Although 29 percent of the world’s oceans are overfished, 10 percent of global wild caught seafood comes from fisheries involved in the Marine Stewardship Council’s program. Since 1999, more than 220 fisheries have undergone independent assessments of their environmental sustainability, and those who have achieved MSC certification have made hundreds of improvements to their fishing practices. MSC-certified fisheries committed to making 600 additional improvements by 2020.
Two recently released MSC reports, the Global Impacts Report 2014 and the Annual Report 2013-14, show that there are more MSC-labeled products than ever before. Over the past five years the amount of MSC-labeled products have more than doubled. More than 23,000 products from MSC-certified fisheries were available in over 100 countries — a tenfold increased since 2009. The amount of fisheries participating in the MSC program with habitat and ecosystem impacts at or above best practice has increased from 71 percent in 2009 to 82 percent in 2013. The amount of fisheries in the MSC program with stocks mained at or above maximum sustainable levels has also jumped from 80 percent in 2009 to 94 percent in 2013.
The purpose of the initiative is to protect Fiji’s Great Sea Reef and tropical farmland. The Great Sea Reef is one of the largest reef systems in the world, supplying up to 80 percent of the domestic fish market.
The changes in farming that are part of the initiative include terracing and carefully distancing rows of sugarcane, which help control nutrient and seed runoff into the waterways that lead to the reef. WWF developed the model farms in Fiji.
The initiative helps protects both Fiji’s environment and its economy. Back in 2007, Bacardi started getting involved in sugarcane initiatives. “We saw sugarcane was in one of the important sectors for environmental, economic and social factors…sugarcane is important for rum development,” Dave Howson, global sustainability director for Bacardi, told me.
Dunkin’ Brands Group, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, announced its commitment to source only 100 percent sustainable palm oil for its U.S. locations by 2016. Less than a day after Dunkin’s announcement, Krispy Kreme also committed to source 100 percent responsibly produced palm oil.
Dunkin’ Brands will work with its suppliers and its franchisee-owned purchasing cooperatives to source palm oil that’s 100 percent fully traceable to the mill by the end of 2015, and to the plantation by the end of 2016 for its Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. restaurants. By March 1, 2015, Dunkin’ Brands will develop and publish a phased implementation plan.
Dunkin’ Brands will require suppliers to adhere to certain standards, including:
- No development of high-carbon stock forest and high-conservation areas
- No burning in preparation of land or in development
- Progressive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on existing plantations from all sources
- No development on peat areas
- No exploitation of people and communities
Last week, Google invested $145 million in an 82 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kern County, California. The solar power plant, called the Regulus project, is being developed by SunEdison on top of an old oil and gas field about 11 miles southeast of Bakersfield, California. It will generate enough energy to power 10,000 homes. The 743-acre site went from 30 oil wells to five as it exhausted its fossil fuel reserves.
The solar project is creating 650 jobs in Kern County, and will help meet California’s renewables portfolio standard of 33 percent of the total electricity load coming from renewable energy by 2020. The project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, is expected to generate $6.1 million in property tax revenue and $25.4 million in sales and use tax revenue for the county over its 20-year contracted life. The power company, Southern California Edison (SCE), is under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SunEdison to contract the power produced.
It’s not a small thing for a company with almost 500 employees, eight offices, over 20 beers and ciders in its portfolio, and almost $4 billion in direct economic impact on the country to strive for sustainability. The company in question is Heineken USA, and its New York City office reduced water use by 20 percent and electricity use per square foot to 25 percent below what is required by local codes. Its parent company Heineken has reduced water use by its breweries around the world per unit of finished product by 5 percent in 2013. Heineken has also reduced carbon emissions by 26 percent.
Heineken’s global sustainability program, Brewing a Better Future, has four key areas of focus: advocating responsible consumption, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, conserving water resources and sourcing sustainably. To encourage responsible consumption among its employees, Heineken began a pilot program in 2013 that provided a few of its employees with Alcohoot, which connects to a smartphone and tells users how much alcohol they have consumed. It also links to the GPS in smartphones and can link to taxi apps so employees can find a safe way home. The device is now given to all of the company’s employees. In 2013, Heineken USA increased the amount of free rides offered to employees through its Safe Ride programs by 122 percent.
The entire state of California is in a drought. A big part of the state, including the fertile Central Valley, is experiencing the worst category of drought, exceptional. California supplies much of the fruits, vegetables and nuts the nation eats. In inland areas such as the Central Valley, as well as the combined Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, agriculture truly rules.
While people in Southern California and the Bay Area are largely insulated from the effects of the drought, people in the Central Valley are being hit hard. Some wells in the town of Easton, the small farming community in Fresno County where I was raised, are going dry; and two businesses have closed as a result. Meanwhile, farmers are resorting to over-pumping groundwater. They have no choice. They want to survive. America wants to eat.
Agriculture takes up 80 percent of the state’s water supply. Some crops need more water than others. Tree crops, for example, need more water than vineyards. Almonds are one tree crop that is experiencing great growth, fueled in part by studies that show the health benefits of eating almonds and past drops in the price of raisins. As a result, almonds are California’s largest export; state farmers grow 80 percent of the world’s supply, and 99 percent of all almonds grown in the U.S. hail from California. However, the drought is certain to affect the almond industry. As an opinion piece by Market Watch points out, “This unprecedented drought threatens to slam the brakes on one of the state’s fastest-growing crops and biggest moneymakers.” When the 2014-2015 crop goes to market next year, consumers will certainly be hit with higher almond prices.
Kimberly-Clark produces mainly paper-based personal care products, including popular brands such as Cottonelle, so it’s only fitting that the global company focuses on sustainable forestry.
Its latest corporate social responsibility report lists short- and long-term goals to make its products more sustainably produced. One of the short-term goals is to source 100 percent of its wood fiber from suppliers who have achieved third-party certification by 2015. It has already achieved this goal. Two of K-C’s long term-goals also involve sustainable forestry, including obtaining 90 percent of the fiber in its tissue products from environmentally-preferred sources by 2025. At the end of 2013, K-C was at 71.1 percent. Second, the company planned to transition to at least 50 percent of wood fiber sourced from natural forests to alternative fiber sources by 2025. At the end of 2013, K-C achieved 24 percent reduction of fiber sourced from natural forest.
K-C states it will not knowingly use conflict wood, illegal fiber or fiber procured from special forest areas, including endangered forests. All K-C tissue mills in North America and about 50 percent of mills in other regions are chain-of-custody certified. The goal is to achieve 100 percent chain-of-custody certification for all of its mills by 2016.
In its latest corporate social responsibility report, Hyatt Hotels revealed a new set of environmental goals that it’s calling the Hyatt 2020 Vision.
One of the goals involves sustainable design: Starting in 2015, Hyatt will require all new construction and major renovation projects contracted for managed hotels to follow sustainable design guidelines. Starting next year, all new construction and major renovation projects for wholly-owned, full-service hotels must achieve either LEED certification or an equivalent certification.
The 2020 vision also includes reduction goals: Each of Hyatt’s three regions will reduce energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent per square meter. The goal for water-stressed areas is to reduce water use by 30 percent. Additionally, every managed hotel will recycle or some how divert waste from landfills by 40 percent.
Nestle, the global food giant known for its Nestle Crunch Bars, announced its new animal welfare program that will eliminate some common but cruel practices from its global food supply chain. Those cruel practices include confining sows in gestation crates, calves in veal crates and egg-laying chickens in cages. Nestle’s new guidelines also require that veterinary practices be implemented for farm animals that reduce pain or avoid practices that cause pain. Dehorning cows is one example. (Cow horns are removed so they can’t injure other cows.)
The announcement came after Nestle signed a partnership agreement with World Animal Protection International, making it the first major food company to form an international partnership with an animal welfare organization. World Animal Protection has been working with Nestle to improve its Responsible Sourcing Guideline, which all suppliers must follow as part of the company’s supplier code.
Food waste causes a range of environmental problems when left to rot in a landfill. A staggering amount, 1.3 billion tons of food, is wasted globally every year, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The carbon footprint of all that wasted food is estimated at 3.3 billion tons of carbon equivalent.
Wasted food also means wasted water. The amount of water used to produce food that is wasted is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. That is not good at any time — but becomes particularly poignant during a time when the entire state of California is in its third year of drought. There is also an economic cost to food waste — $750 billion a year.
On to another problem: Conventional plastic is made from petroleum, a fossil fuel, and contributes to climate change. Bioplastics are made from plant material and are an alternative to conventional plastic. However, the multiple steps needed to produce bioplastics mean more energy is needed. And the crops used to produce them, like corn, are probably better suited for human consumption.
As a solution, a group of scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genova, Italy, are working on ways to create bioplastic from food waste. Their results were published earlier this summer in American Chemical Society’s (ACS) journal Macromolecules.
Fans of Frosted Flakes and Eggo, two Kellogg Co. brands, who are also champions of sustainability have something to cheer about: Kellogg announced new social and environmental commitments earlier this month.
Among other things, the company committed to responsibly source its top 10 ingredients and materials by 2020. The 10 ingredients include corn, wheat, rice, oats, potatoes, sugar (beets and cane), cocoa, palm oil, fruits and honey. A combination of certification and documented continuous improvement will be used. In addition, Kellogg will validate compliance across all of its direct suppliers by 2015.
Kellogg will work with its global palm oil suppliers to source “fully traceable” palm oil, as stated on its website, from certified sources that are “environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable.” It will require its suppliers to comply with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principles and criteria by Dec. 31, 2015. The majority of palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, and palm oil plantations are causing massive rainforest destruction in both countries.
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group has surpassed several of its environmental targets, as its latest corporate social responsibility (CSR) report reveals. The company that has over 50 beverage brands is really serious about reducing waste. DPS set a goal of recycling 60 million pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic by 2015, but last year recycled 60.7 million pounds.
The company also achieved its goal of an 80 percent recycling rate by 2015 — four years early in 2011. DPS set a new goal of a 90 percent recycling rate of its solid manufacturing waste. It is well on its way to meeting the new goal: In 2013, it recycled over 85 percent of its manufacturing solid waste, a 3 percent increase from 2012. Some of its sites achieved double-digit increases in their recycling rates in 2013. One of those sites is its Miami plant which achieved a recycle rate of 83 percent, up from 61 percent a year earlier.
Through partnerships, DPS is also able to promote recycling: It works with the American Beverage Association to help develop an industry approach to reducing waste. It began partnering with Keep America Beautiful in 2013 to support recycling efforts in communities across the country. Through its partnership, the company donated $300,000 to put recycling bins in public parks, which gives consumers more access to local recycling systems. DPS renewed the partnership for 2014.
Dropbox provides a handy and free service that allows you to share documents, videos and photos with people. Founded in 2007, the site has over 300 million users globally. Its new San Francisco office, which is LEED Platinum certified, will feature a solar energy system designed by UGE, a global distributed renewable energy company. The 25.2 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic system will supply enough energy to offset the electricity used in the six-story building designed by William McDonough Partners. The PV system will feature 84 300-watt solar panels.
“On-site renewable energy will power a sustainable future for Dropbox — a visible step forward for an innovative company located in the heart of the tech capital of the world,” Scott Van Pelt, director of engineering at UGE, said in a statement. “UGE’s software tools have played a crucial role in designing efficient solar and wind systems based on site-specific resources, so it’s both exciting and fitting that one of our energy solutions will top the headquarters of a leader in cloud technology.”
Plastic is a part of our lives. It packages many of the food products we buy, encases our electronics and is even found in our cars. Plastic waste causes numerous environmental problems, particularly in the world’s oceans where it makes up about 90 percent of all trash floating around. The biggest plastic waste ocean site is in the North Pacific Gyre. Called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is twice the size of Texas. Since plastic takes a very long time to degrade, some 500 to 1,000 years, it is impossible to completely clean up.
There are two companies that have created a way to reduce plastic waste by eliminating packaging. Stonyfield Farm and WikiFoods have collaborated to provide frozen yogurt encased in edible packaging made from fruit skin. The product is called Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls, and an edible packaging called WikiPearl packages the less than 30-calorie frozen treat. The companies started a test market in March at four Whole Foods stores in the Boston area with six flavors.
The first goal of the initiative is for responsibly-sourced seafood to comprise 50 percent of the company’s inventory by 2018. Part of that goal will be sourcing over 15 percent from fisheries or farms certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).
Hyatt has already been partnering with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to stop sourcing very vulnerable seafood species. With WWF’s help, the chain conducted an assessment of global seafood procurement processes at its hotels and identified steps it could take to improve the sustainability of its seafood sourcing practices.
One step it will take is to focus first on certain species including salmon, shrimp, grouper, Chilean sea bass and tuna. Another step is instituting a complete ban on procuring and eating shark fin at all of its restaurants and food and beverage outlets around the world. This step builds on its 2012 commitment to remove shark fin from all restaurant menus. Hyatt will also have employees involved in food and beverage offerings at the company’s owned and managed full-service hotels undergo a sustainable seafood training program developed with WWF. All of these initiatives will be measured with WWF analysis and recommendations.