It feels like every morning the news is discussing a brand new technological advance – e-readers and tablets and apps, oh my! (Also–Google’s driverless car, anyone?) And that’s really just the beginning of it all. Luckily for us, not only are technology researchers and conglomerates making the some of the most cutting-edge gizmos available to consumers, but, more and more often, they are revealing their energy consumption and environmental impact numbers as well. Well, American defense contractor Raytheon Company is no exception, as it released its Responsibility Report for 2011, which highly emphasizes the defense technology company’s salute to sustainability.
Having already made a name for itself as a pacesetter of ethics and diversity and one of the greater Boston area’s most socially responsible companies, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that the military tech whiz’s achievements for 2011 include the following:
Here’s one hotel chain, or rather, family of hotel chains, you can feel proud to support while on your future travels. Marriott International, Inc., where the Ritz-Carltons, Fairfield Inns, and Courtyards of the world call home, released its second annual full scale Sustainability Report for 2011-2012 (using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines no less) just last week, and it’s looking especially good for the environment and the various youth employment programs the company supports. The report also details Marriott’s business values and goals for the coming years.
“For Marriott, creating a sustainable future includes preserving the environment, but it also means creating more jobs and stronger communities,” said Mari Snyder, vice president of social responsibility. “Over the next two years, we plan to hire approximately 100,000 people in our growing portfolio of hotels, two-thirds outside the United States. These programs are equipping disadvantaged youth with employable skills that can hopefully prepare them for jobs with Marriott.”
For a long time, whenever I heard the brand name Nokia, only thoughts of virtually indestructible analog cell phones with the Snake game (remember that? hours of entertainment.) came to mind. These days, however, Nokia stands for much much more, especially in terms of its sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. In fact, Nokia has been issuing sustainability reports since 2002, and 2011 marks no difference in that respect. This past year’s report does, however, reflect several monumental changes in the technology company’s strategy towards sustainability and social responsibility. The 2011 report reflects this new strategy within three central pillars:
- A partnership with Microsoft to deliver industry-leading smartphones using the Windows phone operating system that meet Nokia’s strict environmental requirements.
- The goal to connect those with limited economic means to the benefits of mobile communications with the February launch of Asha, a range of devices offering consumers smartphone features like touch screen, QWERTY keyboards, and games at lower, more affordable price points.
- A focus on “future disruptions” – technology, business, and process areas that Nokia has identified as having a profound influence on its industry.
Nokia plans to utilize these three pillars to further its established environmental and social goals and assist in the inspiration and attainment for new ones in the years to come. In terms of achievements in sustainability for 2011, the company can claim a long list within four areas: environmentally leading mobile product range, takeback and recycling, green operations and facilities, and green supply chains and logistics. Key successes include:
General Motors (GM) has certainly made a name for itself beyond “car manufacturer.” In more recent years, the international company has dedicated itself to the pursuit of renewable energy and efficiency research and applications with products such as the Chevy Volt, 100 landfill-free facilities, a 32 percent reduction in water consumption, and its commitment to doubling its solar power output to 60 megawatts by 2015 (GM even won Energy Star’s Partner of the Year Award for energy efficiency).
And now, the company’s newest success is the installment of an 8.15 MW solar array on the rooftop of one of its Adam Opel AG plants in Rüsselsheim, Germany. The array is one of the largest installations in Europe with an area equivalent to 32 soccer fields and will produce up to 7.3 million kWH of energy annually. This array will reduce the plant’s CO2 emissions by about 3,150 tons each year, which is equal to the annual amount of carbon isolated by 609 acres of pine forests. Together with GM’s other solar arrays in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and Zaragoza, Spain, this array will allow the company to produce 19.1 million kWh of electricity a year, the equivalent to the avoidance of 8,200 tons of CO2 emissions–the same amount needed to supply 5,800 household with their annual electricity needs.
Add another to the list! After several companies, such as Oscar Mayer, Wendy’s, Sysco, McDonald’s, and Costco to name a few, made calls for significant pork production changes, we now have another company demanding the removal of gestation crates from their pork production supply chains. ARAMARK, in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), announced on August 21st its plans to eliminate all pork from animals bred using gestation crates in its U.S. supply chain. The food service company has asked its primary pork suppliers to develop plans for reducing, and then eliminating, gestation crates by 2017. New contracts with these contingencies and goals are to be in place as soon as possible.
Most breeding pigs in the U.S. are confined in gestation crates 24 hours a day, for years, for virtually their entire lives. The cages, comprised of metal bars and concrete flooring, are approximately two feet wide and prohibit the animals from even turning around, and essentially immobilize them during never-ending four-month cycles of impregnation.
The Sierra Club, founded in 1892, is one of the oldest and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. These days, the Club’s planet-friendly mission has integrated itself quite successfully into the current growth of green college campus initiatives nationwide, especially with the release of its sixth annual “Cool Schools” list in SIERRA magazine. A total of 96 schools responded to the voluntary survey, which comprised of 300 pages (not including the supplemental questions) and meticulously analyzed and measured each campus’ success in areas such as energy supply, efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, and financial investments. The survey was open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the country.
The survey, officially named the Campus Sustainability Data Collector, is new to this year’s ranking process and the result of the collective efforts of the Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI), and the Princeton Review. This collaboration aimed to reduce the amount of time spent by campus staffers completing individual surveys for each organization, as had been the standard in the past, while also creating a broader, deeper look into various environmental efforts of each campus. The team succeeded in streamlining the schools’ reporting process to more closely resemble the way campuses already collect and report data.
It’s time to crack open a couple and celebrate: not only did MillerCoors recently release its fourth annual sustainability report, but the beer brewer giant reported its progress and future goals using the Global Reporting Initiative framework (if you are interested in learning more about the GRI, consider one of our training courses in the GRI’s methodology.) “Great Things on Tap” features highlights from 2011 as well as updates on the brewer’s progress towards long-term goals through 2015. In all, the report focuses on five crucial areas: responsibility, environmental stewardship, supply chain, people and communities, and ethics and transparency. (MNN) See below for the company’s success in each:
- $230,000 in grants through the Great Plays Grant Program to encourage preventing underage access and reduce harm-related behavior at eligible college campuses
- 794,754 phone calls to 1-800-TAXICAB drunk driving prevention program
- 556,675 free rides provided through the Miller Lite Free Rides™ program
- 4.6 million people participated in a MillerCoors safe ride home program, 2009 through
- 5,356 Gold Cup soccer fans pledged to drink responsibly or received taxicab vouchers
MillerCoors aims to affect 10 million people (up from the original 6 million goal) with its responsible drinking and drunk driving prevention programs by 2015.
Last week, Darden Restaurants, Inc., the umbrella corporation for restaurant chains such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and LongHorn Steakhouse, released its 2012 sustainability report, hitting another benchmark in its CSR efforts. The report highlights the progress Darden has made in all areas of sustainability within its over 1,900 restaurants, 180,000 employees, and global supply chain. In the forefront, the company has exceeded its 2015 goal of reducing water consumption in its restaurants by 15 percent (on aggregate) and is over halfway towards meeting the same percentage goal for reducing its restaurants’ energy consumption (RestaurantNews).
“Water scarcity, declining fish stocks, health and wellness and developing future talent –
these are just some of the issues shaping our operating environment, our communities, and our business,” said Clarence Otis, chairman and CEO of Darden. “We recognize we have the responsibility to make a positive difference around a host of sustainability issues to drive the growth of our company while also creating social value.”
In recent years, several food businesses like Costco, Shaw’s, Walmart, and Safeway have been knuckling down on sustainable seafood programs and product labeling in order to provide more (accurate) Earth-conscious options for consumers. In fact, a recent study conducted by non-profit Oceana suggested that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 31-58 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod (Just a heads up – sushi restaurants were the biggest offenders with 58 percent of samples determined to be mislabeled. I’m just as disappointed as you are).
Meanwhile, high up in the gorges and falls of Ithaca, NY, Cornellians (Cornellites?) have been watching over the situation, and decided the time has come to take action. This past month, Cornell University, recognized worldwide for its agriculture and hospitality programs, officially became the first Ivy League school to earn the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Chain of Custody certification for their Dining Program‘s use of sustainable seafood. The scrupulous audit upholds that fish stock comes from sustainable fisheries that are concerned with the marine ecosystem and is supplied by processors and distributors that also have been approved for sustainable sourcing practices.
Starbucks strikes again! Not only has the company made headway in fair trade purchasing, its forest carbon program, and the cup recycling industry in recent years, but now it’s hosting an energy efficiency competition among ten of its own stores to see who can cut electricity use the most in 30 days.
The competition, sponsored by the coffee company and Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington State, is part of a one-year project to utilize energy data to influence behaviors and reduce energy consumption. The goal: to determine what triggers can successfully prompt actions and whether people will continue to be mindful of conserving energy once the competition has ended. While the non-profit Portland Energy Conservation Inc. is assisting with the design of the project, California-based technology start-up Lucid is providing its “Building Dashboard” platform to monitor and measure energy savings in each location. The Lucid tablets will display electricity use throughout the day with energy data collected by smart meters, updated every one to five minutes. Lucid will simultaneously be collecting water and gas consumption data, however, these numbers will not be included in determining the winner of the competition. The results will be made public upon completion.
Palm oil and its rising demand has been quite a controversial topic the past couple of decades due to its strong correlation to deforestation and poor history of regulation, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia, where 80 percent of the world’s supply is cultivated. In fact, the area of land used for palm oil cultivation has increased by 43 percent since the 1990s. Yet palm oil remains a staple for billions of people worldwide. Its uses are exceedingly diverse, ranging from food like margarine and ice cream to health products like shampoo and lotion. It’s not too surprising, then, that the palm oil industry is under tight scrutiny when it comes to sustainable practices and traceable supply chains.
Unilever has taken a step forward in the name of sustainable palm oil industry. One of the world’s largest buyers of palm oil with about 1.5 million tons purchased annually (or from another perspective, 3 percent of global production), Unilever is now also one of the world’s greenest buyers. The health and well-being conglomerate has announced it will reach its target of 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil covered by GreenPalm Certificates by the end of 2012, three years ahead of its original schedule. This success is in step with the company’s previous Good Agricultural Practice Guidelines for oil palm established in the mid-1990s as part of Unilever’s Sustainable Agriculture Program.
Based in Boston? Consider our upcoming training course in the Global Reporting Initiative – a leading international standard in CSR reporting. Class begins September 13th!
It’s no secret that Boston, a liberal, academia-saturated city, is not only the central business hub of the New England region, but is becoming ever more conscious of the importance of green projects and socially responsible programs. It comes as no surprise, then, that Fortune 500 companies whose headquarters reside in the greater Boston area take social responsibility reporting quite seriously.
A total of eleven Forbes Fortune 500 companies call Boston home, and many are well known nationwide (Liberty Mutual, Staples, TJX Companies, to name a few). Of the top ten companies, seven currently have a 2011 CSR report online. Three reported to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for 2011, and two reported in 2010. Four companies have been selected to Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 2012 Top 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. So who in Boston are the top reporters and performers?
These days, much of the discussion on green technologies tends to focus on wind and solar projects and hybrid cars. But what about geothermal energy? Remember that? Despite its promise as an energy alternative, geothermal energy has remained somewhat underground (no pun intended..well, maybe just a little bit), perhaps largely due to the significant investments needed to put building plans in motion. But Ball State University, located in Muncie, Indiana, has decided to take on the challenge, and in turn make a name for itself as the proud owner of the country’s largest geothermal ground-source heat pump system.
Construction, which started in 2009, will reportedly continue through 2014 and will include a new District Energy Station containing two 2,500-ton heat pump chillers and a hot water loop around the south portion of campus. The system will then connect to all 47 buildings on campus, providing heating and cooling to 5.5 million square feet. Once the system is complete, the shift from fossil fuels to a renewable energy source will reduce the university’s carbon footprint by nearly half while saving $2 million a year in operating costs (Pitch Engine). And according to Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, the project has also created over 2,300 jobs for the Muncie community–a number that stands out just as much as operating savings in the nation’s current economic climate. The project ultimately ties into the university’s other campus greening goals as outlined in its Greening of the Campus Conference Series Mission.
It has long since been determined that corporate sustainability reporting is not just a passing trend (and here). And Barilla Group, the Italian food leader in worldwide pasta business and umbrella corporation for several other world brands, proves no exception to the rule. The company just released its 2012 sustainability report “Good for You, Sustainable for the Planet,” laying out its successes of 2011 and future objectives through 2014.
The report is divided into three histories explaining Barilla’s everyday sustainable strategies. The first history discusses the supply chain from “field to fork,” the second the company’s “Total quality is sustainable quality”concept, and the third food and nutrition, which analyzes Barilla’s promotion of healthy living and nourishing behavior. (ReportAlert) Sustainability is the name of the game for Barilla, taking into account economic, social, environmental aspects through the entire supply chain and, according to the family-run business, adding “a greater awareness on the part of those who want food by those who want a food that is ‘good for them’ but is also ‘good for the Planet’, i.e. contributes to a better future for the individual and society at large.”
From the looks of success in 2011, Barilla is well on its way. Key results from last year include:
This past weekend, Oscar Mayer, one of the biggest names in pork products, announced its plan to eliminate the gestation crate system that confines female pigs in cages. The transition is planned to reach completion by 2022.
“At Oscar Mayer, we believe quality meat begins with quality animal care. We are committed to finding better ways to keep animals healthy and in a safe environment while treating them with respect,” said Sydney Lindner, Associate Director, Corporate Affairs for Oscar Mayer. “This is not only important to us, but also to our consumers who care about animal well-being and comfort.”
Oscar Mayer is working diligently with animal care experts, suppliers and their farm families to find alternatives to traditional gestation stalls to ensure quality animal care, worker safety and an easier transition for farms of all sizes.