“If there is one price we should want to see rise, it is that of a permit to pollute”. So says the Financial Times, among the world’s leading business publications. The price they are referring to is the cost of emitting a ton of carbon into the air as defined by the EU carbon trading market – the price has been rising due to a number of factors explained in the article. Ultimately, this price rise is likely to result in less pollution in general. It’s great to see the FT taking pollution seriously, but also great to see that a market-based system for reducing it that works efficiently and keeps business happy.
New Society, a small Canadian printer of generally activist material, has become the worlds first “carbon neutral” print shop. How’d they do it? By purchasing enough carbon credits (in the form of tree planting and controbutions to a solar energy organization) to literally offest the carbon the company emited in day to day operations.
Although the company is small and specifically oriented toward sustianabilty as a mission, it serves as a great example of what’s possible! (Via Greenbiz)
Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs writes, in an article entitled “Thank Goodness for the American Corporation“, about the wake-up call many US companies have received about global warming. In it he reports on some of the positive changes that companies such as GE have recently made despite the lack of leadership in Washington. Notably, the often overlooked roll of pension funds is mentioned. As necessarily long-term investors, pension funds stand to lose in the long term if serious investment in the long term future is not made. Furthermore, as shareholders, pension funds are able to easily absorb short-term losses that sometimes result from proactive environmental steps, making them ideal change agents.
Confronting the eWaste debacle head on, Apple Computer will now offer customers a 10% discount on a new iPod if they return their old iPod to a store rather than discarding it (Article on Cnet). Environmentalists and others are especially concerned that the iPod’s toxic battery components were not being properly disposed of. The new policy promises that the iPods will be “processed” in the US and that no hazardous material will be sent overseas. Exactly what the meaning of “processed” is was not addressed, however. (Apple press release).
Manure, that age old fertilizer, is finding new use as a source of modern energy, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A company called GHD Inc. has produced a successful line of cow manure digesters that ultimately produce hot water for the farm, fertilizer, methane for electricity production.
Knowing that a glass of apple juice took as much water to produce as your daily shower may sound like trivia, but the math behind that calculation represents an incredibly valuable tool to audit the real-world effects our lifstyles and economies have on natural systems. The Australian government agency CSIRO has just completed an extensive nationwide analysis based on “triple bottom line” principles. It’s a monster of a report (over 800 pages), so add it to your weekend project list! (download here) (via Treehugger)
Speaking of e-waste, Dell computer announced yesterday that they have upped the ante on recovering and recycling disused products. The goal – 50% more product will be recycled in 2006 than in 2005, and Dell will make it easier for consumers to properly dispose of outdated equipment.
(Source – Austin Business Journal)
Time Magazine reports this week that, largely in response to activist preasure, major banks such as JPMorgan Chase are begining to account for the environmental and social effects of their project lending. In fact, 30 major private banks have signed on to the Equator Principles. We’ve reported on this before, but it’s especially noteworthy to see a “mainstream” magazine such as Time make reference to the ‘greening’ of high level finance. However, it’s too bad that the article leans heavily on the ‘activist’ angle – investing responsibly is usally as beneficial to business as it is to activists.
The disposal of outdated computers and other electronic equipment is a complex and growing problem. According to a code-green study on SF Bay Area companies:
roughly 30% did not fully engage in e-Recycling. Over 60% of businesses surveyed claimed managing their e-Recycling project “takes more effort than it should”. Only 35% were clear about the e-Recycling reuse and recycling options available to them. These responses may explain the low rates of e-Recycling among small-to-midsize businesses.
While there’s clearly a problem, there is also clearly a business opporunity as much “e-waste” can be broken down and profitably recycled or reused. (Thanks Bob)
Deviating from the GOP party line, California guv Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday proclaimed global warming an “immenent threat” and announced statewide goals to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.
The new goals, like the governor’s huge solar initiative will likely leverage the power of the California market to influence major changes nationwide. Despite possible initial costs, the effect on businesses should be ultimately positive for innovators and companies which emphasize efficiency.
The traditionally formal Japanese workforce may have the chance to dress down for the summer, thought not for laid-back reasons. Government offices reckon they can save money on air conditioning bills and reduce carbon emissions by raising the thermostat while employees lose their jackets and go short-sleeved. Will it be a hit in a culture as conformist as Japan’s? It may take time. Read more on MSNBC.
For every 10% you shave off a vehicle’s weight, you save around 7% in fuel costs. Research that can help automakers make lighter vehicles without compromising saftey is therefore immensely valuable, as well as environmentally progressive. The US Department of Energy has just announced, in conjunction with the US Council for Automotive Research, a $70 Million program to speed up research and development in the area of advanced, lightweight materials. Some of the most advanced are said to reduce vehicle weight by as much as 70% – you do the math. (Source – DOE Press Release)
Although their shareholders are making a solid effort to address climate change and alternative energy, ExxonMobil officials are dead-set against dabbling in solar and wind power. The reason – Exxon claims to be against investing in areas that require government subsidy to profit. This hasn’t stopped BP from making renewables a very visable (if tiny) part of their strategy – plus oil extraction is (arguably) also heavily subsidised if security spending is taken into consideration.
Is Exxon just being honest about their intentions while the likes of BP pull off saavy marketing moves? Perhaps, but many would argue that a superficial effort is better than no effort at all. (via Daily Grist)
Although many consumers still have a hard time recognizing the difference between “recycled” and “post-consumer recycled“, Office Depot has taken advanced, proactive steps to make their advertising inserts a showcase of sustainability. In the Canadian market, Office Depot exceeded their own goals and now boasts 75% Post consumer content in their newspaper-insert advertising. That may sound like a small market, but it amounts to over 23,000 trees. More info on GreenBiz.
In a recent study, Eco Energy reports that Israel stands to reap as much as $2 Billion in economic gains over 10 years by investing heavily in solar energy.
The report says most of the benefit to the economy will come from avoiding carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants, saving electricity transportation costs, and savings in foreign currency, since solar energy does not use imported fuel to produce power.
The report bases its calculations on the installation of 2,500 Megawatts by 2025. (source – Globes Israel)