Are Trucking Companies Going Green?

3p Contributor | Thursday December 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment

sustainability for truckingBy Chandler Magann

According to the United Nation’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013, a good portion of corporations took the initiative to improve sustainability in 20 management practices. These include:

  • Management systems: 66 percent
  • Consumption and responsible use: 65 percent
  • Cleaner and safer production: 62 percent
  • Employee training and awareness: 62 percent
  • Three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle): 59 percent
  • Impact assessment: 51 percent
  • Supply-chain arrangements: 31 percent
  • Eco-design: 25 percent

And 15 percent of supply chains are rewarding these efforts with good sustainability performance. However, not all the news is good. Some big-name corporations don’t consider trucking as a long-term, sustainable form of transportation. Two examples are Kraft Foods and Unilever. Kraft Foods wanted to reduce the amount of miles from its global transportation network, and it did so. From 2005 to 2010, they successfully eliminated 60 million miles of transportation, and they hope to cut an additional 50 million miles by the 2015. Unilever also wants to reduce the impact of carbon emissions from its truck fleets. It hopes that by 2020 the CO2 emissions from its global logistics network will be at or below 2010 levels despite significantly higher volumes. This will represent a 40 percent improvement in CO2 efficiency. Unilever plans to reach this milestone by reducing truck usage and using lower-emission vehicles, such as rail and ships.

Trucking is becoming more sustainable

Despite the initial urge to eliminate trucks altogether, a growing number of businesses are taking an environmentaly responsible approach to trucking and making it part of their sustainable logistics plans. More than 100 companies now have hybrid trucks in their fleets. These companies include Pepsi, Coke, AT&T, UPS, Kraft and several more. Kraft Foods began using diesel-electric hybrid delivery trucks in 2009. The company projects the vehicles will use 30 percent less fuel compared to their traditional diesel-powered counterparts.

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Clothes Shopping: Deciphering Useful Info From Care Tags

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments

green shopperLack of transparency in the clothing industry makes it difficult to make informed purchasing choices. If you don’t want to conduct a major research project before making purchases, care tags can provide some useful information for healthy and green clothing purchases.

Tags typically indicate where a product is made, how to launder it and what materials are used. Read on for four ways care tags can help you purchase more sustainable products.

1. Avoid flame retardants

Synthetic chemicals are widely used on flammable petroleum-based products. Over the last four decades, these chemicals have grown in popularity and are now commonly found on textiles, furniture and electronics.

Among the most toxic are brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Studies indicate that PBDEs are endocrine disruptors, interrupting the hormone processes in the body. They may also cause liver and thyroid toxicity. Even minimal exposure at critical points in development can cause difficulties in learning, motor skills, memory and hearing, as well as damage to reproductive systems.

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Sustainability at 35,000 Feet: A Look at Business Aviation and Climate Change

| Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 9 Comments

How can business aviation reduce its carbon footprint?When Detroit’s Big Three automakers flew their corporate jets to Washington, D.C. in 2008, to plead Congress for a $25 billion bailout, those airplanes conveyed not just their contrite passengers but also a public image of corporate aviation as an excessive luxury — how the “one percent” get around (including some preachy environmentalists).

Portraying this ill-advised PR blunder on the part of Detroit’s CEOs — they could have at least made the trip in one airplane — as emblematic of business aviation in general oversimplifies the role and importance of general and business aviation.

Still, for most of us it’s easy to look at a corporate jet as a limousine with wings. The purview of large corporations and overpaid CEOs. In fact, of the 15,000 business aircraft registered in the United States, only 3 percent are in use by Fortune 500 companies, according to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

A scheduled airline runs most efficiently on a hub-and-spoke system, but scheduled air carriers serve only about 500 airports in the United States, and that number is declining. Most U.S. airlines only fly into 70 major airports. General aviation business aircraft have access to more than 5,000 and go where and when needed.

Business aviation includes everything from the traffic helicopter guiding your morning commute, to a piston single-engine, four-seater Cessna providing access to remote communities, to the sleek corporate jet flying non-stop from New York to Dubai. The types of aircraft represent a cross-section of the organizations that use them — governments, NGOs, universities and businesses of all sizes.

Access, flexibility and specific use requirements make the case for business aviation. But at what cost? It takes a lot of fossil fuel to power a global aviation system. Even if general and business aviation is a small subset of the global industry, its carbon footprint is not insignificant.

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Business Leaders and #BlackLivesMatter

| Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Ferguson protests in Washington, D.C. on November 25th.

Ferguson protests in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 25.

We’re in a scary moment in the U.S. Police keep killing unarmed people, and a lot of those individuals who have lost their lives happen to have brown skin. The failed indictments of Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo — police officers responsible for the deaths of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner — have communities around the country on edge.

TriplePundit is a business publication. At first glance, this issue may not seem like it’s in our scope. Is it even appropriate for us to speak about protests that are spilling into the street if they don’t have a direct impact on the business world? Or do they? I decided to take a little editorial leeway and explore the issue.

The question remains: Do issues of societal unrest have a place in corporate responsibility conversations?

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New Outbreak of Avian Influenza Hits Canadian Poultry Farms

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPoultry is big business for British Columbia, Canada’s southwestern province, where fertile land, mild climate and a well-nurtured agricultural industry have become the spawning grounds for a $400 million business. At least a half-dozen countries look to BC’s fertile Fraser Valley for turkey, chicken, duck and egg production, particularly at Christmas time, when turkey sales are a vital resource for the hundreds of farms that populate this area.

So, last week’s report that two farms in the Fraser Valley were infected with the H5 avian flu meant potentially big problems for farmers across the girth of BC’s most populous valley.

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State Attorneys General Make Secret Pact With Big Oil to Oppose EPA

RP Siegel | Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Child in roadLast week I wrote a story about the outpouring of support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan among both businesses and state legislators. Of course, with a measure dealing with a subject as volatile as climate change, not everyone is going to agree on the course of action, or whether action should even be taken.

But you might be surprised to learn who is opposing this and how they are going about it. A story broke in last week’s New York Times about how various energy companies had formed a secretive alliance with a group of state attorneys general. For example, Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent a letter to EPA officials, asserting that the agency was grossly overestimating the amount of carbon pollution being generated by natural gas wells operating in the state. What Mr. Pruitt failed to mention, as the Times learned through an open records request, was that the letter had been written by attorneys for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s largest oil and gas companies, and then cut and pasted directly onto the attorney general’s letterhead.

In other words, Mr. Pruitt was using the power of his office to give the oil company’s appeal more clout, insinuating, if not outright stating, as a letter from an attorney general is apt to do, that legal action could potentially follow. The email exchange obtained by the Times revealed notes from the company, heartily thanking Pruitt for his help.

A similar pattern plays out in at least a dozen states. Corporate donations to the political campaigns of attorneys general exceeded $16 million this year, collected by the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Scott Pruitt heads.

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Young v. UPS and the Rights of Pregnant Women in the Workforce

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments

15747976465_a9e2b753e6_zLast week, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Young v. UPS, a case that could change the way pregnant women are treated by their employers.  The case will force conservative justices to choose between two core right-wing constituencies: anti-choice activists and pro-business groups.

The facts

In 2006, Peggy Young was in her fifth year as a part-time driver for UPS, a position which required her to move mostly envelopes and small packages.  When she became pregnant, her doctor advised her against lifting more than 20 pounds for the duration of her pregnancy.  UPS policy requires all drivers to be able to lift up to 70 pounds at a time, so Young asked the company if she could be put on “lighter duty” while pregnant — i.e., if she could answer phones or work a desk job — which UPS provided for employees who were (i) disabled, (ii) had been injured on the job or (iii) had lost their commercial driver’s license.

UPS denied Young’s request, reasoning that pregnancy was neither a disability nor an on-the-job injury and therefore did not warrant a lighter-duty assignment.  Instead, she was put on immediate unpaid leave and lost her benefits — including her health insurance — for the next nine months.

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Video: R. Paul Herman of HIP Investor Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Wednesday December 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

paul “At HIP Investor we rate investments on their overall sustainability, future risk and return, and a key element of every investment and company that you invest in is the diversity of its staff, managers, executives and board,” R. Paul Herman, founder and CEO of HIP Investor, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.

“What we find in investing is: The most diverse staffed companies tend to be the strongest performers, so they can make more money and have lower risk.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Herman goes on to describe how diversity is a part of sustainability — and how it can boost bottom-lines and investment portfolios — in this two-minute clip.

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Swiss Company Develops Sharp Looking, Compostable Fabric

Leon Kaye | Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Freitag, fashion, textile industry, Leon Kaye, compostable fabric, hemp, modal, linen, biodegradable

Freitag has developed 100 percent compostable fabric

There’s no question that the global textile industry has a massive effect on the planet, much of it negative. From workers’ rights to factories to the pesticides used on cotton farms, the social and environmental impacts are evident across the entire supply chain. Efforts such as the Better Cotton Initiative have started to make a difference, but the industry still has a long ways to go. The Swiss company, Freitag, however, is on not only on a quest to transform how fabric is manufactured, but to change how it is disposed—as in composting.

Founded by two brothers, Freitag has been in business since 1993 and employs about 160 people. The company owns 10 stores in central Europe and Japan, and has over 50 products on the market. In addition to turning truck tarps into heavy-duty bags, the company produces what it says is 100 percent compostable fabric.

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Why B Corps Should Expand Their Health and Wellness Programs

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is a weekly series of excerpts from the new book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 2014). Click here to read the rest of the excerpts.

BCorp_Patagonia_Ad_02By Ryan Honeyman

Certified B Corporations are companies that have met rigorous, independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. However, like any company, there are always areas of improvement.

One of the best areas for B Corps (and other sustainable businesses) to improve is by providing health and wellness programs to their employees. These programs usually focus on things like stress management, mental health, fitness, nutrition and work/life balance.

In addition to helping individual workers, healthy living programs have been shown to enhance a company’s bottom line. For example, Johnson & Johnson estimates that its health and wellness program had a return on investment of $2.71 for every dollar spent between 2002 and 2008. A study of a different employer found an even higher return: Every dollar invested in healthy interventions yielded $6 in health-care savings.

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Utilities Roll Out Home Energy Analytics to Over 1.5 Million

| Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bidgely logoAiming to build a mass market for energy efficiency products and services, energy industry startups and established players are rolling out a range of connected demand response and demand management products and services for homes and businesses. They range from smart thermostats and home energy management apps to lighting controls, solar energy and battery storage systems.

Positioned at the leading edge of the U.S. residential solar market, SolarCity, SunPower and others are working with public and private partners to commercialize the first generation of home solar-battery storage systems, as well as link in electric vehicles (EVs) and EV charging stations. Companies such as Nest (acquired by Google in a $3.2 billion transaction this past January) are leveraging the power of cloud computing in a bid to build a mass-market home energy management platform.

SolarCity just announced it is launching a mobile app “that aims to strengthen its relationship with customers by providing real-time energy use data and creating a social network for its customers to swap stories and photos,” Forbes’ Ucilla Wang reports in a Dec. 5 article.

Facing real competition from new market entrants for the first time since the dawn of electricity grids, utilities are keen to be part of the action. On the other hand, they are taking reactionary, rearguard action to stem market and environmental regulatory reforms that would accelerate the pace of change.

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5 Reasons to Move Corporate Responsibility Out of the CR Department

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Opening panel at the 12th Annual CBSR Summit 'The Transformational Company Embedded'

Opening panel at the 12th Annual CBSR Summit: ‘The Transformational Company Embedded.’

By Elizabeth Dove

Recently, Patagonia announced it was shutting down its sustainability department. Instead, the outdoor clothing and gear manufacturer is taking the responsibilities for sustainability to the entire company through a decentralized approach. Spokespeople for the company have said that management could see the limitations of a sustainability department framework with respect to involving the entire company in having positive impact on the planet.

Through the presentations at the Nov. 26 CBSR Summit in Toronto, a number of smart business arguments emerged about making sure corporate responsibility (CR) gets out of the CR (or CSR or Sustainability or ESG or … ) department and into other parts of the company. They just might start other businesses noodling about the value of following Patagonia’s example of shutting down the department altogether.

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Energizing the Supply Chain

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

561986434_8d3f729bd0_zBy Andre de Fontaine

Many companies know the value of managing and saving energy within their own walls. The company and its employees benefit from lower utility bills, better comfort and more efficient working spaces.

This is especially true for manufacturers. These companies view energy as integral to global competitiveness, increased productivity and profitability; as a result, the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole has made impressive gains in energy efficiency. Now, a small, but growing, number of companies that have pushed energy efficiency to the boundaries within their own facilities are looking outside their fence lines to help their suppliers reduce energy waste and costs.

Up to 60 percent, and sometimes more, of a manufacturing company’s energy and carbon footprint can reside upstream in its supply chain — from raw materials, transport and packaging, to the energy consumed in intermediate manufacturing processes.

By sharing energy efficiency knowledge with suppliers, manufacturers have the ability to influence the efficiency of the entire supply chain — and further lessen the overall carbon footprint of the goods they produce.

To help manufacturers make energy efficiency more visible in their supply chains, the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Challenge — a national, voluntary industrial energy efficiency leadership initiative — is working with a select group of Better Plants partners to extend and promote the benefits of energy efficiency to suppliers. DOE helps partners and their suppliers improve efficiency through a series of energy management webinars, access to energy-saving tools and calculators, and energy audits.

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Video: Diana Sánchez of Savvy – Marketing for Good Talks Diversity at NI14

| Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

savvy

“Sustainability is a worldwide issue. It’s something that every person on the planet should be aware of,” Diana Sánchez, CEO and co-founder of Savvy – Marketing for Good, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis last month.

“And, well, the world is a diverse place, so when we talk about sustainability and diversity everyone should be involved to tackle the same issues.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Sanchez, who is originally from Mexico City, goes on to describe why companies should care about diversity and how it can help them with innovation and longevity.

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So You Want to Be a Sustainable Business?

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

stop collaborate listen

By April Brown

You might be asking yourself: What does a sustainable business look like? Where do I start?

The path toward organizational sustainability will look a little different for everyone. Simply speaking, a good first step is to make a plan that includes sustainability goals and activities that will support the organization in becoming more sustainable over time: It’s a journey, not a destination.

“In my opinion, there are four primary areas that you should consider when developing a sustainability investment plan: management infrastructure, eco-efficiency programs, strategic initiatives and marketing programs,” reflects Geoffrey Barneby of the FairRidge Group.

“Clearly, there is a need to address these areas somewhat sequentially; you cannot successfully market sustainability before making strategic changes, and you cannot develop strategic initiatives without already having an appropriate management infrastructure in place.  There is, however, room for overlap and most mature companies manage to do all four in parallel.”

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