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Sustainability

Starbucks Introduces $1 Reusable Cup to Cut Down on Waste

from CNN.com; posted Jan. 3, 2013

Starting Thursday (Jan. 3), Starbucks customers will have the option to save their planet – and their wallets – a dime at a time. The coffee giant is offering $1 plastic cups, which can be reused for drink purchases at a discount of ten cents.

Jim Hanna, the director of environmental affairs at Starbucks, told USA Today that while the company has sold reusable tumblers for some time and offered the ten cent discount, he expects that the modest price of its new one, available at company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada, will encourage customers to take action more frequently. The new effort comes largely in response to consumer criticism over the volume of paper coffee cup waste – approximately 4 billion cups globally each year – generated by Starbucks.

The responsibility section of Starbucks’ website details the company’s effort to work with vendors and local authorities to get more of its paper cups recycled, and to host recurring “Cup Summits” collaborating on the issue with industry leaders from MIT, Tim Horton’s, Georgia-Pacific and Action Carting Environmental Services. By 2015, Starbucks plans to have front-of-store recycling in all its company-owned locations.

According to a 2011 report issued by Starbucks, that year, customers used personal tumblers more than 34  million times – nearly 2% of all beverages served in global company-owned stroes. While this represented a 55% incrase in personal tumbler use from 2008′s tally, Starbucks admitted to challenges in tracking cup use both in and away from their stores, and reduced the company’s goal of 25% reusable cups by 2015 to 5%.

The reusable cups are made in China, and have fill lines inside denoting “tall,” “grande,” and “venti”-sized drinks. The cups will be rinsed with boiling water by Starbucks employees before they’re refilled, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, but a least one more challenge remains: will customers actually remember to bring them into the store?

Remember…you get a much better deal when you bring a reusable mug to the Common Grounds on campus for a cup of joe – no measly dime, but 25% off the purchase price!

PepsiCo launches new Facebook-inspired carbon calculator

 By Alison Moodie, GreenBiz.com, 10-9-2012

For a company like PepsiCo, which oversees more than 20 brands and hundreds of different products around the world, calculating the carbon footprint of just one of its products can take weeks, and at a signficant cost to the company. To save time and money, PepsiCo teamed up with researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute to create a tool that can measure the carbon footprint of thousands of products all at once.

The calculator, which lacks an official name, can calculate the carbon emissions of different materials and activities in a company’s supply chain and operations, and within minutes pinpoint which of these carries the largest carbon footprint.

‘The objective was to give companies several capabilities at once with only a single effort,’ said Christoph Meinrenken, the tool’s lead researcher and associate research scientist at the Earth Institute.

The calculator was developed to follow publicly known carbon footprinting standards such as the GHG Protocol Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) standard and PAS20:2011. The methodology and software helps businesses identify which materials or activities in their supply chain and operations have the biggest effect on the total carbon footprint of one of their products, product lines, brands or regions. The calculator also reveals the accuracy of this information and how this accuracy can be improved so a company can make better business decisions.

“We saw the opportunity to use our carbon/greenhouse gas analysis as a base for building a broader decision-making tool that could help us identify other efficiency opportunities throughout our supply chian, drive innovation and improve our overall operations,” said Rober terKuile, PepsiCo’s senior director of environmental sustainability.

The tool also provides certifiable product footprints to be used in ecolabeling and for environmental measuring groups such as The Sustainability Consortium and GoodGuide. This certification requires an intensive, bottom-up assessment of each product’s entire life cycle in order to provide the required microscopic level of detail and to be auditable outside the company, said Meinrenken.

The tool is not the first of its kind. Earlier this year, Danone announced it had developed a system, in partnership with SAP, that can calculate the carbon emissions of individual products. Meinrenken said the inner workings of the Danone tool hadn’t been made public, so it was hard to adequately compare the two. He said PesiCo’s tool was developed before Danone unveiled its calculator.

The PepsiCo tool takes inspiration from sites like Facebook and Netflix, which mine huge swaths of data to figure out what users like. It analyzes data already stored in a company’s database to infer information, like what materials are in a product and where they come from. This process saves a company time and money, said Meinrenken.

‘This is just a general argument of being smart and efficient with companies’ existing data to mine and ‘milk’  it if you will, to learn additional things from the same data, rather than hiring additional staff and building up new data,’ he said.

To learn more about this approach to carbon footprinting, finish reading the article HERE.

Are product sustainability programs at a tipping point?

By Chris Nelson, GreenBiz, published 8-22-12

“Over the last few months, I’ve had a chance to speak to a large number of senior business, EH&S and sustainability leaders at a variety of Fortune 500 ERM clients about product sustainability and what it means to their organizations. What resonated in these conversations is that designing and implementing product sustainability programs at an enterprise level is now a strategic imperative for many companies. This was a consistent theme across many different market sectors and was being driven by the belief that a product sustainability program could create significant business value for their organizations.

Generally, these programs focus on improving permforance across the enterprise in the following areas (including but not limited to): life-cycle management, product regulatory compliance, supply-chain management, materials, waste, energy, water, packaging and product innovation. Companies are finally being able to see that a product sustainability program can lead to opportunities to increase sales, reduce risk, improve brand recognition and trust as well as develop organizational capabilities related to sustainability and innovation. And, of course, an improvement in their overall environmental and social performance.

This hasn’t always been the case. Companies historically addressed product sustainability issues reactively, intended to deal with a specific customer request related to a product life-cycle or supply-chain initiative, or with a pressing regulatory issues. It was not becasue they saw the ability to create business value by designing and implementing product sustainability programs at the enterprise level.

Companies are not seeing that the status quo of reactive responses is no longer enough. Many of these companies are seeing their market leadership position erode as their competitors are beginning to make serious commitments – as well as substantive progress – towards product sustainability leadership. They are realizing that they need to be more proactive in understanding and meeting regulatory requirements to ensure they have a license to operate in an environment where the global regulatory landscape is increasing and becoming more complex. They have better access to product-level data and information as a result of the implementation of large-scale EHS and sustianbility information systems; these systems not only report what is – or is not – in a given product, but can also indicate resource (e.g. energy) intensity to help manufacturers improve overall business processes. Some companies are losing business by not effectively communicating the environmental impacts of their products and operations in response to a customer supply chain initiative.

Most importantly, there is an increasing emphsis placed on product life-cycle management to ensure their companies are focusing their attention on the most important opportunities and issues across the product value chain.

Most of these companies are struggling to understand how to unlock potential business value from a product sustainability program and to identify and access the resources they need to deliver on their vision for product sustainability. That’s where the challenges and complexity of designing and implementing product sustainability programs expose themselves. The business value is difficult to determine and in most cases the companies do not have – or are unsure as to whether they have – the right resources to make all of this a reality, from a people, tools and infrastructure perspective.”

To read the rest of the article and learn the questions a company should ask when designing and implementing a product sustainability program, CLICK HERE.

College endowments lose top grades in sustainable investments

By Robert Kropp, GreenBiz.com, July 23, 2012

“College and university endowments no longer lead the practice of sustainable investment. In fact, as a new report from the IRRC Institute and the Tellus Institute points out, many if not most endowments now lag behind the mainstream institutional investors, whose uptake of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investment criteria is growing.

Titled “Environmental, Social and Governance Investing by College and University Endowments in the United States: Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Relations,” the report presents findings that are ‘counterintuitive,’ according to the IRRC Institute executive director Jon Lukomnik.

‘Historically, endowments were groundbreaking institutional investors that addressed social and environmental considerations in their investments far earlier than others,’ Lukomnik said. ‘Our findings indicate that today’s endowment no longer are leaders in the institutional ESG investment arena.’

College and university endowments control about $400 billion in assets. However, the report found that a widely practiced and standardized conceptualization among endowments of sustainable and responsible investments was lacking. An understanding of sustainable and community investments was also missing.

Moreover, when ESG criteria were applied, endowments most commonly restricted them to ‘single-issue negative screening of public-equity portfolios,’ instead of adopting the positive, or best-in-class, screening of corporations that is increasingly the strategy of choice among sustainable investors, the report found.

Endowments also persist in their concentration on proxy-voting recommendations, although, as the report points out, many have shifted their investments from equitities to alternative asset classes where proxy voting is less significant.

There was a time when colleges and universities in the U.S. were among the leading institutions in adopting ESG criteria in their investments. For instance, their endowments took a leading role in the divestment campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. The involvement of students in shareowner advocacy is another example.

Another indication of the failure of endowments to keep up with an increasingly sophisticated industry is the absence of these institutions as signatories to major institutional networks. Not a single endowment is a member of the United Nations’ Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI), and only one is a member of the Council of Institutional Investors (CII).

The report also found that endowments’ transparency among ESG investments remained ‘paricularly poor.’

‘Colleges are regularly self-reporting unverifiable data about their ESG investment policies and practices, which upon investigation prove to be overstated,’ the report concluded.”  

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article.

News Bit: Facebook shares its carbon footprint

Published on GreenBiz.com, by Joel Makower, 8-1-12

“Facebook today revealed for the first time information about its carbon footprint, citing the ‘power of openness.’ The data, covering the energy use for its data centers and global offices, reflects both the company’s efforts to reduce energy use and increase renewable energy consumption, as well as the challenges it faces to steadily improve those efforts.

‘We’re releasing this data because we believe in the power of openness, and because we hope that adding another data point to our collective understanding of our industry’s environmental impact will help us all keep improving,’ the company said in a statement.

At first glance it’s a happy story. The company said that last year, its data centers and operations used 532 million kilowatt hours of energy, emitting 285,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. By contrast, Google revealed last year that its carbon footprint equaled nearly 1.5 million metric tons, more than five times Facebook’s. (Google’s ‘energy czar’ at the time was Bill Weihl, who now serves as Facebook’s ‘sustainability guru.’)

For the typical Facebook user, a year’s worth of liking and posting consumes just 269 grams of carbon equivalent – ‘roughly the same carbon footprint as one medium latte,’ the company pointed out. ‘Or three large bananas. Or a couple of glasses of wine.’ To put that in perspective, a typical U.S. household’s annual carbon footprint is about 48 tons, according to the Cool Climate Network at the University of California, Berkeley. Suffice to say, that’s a helluva lot of lattes.

But Facebook is quick to note that ‘as a fast-growing company our carbon footprint and energy mix may get worse before they get better.’ That’s due primarily to the challenges of sourcing sufficient clean power where the company sites its data centers. Facebook’s goal is to source 25 percent of its power from clean-energy sources by 2015, which is only a tad better than the 23 percent of ‘clean and renewable’ energy the company now uses. Still, according to Facebook, achieving 25 percent ‘is going to be a stretch for us, and we’re still figuring out exactly what it will take to get there.’

To read more about Facebook’s efforts, activist pressures on the company, and what they’re doing 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, CLICK HERE.

News Bit: Fryer Grease Hits the Black Market

Story by Samantha Neary, posted in TriplePundit.com on June 13, 2012.

“We know that oil consumption is a hot topic today, especially in this volatile economic climate. For example, biodiesel has taken center stage this week with reports of increased grease theft from restaurant kitchens nationwide, subsequently creating an underground frying oil market.

With green energy becoming evermore prevalent and effective, the demand for biodiesel has inspired many to cash in. Here is how it happens: restaurants store used cooking grease in barrels to be picked up by a collection company, “green” thieves steal the grease and resell it to recyclers who then process it and sell the processed biodiesel to someone in the transportation industry. Yes, all this effort is over lard.

For years, restaurants had to pay companies to haul away old grease, which was used mostly in animal feed. Some gave it away to locals who used it make biodiesel for their converted car engines. But with a demand for biofuel rising, fryer oil now trades on a booming commodities market, commanding around 40 cents per pound, about four times what it sold for 10 years ago. Many restaurants now have contracts with collection companies to sell their grease for about $300 per container. This boost in value is tempting for thieves, especially in hard times like we face today, so the renering industry has been trying to lock down the growing market from freeloaders. But barrels of grease are still slipping through the cracks. So instead of restaurants paying collection companies, they are not paying lawyers to persecute grease thieves.

It did take some time, however, for this type of larceny to be taken seriously in court. ‘The reception in municipal court is very uneven,’ said Steven T. Singer, a lawyer in New Jersey. ‘You’re reliant upon the prosecutors, so you got to get them to understand the seriousness of this, as well as the judge.’”

Go to the rest of the story and watch the video from a security cam of a grease thief slipping away with the goods HERE.

Visualizing sustainability’s rewards via MIT’s new interactive tool

Published on GreenBiz.com, 5-14-2012

By Deb Gallagher

“MIT Sloan Management Review released the results of its latest global survey on sustainability and innovation earlier this month, revealing that a significant number of companies see the value of sustainable business practices — and are repeating the financial rewards.

For the first time, the results were released in an interactive data visualization format. The new tool allows readers to filter the data by industry, company size, company performance and other factors. Presenting the data this way yielded several interesting findings.

  • The automotive sector gets it:  The automotive industry leads the way in making the buisness case for sustainability. However, when it comes to profitability, automotive is only the middle of the pack; the consumer products industry is at the top, with 42 percent of consumer products respondents saying that they are profiting from their sustainability activities.
  • High representational benefits: Improved brand reputation is the greatest benefit companies enjoy from addressing sustainability issues. This is especially true in the automotive, consumer products and media/entertainment industries.
  • Customers drive sustainability: Of the ‘harvesters,’ those respondents who say their companies are profiting from sustainability-related activities, 53 percent indicate that customer preference for sustainable offerings was a key driver in changing their business model. In the more resource-intensive industries, such as chemicals and energy and utilities, issues such as legislative or political pressure and maintaining a ‘license to operate’ increase in influence.
  • Size matters: Overall, the larger the company, the more likely that it will make a business case for sustainability. But that trend varies across industries – in industrial services, for example, companies with more than 100,000 employees were less likely to make a business case for sustainability than companies with 200 – 1,000 employees within the same industry.”

For ‘Special Features’ and to read more, click here.  

 

News Bit: Want Young Customers in China? Cut Your Emissions.

By Jessica Shankleman, Greenbiz.com, April 3, 2012

“Businesses have been urged to accelerate their environmental footprinting strategies to include emerging economies, after new research by The Carbon Trust revealed young people in China could hold the key to unlocking mass demand for greener products.

The survey of 2,500 young people across six countries carried out the TNS found 83 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds in China would be more loyal to a brnd if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint. In contrast, just 57 percent of U.S. respondents and 55 percent of young people in the U.K. made the same claim.

Globally, 78 percent of young people said they want their favorite brands to reduce their carbon footpring, but again those in China showed the highest demand for emission reductions with 88 percent calling on firms to cut their footprint.

South Africa came in second place with 86 percent of respondents calling on blue chips to reduce their impact, followed by Brazil at 84 percent. Again the U.S. and U.K. lagged far behind, with only two thirds of respondents demanding more action from big brands.

The analysis was launched just days after The Carbon Trust unveiled the first four Asian companies to receive the Carbon Trust Standard, its independent label awarded to companies that reduce their organizational carbon footprints year-on-year.

Tom Delay, chief executive of The Carbon Trust, said the survey results were “startling” in that they revealed how Chinese consuemrs could lead the global demand for greener goods.

‘Sixty percent of young adults questioned in China would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, compared to just 35 percent of those in the U.S.,’ he said. ‘Perhaps it is the Chinese, no the U.S. consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for new low carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy,’”

Read the entire article HERE.

Would you buy from a product from a company that could document that product’s carbon footprint? And would you be loyal to that company because it makes the effort to be transparent on the environmental impact of the product?

News Bit: Why Trends in Sustainability Are Good For Business and Education

 

By John Viera, GreenBiz.com, March 30, 2012

“Pick up any newspaper these days and it won’t be long before you find an article that calls out some aspect of our coutnry’s education system in need of fixing. From the daunting numbers that are presented, this coverage, unfortunately, doesn’t seem overblown. .

The U.S. Department of Education’s most recent national assessment of high school seniors determined that 74% lacked proficiency in math, 62% lacked proficiency in reading, and 79% lacked proficiency in science.

In the last round of comparative international exams, American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in  math, 17th in reading and 22nd in science among participating countries. Chinese 15-year-olds ranked first in each subject.

News about higher education isn’t much different. In 1990, the U.S. boasted the highest percentage in the world of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees, but had fallen to 12th by 2010. Meanwhile, there’s never been a greater need for college graduates. By 2018, 63 percent of jobs are expected to require at least some colleged education. Again, the numbers don’t tell a positive story; but there may be a silver lining.

When I was in school, specific education around the environment was an afterthought to traditional disciplines. Limited to conservation, education rarely integrated sustainability values with the realities of everyday living. From what I observe of candidates entering the workforce today, and in younger hires across the board, this has changed.

Over the last decade, high school students enrolled in advanced placement environmental science courses has skyrocketed 426 percent nationally, more than four times the average increase of all advanced placement courses. The figures are similar in higher education. On average, the number of academic papers on sustainability has doubled ever 8.3 years since 1974, according to a recent study from Indiana University.”

To read more and see how your education at UWGB is a benefit….click here!

Go Green: Careers & Job Opportunities

If you aren’t graduating this May, or even if you are, one option to consider is looking for a summer internship experience. Some internships are paid, others are not, but both give you an opportunity to apply your skills and knowledge while learning something new AND building your resume.

Here are some website to visit for internships in various ‘green’ fields. Greenbiz.com and treehugger.com also offer job boards that you can sift through for internships. Good luck!

http://www.internships.com/summerinternships/program

http://globalgreen.org/jobs/

http://jobsinsustainability.jobamatic.com/a/jobs/find-jobs/sb-pd/fjt-internship