Food waste is a worldwide problem. Globally an estimated 30 to 50 percent (or 1.2 to 2 billion tons) of all food produced is wasted. Food waste is also an American problem. The average U.S. family throws away $1,500 worth of edible food every year, yet one in six Americans struggles with food insecurity. In the U.S. almost 40 percent of all food grown and processed is never eaten, but thrown into the trash, adding up to $180 billion a year.
A new report by BBMG titled “Waste Not, Want Not” looks at the problem. The report highlights businesses with food waste reduction initiatives ranging from donations to food banks, composting, converting food waste to energy, and branding unappealing looking produce:
- BJ’s Wholesale Club partners with Feeding America to donate over 20 million pounds of food a year, about 16.7 million meals.
- The Kroger Recovery System processes food waste from Ralphs and Food4Less grocery stores in California and Nevada, turning an estimated 55,000 tons of organic food waste into renewable energy a year, enough to offset over 20 percent of a distribution center’s energy needs.
- TGI Friday’s has offered smaller portions to its customers since 2007.
- The French supermarket chain, Intermarché found a way to brand misshapen fruits and vegetables to appeal to consumers and that has inspired other retailers to market produce that usually is rejected. The Intermarché campaign increased traffic by 24 percent and leading to the selling out of all stocks of fruits and vegetables.
Dow Chemical Co. clearly knows that handwashing is an important thing for children to do. The company recently announced its affiliation with the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) to promote the practice that can prevent diseases.
This is not the first time the company has partnered with PPPHW. Dow previously worked with the organization during Global Handwashing Day, a campaign that raised awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap and water. PPPHW started Global Handwashing Day to reduce child mortality rates related to respiratory and diarrheal diseases.
Global Handwashing Day recognized a technology created by Dow that makes soaps last longer while feeling better on the skin called Dow Polyox Water-Soluble Polymers. The technology is used in Unilever’s Lifebuoy soap. In 2011, Unilever asked Dow to help a new formulation for its Lifebuoy soap brand. The two companies came up with a soap that people in developing countries could afford and would last longer than other soaps.
Dow’s partnerships with PPPHW and Unilever help the company meet its sustainability goals for 2015. One of those goals is achieving at least three breakthroughs by 2015 that will help solve world challenges in certain areas, including health.
Children attending schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the largest school district in the nation, will soon be eating better meat. The LAUSD’s Board of Education recently approved the 2014 Good Food Procurement Resolution which calls for food procurement guidelines to include antibiotic- and hormone-free standards. The LAUSD is the largest food purchaser in Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the U.S., serving 650,000 meals a day.
The Resolution is part of the Good Food Purchasing Pledge. Developed by the LA Food Policy Council (LAFPC), it has been described as being Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) type standards for food. In October 2012, the City of Los Angeles signed the Good Food Purchasing Pledge, and few weeks later the LAUSD signed it. It consists of five key values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition. It includes a tiered, points-based scoring system. It also features a baseline commitment: To be a Good Food Purchaser, a baseline for each value is required to be met.
Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company with nine brands, reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent from shipboard operations, a year ahead of its target. Its recently released 2013 Sustainability Report revealed that one way it reduced greenhouse gas emissions is through an exhaust cleaning technology called ECO-EGC. The system removes pollutants from exhaust gases. The company is installing the systems on over 70 percent of its fleet, and investing up to $400 million to design, build and install the systems on its ships.
Reducing fuel is important to Carnival, as the report shows. The company released the result of its Fleet Fuel Conservation Program which showed that by the end of this year it will have saved over one billion gallons of fuel and reduced carbon emissions from its fleet by 12 billion kilograms over the last seven years. The program has also improved its fleet’s overall fuel efficiency by 24 percent since 2007 and saved about $2.5 billion in fuel costs, the company’s largest expense.
Old, worn out tires will get a new life through a partnership between two companies: Outdoor clothing manufacturer Timberland and tire manufacturer Omni United recently announced their collaboration to create a line of tires. Called Timberland Tires, they will be the first tires ever designed to be recycled into Timberland boots and shoes when the tire treads are worn out. The tires were unveiled at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) automotive trade show in Las Vegas.
Timberland Tires are something new on the market: They will have a tire-to-shoe lifecycle. They will be American made. Used tires will be set aside by retailers after consumers purchase new ones. Liberty Tire Recycling will collect the worn out Timberland Tires and ship them to a North American recycling plant. There they will be recycled into crumb rubber which will be processed into sheet rubber that will be shipped to Timberland outsole manufacturers.
Annual global climate flows last year decreased from 2012, according to a new report from the Climate Policy Initiative. The report, titled The Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2014, found that annual global climate finance flows in 2013 totaled $331 billion, $28 billion less than 2012. However, public actors and intermediaries contributed $137 billion, almost unchanged from 2012.
It is not necessarily a bad thing that global climate finance flows decreased. The report cites the falling price of some renewable energy technologies, namely solar photovoltaics (PV), as the the main reason. Or as the report put it, “These cost savings mean that in some cases more renewable energy is actually being deployed for less investment.”
It cost $40 billion less in 2013 to achieve the same level of solar deployment than it did in 2012. About 80 percent of the decrease in private investment came from the falling prices of renewable technologies, particularly solar PV. If investment costs of solar PV had stayed the same in 2013 as they were in 2012, then the global climate finance flows total would have increased by $12 billion, according to the report.
General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell declared the company’s commitment to water conservation at the the Nature Conservancy (TNC) Global Water Summit in Chicago last week. Powell talked about the company’s efforts of “uber-collaboration” with stakeholders to improve watersheds around the world. General Mills aims to preserve freshwater supplies in particular.
“As a food company, food security is important to us, and we’re tied tightly to nature,” said Powell in a statement. “We know that without healthy water for land, ecosystems and wildlife, agriculture simply does not work. Businesses languish. Economies falter. People suffer.”
Vineyards factor prominently in my life, having grown up surrounded by them. When I read that Fetzer Vineyards, located in California’s Mendocino County, diverted 97.7 percent of its waste, I felt like shouting. An image of farm workers burning waste came to mind. It is a common practice for vineyard waste to be burned, a practice which is obviously bad for local air quality.
There is more good news concerning Fetzer Vineyards. The wine maker announced this week that it received platinum level Zero Waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). Platinum certification is the highest level USZWBC offers. The goal of zero waste is to divert all end-use material from landfill, incineration and the environment and achieve a minimum of 90 percent diversion.
Part of that plan is its pledge to deforestation-free palm oil, a commitment the company first announced in July. It repeated that pledge at the United Nations Climate Summit in September in New York City. Specifically, Cargill pledged not to develop palm oil on peatland, not to exploit the rights of indigenous people and local communities, and to include smallholders.
At the U.N. Climate Summit, Cargill signed the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. Signers of the pledge committed to sustainable practices concerning palm oil. Cargill recently announced that it is on track to trace 80 percent of its palm oil in key markets back to the mills it came from, and that figure will reach 100 percent by December of next year, according to company estimates.
The Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems. The 6.5 million acres of tropical lowland rainforests stores vast amounts of carbon in its peatlands and forests. It is under threat despite being protected by Indonesian law.
One of those threats is the palm oil industry, as a recent Rainforest Action Network (RAN) report details. Conflict palm oil in particular is a threat. Conflict palm oil refers to palm oil produced through destruction of rainforests and peatlands and the violation of human rights, which includes the use of forced labor and child labor. Conflict palm oil can’t be traced back to its origin, and is increasing inside the Leuser Ecosystem.
Three companies are cited in the report as the biggest buyers of palm oil in the Aceh region of Indonesia where the Leuser Ecosystem is located. They are Musim Mas Group, Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources. As the report states, they “have a crucial role to play in securing the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem.”
Last week, the Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) added 31 new species to the list of protected animals. Held in Quito, Ecuador, more than 900 delegates from around the world attended the conference, which is operated by the United Nations Environmental Program. Delegates represented governments, non-governmental organizations and the media.
The species added to the list include 21 shark, ray and sawfish species. Migratory birds were also added to the list. Part of the Guidelines to Prevent the Risk of Poisoning of Migratory Birds, adopted by the conference delegates, included phasing out the use of lead gunshot. The guidelines acknowledge that overexploitation is a key threat: Large numbers of migratory birds have been killed by illegal trapping and killing for consumption and trade in recent years, and countries agreed at the conference to take action against illegal hunting.
Norway ranked number one in the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) for its ability to adapt to climate change. ND-GAIN ranks over 175 countries on their ability to adapt to climate change. Norway has been at the top of ND-GAIN’s rankings for almost 20 years. Scandinavian countries are all ranked higher than Australia, Canada and the U.S., big countries loaded with natural resources. Sweden ranked number three, Finland number 4, and Denmark number five while Australia ranked number 6, United States number eight, and Canada number 11.
The rankings were released on November 5 at the 2014 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index Annual Meeting hosted by the Wilson Center. The ND-GAIN ranks countries every year “based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness to adapt to the droughts, superstorms and natural disasters that climate change can cause,” according to a press release. It is also used to keep track of a country’s progress over the last 18 years.
Nothing is more American than the Thanksgiving holiday. As a cherished time when families gather for good food and connection, many stores have traditionally remained closed to encourage employees to spend the day with their own families. However, in the past couple of years more and more store chains have opened earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving. Macy’s announced that it would open for Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Last year the department store chain opened at 8 p.m. Kohl’s and Sears are also opening at 6 p.m. this year, and JCPenney is opening at 5 p.m.
However, not all store chains are opening on Thanksgiving. There are about two dozen stores that will stay closed. The Facebook page Boycott Black Thursday compiled a list of stores, as did Mental Floss. Some of the stores refusing to open on Thanksgiving include Costco, Nordstrom, Patagonia, Dillard’s, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s.
People who eat I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter are now eating a healthier version of the butter substitute.
Made by Unilever, the butter substitute is now made with plant-based oils, purified water and no artificial preservatives. It is also the first spread from Unilever in the U.S. to be made with non-GMO sourced ingredients. Mike Faherty, vice president of Unilever Foods, North America, described the changes to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as “the start of a complete category transformation that will help us grow the buttery spreads business.”
The re-vamped I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), the company’s sustainability blueprint, which covers all of its products globally. One of the goals detailed in the USLP is to double the proportion of products in the company’s portfolio that meet the “highest nutritional standards” by 2020. It is on its way to meeting that goal, as 31 percent of its products in 2013 met these standards.
Georgia Power filed a request for certification to enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 515 megawatts of solar power. Georgia Power, Southern Co.’s largest utility subsidiary, filed the request in April with the Georgia Public Service Commission.
The PPAs include deals with two solar power projects with a combined 99 MW of capacity that will be owned by Southern Power, the wholesale generation subsidiary of Southern Co. The PPAs are the largest solar power acquisition in Georgia and are part of Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative.
The average price of power in the four PPAs for solar projects with less than 20 MW of capacity was less than 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is “2 cents below the cost achieved through the [utility’s] 2013 solicitation” for solar power, according to Georgia Power’s filing. The four smallest projects have a combined capacity of 76 MW and are expected to come online by the end of 2015. Georgia Power praised the prices as proof that solar can “provide competitive pricing when challenged to do so,” in its filing.