Last year, beekeepers and environmental organizations took to the court in what was to be one of the first legal efforts to protect declining bee populations. The move was bold: Citing the Environmental Protection Agency’s purview over the approval of a class of chemical pesticides called neonicitinoids (neonics), they sued the EPA for circumstances that they say led to Colony Collapse Disorder. The suit maintained that through the approved use of pesticides like clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the EPA failed to prevent conditions that have led to mass deaths of bees and untold financial losses for beekeepers.Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
By Jean-Laurent Ingles
Poo. The topic that no one wants to talk about, yet one we must face up to. One child dies of diseases related to poor sanitation every two minutes. One billion people practice open defecation. Two and a half billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation. And because these issues make us uncomfortable, we aren’t doing enough to change things. Neither Millennium Development Goal 4 (to reduce under five child mortality by two-thirds) nor Millennium Development Goal 7 (to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation) will be met by the 2015 deadline. This simply cannot continue.
At Unilever, we believe in tackling taboos head-on and engaging consumers with important global issues through our brands. Why? Because a brand can bring an issue to life and make it accessible. Because a brand can make an issue relevant to consumers’ lives. Because a brand can entertain, intrigue and inform without turning people off. But, most importantly, because a brand can take a taboo, turn it into a business opportunity, and in the process help address pressing social issues.Click to continue reading »
WATCH A RECAP OF TODAY’S CONVERSATION BELOW
The world is rapidly urbanizing and the majority of the global population will experience the effects of climate change in urban cities. Yet while cities are vulnerable, they are also uniquely positioned to lead the efforts of mitigating and adopting to climate change. How do we ensure that our cities will remain attractive places for people and businesses against a backdrop of increasing climate risk? Join TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, live on Google’s hangout platform to discuss how cities may be able to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Our featured panelists are:
- Michael Stevns, Project Manager of the Toolkit for Resilient Cities, Siemens
- Stephen Cook, Associate Director, Energy and Climate Change Consulting, Arup
The conversation will cover how to future-proof our cities; resilience in the fields of technology, finance, and risk management; and global best practices for creating resilient cities.
Let us know you’re coming! RSVP HERE.
This video is part of our ongoing coverage of SOCAP14. To see the rest please visit our SOCAP 14 page here.
Plum Organics is a certified B Corp and benefit corporation that makes nutritious, organic baby food. About a year ago, Plum was acquired by Campbell’s Soup Co., joining a long list of sustainably-minded companies who have been acquired by larger, publicly-traded corporations.
The level of transparency and commitment to sustainability that being structured as a benefit corporation entails is difficult to translate to a publicly-traded company — regardless of that company’s own commitments. But according to Plum and Campbell’s, the acquisition is going well and will ultimately enhance the sustainability of both companies.
I sat down with Plum’s co-founder, Neil Grimmer and Campbell’s VP of CSR and Sustainability, Dave Stangis at SOCAP14 a few weeks back to discuss…
This is the eighth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good”(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.
By Ryan Honeyman
Ahh–the perennial debate: will becoming a Certified B Corp help or hurt my ability to raise capital?
Like most things in life, it’s not a 100% black or white answer. It depends on where (and from whom) you are trying to raise capital. In my opinion, however, it is starting to look pretty good for B Corps (just ask CircleUp, which recently partnered with Collaborative Fund to invest $4 million exclusively in Certified B Corporations).
While researching and writing “The B Corp Handbook,” I found that B Corp certification can help you attract: mission-driven or impact investors who consider social, environmental and financial criteria in their investment decisions; mainstream investors who are primarily interested in strong financial returns; and larger companies interested in acquiring a cutting-edge and innovative brand.Click to continue reading »
Like it or not, most decisions today are based on economics. It’s the way our system is put together and it has been, in many ways, successful in generating innovation and prosperity, for many if not for all. That fact is not one that is likely to change easily, though the system’s shortfalls are beginning to show up like cracks in a once impenetrable façade. Prominent questions that arise, for anyone when pondering a choice, whether it’s an individual or a large company, tend to fall along the lines of:
- Can I afford it?
- Is it a good investment?
- Will taking this action lead to more prosperity?
When we talk about large-scale change, we can talk about two kinds of change — one that works within this paradigm, or one that challenges it. I’m not here today to argue the respective benefits of each, but instead to acknowledge the fact that working within the system, if possible, has distinct advantages, given the deep interdependencies between the financial world and the world at large.
So, within this context, looking at an issue like climate change and the large-scale actions required to adequately address it, the question of whether these actions can have an economic upside is critical. If we had to rely strictly on a sense of civic duty and social responsibility, that would surely be a harder road.
CDP was engaged by a group of 767 major investors representing an enormous amount of money, some $92 trillion, to assess all the companies in the S&P 500 Index based on two things:
- Their level of disclosure regarding carbon emissions
- Their performance in responding to the need for action.
If you think that’s a lot of money, you’re right. In fact, if there is no double-counting here, $92 trillion represents over 38 percent of all the money in the world. So if the group of people and institutions representing 38 percent of the world’s wealth want to know, as investors, what the companies in the S&P 500 are doing about climate change, that ought to give some people pause as to how truly important this is.
So what did they find out? After looking at these metrics and correlating them with the financial metrics of the companies that participated, CDP made the following statement.Click to continue reading »
The Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign recently scored a big victory in Indiana. The Indiana chapter of Beyond Coal was a central player in putting together the coalition of grassroots groups that managed to prod Indiana Power & Light to stop burning coal at its Harding Street power plant — the only coal-fired power plant remaining within the limits of a major Midwestern city. The campaign isn’t stopping there.
On Sept. 26, the Sierra Club announced it was joining with Ratepayer and Community Intervenors to file a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court that challenges a Public Service Commission ruling that would levy a $140 million subsidy on state residents’ electricity bills to upgrade and expand the Dunkirk coal-fired power plant in Chautauqua County. The plaintiffs are being represented by Earthjustice.
Deeming it a “bailout” at ratepayers’ expense, the upgrade and expansion plan “would result in a plant three times larger than necessary to maintain reliable operation of the region’s power grid,” Sierra states in a news release. Moreover, at a time when the EPA is readying President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the plant – though it would be able to burn both coal and natural gas – would add greenhouse gases and air pollution in the region, contributing to climate change, the environmental NGO highlights.Click to continue reading »
While coal goes kicking and screaming into a dark and pollution-filled goodnight, it is becoming more evident and economically plausible that biomass energy, or bioenergy —energy derived from organic matter —can replace it.
The article notes that like all renewable energy options in the European Union, “bioenergy has struggled against low-priced coal imports, low carbon dioxide prices in the emissions-trading system, and an economic and regulatory backlash against renewable-energy policies, including substantial cuts in government support.” But McKinsey writers Marco Albani, Nicolas Denis and Anna Granskog assert that biomass-based energy should not be counted out just yet. “Although today it fails to compete on cost with other renewables such as wind and solar, we believe bioenergy not only has the potential to significantly improve but could even become cost competitive with coal.”Click to continue reading »
By Leah B. Thibault
Adam Cyr’s story began in a fashion typical of his generation in rural America. Before leaving for college, Adam planned to join the family business in northern Maine after graduation. Following college, however, he landed a management position at a nationally branded hotel downstate, in the city of Portland. That opportunity for reliable employment led Adam to leave his rural roots and pursue a promising career in hospitality, an option not available back home. He joined the ranks of thousands of young Americans who are leaving their rural homes in pursuit of job security and diverse opportunities in cities, in a movement referred to as ‘outmigration.’
Adam grew up near Presque Isle, a town of less than 9,700 in northern Aroostook County, where agriculture and forestry are the primary industries. The region lacks the economic diversity to weather a mill closing or bad crop – when jobs go, there is no other industry or enterprise to pick up the slack in its shallow economy. For this reason, Presque Isle has experienced a high outmigration rate for years. In fact, Aroostook County has lost more than 10 percent of its population over the last two decades. Maine’s northern region is not alone: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, nationwide, rural counties as a whole lost population between 2010 and 2012.
Yet rural communities, which are home to only 20 percent of our country’s population but comprise 75 percent of the country’s land mass, support a wealth of extremely valuable resources. Rural America provides nearly all of the clean water to urban centers, provides the majority of domestic energy production and is the primary source of food production.
Investing in rural economies is vital to sustaining these resources, but finding the means to do so can prove challenging, as there are low levels of available and affordable bank and investment capital to support business growth in these often remote areas.Click to continue reading »
By Lise Cloutier
There are few experiences in life that take you out of your comfort zone, force you to think differently about the world and actually have the potential to impact the work you do every day. Recently, I had one of those experiences.
I have been with Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (Keurig) for nine years. I am responsible for quality control in the company’s hometown of Waterbury, Vermont, where I ensure that our brewers and beverage packs are ready to be distributed to our foodservice customers. I also capture data about the lifecycle of our coffee, such as when it was roasted, where it’s headed and what time it left our facility. I know what it takes to get our products into our customers’ hands and deliver a high-quality product. Turns out – for the past nine years, I’ve only known the half of it.
Earlier this year, Keurig sent me and eight of my colleagues on a week-long trip with stops in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, where we visited our co-manufacturers – meeting supply chain partners and touring their facilities. The purpose of this trip was to give us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into building our brewers, from design and assembly to the finished product that ends up on kitchen counters. Few companies invest in truly hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for their employees, and in addition, it is very rare to get a window into manufacturing operations – especially in Asia.
Keurig knows a thing or two about source trips: The company has been sponsoring employee trips to coffee farms since the early 1990s – giving employees a chance to learn about coffee production while meeting our coffee suppliers and their families. This year, the company decided to expand its employee experience, sending nearly 70 employees to coffee farms in Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru and other coffee-growing countries, as well as the trip I took to Asia-Pacific – a very first for the company.Click to continue reading »
After spending some time in Eastern Europe, I was pleasantly surprised by the social acceptance and visionary advocacy of the bicycle in Budapest, Hungary. It is common to see businessmen, tourists and trendy 20-somethings zooming around the city on two wheels. Budapest is a leading emerging bicycle city, and it seems to have found the winning formula.
With 5,072 bike routes around the city, including some dedicated lanes across intersections, the city is impressive. Considering most of the city streets were designed without even the automobile in mind, much less the bicycle, this seems like a feat.
Trains have bike racks, encouraging bike travel, and numerous bikers can be seen traversing the train station. Bike maps are available at some metro stations and to make biking and skateboarding super fun, there are park ramps set-up around the city.
BuBi is a bike sharing network with 1,100 bicycles at 75 docking stations throughout the city. Riders can borrow and return bikes at these solar-powered terminals, and the first 30-minutes are free. Bikers either pay a registration fee, or pay a deposit that is returned with the bike.Click to continue reading »
Mars, Inc. launched a new palm oil policy six months ago and recently released an update on its progress. The food manufacturer best known for its chocolate committed to developing a palm oil supply chain that is both sustainable and traceable by the end of this year. The company requires palm oil to be traced back to known mills and for its suppliers to confirm they will comply with its sourcing charter by the end of 2015. It is currently on track to meet its commitment to achieve 100 percent traceability of its palm oil supplies by the end of this year.
Mars is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) . By the end of 2013, it purchased all of its palm oil from RSPO-certified sources through the “mass balance” program. Mass balance requires processors to purchase palm oil from certified sources, but allows them to mix it with conventional palm oil. As a result, some of the palm oil in its supply chain is from non-certified sources. Tracing palm oil back to known mills allows the company to assess the environmental and social practices of the plantations and farms the mills source from and see that improvements are made.Click to continue reading »
Measuring financial success is straightforward enough, but how do you measure a business’s overall positive impact? The B Corporation movement is defining a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. With over 1,000 companies now registered as B Corporations, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit is leading a global shift in redefining success in business.
Today, 3p, along with representatives from B Lab and 3 Philadelphia area B Corps enjoyed a casual conversation at The Hub Cira Center. TriplePundit’s founder, Nick Aster, led the discussion.
PLEASE ENJOY THE VIDEO BELOW
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a short series on creating resilient cities, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with Siemens and Arup on October 1, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP here.
When Superstorm Sandy swept through New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, the storm completely upended one of the busiest transportation networks in the country — flooding and cutting off power to streets, tunnels, subway stations and airports. Even after the flood waters receded, it took city workers up to two weeks after the storm hit to get almost all of the Big Apple’s transit network up and running again – although some services, including portions of the subway system, are still out of commission to this day.
According to the city’s estimates, Superstorm Sandy resulted in a whopping $8 million of physical damage to the region’s transportation infrastructure and affected nearly 8.5 million public transit riders, 4.2 million drivers and 1 million air travelers.
But nearly two years after Sandy, New York City has not only worked to repair and restore its transportation infrastructure from the storm’s damage, but is also taking steps to improve the resiliency of its transit network. The city outlined its plan to better prepare for future natural disasters – including the effects of climate change – in its report, A Stronger, More Resilient New York, released in June 2013.Click to continue reading »
According to the 2014 Greendex Study, 61 percent of consumers say they are ‘very concerned’ about environmental problems. Unfortunately, this concern isn’t translating into concrete actions and behaviors, according to the study that spans six years, 18 countries and 18,000 respondents. One of the million dollar questions raised at the New Metrics 2014 conference last week in Boston is how to bridge the gap between environmental concerns and action. Numerous speakers touched on this topic and some of the themes that emerged were:
1. Make progress effortless for consumers
Jenny Rushmore, director for responsible travel at TripAdvisor, spoke about implementing a green rating system for GreenLeaders. Hotels that meet certain criteria qualify for a gold, silver or bronze rating, and consumers are asked to rate hotels based on their green impressions. Predictably, green initiatives that are most interactive are more noticed by consumers. For example, recycling bins in guest bedrooms got more feedback than a hotel restaurant composting behind the scenes.Click to continue reading »