and Tesco, Italian fashion brand Benetton, Spanish retailer Mango, French retailer Carrefour, Canadian grocer Loblaw, Spanish department store chain El Corte Inglés, the Spanish fashion group Inditex (the parent company of Zara).
These companies have joined two others that signed the agreement last year: PVH, the American apparel company which makes clothes under the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Izod labels, and German retailer Tchibo.
If you look at the list of the companies that signed the agreement so far you can’t help but notice that out of the 12 companies mentioned, only one is American, and it doesn’t include even one major American retailer or fast fashion company.
So what could be the reason that major European companies sign this agreement while American companies like Gap, Walmart, Sears, J.C. Penney and Target refuse to do so? Are European fashion companies and retailers simply more responsible than their American counterparts or is there something else here that can explain this phenomenon?
Deadly factory disasters in Bangladesh, like this one that took place on April 25 in Savar, have spurred global apparel companies to improve safety.
In the wake of the Rana Plaza factory fire in Bangladesh last month that killed over 1,100 workers in the deadliest industrial accident in nearly three decades, dozens of multinational apparel companies have joined a commitment to improve health and safety measures in the country’s garment factories.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh asks companies that source goods from Bangladeshi factories to agree to establish a fire and building safety program for a period of five years. Signatories have also agreed to allow the International Labour Organization help implement and enforce the new safety standards.
At least 24 garment and retail brands sourcing from Bangladesh, including H&M, Inditex, PVH, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour, Helly Hansen, Next, Loblaws, and Sainsbury’s have agreed to sign the accord.
Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Angela Parker: I am the COO of Realized Worth. I co-founded the company in 2008 and, being a startup, everyone on the team has taken on a myriad of roles and responsibilities throughout the years. My co-founder, Chris Jarvis, and I call our roles “do whatever it takes” – since you really don’t have another option when you’re just starting out. More recently, I’ve been able to shift from the scramble of business development into the more enjoyable role of Client Relations and Business Operations. Overall, my role includes ensuring the execution of all of the day-to-day tasks necessary to achieve the company’s vision, managing the company’s non-senior level employees, and “making things happen.”
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
AP: My company works with larger companies to create strategic sustainability programs that mobilize employees. In the early years, we embraced the programs of companies as our own sustainability efforts. Now, as things grow and stabilize at Realized Worth, we are excited to begin the development of our own internal program. Ideally, we’ll model the highly engaging programs we develop with our clients. We’re all in this changing the world thing together – and I’m an idealist. I really do believe that if we’re all taking responsibility for the power and privilege we hold, we’ll see our world shift toward the beautiful. All that to say, watch for Realized Worth’s internal sustainability program soon.
Public media embraced the future yesterday with crowdfunding.
It may be easy for some in the business world to dismiss, but there’s something (quite a bit, actually) to be said about interconnectedness and how it’s driving our new economy. For a case in point, let’s review public media’s collaboration with crowdfunding.
For a typical startup, one of the most challenging problems is raising money. For Planet Money (a co-production of the radio show, This American Life, and NPR) raising cash to make a T-shirt that tells the story of its own creation didn’t require any hand-wringing or sleepless nights. Instead, the show’s producers turned to their roots – the public – for a funding solution.
Enter Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that simply refers to itself as “a new way to fund creative projects.” According to their website, since the company opened its virtual doors in 2009, more than 41,000 creative projects were funded, and over $611 million was pledged by more than four million people. Kickstarter has clearly tapped into the collective mind and wallet of the public, echoing the popularity of NPR’s programming with listeners nationwide.
Cambridge: May 23 Global Shared Value Leadership Summit. The Global Shared Value Leadership Summit is the principal conference on shared value. Attracting business leaders from around the world, the invitation-only Summit will foster a cutting-edge, practitioner-driven discussion. Devoted to building a shared value community of practice, the new Shared Value Initiative will host this year's Summit. Register here.
San Rafael: Jun 2 – Jun 4 Public Banking Conference. Join pioneering policy makers, civic leaders, banking entrepreneurs, innovators and ordinary citizens interested in learning about one of the most critical undertakings of our time: creating a truly prosperous, democratic and sustainable new economy. Get a 25% discount with promo-code "3p" Register here.
San Diego: Jun 3 – Jun 6 Sustainable Brands 2013. Discover what happens when brand strategists & designers connect with sustainability teams to drive purpose driven innovation. -- 20% discount with code "NW3pSB13"Register here.
Minneapolis: Jul 15 – Jul 16 GRI Certified Training. Join us in Minneapolis this July for a 2 day GRI-Certified course in sustainability reporting. Hosted by Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Register here.
Chicago Suburbs: Jul 25 – Jul 26 GRI Certified Training. Join us in Chicagoland this July for a 2 day GRI-Certified course in sustainability reporting. Hosted by UL DQS, Inc. Register here.
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