EPA’s Gift to Maritime Industry: Stringent Emission Regs

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday December 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Just in time for holiday gift-giving season the Environmental Protection Agency wrapped-up final regulations that slap stringent emission control standards on ocean vessels and marine diesel engines.

And this is one gift the maritime industry can’t return or exchange.

The EPA this week finalized a rule it proposed in July that sets stringent engine and fuel standards for large U.S. freighters, tankers, container vessels and passenger ships.

The rule also harmonizes the U.S. with international standards for all ships.

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Nopenhagen Wrecks Havoc on Carbon Markets, Cleantech Investment

| Thursday December 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

We can pretend that something was accomplished at Copenhagen last week, but the invisible hand of the market doesn’t b-s. After the close of talks at the Bella Center, with its watered down “accord,” the price to emit a ton of carbon plummeted 10%.

That crash could mean a dearth of investment in clean technology as well as — paradoxically — higher energy prices.

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Building a Path to Sustainable Products

3p Contributor | Thursday December 24th, 2009 | 6 Comments

product-shelfby Kelly Flores

Making your products “sustainable” is no easy task. There are a variety of issues for product managers, designers, and engineers to consider about design, materials, packaging and transportation. In a recent study of best practices, we found that companies approach the challenge of creating sustainable products in several stages.

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Seven Things I Learned about Sustainability in 2009

3p Contributor | Thursday December 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments

By Dennis Salazar

Another year has come and almost gone but it has been an exciting and interesting one, especially in our area of packaging sustainability. In spite of many consumer and alarmists’ claims, packaging is a relatively small portion of our overall environmental problem but it tends to make good headlines. So, especially in a year end review, I try to remove those narrow blinders of our packaging industry and look at sustainability from a much broader perspective.

Here are a few thoughts you might consider and possibly agree with:

Today green initiatives must deliver a quick or immediate ROI
If there was ever any doubt before, the current economic down turn makes it an absolute. Gone are the days of green premiums and allowances; today being a sustainable green business begins with being a sustainable economic business.

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Careers in Wind Farm Development: Financial Analyst

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments

wind energy financeThis is the sixth article in a seven part series on careers in wind farm development. (Be sure to read the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth parts, as well.)

Not all proposed wind farms are economically viable. The role of the financial analyst is to determine which are financially sound. The main variables to consider are the quality of the wind resource, the finance costs, the sale price of generated power, and the overall cost of the project.

“The financial analyst must understand and be able to translate various inputs, such as capital costs, operation & maintenance costs, land lease costs, taxes, wind resource potential, future power prices and project risks into a robust and defensible pro-forma model,” says Ari Pribadi, senior vice president of Marathon Capital, LLC .

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Slow Sales of Honda Insight Give Insight into Hybrid Market

| Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 11 Comments

Are hybrid cars still considered niche, or even — dare we say — “luxury” purchases?

The failure of the lower-cost Honda Insight hybrid to dent the market for the Prius has some in the auto industry answering yes. Business Week reports that the Insight, which was introduced this year with a base MSRP of $19,800, over $2,000 less than the Prius, is still being outsold by Toyota’s car 6 to 1.

The Insight’s sluggish sales is proving a useful cautionary tale to other automakers looking to catch up to Toyota in the hybrid market, and some have already made major strategic shifts as a result.

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Bioplastech Startup Making Plastic Biodegradable

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments

A University College Dublin research team recently patented a process to produce biodegradable plastic from plastic bottles, and that patent has led to the formation of a company, Bioplastech Ltd., to develop, process and market the technology.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, founder and CEO of Bioplastech, led the team and the biodegradable plastic they produce is called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).

The Ireland-based Bioplastech converts waste, agricultural byproducts and petrochemical products into PHA, a linear polyester produced by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids that can store carbon and energy.

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How Walmart Is Expanding the Reach of Fair Trade Coffee

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 4 Comments

In 2008, Walmart launched its own Sam’s Choice coffee label,  which included fair trade certified coffee. Walmart’s website claims that its Sam’s Choice Fair Trade Certified Coffee “guarantees fair prices, direct trade, environmental sustainability, and community development for family farmers.” The CBS’ website, MoneyWatch.com lists coffee as one of the five items to purchase at Walmart. The article points out that this year Walmart began to offer coffee fair-trade certified by TransFair USA in its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. According to the article, the coffee is “sustainably grown by farmers who receive a living wage.”

An April post by Treehugger.com declared, “When the big boys like Walmart or Starbucks make a move, it has impact.” In other words, by selling fair trade certified coffee, Walmart “vastly expands the market for such goods,” as the Moneywatch.com article stated.

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Bioplastic: The 8 Percent Solution

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

The future of plastics once fossil fuels run dry or the price for it becomes too expensive is bioplastics.

But that alternative future is distant, measured in terms of decades, says Frederic Scheer, chairman, president and founder of Cereplast Inc., a Hawthorne, CA, company that designs and manufactures bio-based, sustainable plastics.

Which is not to say that bioplastics’ present is particularly shabby: Scheer says that U.S. demand for bioplastics could exceed $10 billion by 2020. That’s a conservative estimate, he contends, but it’s still a “drop in the bucket” compared to the traditional plastic market, which is about $2.5 trillion.

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Top Five Posts of the Year

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments

Dear Readers,

TriplePundit has had a heck of a year. With your help, we’ve grown to be one of the most widely-read online publications about sustainable business, we’ve brought in many new contributors, and we’ve helped stoke the fires of a new, green economy in many new places. We hope you’ve had a great time reading and engaging with us and we’re ready to kick of January with a lot of new features, partnerships, and content.

To celebrate the end of the year, or crack team of editors has put together a few top-five lists for the year, including this one: The Overall Five Best 3P Stories of 2009.

What happens when a big university donor has a beef with a major guest lecturer? The agenda changes. Or at least, it did when Harris Ranch Beef Co. pressured Cal Poly San Luis Obispo into dis-inviting Michael Pollan as a solo speaker.

It would be nice if our review of American Airlines’ Zero Emissions Zeppelin Service wasn’t an April fool’s hoax. Still, innovations start as dreams, do they not?

“Clean coal” may be a false notion – especially when considering the entire life-cycle of coal power – but we may be left with no better choice than to pursue the myth.

Vehicles using internal combustion engines won’t disappear overnight. The key to boosting their efficiency might just reside in the lowly spark plug.

A group of Stanford brainiacs found a way to boost the fuel of efficiency of aircraft. How? By more closely mimicking birds, and flying in formation.

Be sure to check out the best startup stories of the year and the best greenwash stories, as well.

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Giving Lip Service: How Important is Energy Efficiency, Really?

| Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

If someone were to give you $10,000 for home improvements, how would you spend it? Would you pick ways to make your house look better or choose upgrades that would make your home more energy efficient?

If you are leaning towards beauty over efficiency, you’re in the majority. In this economy, where home sales are non-existent and loans are impossible to come by, some might assume that homeowners would be more likely to find ways to save money on things like their home energy bill. As most of the country heads into what is slated to be a very cold winter, homeowners are probably fearful of opening their first energy bill. Even though many Americans talk about wanting to make their homes more energy efficient, are they really doing anything about it?

Unfortunately the short answer is “no.” According to the Shelton Group’s annual Energy Pulse survey conducted in September, 37 percent of homeowners polled said that if they were handed $10,000 for home improvements, they would choose to refinish the kitchen or bathroom. This is compared to 31 percent who said they would replace windows or 23 percent that would replace their HVAC system.

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Why Best Buy Is the Electronic Recycling King

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

In October, I wrote a post titled Best Buy’s Environmental Efforts. As the likely biggest collector of electronic waste in the U.S., Best Buy merits a second post. A GreenBiz.com article calls Best Buy a “pioneer when it comes to electronics takeback.” The $40 billion a year company has an electronic recycling program allowing customers to bring their used electronics and appliances to any of its 1,044 stores. From there, the goods are sent to recyclers.  Since the free program began in March, it has collected more than 25 million pounds of electronics. In 2008, before offering free recycling, Best Buy collected 43,672 tons of old electronics and appliances.

Best Buy does charge a $10 fee for appliances and television 32 inches or larger, but customers are given a $10 gift card. The company tracks the usage of gift cards in order to determine if recycling offers attract new customers. “We’re trying to see what the behavior patterns are of customers who recycle,” said CEO Brian Dunn. “What do they buy next?”

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Cultivating Creative Teamwork

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

teamworkBy Tane Ross

Many students enrolled in the CCA DMBA program come from creative careers. These careers often require teamwork and collaboration which involve collective problem solving, applications of specialized expertise in visual and conceptual realms and communication skills. However, many teams that we encounter in more traditional businesses feature a hierarchy of leadership and defined processes.  Through my recent experiences in the DMBA program, I’ve become interested in defining a method that stimulates and fosters design thinking in teams to generate outstanding outcomes.

On the first day of class, our professor had us self organize into groups for our Innovation Studio course.  We had only known our classmates for a couple hours, yet we seemed to gravitate toward certain people.  I was lucky to match up with three positive and fair classmates.  For the rest of the semester, we were charged with creating an innovation around General Motors by imagining the company’s future.  The possibilities were endless.

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Is There Such A Thing As Sustainable Gift Giving?

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

The holidays are finally here. Turkey leftovers, the smell of pine and baked apple pie, families snuggling up in warm winter homes. And who can forget that important part of the holidays – the sacred ritual of gift giving. Or more specifically, our annual obligation to support the myth that possessing more material items will make you more complete. Americans of all religions and ethnicities participate in this love affair with consumerism as a patriotic rite of passage. Who wants to be the Scrooge who ruins Christmas with talk of toxic imported toys and overflowing landfills? And who wants to ignore how important this holiday season is to the countless retailers and businesses who count on our shopping fervor to boost their sales into the next calendar year?

Now don’t get me wrong – I love gifts just as much as the next person. But I can’t help but feel this sneaking suspicion that there must be a better way to show our love of family, friends and country. Now that I am becoming involved in the “Design” community through MBA Design Strategy, I begin to question my blind allegiance to this consumer driven pseudo-religious ritual of department store sale celebration and credit card ringing. I can only imagine the massive volume of discarded “gifts” that end up in a landfill year after year. Americans throw away a shocking amount of waste a day – over 4.6 lbs of a day – the majority of which cannot be recycled.

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My Learning Equation: Simplicity + Enjoyment = FUN

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

3p-chalkboardBy J Fristad

The life of an individual pursuing a Master’s Degree parallels anyone taking on a complex professional endeavor; there can be many competing demands for attention, time, and energy. This is knowledge I am gaining first-hand as a student in the MBA in Design Strategy program at CCA. Juggling the competing demands of work, family relationships and school is a serious challenge.

It is also a lesson in time-management, with an even greater inherent challenge – how to have a fun time while doing it! This is a learning experience that reaches beyond just graduate studies and into professional life as well. It applies to anyone who finds their daily experience becoming less enjoyable as their responsibilities increase.

Often, those individuals who pursue a Master’s degree already have many years invested in a career. Many have spouses/significant others, children, financial commitments such as a mortgage, car payment or undergraduate school loan. Whatever the particulars, each requires significant attention and resources that have the potential to distract from graduate studies.

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