For the fifth year, the UW-Green Bay community is taking part in ReycleMania (www.recyclemaniacs.org), a national friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Working with UWGB haulers – Waste Management (trash), Advanced Disposal (recycling), and SaniMax (pre-consumer organic waste) – data is collected on the volume of each be generated from our campus during each of the 8 weeks of the event (Feb. 2 – March 29). Using this data, our campus is ranked against others of the 500+ participants in various categories. We are participating in the Per Capita Classic, Waste Minimization and Grand Champion categories. During the week of March 3 – 7, look for special events to support our RecycleMania efforts! In the meantime, buy less, reuse more and recycle what you can! To learn our current status, check in here or at the UWGB Sustainability Facebook site for weekly updates starting the week of Feb. 17th.
Published on October 1, 2013 on GreenBiz.com
“On Friday, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report – the fifth since the IPCC’s creation in 1988 – on the science of climate change.
These reports, published every five to seven years, are the work of several hundred scientists from around the world who summarize the current understanding of all aspects of climate change research. Thousands of other scientists review the summary, after which the IPCC publishes a comprehensive report, which synthesize findings from thousands of research studies.
Almost 200 countries are involved in the process. The IPCC also publishes reports that provide potential options for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The creators of the fourth IPCC report collectively were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Here are seven key findings from the new IPCC report on the state of the science of climate change:
1. It is virtually certain that the planet has warmed since the mid-2oth century.
At the surface, each of the last three decades has been progressively warmer than the preceding decades since 1850. The rate of sea level rise has been higher than any average rate during the previous 2,000 years, and in the last two decades, ice sheets have been losing mass. Almost all glaciers are shrinking, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere snow cover have decreased in extent.
2. Scientists are more confident than ever that humans are responsible.
With every report it has become clearer that the Earth is warming and that human activity is responsible. Scientists are now more than 95 percent certain that humas are the principle cause of climate change, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels. That’s up from more than 90 percent in 2007, 66 percent in 2001 and 50 percent in 1995.
3. Further warming is imminent, and short-term records do not reflect long-term climate trends.
Natural internal variability of the climate system, due to the El Nino effect, volcanic eruptions and other influences, makes it impossible to determine the overall warming trend of the planet through short-term measurements. For example, the rate of increase in surface warming over the past 15 years, from 1998 to 2012, appears slower because it begins with a record hot year due to a strong El Nino effect. On the other hand, the rates of sea level rise and glacial ice melt have accelerated during this time period. Over the long-term, continuing emissions of heat-trapping gases ineveitably will cause the plante’s surface temeratures to rise.
4. The surface could warm anywhere from 2.7 F to 7.2 F by 2100, relative to pre-1900 conditions.
The warming will be unevenly distributed, with more warming over land and even greater warming at the poles. Temperature increases such as these, even at the lower end, could increase the chances of extreme heat waves, drought and flooding due to heavy rains, and raised sea levels in areas where hundreds of millions of people reside.
5. The melting pace of land ice is accelerating in the Arctic and Antarctica, and sea levels could rise by more than 3 feet by 2100 if greenouse gas emissions are unchecked.
This could affect major cities, from New York to London to Shanghai. On longer timescales, sea levels could rise by nearly 10 feet over the next several hundred years, and even by more than 20 feet after a millennium if the Greenland ice sheet nearly disappears. However, if governments are able to curb emissions soon, sea levels could rise by slightly less than a foot by the end of the century. Sea level will not be uniform across the world, though, and more than two-thirds of coastlines may experience 20 percent more sea level rise than these globally averaged estimates.
6. The IPCC’s estimates of temperature and sea level rise are conservative.
Hundreds of scientists and representatives from nearly 200 countries have to agree on the precise wording of the IPCC reports, and therefore the reports inherently are conservative in their estimates. The new report is no exception.
7. Weather extremes are expected to change from human influence.
Scientists are virtually certain that there will be more hot and fewer cold days and seasons over most land areas, and it is very likely that heat waves will be more frequent and last longer. Extreme rainfall events over many mid-latitude countries and wet tropical regions are very likely to become more intense and more frequent by 2100. ”
To learn more abou the IPCC’s report visit: www.ipcc.ch
Published on GreenBiz.com on 9-16-2013
Food waste isn’t just a devastating misuse of natural resources, it’s also a huge part of the world’s carbon footprint, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Every year, the world throws out about 1.3 billion tons of food – a startling one-third of the food produced. And that creates a greenhouse gas footprint bigger than all countries, except fo China and the U.S.
How? Because of the immense amounts of energy, water and chemicals used for agriculture and food production. The food supply chain produces about 3.3 billion tons of carbon a year.
That means 30 percent oft he world’s farmland – about 3.5 billion acres – is wasted.
And not counting seafood, wasting all that food costs about $750 billion a year, about the GDP of Switzerland, says FAO.
“All 0f us – farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers – must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can’t,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva. “We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million go hungry every day.”
“Food wastage reduction would not only avoid pressure on scarce natural resources but also decrease the need to raise food production by 60 percent in order to meet the 2050 population demand,” writes FAO in its report ‘Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources.’
The UN study is the first to examine the impacts of global food waste from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity.
Where Waste Occurs
The majority of food waste (54 percent) happens during and after food harvesting, particularly while it’s handled and stored. The rest occurs during the processing, distribution and consumption stages.
In developed economies, such as the U.S., where up to 40 percent of all food is wasted, the issue is one of consumers buying too much and throwing away what they don’t need. Elsewhere, in emerging and developing nations, the waste comes from framing inefficiences and a lack of proper storage, reports FAO.
Asia (China, Japan, Korea) is a regional hot spot for vegetable waste and rice, the cultivation of which is extremely carbon-intensive. Meat waste is a big issue in Latin America, which accounts for 80 percent of the world’s meat waste. Fruit and vegetable waste is problematic in Asia, Latin America and Europe.
How to Solve the Problem
The highest priority is to reduce crop losses through better farming practices, says FAO. Also important are re-use and recycling strategies that make it easier to donate surplus food to those that need it, and to divert foods no fit for human consumption to livestock.
Beyond these strategies, FAO recommends by-product recycling, anaerobic digestion and composting to recover energy and nutrients. These processes also minimize the amount of methane created by food rotting in landfills.
“UNEP and FAO have identified food waste and loss as a major opportunity for economies everywhere to assist in transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and inclusive Green Economy,” say Achim Steiner, executive director for the UN Environment Program (UNEP). “Today’s excellent report by FAO underline the multiple benefits that can be realized – in many cases through simple and thoughtful measures by, for example, households, retailers, restaurants, schools and businesses – that can contribute to environmental sustainability, economic improvements, food security and the realization of the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge.”
UNEP and FAO are founding partners of the Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Footprint campaign, launched this year to coordinate worldwide efforts to cut food waste.”
Source URL: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2013/09/16/carbon-footprint-food-waste-bigger-most-countries
Published on Greenbiz.com, 8/1/2013
By Georges Dyer
“Something’s brewing on college campuses that soon may affect corproate sustainability professionals in all industries.
“During the past year, a groundswell of action demanding that college and universtiy endowments sell their holdings in fossil fuel companies has brought environment, social and governance (ESG) issues to the fore. Driven in part by 350.org, the fossil fuel divestment movement has sprung up on more than 300 campuses and is spraeding to cities, faith organizations and beyond.
The latestes news: Sterling College – a small, private liberal arts college in Vermont – has completed its divestment from the fossil fuel industry. While Steriling is small, with only about 100 students and an endowment of approximately $1 million, it provides more evidence that divestment is pssible and relatively straightforward.
Do your homework
Common initial concerns about divestment include that it is costly, complicated and requires investors to sacrifice returns. To divest, Sterling College chose a fossil-free option that Trillium Asset Management has offered clients for over a decade. ‘Those who say divestment is not possible haven’t done thier homework,’ said Matt Patsky, CEO of Trillium.
Trillium’s fossil free option replaces screened companies with similar investment characteristics (e.g. similar beta and return on equity). The result is a fossil-free option that doesn’t sacrifice returns. Recent reports from Impax Asset Management, MSCI and Aperio Group support the claimt hat removing fossil fule investments from portfolios has a negligible impact.
Sterling is one of just six colleges to commit to divestment to date, along with Hampshire, Unity, Green Mountain, San Francisco State and College of the Atlantic. But many others are considering it.
Divestment highlights the moral hazard of our fossil fule based economy for institutions that understand the devestating implications of climate change, yet support fossil fuel production as shareholders. This is a particularly difficult challenge for college and university endowments, designed to benefit institutions and students over the long term, in perpetuity. How is it justifiable to risk the fundamental resilience of our society from climate change impacts in the name of potentially higher financial returns? (Particularly when the data suggest those higher returns are negligible, if they exist at all.)
A moral paradox
Divestment proponents recognize the fossil fuel companies are unlikely to stop mining and drilling because soem investors sold their shares – others will buy them. But the movement highlights this moral paradox. And even if no other schools divest, it has sparked conversations on campuses across the country about a range of other ESG investment strategies.
And this could have dramatic implications across all industries – not just the fossil fuel companies. Every company currently has some responsibility, in one way or another, for greenhouse gas emissions and a wide range of other sustainability challenges such as water use, toxic chemicals, and labor and human rights issues. But those that are proactively implementing strategies that help move society towards sustainability can avoid risks and seize opportunities for innovation, attracting top talent and enhancing shareholder value.
Increasingly, investors seek out companies creating sustainability solutions or driving best practices in social, environmental and governance realms.
‘More and more companies have been embracing the idea that sustainability principles are good for business and shareholders over time. WE’ve seen tremendous growth in this space.’ said Trillium’s Patsky. ‘The more they see interest from the investor, the more they will do about it.’
Companies that don’t make the cut from an ESG perspective risk limiting their pool of potential investors. Fewer buyers and more sellers can hurt stock performance, a key driver (for better or worse) of corporate decision-making. Investors influence corporate executives and directors.
There are many ways investor scrutiny on ESG issues can influence corporate sustainability practices, such as:
*ESG investors look to sustainability indices, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and MSCI’s ESG Indices, to benchmark and inform investment decision-making.
*As more asset managers incorporate ESG factors into their investment decision-making, and sell-side analysts do the same for their buy/sell ratings, companies increasingly will be judged on their sustainability performance.
*Asset managers (and their clients) that understand the benefits of ESG investing often engage directly with companies through various forms of shareholder advocacy, providing direct pressure to improve sustainability performance.
A recent survey from Oekom Research supports the idea that sustainability investing impacts corporate strategy: Nearly two-thirds of the companies said requests from sustainability rating agencies were a decisive factor in tackling sustainability issues. One-third said enquiries from sustainability analysts influence the overall strategy, and two-thirds said they influence their sustainability strategies.
As college and university presidents, business officers and board investment committee members look more closely at these issues (thanks in large part to student pressure), they will realize that ESG factors are materials and can undercover hidden risk and value. By requiring traditional asset managers to step up their game on ESG factors, they will help drive more of the financial services industry to consider sustainability issues in all investments.
The shift to sustainability will be the result of the sum total of many companies, organizations, communities and individuals implementing bold, transformative strategies, through incremental step-wise actions. Institutional investors sit at a critical place to drive and accelerate this process. Imagine a virtuous cycle where Wall Street analysts, currently focused on short-term, quarterly earnings results, shift their attention to comprehensive ESG considerations. This will motivate corporate execs to improve sustainability performance to enhance their ratings and stock price, driving healthy competition and moving whole industries toward sustainability.
In recent months, a host of conferences, workshops, webinars and new initiatives have sprung up to help endowments understand these issues. This is just the beginning of what could prove to be the next big step in elevating sustainability as a core strategic issue for the C-Suite at companies in every industry.”
By Tina Casey; Published July 15, 2013, TriplePundit.com
Recently, some of the top business journalists in the U.S. went on record asserting that climate change denial is a form of political posturing that is not worthy of discussion in serious reporting on economic issues. If that doesn’t lay the whole climate change denial thing to rest, then hopefully this will: The Weather Company has just endorsed the BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) Climate Declaration, which acknowledges the scientific consensus on climate change.
As the owner of The Weather Channel and related weather media platforms, The Weather Company already reaches a broad audience with reality-based information, so it’s in a good position to help bridge the political divide…or is it?
Communicating about climate science
Let’s start with the current state of affairs, which is the information gulf separating climate scientists and the lay public. Politics aside, a large part of the problem has to do with the nature of communication accurately about science in general. In many cases, it is impossible to reduce science into sound bites that can be absorbed during the course of daily life, especially in competition with the flood of other news in a media-saturated world.
Climate change poses an especially great communications challenge, because the hard evidence accumulates over long periods of time and cannot be seen with the naked eye, except in abstract form of a chart or graph.
The Weather Company and climate change
Public awareness is beginning to reach into new territory, even without the help of The Weather Company. In the past couple of years, more of the general population has had the misfortune to experience phenomena linked to climate change, namely, more frequent and severe storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires. That also includes people who live in areas that have not experienced extreme destruction in a generation or more, and now find their normally “safe” environment undergoing new threats.
In that regard, The Weather Company could help build these individual experiences into a tipping point. To see why, let’s go back a few months ago, when artists and researcher Nickolay Lamm used data from the non-profit organization Climate Central to create a series of arresting before -and-after images of East Coast landmarks affected by sea level rise. He had this to say about the project, which he called Sea Level Rise in Real Life.
“I’m surprised at the amount of people calling this a ‘liberal agenda.’ When I was making these illustrations, I based them off sea level rise maps from Climate Central, not someone’s wild imagination.”
Now Lamm has added a West Coast version to the project, and The Weather Company has picked up on it. In a July 12 article on weather.com, The Weather Channel posted Lamm’s West Cost images and video along with links to the East Coast version and to Climate Central.
The article also referenced NOAA and National Geographic, so consider that thrgough The Weather Company, reality-baseed information from Climate Central is now associated with some of the most trusted (and non-political) names in science information, all wrapped around a series of truly stunning, graphic images of what some of the most familiar icons in the U.S. landscape would look like under water.
For more of the article go <HERE>
From: TriplePundit.com, published June 21, 2013
By Lisa Marie Chirico
“Consumers searching for greater clarity in food labeling have reason to rejoice. Ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s, a division of Unilever, decided that more transparency was in order. The Vermont-based company, the first wholly-owned subsidiary to gain B Corp Certification, recently announced their plan to completely eliminate all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from their entire product line by 2014. According to the company, about 80 percent of their ingredients by volume are sourced non-GMO in the United States and Canada, and all their products made in Europe are already non-GMO. ‘We have a long history of siding with consumers and their right to know what’s in their food,” Ben & Jerry’s stated.
According to the company’s website, although their goal is for all 80 flavors to be Fair Trade Certified and sources with non-GMO ingredients by the end of this year, the conversion will continue into 2014. Ben & Jerry’s cites complexity as the reason for this – a single flavor of their ice cream can contain almost 40 different ingredients.
The public outcry over GMOs continues to grow. According to a recent poll, 82 percent of Americans agree that foods containing GMOs should be sold with a label. The U.S. is currently the only industrialized nation lacking mandatory labeling for GMO foods. Although voters in the state of California did not approve the GMO labeling legislation Proposition 37, there are currently similar efforts underway in 20 other states, including Vermont, where the GMO labeling law recently passed by a vote of 99-42 and awaits state Senate approval. Concerns about GMO labeling have also begun to reach restaurant chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, who started labeling all ingredients, including GMOs, of their chains’ menu in March. According to the company’s spokesperson, the chain is also working to decrease the GMO content of its ingredients.”
For the rest of the story, go HERE.
When student’s leave campus for the summer, typically not all of their belongings get packed into the car and often end up in a dumpster on the way to the landfill. This year, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, the Office of Residence Life and the Sustainability Office piloted a “Move-Out” donation drive. With student RAs helping distribute donation bags to each room/suite in all of the buildings in housing, students had the opportunity to fill up the bags with reusable items and drop them off at one of seven collection sites. Goodwill picked up several times during Finals week and will do one last pick-up early this week (May 20). Check back here to see the weight of items that will be sold through Goodwill to benefit people across North Central Wisconsin. Much better then ending up sitting in a landfill slowly decomposing over time!
Check out this video from CW14 on the donation drive! http://www.cw14online.com/dpp/cw_14_star/my_video/Goodwill-and-UWGB-Move-Out-Donation-Drive-
Published on GreenBiz.com, April 15,2013
By Mark Gunther
“Since launching its sustainability program in 2006, Walmart has reduced energy consumption in its stores, installed solar panels on its rooftops, curbed emissions from its trucks and recycled millions of tons of its trash. Now that the world’s biggest retailer has streamlined its own operations, it is turning its attention elsewhere – actually, almost everywhere.
Since last fall, Walmart has rolled out what it calls a supplier sustainability index to thousands of suppliers, asking them pointed questions about their operations and prodding them to better understand and manage their own supply chains.
It’s Walmart’s most ambitious environmental project ever, and if all goes according to plan, it will change the way all kinds of consumer products – clothes, toys, electronics, food and beverages – are made. The typical Walmart stocks 125,000 to 150,000 products (!), and the environmental and social performance of most companies that make them soon will be rated and ranked in Bentonville, Ark.
So Walmart is asking lots of questions of its suppliers. Among them:
How can wheat be grown with less water and fertilizer? How can chemicals of concern by removed from toys? What mining practices were used to extract copper, gold and silver for computers or jewelry? What percentage of your televisions sold last year were Energy Star certified? Do the grapes in a bottle of wine come from a farmer with a biodiversity management plan? How much water was needed to produce those polyester pants?
A Fiendishly Complicated Undertaking
If this sounds like a massive and fiendlishly complicated undertaking, well, it is. It has been in the works since 2009, when Walmart unveiled The Sustainability Consortium, a nonprofit coalition led by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University that was set up to provide scientific research to undergrid the effort. Since then, a few other retailers (Tesco, Kroger, Ahold, Best Buy) and dozens of consumer product brands (Coca-Cola, Disney, Kellogg’s, Mars) have signed on to the consortium.
Working with research produced by the consortium and its scientists, Walmart last year sent questions to suppliers in about 200 product categories. Hundreds more will be surveyed this year. The surveys will cover about half of the products sold in Walmart, which had revenues of $468 billion last year.
Walmart is ranking its suppliers, from best to worst in each category. The rankings will be shared with its buyers, who are known as ‘merchants'; theydecide what gets onto store shelves and play a vital role inside Walmart. The merchants, in turn, will be compensated in part based on the sustainability performance of their category.
Jeff Rice, who as senior director of sustainability at Walmart oversees the index, told me that it had four broad goals:
- To improve the environmental performance of its most popular products.
- To further integrate sustainabiltiy into Walmart by giving responsibility to the merchants.
- To drive a productivity loop that reduce costs and ultimately benefits customers.
- To increase customer trust in Walmart and its brands.
As always with Walmart, the opportunity is to drive change at scale. ‘We’re really trying to accelerate the scale of sustainability innovation, not just identify green niche products,’ Rice said.
Will it have an impact? It’s too early to answer that question with any certainty.
Several Walmart suppliers who were willing to talk – any many were not – told me that the index will help build a stronger business case for their own sustainabiltiy efforts. ‘The index challenges us to continually improve,’ said Kim Marotta, chief sustainability officer at Miller Coors, which is working with the farmers who grow its barley to reduce their use of water and pesticides. It also helps her make the case inside the company that ‘sustainability is very important to our business,’ she told me.
Dave Stangis, vice president of corporate responsibility at Campbell’s Soup, believes the index will make a difference. ‘The index validates people who are doing the good work. It’s a wakeup call to others,’ he said. Campbell’s, he said, is working with The Sustainability Consortiium to develop a mapping tool that will help buyers of agricultural commodities such as soybeans, sweet potatoes, or sugar beets avoid purchasing them from places with water risk, or where biodiversity is threatened. ‘We’re trying to be cognizant of the priorities that Walmart has, as well as those of our other customers,’ he said.”
To read more from companies that don’t think it makes a difference, the rest of the article is available HERE.
The final numbers are in! Congratulations to everyone for a solid showing in this year’s competition. The results are cumulative over the entire 8 weeks of the competition. Keep your waste minimization and recycling habits going for the rest of the year!
|Grand Champion Results – 274 participants|
|College/University||Rank||Recycling Rate for 8 weeks of competition – %|
|University of Missouri – Kansas City||1||86.016|
|UW- River Falls||65||39.511|
|UW – Milwaukee||71||38.588|
|UW – Whitewater||103||32.411|
|UW – Stout||115||30.600|
|UW – Green Bay||137||28.277|
|UW – Madison||167||25.060|
|UW – Eau Claire||203||20.964|
|Wisconsin Technical College||211||19.316|
|UW – Oshkosh||273||5.422|
|Per Capita Classic – 361 participants|
|College/University||Rank||Recycled Pounds per capita|
|California State University – San Marcos||1||53.105|
|UW- Eau Claire||11||38.841|
|UW – Platteville||78||16.398|
|UW – Green Bay||124||12.808|
|UW – River Falls||126||12.708|
|UW – Madison||138||11.824|
|UW – Whitewater||175||10.007|
|UW – Oshkosh||218||7.941|
|College Menominee Nation||241||7.071|
|UW – Stout||260||6.112|
|Western Technical College||331||2.774|
|Waste Minimization – 167 participants|
|College/University||Rank||Pounds of Waste Generated per capita|
|Valencia Community College||1||3.197|
|Western Technical College||19||14.363|
|UW – Stout||37||19.972|
|UW – Whitewater||55||30.875|
|UW – Milwaukee||98||44.226|
|UW – Green Bay||100||45.294|
|UW – Madison||107||47.183|
|UW – Eau Claire||167||185.280|
We’re in our last week of RecycleMania – so let’s make it a good one! When you’re emptying out your car of any road-trip trash – remember to recycle what can be recycled! Results are in for the first six weeks and we’re hanging in there. Our paper/cardboard compactors will be emptied this week, so that tonnage will be added to our totals and will help our overall recycling numbers. Stay tuned!
Week (Cumulative totals)
|Grand Champion weekly recycling rate, %)||2013||
|Per Capita Classic (lbs/per person)||2013||
|Category||National Ranking: Week 6||Wisconsin Ranking (participating schools)|
|Grand Champion||203 out of 266||8 out of 10|
|Per Capita Classic||181 out of 403||9 out of 13|
|Waste Minimization||105 out of 180||4 out of 7|
|Pounds of trash generated||27,120|
|Pounds of recycling collected||8,260|