- After a lengthy hiatus from its early 1980’s guideline on green product declarations and advertising, the US Federal Trade Commission [now] Proposes CFL Labels For Light Output, Color, Mercury, & More. The FTC’s draft proposed rule, should it become final close to its present form (see above example for one of the possible label layouts), is likely to set a precedent affecting other consumer product sectors and, eventually, make third party verifications of environmental claims a standard procedure. Business significance: U2/C5
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line & Sustainable Business News
- Advisory: U.S. Chamber Foundation and United Nations to Celebrate International Women’s Day in New York City
- The Path Forward for Solving Complex Social Problems: Multi-Sector Collaborations
- Next Week: Twitter Chat on Women in Corporate Leadership
- Green Electronics Council Catalyst Awards: Now Accepting Nominations
The environmental arguments against bottled water are gaining more traction, and people are starting to question whether bottled water is really worth it, financially and environmentally. Recent sales reflect a drop in consumer demand for bottled water — Nestlé SA, the world’s largest food and beverage group, reported a three percent drop in its first-half profit last August, according to MarketWatch. In past years, Nestlé was growing in the double digits, as were most bottled water companies.
Overall, the bottled water industry in the United States has expanded at a phenomenal rate, though the market dipped slightly last year. According to data from Beverage Marketing, a U.S.-based data and consulting firm, retail sales of single-serving plastic bottles increased from 1.4 billion gallons in 2000 to 5.2 billion gallons last year, lifting their share of total bottled water volume from 29 percent to more than 60 percent. And, over the past decade, per-capita consumption of bottled water in the U.S. has more than doubled to about 200 bottles per year, per person, according to MarketWatch.Click to continue reading »
Meteorological towers provide a large quantity of raw data, which needs to be analyzed to assess the wind resources of a site. Desired information is frequently extrapolated from a data set, often with help from software including Windagrapher, WindFarmer, WindPRO, or Excel. This information then provides vital information for determining the financial viability of a potential wind farm.
“Towers over 60 meters in height require a special permit from the Federal Aviation Administration, so wind energy is normally assessed between 50 and 60 meters,” says Diane Reinebach, Senior Energy Specialist for RMT, Inc. “That data is then extrapolated up to 80 meters, which is the hub height of a wind turbine.”Click to continue reading »
Planning on travelling this holiday season? Travelocity, the online travel agency, is serious about sustainable travel that will benefit both traveler and Mother Earth, one mile at a time.
In an effort to “embrace travel as an agent of positive change,” the online travel company offers several ways for travelers to travel more responsibly.Click to continue reading »
“The idea of building a business selling sustainability without having a clearly articulated price competitiveness strategy is a recipe for failure.” That sentence from The Secret Green Sauce is “best practices #1” being used by companies that are making money going green. And it is issue number one for the solar industry.
The good news is that today solar panels for rooftop systems cost half as much than a couple of years ago and are now averaging $2.50 per watt. These costs are projected to decline as the industry continues to reduce manufacturing costs. First Solar claims below $1 per watt manufacturing costs and several manufacturers claim near-term paths toward 60 cents per watt. A California roof top solar system costing $1 per watt panels with 20% panel efficiency and a $2 per watt balance of plant costs according to my estimates will generate approximately 13 cents per kWh electricity in California or about 1/3 the price charged by utilities through their newly installed smart meters during the pricey summer hours of the year. In addition the utility scale solar thermal developers claim the potential to be at grid price parity plus the ability to dispatch their energy to track demand. So solar appears to have a path toward price competitiveness without subsidies.Click to continue reading »
The Cleantech Group, the guys who literally invented the word “cleantech” (and own the trademark — so watch out) today released “Ten Predictions for 2010: Trends to Watch For in Global Cleantech in the Year Ahead,” the investment information hub’s annual list of predictions for the future of clean technology.
It’s actually a pretty juicy read.Click to continue reading »
Quick quiz: name five things about Finland.
I’ll go first: reindeer, vodka, snow, Nokia, and … saunas.
Pretty sad, right? For a bunch of world travelers we should know better. Luckily there is a group who is setting out to change all that. Finnfacts, the country’s PR agency, has invited Triple Pundit and friends from:
Sustainablog, Clean Techies, Clean Tech Blog, Green Dig, Leo DiCaprio’s blog, Mother Nature Network and German blog Cleanthinking.de on a tour of some of the country’s hottest clean tech companies and coldest national parks. Finnfacts is kind enough to foot the bill because they know bloggers are not known for their deep pockets. Sold!
We head off on Monday. In preparation for the trip, I’ve been doing my research. Yes, some of this time was spent doing experiential research in the sauna with a Finlandia on ice, but I also did some good old fashioned reading. Did you know:
- Helsinki was recently named the world design capital for 2012 Which is not a surprise to me because I have a thing for Marimekko designs
- Finnish is closer to Hungarian than it is to Swedish, linguistically
- During World War II, Finland fought the Soviets, unsuccessfully allied with the Germans to regain lost territory, then eventually joined the allied forces against Germany as a condition of peace, meaning they fought in 3 separate wars all told.
- Finlandization is the art of bowing to the east without mooning the west. (Hee! what an image.)
- It’s really cold there
If you have any fun facts to add, or questions for us to ask, leave them in the comments!
With little more than a week to go before the start of the COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen, the “Road to Copenhagen” starts to sound a little tired, even as participants prepare for actually heading to Copenhagen.
With the roller-coaster-like ride of pre-COP15 news, reeling from despair to faint glimmers of hope* that something positive and substantial will emerge from Copenhagen in mid-December, the question for many concerned about climate change, or who are considering going to COP15, is:
If Copenhagen is just another step in the long process from Kyoto to Bali to Copenhagen to… why bother?Click to continue reading »
One of the greatest barriers of entry for residential solar power systems has been the high cost of installation. And for some, another turn-off is the aesthetic of conventional rooftop panels. The SolarClover residential rooftop solar energy system, from Armageddon Energy, has been designed to address both issues. SolarClover is a uniquely-shaped solar panel system with a simple installation process that most homeowners will be able to manage largely on their own, thereby saving on installation fees.
The SolarClover system is expected to be released sometime in 2010.Click to continue reading »
This excerpt from The Price of a Bargain by Canadian journalist Gordon Laird is presented in honor of Buy Nothing Day. Happy anti shopping!
For better and for worse, ours is the age of the bargaineers – the engineers of bargains – whose factories extend from rice paddies to suburban basements everywhere. Each year we are drawn to their doors by the millions. And if it’s not Wal-Mart that reels us in, then it’s its big-box brethren – Costco, Home Depot, Best Buy, Ikea, Tesco – or smaller fish like the local dollar store. There are never single, isolated bargains. Most of us stalk value on a serial basis, sometimes in full contravention of common sense. Row upon row, aisle upon aisle, this realm of affordability, selection, and discount is a dominant force in today’s world.
From family-owned discount stores to the world’s largest company, it’s all there: your next iPod, laptop, snack food, and the stuffed animal you take to a sick relative in hospital. This is you, even before you know it. And all of it is priced to sell. Nearly everything from clothing to electronics has miraculously decreased in price since the early 1990s. And if you’re not getting it cheaper, then you’ve probably gained on quantity or quality, the outcome of a global economy that’s been on rollback for the past two decades.Click to continue reading »
Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world. It controls 95 percent of the market for insect and herbicide resistant cotton traits. In 2008, Monsanto had shares of up to 65 percent for traited corn and soybeans and about 45 percent for traited corn. During the late 1990s and through the 2000s, Monsanto acquired almost 40 companies “creating the horizontal and vertical integration that underlies the firm’s platforms in cotton, corn, and soybeans,” according to a whitepaper by American Antitrust Institute’s vice president and senior fellow, Diana Moss. Most of the acquisitions were seed companies.
The whitepaper cites a report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), which noted that Monsanto’s U.S. patents for Roundup Ready soybean seeds give it power over the seed market. It also points out that during the years 2002 to 2009 there were almost 60 patent infringement and antitrust court cases in federal district and appeals court. Almost 55 percent involve Monsanto as the plaintiff, and 20 percent as the defendant. This amounts to three-quarters of all the cases. “The lack of competition and innovation in the marketplace has reduced farmers’ choices and enabled Monsanto to raise prices unencumbered,” said Keith Mudd from the Organization for Competitive Markets, after Monsanto decided to raise some GM maize seed prices by 35 percent.Click to continue reading »
This Thanksgiving, much attention has been paid to how your bird was raised, but how about the manner in which it was killed? The head meat buyer at Whole Foods, Theo Weening, made public the company’s effort to collaborate with both USDA and state regulatory agencies to develop certifiable mobile slaughterhouses for poultry. Before claiming a victory for the locavore movement, one has to ask, is this good news for family farmers?
First, understand that Whole Foods mobile units are a long way off. To begin with, the company must wade through USDA bureaucracy and has yet to identify an authority to approve a mobile poultry slaughter and processing facility. Whole Foods aims to overcome a barrier – the dearth of slaughterhouses – to a meet customer demand for local food products.
The number of USDA approved slaughterhouses has fallen dramatically over the last several years. The numbers vary; recent estimates cite a decline from 1,405 USDA approved slaughterhouses in 1992 to just 808 in 2008, with others as low as 550 in 2001 dropping to only 350 today. There is broad consensus in the sustainable food movement about improving the quality and quantity of slaughterhouses. Today, 99% of all animals raised for food are processed through the factory farm system. This consolidation of animal husbandry and continual agribusiness mergers has resulted in the channeling of the vast majority of meat through a few central slaughterhouses.Click to continue reading »
Rainforest degradation is the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and robs one billion of the poorest people on Earth from their source of livelihood. These are just two of myriad reasons that the world leaders meeting next month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen must achieve some type of progress toward binding a international treaty to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Most pundits agree that COP15 is unlikely to produce a finalized treaty, but the work of Daniel Beltrá, a Spanish photographer living in Seattle, just might push the process forward. At the very least, it will remind the leaders of what they are trying to protect.
Some of Beltrá’s photographs are shockingly beautiful, but many are just plain shocking: images of burning, drought-stricken and clear-cut rainforests of Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia. The Prince’s Rainforests Project, an effort that Prince Charles of Wales established in 2007 in order to raise awareness about rainforest destruction and raise funds to support rainforest preservation, appointed Beltrá (through the Sony World Photography Awards) to photograph the world’s largest and most important rainforests as part of the campaign.
Now, some of these images—which show not only wide-scale damage to the rainforests but also vignettes of pristine sections—are collected in a limited-edition book, Rainforest: Lifebelt for an Endangered Planet, which key world leaders at COP15 will receive.Click to continue reading »
Germany will add up to three gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity this year due to a strong demand in the last part of this year, the head of Germany’s Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW-Solar) solar industry association announced. Germany is the world leader in photovoltaic (PV) solar panel power, with 5.3 GW installed. The world total of installed solar PV panels is 15 GW.
The German government promoted solar PV panels through feed-in tariffs and other incentives, but decreased them this year. The BSW-Solar cites the falling prices of PV systems surpassing the decrease in state-mandated feed-in tariffs as the main reason for the growth. A strong demand is expected to continue into next year. BSW-Solar expects solar power costs for consumers will decrease below the tariff level of conventional electricity providers by 2015.Click to continue reading »
The idea of waking up at the crack of dawn the day after Thanksgiving to go shopping for trinkets among hordes of what seem like crazed zombies strikes me as a horrible kind of torture. Nonetheless, millions of Americans consider “Black Friday” a kind of celebratory tradition, with this year expected to be the biggest and craziest yet. Understandably, retailers and other merchants are delighted at the opportunity to cash in.
As an antidote to the madness, some folks stay home or actively participate in anti-shopping movements such as “buy nothing day” – a clever, mostly symbolic, attempt to reign some sense into the consumptive lifestyle.
But why can’t progressive-minded business people suggest a saner alternative? After all, folks who understand the appeal of shopping locally, buying organic, and taking the time to understand where products come from and who makes them, already recognize that we vote with our dollars. When consumers line up at 4am at a big box store to buy next year’s landfill discards, they are voting approval of an economy based on thoughtless consumption, materialism and waste. Only by casting competing votes can we, and responsible business owners, change that tide.
I propose “Buy Something Responsible Day”.Click to continue reading »