Coming in 2015: Aftershocks of the Market Basket Revolution

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This year’s battle over the fate of a supermarket chain is emblematic of the dilemma that will continue to face American businesses in 2015: extracting maximum value for shareholders or reinvesting in workers’ long-term value.

By Toni Johnson

A stunning joint worker-executive action brought thousands to the street to rally for more than 10 straight weeks in 2014 — not for better pay or benefits, but to reinstate ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas to the New England supermarket chain Market Basket.

The move was another incident of a bitter, decades-long feud with his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas over control of their grandfather’s company. The saga could easily be named a “Tale of Two Arthurs.” More importantly, it could herald a new chapter in a wider battle over low-income worker treatment in corporate America that will continue to resonate in 2015.

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5 Top Tips for Business Leaders in 2015: Why It’s Now Time to Take a Back Seat

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

5306149864_7629de9528_mBy Debbie Fletcher

New year, new start. That should be the motto for your business as you take a back seat for 2015 and delegate to your capable staff. This leaves you more time to search for new team leaders to help you out with the important tasks as well as get yourself organized schedule wise (personally I’ve had a lot of success with Exec-Appointments, but we all have our favorite sources).

If you’re wondering what you should be focusing your time and attention on for 2015, then take a look at these top tips.

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A Year in CSR: The Top 10 Trends of 2014

3p Contributor | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment

2014By Alison DaSilva

2014 was a landmark year for corporate social responsibility (CSR). In the past 365 days we saw more than 2.4 million people willingly douse themselves in ice-cold water, a football stadium-sized clothing recycling effort, ketchup turned into cars and ugly vegetables take the main stage.

Companies took CSR efforts to the next level and consumers responded with enthusiasm and participation. As the year comes to a close, Cone Communications has evaluated a year’s-worth of CSR tracking to share the top 10 trends of 2014. 

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Brazil’s Natura Cosmetics Now the World’s Largest B Corp

Leon Kaye | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment
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Natura is a $3B cosmetics enterprise

The B Corp movement continues its momentum, with almost 1,200 certified B corporations spread across 37 nations. Earlier this year the first electricity utility achieved B Corp certification. And last week the “Impact Economy” organization scored its first publicly owned company and largest addition to date: Natura, the second largest cosmetics manufacturer in Brazil with revenues around $US3 billion annually.

Natura, founded in 1969, has always beaten taken a different drum compared to its competitors within the cosmetics sector. The company’s products are generally based on native Brazilian flora, provided such plants can be harvested in a sustainable manner as required by the company’s “bioprospecting” policy. The same products have long been encased in packaging made from recycled or at least recyclable materials. Natura is also a founding member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade and has been praised for including everyday women in its advertising campaigns instead of supermodels. This new B Corp certification will not only burnish Natura’s reputation in the marketplace, but will have more far reaching effects as well.

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Beijing’s “Airpocalypse” Offers Dismal View of Life in Megacities

| Monday December 29th, 2014 | 5 Comments

BJ air pollution-thumb-500x333-9230 Laissez-faire capitalists would have us believe that “free,” unregulated markets and the relentless pursuit of economic growth are the best means of enhancing overall quality of life for the world’s 7-plus billion people [update]. Others note that every system has, and needs, governing rules and that given the authority by their populaces, governments need to provide an essential counterbalance to unbridled greed and the pursuit of monetary and material wealth by individuals and organizations.

Aiming to move beyond GDP as a measure of a society’s overall economic performance, the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) factors social and natural, as well as produced, capital into the equation. Results of the second biennial Inclusive Wealth Report revealed stark differences in 140 nations’ economic performance over the decade to 2012 as measured by GDP and the IWI.

Economic abstractions aside, living conditions and quality of life in megacities around the world offer a stark vision of just where unbridled industrialization, ideas of ‘laissez-faire’ economics and the relentless pursuit of GDP growth lead. It’s not a pretty, or encouraging, picture. As The Guardian’s Ian Wainwright recently reported from Beijing, air and other environmental pollution in this capital city of some 21 million has made it “almost uninhabitable.”

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Australia’s ANZ: The World’s Most Sustainable and Cycling-Friendly Bank?

Leon Kaye | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Melbourne, cycling, bicycling, ANZ, NAB, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, bicycle racks, Docklands, public transportation, Leon Kaye, Australia

Cyclists have ample space to store their bikes at ANZ offices

Judging from many of the comments floating around the internet, bicycling blogs and on Reddit, Melbourne does not have the most bicycling-friendly reputation. But cycling to work is catching on, in part because the state of Victoria requires new buildings to have bicycle racks and showering facilities. Plus the weather is mild most of the year. One bank accepting bicycling whole heartedly is ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group). The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) has already named ANZ as the most sustainable bank in the world on a regular basis: naming it the globe’s most cycling-friendly bank would hardly be a stretch.

Just check out the reaction on Reddit to one unnamed employee’s photos of the bicycling facilities at his ANZ office in Melbourne’s downtown on the Paris end of Collins Street.

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Unique Sustainability-Focused Service Gives Alpine Competitive Advantage

Sustainability4SMEs
| Monday December 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a three-part series on sustainably-focused innovation at Alpine Waste & Recycling. In case you missed it, you can read the first part here

Alpine ASR 1 smallBy Graham Russell

Part 1 of this series showed how Alpine Waste & Recycling used sustainability thinking to establish a position as a sustainability leader in the market. Here, we show how Alpine built upon its initial success to develop a sustainability-focused service product that is unique in the waste industry.

Alpine’s experience, like that of many other companies that have embarked on a serious sustainability-based strategy, is that sustainability builds on itself with new ideas emerging from existing successful initiatives. In Alpine’s case, as the market began to understand that sustainability was a key element in the company’s customer service message and a key point of differentiation from its competitors, the company’s leadership realized that it needed to continue to consciously broaden its range of sustainability-focused services to build on the success of earlier services and sustain momentum in its marketing strategy.

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New Teachers: How to Make Your CV Stand Out

3p Contributor | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments

6276586123_7bfaf2c318_zBy Debbie Fletcher

Your CV is probably the first thing a potential employer will see, so it needs to be good. If you can make a great first impression from your CV, then it’s going to give you more of a chance to get to the interview stage. Let’s say you’ve found a great job over at EduStaff, take some time to look through these tips to make sure you send over a winning CV.

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Starbucks Updates Animal Welfare Standards

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday December 29th, 2014 | 3 Comments

free range chickensStarbucks recently updated its animal welfare standards. They include phasing out sow gestation crates and cages for chickens, eliminating the use of artificial growth hormones, and eliminating the use of fast growing practices for poultry. The standards will aso address concerns related to dehorning, tail docking, and castration, and supporting the responsible use of antibiotics. The updated standards are a continuation of the buying preference in North America the company established in 2009 to use best industry practices for dairy, egg and meat production.

Starbucks stated on its website that its priority is “ensure we offer food made with ingredients such as cage-free eggs, gestation crate-free pork, and poultry processed through more humane systems such as CAK [controlled atmosphere killing].” The company has yet to create timeframes but is working to create them. Despite the lack of timeframes for each issue, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) said in a statement that “this may be the most comprehensive animal welfare policy of any national restaurant chain, because this announcement includes both shell and liquid eggs (which are used for its pastries, which it sells in such volume).”

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The Avian Flu: The Low-Down for the New Year

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday December 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

avian_flu_climate_changeRevelations that two strains of avian flu were detected last week in Oregon and Washington has poultry farmers and some nations around the world on edge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the virus poses little risk to human populations. But what does it mean for the chicken and turkey industry, and how does it affect the average consumer? Here’s what is known so far:

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Good and Bad News For Climate Change Performance

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday December 26th, 2014 | 5 Comments

coal plantLooking at the 10th edition of the Climate Change Performance Index, there is good and bad news. The index, which compares the 58 top carbon-emitting nations, reveals that global carbon emissions reached a new peak. However, the index found that recent developments indicate countries have a new readiness to take action on climate change.

The first three places in the list are unoccupied to remind countries of how much still needs to be accomplished to prevent the worst climate change impacts. The first two occupied spots are taken by Scandinavian countries. Denmark tops the list at No. 4 and Sweden ranks No. 5. Denmark tops the list because of its renewable energy and emissions reductions policies. “Even though emission levels are still relatively high, the country sets an example in how industrialized countries can not only promise, but also implement effective climate protection policies,” the index, published by Germanwatch and CAN Europe, stated.

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Apply for NREL’s Renewable Energy Leadership Academy

Hannah Miller | Friday December 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Turbines at the National Wind Technology Center, part of the NREL research area.

Turbines at the National Wind Technology Center, part of the NREL research area.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, is currently accepting applications for its 2015 National Executive Energy Leadership Academy.

NREL is the only campus in the DOE research network devoted just to renewable research. And its national outreach program, called “Energy Execs,” offers in-depth training on renewable energy to leaders in the private and public sectors, as well as nonprofits and community groups.

There are two NREL Energy Execs programs: the Leadership Program, which is one weekend a month for five months, and the Leadership Institute, a one-week intensive program. The goal of these outreach programs is to immerse decision-makers in the opportunities offered by renewable energy and energy efficiency: technologies, market assessments, and financial and analytical tools. The sample syllabus is here (including field trips.)

Applications online are due by Jan. 16. The five-month program runs from May to September 2015, and the institute will be held April 14-17, 2015.

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Will Energy Skyscrapers Someday Dot the Southwestern Desert?

RP Siegel | Thursday December 25th, 2014 | 117 Comments

tower_newtower_picSometimes you have to think big. That’s certainly what Dr. Phillip Carlson would say. He’s the guy that invented the “energy skyscraper” back in the ’70s. It was a colossal tower that would reach up into the sky to create what you might call artificial weather, which would deliver consistent 50 miles-per-hour winds to the base where an array of wind turbines would convert that wind into electricity.

The principle is basically the same as the chimney effect in which hot air rises and cool air descends. In order for the effect be sufficient to produce significant amount of power, you need a very tall chimney. Spraying water enhances the effect, especially if the air coming up is hot and dry.

Carlson was clearly ahead of his time. After the Arab oil embargo of 1973 came and went, interest in energy went back to sleep as oil had become abundant once again. But the idea was picked up by Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology. They proposed construction of a full scale version in the Southern Arava Desert that would be close to 4,000 feet tall and 2,000 feet in diameter. It’s worth noting that the tallest building in the world today, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, is 2,700 feet tall. Needless, to say, the cost of constructing such an engineering marvel would be prohibitive, which is why the Technion project did not proceed.

But now, an American company called, Solar Wind Energy Tower (SWET) is moving forward with plans to build one of these in Southwest Arizona, outside the town of San Luis, Arizona, and another one across the border in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. Their design is only 2,250 feet tall, practically a miniature version of the original. The company has purchased land and received approval from the city council for the Arizona project. The town has also agreed to provide the water necessary to run the tower for 50 years.

The SWET tower, as designed, is expected to produce some 4 million MW-hours per year; that’s more than the Hoover Dam. If this seems unbelievable, it’s not. The underlying science is sound. That doesn’t mean there won’t be unanticipated problems with these if they ever get built. (See Video below.)

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A Comprehensive Standard For the Aluminum Industry

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday December 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

root beer canThere are many uses for aluminum: It is used in consumers goods, for transportation and even for door knobs. Given the popularity of aluminum, it makes sense to have a comprehensive standard. That is exactly what the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI) created. The goal of the ASI Performance Standard is to improve the industry’s performance through its value chain, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It took a year to develop the standards, which will be implemented through a third-party certification system. It focuses on 11 key issues: business integrity, policy and management, transparency, material stewardship, greenhouse gas emissions, emissions, effluents and waste, water, biodiversity, human rights, labor rights, and occupational health and safety. Certain end-users of aluminum, such as  Audi, BMW Group, Jaguar Land Rover and Nestlé Nespresso SA, said they would purchase certified aluminum.

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5 Innovators That Transformed the Climate Change Battle in 2014

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday December 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Mid-water coral nursery-Eilat2_smallThis was the year for transformative thinking when it came to climate change.

Sure, there has been plenty of hot-button debate over whether global warming truly exists (the comments sections for some of our articles speak loudly enough) and how to address a dilemma that is largely still in the making. But there have also been some remarkably forward-thinking innovators who haven’t shied away from the challenge. From multi-national companies that have inspired global changes in sustainable palm oil sourcing, to a newly-minted nonprofits that created a new way to stop poaching in some of the world’s densest and most remote rain forests, this year’s accomplishments have been worth more than a footnote.

The following are just a handful of the many advancements that were undertaken by companies and nonprofits that saw the opportunity — and need — for change.

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