Why can’t big companies do a better job of managing the way they use energy and natural resources?
In many ways, the unwieldy structure of the typical, modern corporation is to blame. Think about it: Offices are spread far and wide, across different buildings, states and even continents –each with its own energy use and resource requirements. Siloed departments rarely “talk” to one another about business goals, let alone green initiatives. Diverse stakeholders have competing objectives. And complex, global supply chains complicate matters even more.
Unfortunately, given all these moving parts, even the best-intentioned companies can be overwhelmed with the prospect of implementing effective enterprise-wide sustainability management.
At a press conference this morning, the Coca-Cola Company and H.J. Heinz Company announced a strategic partnership that enables Heinz to produce its ketchup bottles using Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle packaging.
This shift in packaging will be the biggest change to Heinz’s iconic ketchup bottles since the company first introduced plastic in 1983. Heinz plans to convert to PlantBottle globally, beginning with the 20-ounce variety of Heinz Ketchup, which will be rolled out to US consumers this summer. The packaging will be identified by a special logo and on-pack messages.
As you may recall, Coca-Cola first launched the PlantBottle in 2009. The technology has been described as “breakthrough” and “revolutionary” because the PlantBottle:
Super Bowl XLV will be green –and that’s not just because the Packers will be playing.
In fact, thanks to an expanded environmental initiative, this Sunday’s 2011 Super Bowl is being billed as the greenest NFL championship on record.
But, how can an event like the Super Bowl possibly be environmentally-friendly?
For starters, think renewable energy certificates (RECs). A new collaboration between Just Energy, the National Football League (NFL) and the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee will ensure that all direct and indirect carbon emissions associated with power generation at major Super Bowl XLV venues will be offset with RECs. So, for every megawatt of electricity used in the production of Super Bowl XLV, one megawatt of renewable energy will be generated by the Sweetwater Wind Farm located in Sweetwater, Texas, 228 miles west of Dallas.
That’s a significant commitment because the Super Bowl gobbles up an enormous amount of energy.
Cowboys Stadium consumes electricity, as do other event-related activities and facilities, such as the NFL Super Bowl headquarters, the Super Bowl media center, the AFC and NFC team hotels, and the NFL Experience Football Theme Park (which is the largest public event at the Super Bowl).
As remarkable as it sounds, Just Energy estimates the event requires approximately the same amount of energy needed to power 1,500 homes for one year.
Last year, Triple Pundit took an in-depth look at how companies are greening their data centers.
Now, it’s time for us to revisit that issue and ask, “What’s new?”
Recently, I spoke with Tate Cantrell, CTO of Verne Global, and he filled me in on how he sees the data center industry progressing towards greater sustainability. Looking ahead to the new year, Cantrell identified a few key developments, including these:
Top Five Trends for Green Data Centers in 2011:
1. Continued emphasis on efficiency –with a twist. Sure, the economy is beginning to show signs of life, but corporate budgets are still tight. Companies want to save money, and there’s no doubt that efficient data centers are the most economical data centers. But in 2011, look for a new, more holistic approach to efficiency. Rather than focusing solely power usage effectiveness (PUE), CIOs are broadening their perspective to integrate data center functions into more comprehensive business objectives. “Efficiency is not specific only to power use,” Cantrell explained. “Cost savings and efficiencies are both optimized when data center operations are integrated with other business processes.”
Many of us are concerned about the safety of the oil dispersants BP is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.
However, as it turns out, the controversy surrounding their use underscores an even larger problem: Federal legislation regulating the use of chemicals in the US is deficient, ineffective and outdated.
If you’re like me, you probably think that someone, somewhere, at some time has tested and approved the chemical ingredients in the products we use every day. You probably think that chemicals such as the toluene in paint, the BPA in receipt paper, the formaldehyde in dishwashing liquid, and the phthalates in shower curtains have been thoroughly evaluated and proven to be safe. Someone out there is ‘minding the store’ . . .right?
Dell’s corporate initiative to create packaging that’s environmentally responsible end-to-end cleared another hurdle a few weeks ago when the company’s innovative bamboo cushions received (ASTM) D-6400 certification from the American Society for Testing and Materials.
This certification means that:
- Dell’s new packaging option will compost and biodegrade at a rate comparable to known compostable materials when added to a hot, active compost pile.
- The compost resulting from the packaging’s degradation process is not phototoxic. (Or, in other words, the compost is of good quality and can sustain plant growth.)
P&G Launches New Supplier Scorecard to Enhance Collaboration, Innovation, Environmental Sustainability
Four billion times a day, Procter & Gamble brands touch the lives of people around the world. So, there’s no doubt that the company has an enormous impact on the global consumer marketplace.
Now, though, P&G also wants to make a different kind of impact, one that could potentially enhance supply chain collaboration, innovation and sustainability throughout the entire consumer goods industry. How? Earlier this month, the company launched a new supplier scorecard and rating system that’s designed to measure and improve the environmental sustainability of its 75,000 suppliers. And, what’s more, P&G took the unusual step of making the scorecard “open code,” so that any interested organization can use it.
“Environmental sustainability is very important to P&G, and for more than ten years now we’ve been reporting on the eco-efficiency of our operations,” said Len Sauers, P&G’s Vice President of Global Sustainability, in a phone interview last week. “This new supplier scorecard is a next step in our journey.”
By all accounts, it’s a step the company took carefully and with much deliberation. The new supplier scorecard is the result of 18 months of work and close collaboration with the organization’s Supplier Sustainability Board, which includes more than 20 leading supplier representatives from P&G’s global supplier network. In order to minimize redundant efforts and build on existing best practices, the scorecard relies on accepted worldwide measurement standards, including protocols from the World Resources Institute, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Carbon Disclosure Project.
And according to Larry Loftus, P&G Purchasing Manager, this process was all part the company’s effort to create an initiative that can have far reaching cross-industry impact. In fact, P&G suppliers are encouraged to use the scorecard within their own supply chains.
“That’s why we made the scorecard open code,” Loftus explained. “Flexibility was a guiding principle, and our goal was to create a dialogue from end-to-end to improve sustainability in the supply chain.”
You can check out P&G’s downloadable open code scorecard here.
This Saturday, May 15, is Give Your Stuff Away Day.
The event (formerly called Curb Day) is the brainchild of Mike Morone, who says Give Your Stuff Away Day could benefit millions of people, boost the economy, help shrink landfills, generate a sense of community and reduce household clutter.
“And no one has to write a check, make a call, or run a 5K,” he adds.
Here’s how it works:
On May 15, Morone wants all of us to bring items of value that we no longer want to our curb. No trash, recyclables, illegal, or dangerous items. No food, drugs, chemicals, or weapons. Just safe, valuable items we would like to donate. At the same time, people can come around to pick up free items that they can reuse.
“You’ll feel good because you removed some clutter and helped a neighbor,” Morone says. “Others will be happy obtaining free items in a tough economy.”
According to Morone, Give Your Stuff Away Day is “all about the timing.” Here’s an example he outlined for me to illustrate the benefit of having an organized day once or twice a year to give stuff away:
Thanks to recent eruptions beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, we’re all now well aware that Iceland has volcanoes.
And, of course, we also know that volcanoes are storehouses of enormous geothermal energy.
Doesn’t it only follow, then, that Iceland would be an ideal location to locate energy-intensive enterprises that could take advantage of the country’s zero-emission renewable energy resources?
Of course it does, according to the folks at Verne Global.
In fact, Verne Global is now developing the world’s first carbon neutral wholesale data center in Keflavik, Iceland. Situated on a 44-acre campus that once was home to the former NATO Command Center, this new data center offers several features that may appeal to companies looking to reduce their environmental impact and cut costs. For instance:
Researchers estimate that 40-60 percent of a manufacturing company’s carbon footprint stems from its supply chain, and so it’s no surprise that businesses looking to improve their sustainability scorecards are turning the spotlight on their supplier networks. As a result, several new supply chain management trends are emerging, according to panelists at the Ceres Conference 2010 held last week in Boston.
The discussion, “Tiers of Influence: Driving change throughout the supply chain,” was moderated by Margot Brandenburg, associate director of The Rockefeller Foundation. Panelists included:
- Caterina Conti, executive VP, chief administrative officer and general counsel, Anvil Knitwear, Inc.
- Patricia Jurewicz, director of Responsible Sourcing Network, a project of As You Sow
- Amy Kleiner-Roberts, VP of corporate responsibility, Outdoor Industry Association
- Stefanie Zeldin, executive vice president of corporate relations and sustainability, Jimtex Yarn
At Anvil, the largest buyer of organic cotton in the U.S., transparency is key, Conti said. Anvil functions as both a brand buyer and a supplier, and so has a multi-dimensional perspective on the significant role sustainability is beginning to play in supply chain management.
Not everyone lobs rolls of toilet paper at the audience during a keynote address.
But then, not everyone is Fisk Johnson.
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in the grand ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel in Boston yesterday morning, Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, kicked off the Ceres Conference 2010 with an impassioned speech that touched on family tradition, current environmental and societal challenges for business and hope for the future.
The fifth generation Johnson to lead the company, he fondly recalled his father –a businessman, environmentalist and devoted family man –who emerged as a sustainability leader in 1975 when he took the bold step of removing CFCs from SC Johnson’s aerosol products, three years before the US mandate.
Back then, the decision was controversial, costly to the company’s bottom-line … and courageous.
And, according to Johnson, that’s precisely the kind of “disruptive progress” that we need now.
Cape Cod isn’t the only place making wind energy news this week.
Yesterday, the parking lot of the Sam’s Club in Palmdale, California, made it into the headlines, too.
As part of the company’s commitment to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, Sam’s Club installed 17 micro wind turbines mounted on parking lot light poles to support the energy needs of its Palmdale store.
Construction was completed this week, and the 17 units – supplied by DeerPath Energy, a renewable energy company from Marblehead, Massachusetts – became fully operational on Thursday.
According to Walmart, which owns Sam’s Club, this is the first U.S. retail micro wind turbine installation of this size.
Shipping options for small- and mid-size businesses just got a shade greener.
Yesterday, UPS announced the launch of UPS Smart Pickup, an eco-friendly shipping system that uses innovative UPS technology to ensure that a UPS driver stops at a customer location to pick up a package only when a package is, in fact, being shipped.
Up until now, many of UPS’s small- and mid-size customers have opted for the convenience of a daily scheduled pickup. And, while that option is certainly convenient, it also comes with a significant hitch: on some days, there simply isn’t a package to ship. UPS shows up as scheduled, but the trip is completely unnecessary.
Once a company starts using UPS Smart Pickup, however, these superfluous trips can be eliminated. In short, the new system allows customers to automate the pickup process and schedule UPS service only when it’s needed.
UPS says its new UPS Smart Pickup is expected to:
Earlier today, PepsiCo announced that it is launching a new pilot program to reduce the carbon footprint of its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice.
About a year ago, the company released results of a lifecycle analysis (LCA) it had completed on the juice. That data, compiled in partnership with the Carbon Trust, revealed that each half-gallon of orange juice emits the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. (Need a point of reference? Consider this: Burning one gallon of gas creates 20 pounds of CO2.)
By completing the LCA, PepisCo also discovered that the largest single source of carbon emissions in the production of the drink came from the growing process. Specifically, about 35 percent of Tropicana Pure Premium’s carbon footprint derives from fertilizer use and application in the orange groves.
So now, Tropicana is going to team up with one of its long-time growers, SMR Farms in Bradenton, Fla., to test two lower-carbon fertilizers. If successful, the company estimates that this change could reduce the total carbon footprint of Tropicana Pure Premium by as much as 15 percent.
Health care is the second largest contributor to waste production in the United States. (The food industry holds the dubious distinction of being the first largest contributor.) So, it’s significant that more than 25 percent of U.S. hospitals now reprocess medical devices as a way to decrease waste –and cut costs.
But, does the phrase “reprocessed medical device” make you cringe?
After all, this isn’t a post about re-using tongue depressors or cotton swabs.
It is, by contrast, a post about a new trend among hospitals to use regulated, quality-control standards to recalibrate, clean, sterilize, remanufacture and test certain pieces of medical equipment, such as particular non-invasive items (compression sleeves, pulse oximeters, e.g.), operating room devices (trocars, harmonic scalpels, e.g.) and electrophysiology equipment (EP catheters, e.g.).