The Hershey Company announced this week that it exceeded its goal for sourcing certified cocoa. Hershey, the largest chocolate maker in the U.S., sourced 18 percent of cocoa globally in 2013 from certified farms. That is almost double the 2013 goal of 10 percent, which means one-fifth is being sourced through sustainable practices.
Hershey is on track to meet its goal of 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020, the goal it set in 2012 after much pressure by the advocacy group, Green America. The company’s next milestone is to reach between 40 and 50 percent by 2016. The certified cocoa is verified by independent auditors, including UTZ Certified, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance Certified. Hershey also announced that its Scharffen Berger brand reached its goal to source 100 percent certified cocoa by the end of 2013. All Scharffen Berger brands are now Rainforest Alliance Certified. Hershey’s Bliss chocolates and Hershey’s Dagoba organic chocolate reached the same goal in 2012.
Every Wednesday at 4pm PST / 7pm EST (and every once in a while at other times) TriplePundit will take 45 minutes or so to chat with interesting leaders in the sustainable business movement. These chats are broadcast on our Google+ channel and embedded via YouTube right here on 3p.
The sharing economy is a movement of movements emerging from the grassroots up to solve today’s biggest challenges, which traditional institutions can’t manage alone. New and exciting solutions are changing how we produce, consume, govern, and solve social problems. In the same vein, the maker movement, collaborative consumption, the solidarity economy, open source software, open government, and social enterprise are a few of the movements showing a way forward based on sharing. At the core of this societal turnaround is both modern and infinite wisdom – “that it’s only through sharing, cooperation, and contribution to the common good that it’s possible to create lives and a world worth having”.
What do you know (or want to learn) about the “Sharing Economy?” On Wednesday, January 29th, TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, engaged in a conversation with Neal Gorenflo (Founder of Shareable) and Nicco Mele (Founder of EchoDitto). Click PLAY below to watch and learn!
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) expired on Dec. 31, and the wind industry is waiting to see if it will be extended, causing great financial uncertainty. The credit was extended on Jan. 1, 2013, for one year, but has been a source of contention in Congress. The uncertainty around the tax credit has made mid- and long-term planning in the renewable energy industry difficult because the tax credit has such a significant impact on the financial viability of projects. It has lapsed several times over the last 20 years and was extended at the last minute for 2013.
The PTC is a 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour credit for electricity generated by wind, geothermal and closed-loop biomass projects for the first 10 years of operation. It also credits 1.1 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity for landfill gas, anaerobic digestion, hydroelectric, municipal solid waste, hydrokinetic power, tidal energy, wave energy and ocean thermal.
There was a boom in wind farm construction in late 2012, as developers pushed to complete projects because the future extension of the tax credit was unknown. Despite the extension of the tax credit into 2013, wind farm construction was relatively slow over the year because many projects were pushed through in 2012. During the first three quarters of 2013, 2,400 MW of wind capacity were under construction, according to the American Wind Energy Association. By comparison, there were 8,400 MW of wind capacity under construction in the first three quarters of 2012. Although the PTC was designed to help the industry, it has created boom and bust cycles and made planning difficult.
Is the PTC an important aspect of tax policy and should it be extended again?
What do you get when you cross a fuel cell with a cell tower? Would that be a fuel tower? Or perhaps a fuel cell cell tower? Probably the best people to ask would be the folks at Sprint since they just received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to install hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology as backup power to a number of their network sites.
The technology, still in development, would actually provide innovative approaches for rooftop fuel cell deployments. One approach being explored is a modular and lightweight fuel cell solution that can be installed without cranes and can be refueled from the ground – eliminating the need to transport fuel to rooftops.
The company proposed the use of fuel cells as a cleaner alternative to the more common diesel-powered backup generators, citing them as a way to avoid greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the risk of ground contaminants and higher maintenance costs. Unlike fossil fuel-based generators, HFCs generate electricity with no environmentally undesirable greenhouse gas emissions. As a company, Sprint strives to limit the deployment of new fossil fuel generators. Sprint is working to reduce its GHG emissions by an absolute 20 percent by 2017.
Probably one of the most innovative sharing economy models to come along, FlightCar was started by three college dropouts: Kevin Petrovic, Shri Ganeshram and Rujul Zaparde (actually Petrovic and Zaparde didn’t even make it to orientation). It’s the quintessential proof that sometimes ingenuity, drive and moxie can carry you almost as far as a degree. Their idea was to offer the harried airline passenger a way to avoid parking their car at the airport, where fees mount up and become an added overhead to vacations and business trips.
“FlightCar lets people parking at the airport rent their vehicles out to other travelers,” says the company website. To ensure that there are no liability hassles, every car is insured with a $1 million policy. The renter pays a nominal cost for the use, and the owner gets a free car-cleaning and 20 cents per mile. In a metropolis like San Francisco, that change can add up.
Their idea was so popular that it garnered $5.5 million in venture capital and a roll-out at SFO, which is owned by the city. As the trio quickly found out, not everyone is fond of the sharing economy concept.
Social Stirrings - Ben & Jerry’s got serious about its “ice cream for the people” philosophy on April 26, 1984, the day the company made its first stock offering. That is when they really started sharing the company’s wealth with the communities that supported it. That was the day the company went public—but only Vermont residents could buy the stock. Co-founder Ben Cohen said the sale allowed Ben & Jerry’s to give its best customers a piece of the action.
The company needed to raise $750,000 in equity to finance a $3.25 million ice cream plant in Waterbury, about 10 miles east of Burlington, Vt. Business was booming, and the prospects for expansion were bright. Or so the founders thought. Then Ben and Jeff Furman, a long-time board member whose co-workers often describe as “the ampersand in Ben & Jerry’s,” tried to get a loan. Jeff remembers applying to dozens of banks before they found one that would even consider lending money to anyone who looked and acted like they did. And the bank officer added that he needed to see some equity first.
Ben came up with the idea to restrict the stock offer to people who lived in Vermont, with a minimum purchase of 12 shares at $10.50 apiece. Nearly everyone who heard the idea said that it was naïve and impractical. They told Ben that the stock offer could not reach its goal under those restrictions. But Jeff and Chico Lager – general manager, president and CEO from 1981 through 1990 – finally agreed to the plan because Ben would not back down. The fundraising deadline was upon them. They needed to stop arguing and do something. Ben set the course, and they followed it.
We at BGI congratulate the Seahawks on their exhilarating victory over a major rival. As we await the next big game, we want to also express our admiration for the Seahawks and what their sustainability efforts provide to the Seattle community even when the game is over.
By Julie Fox Gorte, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Sustainable Investing, Pax World Investments
I recently attended the 2014 Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the United Nations, along with more than 500 other financial leaders, most of them members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk. At that meeting, Ceres, the Summit’s organizer, released the Clean Trillion report calling on investors to scale up clean energy investment to at least $1 trillion by 2030. This is the level of investment that the International Energy Agency estimates will be needed to keep additional global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, beyond which the impact of climate change is judged catastrophic. While the goal is achievable, it will be challenging.
As always, this chat was an hour long and began with a brief interview. We then opened it up to audience members who wanted to talk about the meaning of “sustainable fish.”
The video below is a recap of the event, as it happened. The insights shared by Cari, Cheryl, and Kristofor might make you reconsider some of your daily actions, and help you think about the future of sustainable fishing.
Itron Incorporated, a global company that provides metering equipment, software and solutions to the electric power, natural gas and water utility industries, just released the results of a customer survey in a report that they call The Resourceful Index.
Why resourcefulness? Sharelynn Moore, Itron’s vice president of corporate marketing and public affairs, speaks of resourcefulness in terms of “the ability to run more efficiently with solutions that empower both utilities and consumers.”
In other words, it’s about the utilization of technological resources in the pursuit of more efficient utilization of natural resources in the face of increasing demand. Why does this matter? According to Moore, “We believe that the way that the world manages energy and water is going to define the next century.”
That being said, they went out and surveyed some 600 utility executives around the world, along with 800 “knowledgeable customers.” According to Itron CEO Phillip Mezey, who I spoke with last week, “The survey was a chance for us to find out what our customers unmet needs and concerns are, as well as their priorities.”
Procter & Gamble announced on Jan. 27 that it’s removing phosphates from all of its laundry detergents worldwide over the next two years. This announcement will apply to all of its brands, including Tide, Ariel, Ace and Bonux. Phosphates are added to laundry detergents to soften water and keep dirt in the laundry water. However, when phosphates get into water sources, such as lakes or rivers, it “leads to algae growth and poor water quality,” according to the U.K. government agency, Environment Agency. Phosphates are a “major source of pollution in lakes and streams,” a Colorado State University webpage states.
An article in the Guardian points out a few things concerning this announcement, including the fact that P&G already removed phosphates from laundry detergents sold in the U.S. due to a nationwide ban instated in 1993. A few years ago the company removed phosphates from detergents sold in Europe. However, many developing countries lack phosphate regulation and this is where the biggest impacts will occur.
Although smaller companies like Belgian Ecover or American Seventh Generation have already removed phosphates, P&G is much bigger. P&G has more than 25 percent of the global market share and is sold in approximately 70 countries, serving about 4.8 billion people with its many brands. P&G is the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world today. As the Guardian quotes Giovanni Ciserani, P&G’s group president of global fabric and home care, “It’s a win-win when you offer consumers a better product which is also environmentally friendlier. Whenever you force them into a trade-off, you get a limited result.”
In 1999, Rocky Mountain Institute co-founder and chief scientist Amory Lovins co-authored a piece for the Harvard Business Review entitled “A Road Map for Natural Capitalism.” It aimed to come up with a new economic model that took the needs of sustainability into account. This article laid out the business logic for solving environmental problems while also generating a profit for the companies involved – true win-wins, in other words.
“The real problem with our [current] economic compass is that it points in exactly the wrong direction,” he wrote. “Most businesses are acting as though people are still scarce and nature abundant… But the pattern of scarcity is shifting; now, people aren’t scarce, but nature is.”
It is no longer news that the “big six” have upped energy prices by another 10 percent, after previously promising no increases. With energy prices steadily rising by 7 percent every year, we are on course for much slimmer accounts in the next five years. The impact of our excess energy consumption can be readily seen in the environment. Freak storms, weeks of rain and extreme snowfall are all byproducts of burning fossil fuels.
In the midst of these, one reads about government cutting funding for local councils. It is also quite disheartening to learn that the U.K. government has once again reduced the budget for the National Health Service (NHS). For a government that claims to be committed to sustainability and championing renewable energy use, the government doesn’t seem to be putting their money where their mouth is.
In Part 1 of this case history, we described how a small Nebraska landscape architecture firm controls its costs and in Part 2, we looked at how it keeps its staff motivated and productive through sustainable business practices.
Frequently overlooked in sustainability literature, amidst all the noise about renewable energy, energy efficiency, water conservation and other resource productivity improvement measures, is the fact that more and more large corporations have adopted business strategies to bring to market new products and services designed to address the world’s sustainability challenges and create new revenue streams. High visibility examples include GE’s Ecomagination and IBM’s Smarter Planet strategies.
Big Muddy Workshop, Inc. (BMW) is an unusual example of a small company that used changing local climate conditions and concerns about the adverse impact of stormwater runoff to expand its expertise and develop new, green infrastructure (GI) services for its clients.
Over the past 30 years the climate of eastern Nebraska, where the landscape architecture and green infrastructure design services firm does most of its business, has shifted into a warmer zone (as defined by the USDA). During this time, more frequent and severe periods of drought have occurred in the region. In recent years particularly, this shift has been accompanied by increasing constraints on local parks and recreation budgets.
Giovanni Ciarlo is a musician, father, craftsman and educator. Born in Morcone, Italy, he grew up in Latin America. He and his wife Kathleen Sartor split their time between a home in Watertown, Conn., and Tepoztlan, Mexico.
In the mid-1970s, Ciarlo and Sartor were part of an international theater group called “The Illuminated Elephants.” The members of the troupe were young, in their 20s and 30s. They had met each other around the world, drawn together by a common desire to do theater and a shared consciousness of social issues, especially those faced by indigenous people around the world.
This group of upstart, non-conformist artists had a vision. Ciarlo says it began with a simple thought, “We can create a community that is totally integrated with nature; use the artistic impulse to create something totally ecological.” They were motivated by a question: Can we create a village from scratch that can last for generations, and go on and thrive?
Santa Barbara: Apr 2 – Apr 4 ECO:nomics The Wall Street Journal’s celebrated ECO:nomics conference brings together global CEOs, top entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and environmental experts for discussion and debate about the most critical issues. Register here.
San Diego: Apr 24 – Apr 27 Social Venture Network Spring Conference SVN conferences convene and connect influential, innovative business leaders, impact investors and cultural entrepreneurs to create an experience where attendees can share the ideas and resources they need to succeed and grow. Register here.
New York: May 13 – May 14 Shared Value Leadership Summit For business leaders and problem solvers who see exciting market opportunities at the intersection of business goals and societal challenges, the Shared Value Initiative is the leading community shaping research, partnerships, and practices. Register here.
Southern California: May 19 – May 21 Fortune Brainstorm Green As the premier conference on business, sustainability, and green investing, Brainstorm GREEN delivers fresh thinking, actionable solutions, and unparalleled opportunities to build top-level relationships. Register here.
San Diego: Jun 2 – Jun 5 Sustainable Brands 2014 Discover what happens when brand strategists & designers connect with sustainability teams to drive innovation. 20% discount with code NW3pSB14sd. Register here.
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