Top 3 Sustainable Supply Chain Trends for 2015

3p Contributor | Thursday January 8th, 2015 | 2 Comments

By Elisabeth Comere

Sustainable business strategies seem to be the focus of customer companies today, and companies will continue to move forward with full integration across their supply chains in response to the resource crunch. Here are the top three trends for 2015.

 1. Better resource management

Currently companies are facing major barriers to adopting responsible alternatives, like bio-based plastics and FSC-certified fibers, because demand simply isn’t strong enough to put them on a level playing field with conventionally-produced materials. So, how do we raise the bar?

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Paranoia or Flight Risk? United Fires 13 Flight Attendants over “BYE-BYE” Images

Leon Kaye | Thursday January 8th, 2015 | 3 Comments
United Airlines, airport security, OSHA, Hong Kong, San Francisco, flight attendants, Leon Kaye, security, airlines

The graffiti that canceled a flight with 300 people aboard

Earlier this week 13 flight attendants filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against United Airlines. The 26-page document claims that United fired them illegally in retaliation for refusing to fly on a 747 from San Francisco to Hong Kong last summer because of suspicious images and a message scrawled on the tail of the airplane. According to the Chicago Tribune, the flight attendants had a total of almost 300 combined years of experience—not that it mattered to the airline.

According to the complaint, the combination of “BYE BYE” and one face that looked “devilish” worried the crew enough to request that United complete a thorough inspection of the 747 to make sure no explosives were planted within the aircraft. The airline refused, the flight attendants refused to board the plane . . . and then all of them were fired for insubordination.

Are we talking about cautious professionals during an uncertain time, or was this a total overreach?

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Oil Spill in Singapore Strait Puts Endangered Turtles at Risk

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday January 8th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Singapore_Strait_oil_spill_RobertLoweOil spill response companies are rushing to clean up a large oil spill in the Singapore Strait, off the coast of Indonesia, in the hope of stopping the oil slick before it reaches protected turtle nesting areas on Bintan Island, Indonesia.

On Jan. 2, an estimated 4,500 tons (or 33,000 barrels) of crude oil were spilled when the Libyan oil tanker Alyarmouk and a Singaporean cargo ship, Sinar Kapuas, collided approximately 11 nautical miles from the territorially-disputed shoreline of Pedra Branca, Indonesia, northeast of Singapore.

The accident has been classified as a major spill — and one of the largest to have hit the area in years. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPAS) said that satellite images taken over the last few days did not find any evidence that the oil spill had reached the resort beaches of Bintan Island (which is also home to several rare species of turtles), but the agency has not ruled out the possibility that it would make landfall this weekend.

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Bipartisan Group Of Senators Pushes For Distributed Wind

3p Contributor | Thursday January 8th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on CleanTechnica.

1800-570x427By Nick Blitterswyk

A group of Senators recently urged the U.S. Department of Energy to continue funding programs for the domestic distributed wind energy industry.

The bipartisan group, led by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), wrote a letter highlighting the clear potential for distributed wind power to “contribute many gigawatts of electricity similar to other renewable technologies.”

Reactions have been mixed, and that’s understandable. The distributed wind industry has faced a good deal of critique (some of which is warranted). Nevertheless, the senators are correct: Distributed wind is a useful technology, with useful applications, and it stands to benefit from the increasingly attractive economic conditions for distributed generation.

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NRDC Files Lawsuit Over Toxic Pesticide Used In Pet Flea Control Products

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 8th, 2015 | 2 Comments

flea collar When we put flea control products on our pets, we want to kill the fleas on our four-legged friends — not expose ourselves to toxic pesticides. That’s why the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit this week against the Environmental Protection Agency.

Filed in federal court, the lawsuit challenges the EPA’s decision to allow the pesticide tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) to be used in pet flea control products. The lawsuit petitions the court to “review and set aside the final order of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denying NRDC’s request to cancel all pet uses of the pesticide tetrachlorvinphos.”

NRDC has long been concerned about the pesticide. The organization conducted a study in 2007/2008 that found the levels of TCVP residues on the fur of pets wearing flea collars to be unsafe for toddlers. In 2009, NRDC filed a formal petition with the EPA asking the federal agency to not allow TCVP to be used in pet products. NRDC didn’t receive any information about the status of its petition. In February 2014, the organization filed a lawsuit that requested a mandate that the EPA respond to its petition. In May 2014, the EPA promised to respond by the end of October, and in November the federal agency published a safety assessment that, according to the NRDC, “ignores the science and fails to account for the increased vulnerability of kids.”

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The Quick & Dirty: 9 Distractions We Can All Do Without in 2015

Henk Campher
| Wednesday January 7th, 2015 | 3 Comments

15962683759_84742da69a_zI know you are going to be flooded and fooled by a million pieces of cool new trends for 2015. Yawn … How about trends we want to see the end of in 2015? Here are the few I would really like to wave goodbye to this year.

1. The circular distraction

Can we stop making up new jargon for old and tested ideas? Just because some hipster and cooler-than-us-old-skool-sustainability-nerds kid comes up with a fancy new name doesn’t mean it is actually a new idea. A few years ago it was “shared value” that got under my skin – packaging what we’ve been doing for a while into a brand new box. Now everyone is on about the circular economy … Really? Nice that the rest of the world is catching up with what has been at the forefront of sustainability thinking since John Elkington and others opened Pandora’s sustainability box. It’s not new. Just a shiny new name but really a circular distraction.

2. “Everything is sustainable”

No it isn’t. Sustainability is a simple concept of making sure the impact we have today does not impact the ability of future generations to enjoy living on this earth and using those same resources. Simple, right? Then how can tobacco companies call what they do sustainability? They know what the end product does actually kills future generations of potential users. That’s the easy one. Same goes for companies dependent on fossil fuels for their existence. You take stuff from the ground and then use it in a way that doesn’t make it possible to use it again. Yeah, that’s not sustainable. You can be a responsible company, but your main product is not sustainable.

Let’s not confuse the issues, and let’s call it what it is. A hat is a hat. A dog is a dog. Sustainability is sustainability. CSR is CSR. Stick with the accepted definitions. Leave it to politicians to redefine language each election cycle.

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Conditions at Wet Seal Stores Leave Employees Feeling Clubbed

Leon Kaye | Wednesday January 7th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Wet Seal, retail, social media, twitter, the American worker, chain stores, Leon Kaye, layoffs

No mincing words — Wet Seal employees feel screwed.

It is not easy being a mall these days, nor is it easy being a mall store. And it certainly is not easy being a mall store employee with the low pay and lack of benefits that are trademarks of working in retail. Wet Seal, once a symbol of “mall rat” culture, is the latest clothing company to struggle with a shift in consumer shopping trends.

Unfortunately, like other struggling retail chains, Wet Seal is not managing its demise with much grace. After a long court battle, the tween and young women’s clothing company settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit alleging it discriminated against black employees for not fitting the company’s “brand image.” California employees also sued the company over policies such as being forced to purchase Wet Seal clothes and not being reimbursed for travel between locations.

Then there are the mounting financial problems: Wet Seal has lost over $150 million in the past two years, and it recently defaulted on a private placement deal to the tune of $28 million. As the company prepares to close as many as 60 stores by the end of the month, its CFO scored a $95,000 raise.

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Sustainable Packaging Trends for 2015: All About Millennials

3p Contributor | Wednesday January 7th, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Elisabeth Comere

As packaging innovators, it is in our best interest and in the interest of our customers to monitor emerging trends in the industry.

I compiled three distinct ways packaging could evolve in the coming year which have been primarily influenced by millennials, the largest generational group of socially-aware consumers globally.

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California Governor Calls for 50 Percent Renewables By 2030

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday January 7th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Solar panelsOn Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown gave the inaugural address for his fourth gubernatorial term. During the address he praised California’s progress during the last 40 years. He also used the speech to call for new environmental targets — most notably increasing the state’s electricity from renewable sources to 50 percent by 2030.

California first established a renewables portfolio standard (RPS) in 2002, accelerated it in 2006 and expanded it in 2011. Under the current law, all utilities and electricity providers must source 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

As Brown pointed out, California is a leader in renewable energy with the “most far-reaching environmental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.” Since the state is “on track” to meet its 2020 goal, it’s time for new challenges, including increasing the RPS because, as Brown put it, “These efforts, impressive though they are, are not enough.”

In addition to increasing the RPS, Brown proposed two other 2030 goals: reducing the petroleum used in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent, and doubling the efficiency of existing buildings and making heating fuels cleaner.

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The Tyranny of Distance: Reconciling Extended Producer Responsibility with Global Transportation

Sustainable Management at Bard | Wednesday January 7th, 2015 | 1 Comment

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The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. is an industry-funded recycling system that has collected more than 100 million pounds of batteries over its 20-year existence — a prime example of successful EPR.

By Nick Hvozda

Product take-back, a form of extended producer responsibility (EPR), is an important way to implement more sustainable practices. Whether driven by the business case, ethics or legislation, product take-back promotes the practice of recycling, lifecycle assessment and design for durable reuse in secondary markets. It’s also a key component of a circular economy.

Today in the U.S., there are 84 EPR laws covering 12 product categories. As the movement toward product stewardship and closed-loop processes continues to grow, more producers will choose (or be forced) to implement product take-back programs. The growth of reverse logistics from EPR will open opportunities for sustainable businesses to capitalize on the trend. But as this happens, it will be key to consider transport costs, both economic ($) and environmental (CO2).

Imagine a pure scenario: Item X is produced at point A and is transported to point B for sale and use. The original manufacturer is compelled by law to recover Item X at the product’s useful end-of-life to recycle the non-renewable and manmade materials within. For this to happen Item X must make the round trip from Point B back to Point A.

In this scenario, successful product take-back means two times the distance traveled, two times the freight cost, the CO2 emissions, the packaging and the effort. Often it also requires incentivizing the end user to return the product. The energy required for this mechanical work (four times distance) cannot be avoided, and it may make the practice prohibitive. Even if the cost is transferred to the customer in the purchase price, the emissions and carbon cost of the return trip remain. In the global economy, the distance between A and B could be 10,000+ miles.

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Twitter Chat Recap: 2015 CSR Trends w/ PwC & Campbell Soup Co.

Marissa Rosen
| Tuesday January 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Campbells_PWC_TwitterToday, TriplePundit, PwC, PwC Foundation and Campbell Soup Company came together for a special Twitter Chat about sustainability and CR trends for 2015.

This chat explored the big issues in corporate responsibility that are bubbling up in the year ahead.

We took the conversation from basic issues like compliance, reporting and philanthropy to more evolved topics like integrated reporting, B Corps, and triple bottom line philosophy. We covered hot button issues for 2015 such as what we predict will captivate the CR community and what we think will challenge CR practitioners in the year ahead. And, we were happy to have the opportunity to address many of your questions!

So, what will the “hot button” issues be this year?

  • Rebecca Caplan: Director of PwC Charitable Foundation, predicts that 2015 will bring pervasive digitization to the social economy, and nonprofits will be challenged to redefine themselves. Rebecca says that new types of socially-minded organizations will become the norm, and therefore, foundations need to articulate how their value is unique from other CR activities.

And, what will captivate the CR community in 2015?

  • Shannon Schuyler: Principal, CR Leader & President of PwC Charitable Foundation, believes government action around anticipated immigration reform and disaster preparedness will take center stage, along with the sharing economy’s new tools and apps that are changing consumer expectations and interactions.
  • Dave Stangis: VP of Public Affairs & CR at Campbell Soup Company and President of Campbell Soup Foundation, believes shared that he is energized by the integration of CSR and sustainability across the business from R&D, to innovation, operations and marketing.

Rebecca, Shannon, and Dave surely spent an exciting and insightful hour with us at #pwcCR15.

Click below for the “Storify” summary to learn much more from these three – and to see some of your questions and comments, too!

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Hellmann’s Drops Suit, Unintentionally Boosts Vegan ‘Mayo’ Sales

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday January 6th, 2015 | 5 Comments

Hellmanns_Mayonnaise_vegan_Mike_MozartOur perceptions of food are changing, and so is our level of acceptance toward changes to those quintessential recipes we grew up with. Just log into a cooking site and you can find a mayonnaise recipe to fit just about any dietary restriction or preference. No eggs? No problem.

But that isn’t how Hellmann’s, which refers to its egg-full sandwich spread as “real mayonnaise,” saw it. Last November Hellmann’s, owned by Best Foods (which is owned by Unilever), launched a suit against a startup food company for misleading consumers by referring to its new eggless product “mayo.”

The vegan product, boldly called “Just Mayo,” was the brainchild of Hampton Creek, a food tech company based in San Francisco that’s become known for its unorthodox approach to America’s quintessential recipes. In the manufacturing giant’s view, however, the recipe alteration confused consumers and constituted “stealing market share from Hellmann’s.”

After consumers protested and Hellmann’s was accused of tweaking information on its website that suggested that some of its mayo products might also be missing eggs, the company dropped the suit  a week before Christmas.

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Is It Time to Stop Hating the Car? Maybe Not

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 6th, 2015 | 5 Comments

5257242273_8ff3d68332_zBy Reuben Jaffe Goldstein

With electric cars finally making it to the market — at prices that are cost competitive with traditional gasoline-powered cars — many of us are breathing a sigh of relief: There is a viable alternative that will allow us to keep driving.

Fluctuating fuel prices and pollution are not the only costs associated with driving, however. Heavy reliance on automobiles wears down transit infrastructure and encourages sprawl development and other unhealthy practices. If people really wanted a greener world, we would drive less, not just make our driving greener.

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Squandering Our Inheritance

Sustainable Management at Bard | Tuesday January 6th, 2015 | 2 Comments

5444678656_a442e34a0b_zBy Brooke Forde

Revolutionary inventions have taken human civilization from nomadic tribes to mega-cities. Our current behavior, however, is leaving the survival of our species to the generation just now learning the alphabet. Complacency is our death warrant; we are driving head-on into a train while sitting on our hands.

Humans hit the inheritance lottery — evolving on a planet with an amazing and unique collection of ecosystems, spinning through space with the sun as a massive source of energy and light. While current society values monetary capital, we must recognize that natural capital is the only currency that matters. Our very existence depends on maintenance of potable water, breathable air, functional soil and biodiversity. Generations before us prided themselves on innovative progress, self-sufficiency and providing for the future. We squander this legacy.

We are better than this. We have the potential to revolutionize our industry and once again lead. This challenge is the kind that has always strengthened humans, boosted our economy, provided jobs and infrastructure, and made America the economic aspiration for developing countries. We have the ingenuity; we have the capability to change our trajectory from devastation to maintenance. More than iPhones, flat screens and fast cars, maintenance of the natural capital that underpins our existence must hold precedence.

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Why is Slow Fashion So Slow to Catch On?

| Monday January 5th, 2015 | 5 Comments

357995293_2c954a84cc_m We’ve all been there before (or know someone who has): We’re strolling through our neighborhood mall and our eyes catch a glimpse of glossy signs inviting us to escape into a land of cotton and polyester. Dresses $8.99! Sweaters $9.99! Jeans $14.99! Once we step inside the brightly lit, chandeliered store, the mounds of perfectly folded garments, seductively postured manikins and catchy pop music have us hooked. Before we know it, we’re checking out at the register with a bag of reasonably priced clothes that we never planned on buying – and we’ve only spent $35. How can we resist?

For a generation of budget-conscious millennial shoppers, popping into stores like Forever 21, H&M, Uniqlo and Zara – that offer trendy clothes at low prices – has become par for the course. In 2013 alone, those four fast fashion retailers generated a combined $48 billion in global sales. And a recent report by the financial services firm Cowen Group forecasts that fast fashion sales will increase 11 percent year-over-year through 2020.

The realized growth in the fast fashion market has been astounding – and it’s leaving conventional apparel retailers in the dust. The traditional apparel model of selling seasonal lines of clothing, manufactured and marketed months in advance, has been replaced by these bargain brands that rapidly respond to the latest fashion trends and live by just-in-time production. As a whole, consumers have been loving it; yet, recent events have shed light on questionable aspects of fast fashion’s modus operandi that are prompting some consumers to think twice about purchasing those $5 T-shirts.

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