Summer is here! What does that mean? If your high school was like mine, it means stacks of summer reading. We here at TriplePundit work hard to bring you all the news you need to know about sustainability in business – and we do it all year round. But sometimes, let’s face it, you need to go deeper into a subject – and there are many great books to help you do that.
That’s why every week this summer, we’ll be giving away a CSR-related book to one lucky reader.
Raising Dough is an unprecedented guide that provides social entrepreneurs—as well as their potential supporters—the tools necessary to enable more food businesses to launch and thrive.
You want it? You got it! Here are the 2 steps you need to take to enter:
Earlier this week we partnered with CSRWire to host a Twitter chat with special guests Nestlé Waters of North America. The chat took our usual format with some prepared questions up front and then plenty of time for audience questions. Bottled water is a hot topic for sustainability advocates and Nestle Waters deserves kudos for answering critics head on. This was one of our most interesting chats yet! If you missed it, check out the Storify summary below.
In 1980, appliances consumed 60 percent of a home’s energy use. That number is down to a staggering 20 percent in 2013. Sure, a part of the change in ratio has to do with an increase in use of personal electronics, but appliance manufacturers have also made tremendous strides in increasing the efficiency of the appliances we depend on. According to Ron Voglewede, North American Sustainability Lead at Whirlpool Corporation, speaking at Sustainable Brands, modern refrigerators now use the same amount of power as a 60 watt lightbulb.
These efficiency improvements are great, but Whirlpool wanted to do more to help consumers connect to their energy consumption.
That’s why they decided to team up with Ford on the MyEnergi Lifestyle project.
Ever injured yourself trying to open clamshell packaging? These annoying plastic-sealed packs cover everything from batteries to electronics and are designed to eliminate theft with the unfortunate side benefit of being nearly impossible to open. Those packages not only cause deep frustration and occasional pain for consumers, they are extremely wasteful since they are impossible to recycle or reuse once you finally get them open.
Eco-Rockstar Bill McDonough and Waste Management want to change all that with a new partnership designed to minimize packaging waste throughout supply chains.
McDonough announced the launch of the Sustainable Innovation Collaborative at Sustainable Brands 2013. The goal of the collective is to help companies lower the packaging waste in their supply chains and repurpose the waste that does make it through.
Johnson & Johnson’s Project Phoenix started with a desire to get more post-consumer recycled waste into Band-Aid boxes. The boxes in question are manufactured in Brazil, and the personal care product company was looking for a local supply of used paper to convert into box material. In Brazil, recycling happens not at the hands of a municipal recycling agency,but at the hands of scavengers called “catadores.” The World Bank estimates that 1-2 percent of urban populations makes their living through scavenging. Catadores have the dangerous and thankless job of picking through landfill refuse to find useful materials that might be resold.
Brazilian catadores have things a bit easier than scavengers in other countries because the government mandates that catadores organize themselves into co-ops, which provide a bit of additional structure and security for this vulnerable population. There are currently around 500 co-ops in Brazil employing around 60,000 pickers. This infrastructure is fairly unique and provided Johnson & Johnson a prime opportunity to help one co-op formalize its approach and thereby raise the standard of living for all its members, while providing a ready supply of used paper for their supply chain.
Paulette Frank, VP of Sustainability at Johnson & Johnson spoke from the heart about this initiative at Sustainable Brands 2013.
Yesterday, we covered the numerous challenges presented by integrated reporting (IR), but IR also represents a tremendous opportunity to advance the cause of sustainability if implemented properly. As Jennifer Rice alluded to in a comment on that article, “You can’t do integrated reporting until you have an integrated strategy.” That means sustainability must be embedded into the organization, not just bolted on, in order for integrated reporting to work. Integrated reporting in an organization that publishes a CSR report purely for marketing purposes is bolt-on integrated reporting. And we all know that’s not only an oxymoron, it’s a failure and a loss for the sustainability movement.
But for organizations that are sustainable to the core, integrated reporting just makes sense. If social and environmental issues are considered at every level of an organization, it is natural to report on them right alongside financial issues when the time comes to report.
Integrated Reporting was the talk of the town at last week’s Global Reporting Initiative conference with people on both sides of the fence. They expressed the hesitations I shared yesterday, but they also shared a number of positive stories of IR done right.
Said Mala Chakraborti, who heads up Corporate Responsibility for Atlas Copco AB, “Integrated reporting was the natural next step for us, it was time that our reporting reflected the integrated goals of the company. For us, integrated reporting adds value the way a sustainability report alone never could – creating vital connections and setting the platform for a more strategic approach.”
I was able to sit down with Mette Gyde Møller, Sustainability Manager at Novozymes, a company that is truly a trailblazer in integrated reporting. She gave me all the details: how it works internally, why the company first started to integrate their reporting, and what makes them keep doing it.
Integrated reporting has been seen as the holy grail of sustainability reporting since I’ve been tracking CSR reports. After all, combining the CSR report with a company’s financial report means that the content it includes will be seen by many more people, including those outside the sustainability tent. Aligning sustainability with financial best practices can only increase its legitimacy, right?
The short answer is a resounding “yes!”, but the long answer – the how, and especially the when – will always be more complicated. The Global Reporting Initiative launch of the G4 guidelines last week brought together a cadre of sustainability reporting practitioners and the topic of integrated reporting was on everyone’s minds – and the subject of many networking break conversations. The challenge of implementing integrated reporting gets to the core of what reporting is all about – who it is for, what those people want, and how best to collect and share that information.
There is no doubt that the leaders of the Global Reporting Initiative are keen to support integrated reporting. In March, GRI and the International Integrated Reporting Council signed an MOU to deepen cooperation and GRI CEO Ernst Ligteringen said, “Integrated Reporting is a powerful lever to mainstream sustainability disclosure where it relates to a company’s ability to create and sustain value.” But the G4 and even that MOU are quite vague on the details of how current sustainability best practices will find a home in the swirling beast of regulatory practice that is financial reporting and auditing.
Some fear that the heart of CSR – those stories and the passion for social and environmental change – will be lost amid the deep regulatory framework of the SEC, 10-Ks, annual reports and the enormous body of rules and regulations for reporting that financial accountants have developed over the years.
Here are three reasons the world might not be ready for integrated reporting:
There has been much speculation about what the Global Reporting Initiative will do with G4 to improve on the sustainability reporting guidelines set out in G3.1. Will G4 include controversial features like executive pay transparency, do away with the much loved (by American corporate over-achievers) letter “grades” for levels of transparency, or simplify the sector supplements?
Live from Amsterdam, the news is in. At least a little bit of it. It looks like GRI is staggering their releases to keep everyone on their toes. Here’s the first little tidbit:
The G4 guidelines will include a greater focus on materiality. The clarifications should help companies to focus on the issues that are material (in the financial sense) to their companies. For example, an oil company’s report should probably include more information about its carbon footprint than its office recycling policy. And a clothing company would be remiss to skip pesky supply chain issues.
The goal of this shift to increased materiality will lead to shorter, more meaningful reports. Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of GRI, hinted at these changes when we spoke way back in September. We’re pleased to hear they made the final cut. A greater focus on materiality should lead to less greenwashing and make it easier for stakeholders to review CSR reports.
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:
In honor of the release of the latest version of their Global Responsibility Report, Walmart’s SVP, Sustainability Andrea Thomas participated in a Twitter chat to answer questions about the report and sustainability at Walmart from the company’s many stakeholders. The chat was hosted by Nick Aster from TriplePundit and Aman Singh from CSRwire.
Around 130 Tweeters participated, peppered Walmart with questions about everything under the sun. Many participants asked insightful questions about the contents of the report and Walmart’s process for pulling it together. The company also got a lot of tough questions about their social and environmental record.
We commend Walmart for meeting stakeholders in a public forum like a Twitter chat and listening to their feedback. It can be tough for an organization as large and multi-faceted as Walmart to do so, but simply showing up and listening is a tremendous step towards true stakeholder engagement. We think they did a great job responding to questions and we can’t wait to do it again.
Read on for a Storify summary of the chat…
So, I recently got married. As a sustainability advocate, the wedding planning process was quite complicated for me – it’s an awful lot of money to spend on a single day – and the products you need to throw one aren’t exactly reusable. A veil only has so many uses and people are probably going to immediately toss any favors you lovingly select for them. As a feminist, I also had plenty of mixed feelings about being a bride. The media is saturated with images of women that lose their minds in the process of planning a wedding, becoming bridezillas or spending a fortune on products the wedding industrial complex would have you believe are necessary for your happiness.
I didn’t want to be like that. But I also wanted to plan a perfect day for our family and friends to come together and celebrate. I wanted dancing and a great meal and, when I really thought about it, I wanted all the traditional stuff too: the chuppah, the father-daughter dance, and yes, a pretty dress.
So it was a good thing I stumbled on to Encore Bridal in my search.
Encore Bridal is an online marketplace for consignment wedding dresses offered at huge discounts, with a storefront boutique in San Francisco.
Google is famous for its insidious April Fool’s pranks – just clever enough to get you excited for their new product, be it Google Nose, Google Maps in 8-Bit, or Gmail Tap, which turns your keyboard into a 2 button morse code system.
This year was no different, except I got really and truly taken – just for a second. The key to a good April Fools joke is knowing your audience. And if there’s anything Google knows about web publishers, it’s that we obsessively track our traffic. So imagine my excitement when I saw the spike in readers coming from – what – the International Space Station. The bubble bounces around the globe, just like the real ISS.
But guess what those crazy Cosmonauts are looking at:
Panera put its customers to the test with its Panera Cares Community cafe experiment which invited them to pay what they wanted (even nothing at all) for their meals. Would the cafes go bankrupt?
The program started when company founder Ron Shaich decided to give hungry people a place to eat with dignity, even if they couldn’t afford the listed prices. Would enough people pay the suggested price – or even give a little more – to cover free food given to those who couldn’t or did not want to pay?
The model has proven to be successful – the nonprofit cafes earn 70-80 percent of the revenue at the company’s standard for-profit cafes. Among customers, around 60 percent pay the suggested amount for their food, 20 percent pay less and 20 percent pay more.
The original St. Louis cafe experiment has now been replicated in four additional cities: Dearborn, MI; Portland, OR; Chicago and Boston. The cities and neighborhoods are carefully chosen for their food insecurity and the wide range of income levels of potential customers.
Now Panera is further blending the lines between its for-profit cafes and the Panera Cares Community Cafes. The company is offering one menu item at all 48 St. Louis locations on a pay what you want basis: Turkey Chili Bowls.
Many of the companies that supported our Indiegogo campaign are active participants in the sharing economy and we wanted to hear more about their companies and perspective on the sharing economy. We’ve asked each company to answer the same questions and this is our final submission.
What’s your name?
Xin Chung, Founder and CEO, TrustCloud
What does your company do?
We empower trust for sharing economy members and marketplaces.
When were you founded and how big are you?
We were founded 2009 and are now 8 ninjas strong.
How do you define the sharing economy?
The Sharing Economy is a movement composed of peer-to-peer marketplaces empowering micro-entrepreneurs (everyone!) to engage enthusiastic consumers (everyone!) to build community, reduce waste, and improve our quality of life.
In my neighborhood in Oakland, CA, three DaVita Dialysis centers have popped up in the last year, in whatever empty real estate is available (including the former video rental store pictured at right). According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million people, nearly 1 in 10 Americans, suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), a gradual loss of kidney function.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are responsible for up to two thirds of cases of CKD. While death rates from communicable diseases are down, deaths attributed to CKD increased 82 percent between 1999 and 2010, according to a recent study.
Poverty, diet, and healthcare
CKD remains a condition which adversely impacts the poor and people of color, due to its high correlation with diabetes and hypertension, both of which have genetic indicators. African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population yet constitute 33 percent of patients treated for kidney failure. Hispanics are twice as likely as white Americans to have Type 2 diabetes.
The connection between poor food choices and poverty is also well-documented. “The unfortunate globalization of the fast food market combined with unhealthy eating and obesity play a major role in the rise of chronic kidney disease,” says Dr. Beth Piraino, President of the National Kidney Foundation.
It’s no surprise to TriplePundit readers that eating junk foods can cause obesity, diabetes and hypertension and that these things could lead to kidney failure. These problems should be addressed at the source, but they aren’t, at least quickly enough to help the 10 percent of Americans with CKD. In the meantime, rapidly rising rates of kidney failure actually represent an enormous market opportunity for dialysis providers. One company is capitalizing on it. What’s interesting is how they manage to treat patients with dignity and kindness and give them very high quality care, all while making a tidy profit.