We hear the terms reduce, recycle and reuse a lot. The words have practically become battle cries in most elementary schools these days. One company, though, is applying a new phrase to its sustainable packaging efforts: re-imagine. Icebreaker, a New Zealand outdoor apparel company, is asking its younger customers not to throw away or even to recycle the wrapping in which their fleece arrived. Icebreaker is designing packaging that can be turned into objects of creativity: toys, jewelry boxes and pencil cases.Click to continue reading »
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San Francisco, well known for implementing city-wide sustainability measures, is also renowned for its nightlife. But, as San Fran-based startup Green & Tonic asks, does San Fran’s eco-focus impact the city’s clubs and bars? If the organization’s numerous projects – aimed at helping the bar industry become more sustainable – are any indication, the answer is yes.
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Those concerned with border-related conflicts and those concerned with climate change may, if the Center for Naval Analysis is correct, share some unexpected common ground. The Center, an American military-research institute, reported that climate change has the potential to multiply instability in some of the world’s already volatile regions. The report is aptly named: “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.” It begins, “…Global climate change presents a new and very different type of national security challenge.”
The US Dept. of Agriculture’s proposed approval of an ArborGen plan to plant more than 250,000 genetically engineered eucalyptus trees on 330 acres of land across seven southern US states has resulted in a storm of protest and more than 17,400 negative public comments.
The trees have been genetically engineered to be tolerant to cold weather, produce less lignin and altered their fertility characteristics in an effort to produce a fast growing feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. Dubbed “frankentrees,” environmental groups including the regional Dogwood Alliance have quickly put together a STOP GE Trees Campaign.
Industrial eucalyptus tree farming is already a highly contentious and heavily criticized issue. Adding genetic modification to the mix only compounds the high risks and potential costs of the plan. Among the many and varied criticisms of the proposal, environmental groups point out that eucalyptus trees are not native to North America, are highly invasive, reduce biodiversity and push out native species. Yet more disruptive, they soak up large amounts of ground water, are highly flammable and exacerbate drought conditions, critics of the plan point out. Click to continue reading »
Thanks to an environmental law, effective regulatory and recycling systems, and the cooperation of the agricultural industry, Brazil has become a world leader when it comes to recycling the wide variety of plastic and cardboard containers used to store agrochemicals.
Established in December 2001, the country’s non-profit National Institute for Processing Empty Containers (INPEV) has had remarkable success in implementing a shared system of responsibility for collecting, recycling and disposing of agrochemical packaging– from cardboard and plastic drums to cement containers and fuel oil packages.
Up to now, financed 17% by recycling revenue and 83% by the agrochemical industry, the program is costing Brazil R$50 million (~$25.9 million) a year. That’s due to change. Aiming to make it self-sufficient by 2015, Brazil has opened a facility that can produce new, certified agrochemical packages from recycled plastic sourced from used packages–the first of its kind in the world– and earned international certification for the products. Click to continue reading »
People don’t really think that when they toss an empty cup–or an old ink cartridge, or whatever–into a trash can, that the item just, poof, disappears. Right? I mean, no one really thinks that. Regardless of whether they do, many people act as if that’s the case. Out of site, out of mind.
And so in an effort to give a face and a story to some of the trash that’s tossed in test sites in London, New York City and Seattle, a group of MIT researchers plan on using crews of volunteers to help them toss a few thousand wireless tracking devices out along with the trash. Then, they’ll use cellular networks and a cool GUI to track the whereabouts of the garbage for the next few months, giving an end-of-life story to the discarded goods and – hopefully – telling the tale of what happens to stuff after it’s thrown away. They say doing so will make everyone think twice before they eighty-six stuff rather than recycling it or disposing of it in a proper manner.
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This is probably way off, and may not even happen, but it certainly paints a nice picture of growing positive sentiment for cleantech.
According to a Reuters write-up of a United Nations report released this week, “Investment advisors and asset managers could be sued for negligence if they do not consider the environment and other social issues when making investment decisions.”
Now, I’m not much on religion, but that would certainly be an Hallelujah moment.
A “plant-a-tree” campaign doesn’t necessarily leap to mind as the pinnacle in innovative cause marketing. In fact, when I first heard about Government Solutions Group, a company that facilitates cause-related marketing between brands and state parks, it conjured images of elementary school students filing into fields with their seedlings tucked inside paper cups for a group planting. I had no idea of the magnitude of GSG’s work and how strategically sound their programs are in authentically uniting brands with a cause that literally touches every community, every generation and just about every environmental issue you can think of from water to wildlife. Shari Boyer, CEO, took some time to expand my view on state park programs, and share her unique insights on how to effectively align your brand with a cause that’s as close as your own backyard. Click to continue reading »
Last month American Insurance Group (AIG) closed its climate change program, which included keeping an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. The only thing left is the Global Marine and Energy division, but nothing that directly tackles climate change. The Global Marine and Energy division contains some of the “company’s most robust portfolio of renewable energy providers,” as a New York Times article put it.
AIG has not released an official statement about closing the climate change program, so the reasons why it closed it are only speculation. However, according to Treehugger, “It’s assumed that it was a budgetary decision–clean energy is deemed too risky, too low on reward right now.”
Esurance was founded in 1999 during the peak of the dot com boom. It was the first auto insurer to offer its services exclusively online, from quotes to purchasing to communications to policy documents. As the company capitalized on a technological revolution, it helped create an innovative new business model, one that is inherently greener than its rivals, in an industry that has been seemingly anchored in institutionality and tradition.
“Beginning with the online model, the environmental message was baked into the product,” said Joann Lee, Community Relations Manager for the insurer. Click to continue reading »
Close but no Cigar – Companies Report Sustainability Performance in Record Numbers but Remain a Minority
More companies now than ever – a record 1,000 organizations – are reporting their sustainability performance to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the GRI reported Tuesday. But while this 46 percent increase from the previous year is good news, it is not, GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen emphasized, adequate for addressing the global environmental crisis.Click to continue reading »
Chido Govero, a young woman from Zimbabwe, just won the Sustainability Award at the 2009 Specialty Coffee Association of America conference. The association celebrated her contributions to sustainability and innovation within the coffee industry. The award is not only a critical success for Chido and her partners at the ZERI Foundation, it is also a triumph for sustainable development.Click to continue reading »
IBM and Cisco (CSCO) (a supplier of Internet networking equipment and management systems) are partnering in a pilot designed to help residents of the City of Amsterdam make more informed decisions about their energy consumption. By doing so, the pilot will help the City as a whole (as well as Dutch utility Nuon) make smarter use of energy. The pilot is part of the City’s Smart City initiative, which fosters collaboration between individuals, government, and companies in the creation of a sustainable Amsterdam.Click to continue reading »
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Wal-Mart will host a Sustainability Milestone Meeting this morning (July 16th) 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. (CDT) in Bentonville, Ark. Follow the conversation on how Wal-Mart is working to launch a new project that will develop a sustainability index for their products. The meeting will be webcast live, and available for streaming following the meeting. You can also follow the meeting on Twitter via @Walmartmeeting.
As reported yesterday by Sarah Harper, the proposed index is controversial. There are many unanswered questions. Who will define what green is? How will the information gathered be shared?
Wal-Mart is planning quite a “first”: it will implement a new “sustainability index,” by which it will report the environmental impact of each and every piece of merchandise available for sale. Many of the corporation’s 60,000 suppliers are up in arms, as compliance will likely require them to dig deep into their supply chains. But many proponents of sustainability are also skeptical. Will the index be yet another incomplete measurement of so-called sustainability that ultimately leads consumers astray, or worse?Click to continue reading »