Keurig Helps Farmers Cope with ‘Coffee Rust’

| Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Keurig Green Mountain leads the effort to support small coffee farmersLa Roya – to an untrained ear those words almost sound like a new blend of premium coffee. Far from it.

“The rust” is shorthand for coffee leaf rust or Hemileia vastatrix, a devastating fungus that attacks coffee plants and often threatens the plants’ survival.

Fungal spores first show on an infected plant as yellowish-brown spots on the underside of coffee leaves, eventually turning rust-colored red. As the disease progresses, infected leaves fall off the plant. If left untreated, the fungus chokes off the plant by leaving it unable to photosynthesize.

First discovered in East Africa in 1861, coffee leaf rust destroyed the crop on the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and is credited as one of the reasons the British drink tea. The disease soon spread to Southeast Asia and coffee-growing regions in south, central and western Africa. La Roya finally reached the western hemisphere in 1970, when an outbreak was discovered in Bahia, Brazil. Coffee leaf rust is now found in every coffee-growing region in the world.

Despite its global spread, coffee rust has typically been manageable and controllable, if still a serious nuisance. When treated quickly, otherwise healthy plants in good soil can survive the disease. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of State considers the current outbreak of La Roya as the worst ever seen in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Losses have topped $1 billion, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and forcing many to abandon the coffee-farming life altogether in search of a better life elsewhere.

“In some years it’s worse than others and in some geographies it’s worse than others,” says Lindsey Bolger, VP of coffee sourcing and excellence for Keurig Green Mountain. “We have seen an entire population of coffee obliterated, truly destroyed and wiped out by this particular disease.” Never has the disease been “quite as impactful in terms of coffee production and coffee farmer livelihood.”

Over the last couple of years, coffee rust has threatened the livelihoods of up to 14 million people. What is different this time? Why has leaf rust taken such a toll on an entire coffee growing region?

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MillerCoors Adds Solar Power to the Brew

RP Siegel | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Beer -sunMillerCoors has been working to reduce the impact of its operations from the start. Formed six years ago as a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors, the company focuses on critical areas like water, energy consumption and emissions.

In its 2014 sustainability report, MillerCoors shows a greenhouse gas reduction of 15 percent over the previous year, and a reduction in energy consumption of 15.6 percent. Since 2009, the company has reduced the energy required to produce beer from 162 megajoules per hectoliter of beer to 123 MJ/hl. This year, it aims to reduce that number by an additional 15 percent. (For those not up on your conversions: A hectoliter is about 26 gallons, or a little less than two kegs of beer.)

The company is now a step closer to its energy goals with the announcement of a 3.2-megawatt solar array completed at its Irwindale, California, brewery.

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Photo Essay: A Look Inside Ontario, Canada’s Coal-to-Biomass Power Plant Conversion

3p Contributor | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 2 Comments

2 copyInformation provided by Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI)

Kicking the coal habit isn’t easy, but as Ontario, Canada has learned — the air is cleaner when it’s done. With the closing of the Thunder Bay Generating Station earlier this year, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.

“Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in North America and is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road,” observed Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli. “We celebrate a cleaner future for our children and grandchildren while embracing the environmental benefits that our cleaner energy sources will bring.”

A big part of transitioning away from coal is renovating power plants that were once coal-fired. One recent milestone: Ontario households recently began using energy generated by North America’s largest power plant fueled completely by biomass. Formerly a coal-burning facility in existence for more than 50 years, it is now a source of clean energy.

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Oregon Company Wants to Turn Recycled Water Into Beer

Leon Kaye | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Clean water services, Portland, Oregon, recycled water, beer, Leon Kaye, Department of Environmental Quality, sewage water

Would you drink beer made from recycled sewage water?

Would you drink a beer knowing it was made out of recycled sewage water? An Oregon company, Clean Water Services, wants to do exactly that and is petitioning the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to allow reuse of recycled water in alcoholic beverages.

The proposal kills two birds with one stone: Meet the growing demand for beer nationally and globally while dealing with the ongoing threat of water scarcity. As more municipalities struggle with providing water for their citizens, more government officials and citizens are getting over the “ick factor” of drinking water that in a past life may have been flushed down the toilet. San Diego has already given the green light to a long-term plan that will source a third of the city’s drinking water from recycled sources by 2035. Singapore, rich in just about every metric but lacking reliable supplies of water, has been recycling water for over a decade.

Meanwhile the popularity of microbrews on the domestic front, while the middle class has grown overseas, has translated to an increase in beer sales. If we as a society will continue to enjoy the products water makes possible, we will have to be open to new sources of water. And that includes water that has gone down the drain.

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Tate Gallery Forced to Disclose Amount of BP Sponsorship

Leon Kaye | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments
BP, Tate Gallery, Platform, United Kingdom, London, oil and gas, climate change, human rights, arts sponsorship, Leon Kaye

The Tate Modern-BP sponsorship has landed the London museum in hot water.

Should art institutions take money from oil companies? A core of activists in London have answered with an emphatic, “No.” And they won a recent victory when the Tate Gallery in London was ordered by a court to disclose the amount of money the museum received from BP between 1990 to 2006. It turned out that BP’s annual contribution during those years was an average of £225,000 (US$340,000). Critics sneered at BP and the Tate, pointing out that it was barely distinguishable in the museum’s overall budget while the oil and gas giant received tons of exposure for its annual donation.

The disclosure, after a three-year legal fight, highlights the ongoing controversy over whether museums and cultural institutions should accept money from oil companies. Activist organizations such as Platform insist such grants such as those made by BP give these companies credibility that is largely undeserved. Then there is the other point of view, voiced by those including Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones, who downplays any benefits companies such as BP score by sponsoring the arts. During the Deepwater Horizon crisis, which was also during a time the arts were facing budget cuts throughout the United Kingdom, Jones defended galleries such as the Tate, writing, “If they can get money from Satan himself, they should take it.”

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Corporate Sustainability Practices for Small Manufacturing Firms

Virginia Tech CLiGS
Virginia Tech CLiGS | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Cover of report on Embedding Sustainability into Small and Medium Sized Manufacturing EnterprisesBy Iris Picat

What exactly is corporate sustainability? Vestal Tutterow*, an alumnus of the Virginia Tech Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program, recently wrote a report that seeks to answer just this question. Part of Tutterow’s capstone project, the report is based on a literature review and personal communications with managers.

It includes observations and recommendations intended to serve as a reference for anyone seeking an overview of corporate sustainability — and the challenges and opportunities for embedding sustainability into small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the U.S.

He focused specifically on manufacturing firms in the report. Through this review, Tutterow found that the current standards, protocols and guidance available were generally designed for large organizations, and do not work well with SMEs due to their lack of resources to become proficient in the growing array of criteria, tools and reporting methods. Except for companies facing demands from customers, SMEs report having no internal or external incentives to begin addressing sustainability, and a lack of methods to readily quantify its value.

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Signed, Sealed, Committed: Why We Signed the Ceres Climate Declaration

3p Contributor | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Andersen is the first window and door manufacturer, and just the second in the building industry, to sign the Ceres Climate Declaration.

Andersen is the first window and door manufacturer, and just the second in the building industry, to sign the Ceres Climate Declaration.

By Jim Weglewski

A signature seals a deal, backs a promise and commits you to action. Whether signing a receipt at a restaurant or closing on the mortgage of a new home, your signature is your bond. The commitment and responsibility connoted by a signature has been on the forefront of my mind as my company, Andersen Corp., recently signed on to the Climate Declaration.

Ceres created the Climate Declaration in 2013 as a way to accelerate the adoption of sustainable business practices in order to build a healthy global economy. Since then, more than 1,250 companies have signed on to show their support and belief that climate change is both the greatest challenge, and greatest opportunity, of our era.

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NREL Report Reveals the Steady Rise of Renewables

| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 5 Comments

US NREL Wind Cvr The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on Jan. 20 released its latest report on U.S. and global renewable energy. Published annually, NREL’s 2013 Renewable Energy Data Book reveals new renewable electricity accounted for over 61 percent of total new U.S. generation capacity in 2013, rising to represent nearly 15 percent of total installed capacity and 13 percent of total U.S. electricity generation.

Worldwide, renewable energy resources accounted for 23 percent of electricity generation. Solar electricity was the fastest growing segment of U.S. electricity generation technology: Cumulative installed solar electricity capacity surged nearly 66 percent higher in 2013.

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After Davos: Lessons for Impact and Social Investors

3p Contributor | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Aerial photograph of Davos, Switzerland

Davos: Returning to normal after WEF15, but what will the forum mean for us?

By Marta Maretich

The World Economic Forum has come and gone, leaving the Davos snow more than a little trampled. Now that 2,500+ of the world’s most powerful people have flown home in somewhat fewer (it seems) than 1,700 private jets, what do we know about what’s coming in 2015? And, more specifically, what lessons did the Forum hold for impact and social investors?

Impact and social investing are part of the global economic reality, so the larger trends identified at Davos will be felt in our sector, too. Quantitative easing in the Eurozone, the unpredictable fallout from the Grexit, the slowdown in growth in China and India, its surge in the U.S., will all shape the world economic outlook for 2015 and will inevitably have their effects on the social sphere. And yet it was interesting to notice certain issues — some of our own favorite topics — were more prominent on the agenda than they have been in previous years.

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14 Outdoor Companies Pledge to Boost Women’s Leadership

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments

REI_OIWC_Womens_LeadershipThe Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, along with REI and 13 other outdoor companies, have announced a new goal: boost and support women’s participation in key leadership roles.

The pledge to accelerate women’s leadership, which was developed by the OIWC, was unveiled by REI CEO Jerry Stritzke last week at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. REI, along with other big-name signatories like Patagonia and The North Face, hope the pledge will “drive change across the industry.”

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Can the Trucking Industry Help Boost Fuel Sustainability?

Leon Kaye | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Trucking efficiency, trucking, trucking industry, renewable energy, clean energy, biofuels, electric vehicles, EVs, biofuels, climate change, Leon Kaye, battery technology, renewables

BSR calls for more fuel sustainability within the trucking sector

We grit our teeth when we see them on the road, but the stubborn truth is that trucks are an integral part of the North American economy’s foundation. The movement of goods from port to storefront or warehouse is a huge economic multiplier and employer. At the same time, in addition to the fact that trucking is a brutal job entailing long hours, many truckers are independent contractors. True, cheap oil may lighten their wallets, but the history of fossil fuel prices suggests at any point in the future they will be susceptible fuel cost shocks. More sustainable sources of fuel would be a huge benefit to the industry in the long run.

To that end, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) has issued another one of their energy and fuel reports. The latest study focuses on transportation fuel in North America, and its timing is on point considering 2014 was the hottest year on record. Transportation causes 14 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions and 23 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Clean energy technologies are slowly gaining traction within the transport sector, but the process will be slow: the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests renewables will at best make up 15 percent of the globe’s transport mix by 2035. Hence the industry faces massive challenges, but also opportunities for companies as the sector will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

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Prison Reforms Offenders While Serving Gourmet Meals

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Cardiff_Prison_le_restaurant_jennydowning2A prison in Cardiff, Wales, offered an awkward challenge to the city’s 900 or so restaurants recently when its prisoner-staffed diner was named the best restaurant in the city.

The Clink Cymru restaurant, located in Wales’ capital and largest city, outpaced 3- and 4-star classic Cardiff venues like Jamie’s Italian, the Potted Pig and the Mint and Mustard for the top score as locals’ favorite eatery. Voters weighed in on TripAdvisor, and the results of the 395 votes were picked up by the South Wales Evening Post.

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Utilities Look to Leverage Smartphones for Connected Home Analytics

| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Bidgely_Logo Proving themselves to be the ultimate utilitarian consumer devices, smartphones are providing individuals untethered access to an increasingly wide range of personal devices. These range from computers and TVs to lights, heating and air conditioning and household appliances.

The installed base of “things” connected to the Internet will expand to number some 30 billion by 2020, according to a November 2014 IDC forecast. Among the ever-growing number of “connected” devices, smartphones are emerging as the preeminent choice for accessing the rapidly expanding “Internet of Things.”

Broadband network connectivity, which feeds enormous quantities of data into powerful software applications residing in data centers, is essential in the drive to make “things” smarter. This trend is clearly evident in the energy market space. Presenting its latest offerings at the upcoming DistribuTECH 2015 Conference and Exhibition, home energy analytics provider Bidgely is introducing “a suite of products that transform utilities’ big data into powerful insights to drive long-term customer engagement and energy savings.”

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The Key to Marketing Sustainability: Make It Sexy

3p Contributor | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments

staircase-600468_640 By Sandra Stewart

Sexy sustainability. You always put those two words together, right?

Stop laughing. Sustainability is a lot of things, but for most of us, sexy isn’t one of them. That needs to change.

Polls consistently find that people want products and services to have sustainable attributes, and they plan to buy them. Just as consistently, actual purchases don’t match up with stated intentions. There are plenty of reasons for this disconnect, ranging from how much people know to how much people care. But marketing is surely part of the problem, and it may be the easiest part to address.

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Amazon to Power Data Centers With Renewable Energy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment

amazon packagingFor years, Amazon has received criticism of its environmental policies. In 2012, an article published in the Guardian pointed out that Amazon hadn’t published a sustainability report. Try looking for one on Amazon’s website, and you still can’t find it. However, last summer Amazon hired Kara Hartnett Hurst, CEO of the Sustainability Consortium, as its first sustainability executive. And this month, the company made a big announcement concerning renewable energy.

Amazon Web Services is planning to buy the energy generated by a 150 megawatt wind farm in Benton County, Indiana, the company announced last week. The wind farm, called the Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge), is expected to start generating power by January 2016. It will generate enough electricity, 500,000 megawatt hours, to power about 46,000 homes a year, and will be used to run both current and future AWS Cloud data centers.

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