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.
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.
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.
New York City Transit employees pump water out of the subway tunnels after flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
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.
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.
It’s barely 18 months old, but President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative is already in position to help propel African nations into a renewable energy future. In the latest development, Power Africa has announced 22 renewable energy innovators who have received grants of up to $100,000 each under the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge. The grants are partly funded by General Electric.
If you take a peek behind the curtain, though, you’ll see that natural gas also plays a featured role in the broader Power Africa initiative. That doevetails with GE’s involvement, since aside from funding renewable energy projects the company has also begun to market a fossil-powered, transportable generating unit in Africa under its Ecomagination energy innovation program.
So, does this mean GE is competing with itself, or are there other factors at play in the Africa off-grid energy market?
What makes the efforts of Clinton Global Initiative (GCI) members so successful? CGI members include foundations, corporations and NGOs that have made tangible progress in tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. From 2005 through 2013, CGI community members have made 2,872 Commitments to Action that have affected the lives of 430 million people across 180 countries. Their efforts have helped rebuild Haiti, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fight food insecurity, and promote education and economic opportunity for women and girls — to name a few of their initiatives.
So, how do they achieve these results? Listening to presenters during the recent CGI annual meeting in New York, I paid more attention to how they drove change than to what they accomplished.
As the meeting progressed, several themes began to emerge. Many of the ideas and principles described by presenters echoed success factors I’ve observed firsthand through my work with sustainability reporting clients and my pro-bono work on the municipal level. Even though I’d heard much of this advice before, it was a valuable reminder of some essential principles.
Bike Share for the city of Cleveland is entirely privately-funded and operated.
It did not attract as much attention as the bicycle sharing programs in Washington, D.C. and New York City, but earlier this month Zagster and several partners launched a program Cleveland, Ohio.
Part of the reason for the lack of coverage is that this pilot program is only in one part of the city. Meanwhile D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare had scored much attention for its extensiveness, while CitiBank’s big check to sponsor New York’s raised many eyebrows in the Big Apple. With the constant handwringing over whether bikesharing can survive in the long run, is Cleveland taking a risk — especially considering the cold temperatures several months out of the year?
But for Zagster, Cleveland offered an opportunity to complement the company’s success on corporate and academic campuses. Already boasting of clients including DTE Energy, GM, Quicken Loans and most recently, Duke University, this Cambridge-based company is bullish on the future of bike sharing — with a few caveats.
The Hershey Co. last week announced updates to its palm oil sourcing policy that provide more specific standards for growers to meet under its 2013 commitment to 100 percent sustainable and traceable palm oil. The updates fall largely in line with existing industry standards on sustainable growing practices but, with the help of a nonprofit supply chain consultant, denote an increased focus on traceability — a growing trend across the consumer products industry.
The new supplier standards include clarifications on previous commitments to avoid environmentally impactful growing practices like deforestation and peat farming. They also help to define best practices through international labor and human rights standards from the United Nations and the International Labor Organization. Hershey’s updated standards match existing standards for responsible farming from the industry’s leading certification group, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which Hershey joined in 2011.
Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania-based company said it had met its goal of buying 100 percent “mass balance” RSPO certified palm oil — a mixture of sustainable-certified and conventional palm oils — a year ahead of its stated 2015 goal. Last year, the confectionery company announced it would commit to buying only fully traceable palm oil by the end of 2014.
The company achieved a 12.6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2013, surpassing its goal of a 10 percent reduction. Caesars surpassed other goals including its goal for water reduction. The hotel chain reduced water use by 18 percent per air conditioned 1,000 square feet in 2013. The goal was to reduce water use by 10 percent by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020.
Environmental stewardship is a long-term strategy Caesars developed about six years ago, Gwen Migita, vice president of corporate citizenship and sustainability, told me. The company is currently in the next stage of its five-year strategy. “Environmental stewardship was a long-term strategy we really developed about six years ago,” Migita said. “From the top down, our CEO has made a commitment to sponsor and support our sustainability strategy.”
Among its many sustainability initiatives, New Belgium Brewing is a big supporter of cycling. It provides bike-to-work incentives for employees and hosts the ever-popular Tour de Fat cycling event each year.
With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re bound to be feeling a little thirsty. To help you choose a sustainable sip for tonight’s happy hour, this week we’re rounding up 10 of the most sustainable breweries in the U.S. So, grab a cold one, and rest easy knowing it had little to no impact on our planet.
Perhaps no two companies have made a bigger splash — or more clearly demonstrated the potential of clean technology to revitalize manufacturing, create jobs and spur “green” growth of the U.S. economy — than Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and SolarCity.
Hot on the heels of Tesla announcing it will build its lithium-ion battery ‘Gigafactory’ in Nevada, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a groundbreaking ceremony for an equally massive SolarCity facility in Buffalo. The manufacturing plant will devote 1.2 million square feet to produce solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, the governor announced Sept. 23.
“Gov. Cuomo shares our view that the United States can return to its place atop the world in advanced technology manufacturing,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive was quoted in a press release. “Thanks to the governor’s leadership, we will be able to quintuple the output capacity and economic impact of Silevo’s original commitment. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with the state to make Western New York a global capital for clean energy development.”
Marriage equality supporters brave the cold to attend a rally at the at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2013.
By Jessalyn Kiesa
As global leaders join forces at the United Nations Climate Summit this week and grassroots organizers celebrate the success of last weekend’s climate march — the largest in history, with over 300,000 participants — there’s a sense that the environmental movement and its advocates face a new set of opportunities. With the next big round of international climate talks scheduled for December 2015, the moment to change public opinion and drive global legislative change is now.
But how do we get and keep supporters engaged? The answer might come from one of the defining social justice movements of our time. Given its success and continued momentum, we can learn a lot from the movement for marriage equality.
As early as 2016, biofuel made from forest waste might propel passengers on some Southwest Airlines flights.
The airline’s recent agreement with Colorado’s Red Rock Biofuels will have a double benefit: The low-carbon renewable jet fuel — made using forest residues or remnants — will help reduce the risk of destructive wildfires in the Western United States.
The agreement with Red Rock covers the purchase of about 3 million gallons annually. It is expected that the renewable fuel will be incorporated as a blend with conventional jet fuel in Southwest airplanes originating from San Francisco airports starting in 2016.
A group of eight international fashion retailers, including H&M, Inditex (the owner of Zara) and Britain’s Primark, announced last week that they would support fair living wages for Cambodian garment workers and were prepared to factor such wages into their pricing. The official support came just days after the Cambodian government, for the second time this year, deployed armed troops in response to rallies by garment workers seeking higher minimum wages.
On Sept. 17, thousands of textile workers gathered in and around Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, demanding a significant increase in the monthly minimum wage, from $100 to $177. A previous demand for a wage hike to $160 had been rejected by employers, who earlier this year raised wages to $100 from around $80. Importantly, no incidents of violence against either police or protesters were reported, in contrast to the government’s response to a January 2014 protest, when Cambodian troops opened fire on striking workers — killing at least four and injuring many more.
The retailers’ commitment
H&M and the other retailers made their support for the garment workers known in a letter to the deputy prime minister and the chairman of the local Garment Manufacturers Association, written just one day after the latest protests. The letter states that “[w]orkers in all production countries have a right to a fair living wage.” As such, going forward the retailers’ “purchasing practices will enable the payment of a fair living wage and increased wages will be reflected in our prices.” The retailers also wrote that they expect and will support “the installation of an annual industry collective bargaining process for wages that is fair and takes into account the [International Labor Organization’s] technical expertise.”
(The letter goes on to note, however, that the retailers anticipate that the higher cost of wages will be offset by remedying perceived inefficiencies in Cambodian factories. The letter is also light on specifics and does not explicitly endorse the workers’ demand for $177/month or any other particular figure.)
Heads of government, business leaders and activists met in New York, this week for the one-day U.N. Climate Summit. One thing is for certain: If we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, we have to stop deforestation, which is the second leading contributor of carbon emissions after burning fossil fuels.
On the same day delegates gathered at the summit, Liberia and Norway announced a partnership to protect forests in the African country. Norway will support Liberia’s efforts with up to $150 million until 2020. Announced at a joint press conference, the partnership means Liberia will become the first African nation to stop deforestation in exchange for aid from a developed country. In the first years, Norway will devote up to $70 million to implement policy measures and the necessary institution building.
Greenwich: Oct 23 – Oct 26 Social Venture Network 2014 Connect with like-minded business leaders at an SVN conference, Social Venture Institute or workshop. Get recharged, supported and inspired! Register here.
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London: Nov 3 – Nov 5 Sustainable Brands London 2014 Connect with Sustainability Executives, Brand Strategists, and Design & Innovation Leaders as the Sustainable Brands London Conference convenes to drive the innovation that leads to enhanced business. Discount with code: NW3pSB14LRegister here.
New York: Nov 4 – Nov 6 BSR Conference 2014 BSR 2014 will explore how transparency can transform supply chains, energy and climate, consumer engagement, community impacts, and more. Register here.
Minneapolis: Nov 6 – Nov 8 Net Impact 2014 We're ready to break boundaries—leaving limits behind, forging unexpected alliances, and exploring creative solutions—to transform the world. Register here.
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