Sustainability commitments: Similarities and Differences between Retailers and Brand manufacturers

Article from Wageningen University

Climate change, resource depletion, inequality. The food and beverage (F&B) and retail sector is facing an unprecedented set of sustainability challenges – many of which they are a major contributor to themselves. Instead of ignoring or denying these challenges, more and more companies are taking their responsibility and committing to positive change. Our analysis of more than 650 public commitments in sustainability reports (2020) shows that nearly all large retailers and food processing companies (EU/US) make time-bounded sustainability commitments. What can the sustainability commitments of these companies tell us? Well, it is more than you might think at first. In this article, three main subjects will be discussed: i) the number of sustainability commitments and their intended goal deadline; ii) the trending sustainability themes in the food & beverage sector; and iii) why to look beyond the sustainability commitment.

We conclude that there are significant differences in the number of commitments and their ambition levels. Climate and energy is the most popular topic amongst both retailers and brand manufacturers, and is generally approached with a long-term perspective. However, although there are many thematic similarities, comparing commitments of different companies remains challenging due to e.g. varying scopes and different definitions of key concepts.

Number of sustainability commitments varies widely between companies

A total of 651 commitments of 27 food retailers and 11 food brand manufacturers were recorded that met the methodological criteria of being SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely), having an intended goal deadline of 2020 or beyond and not being focused on a specific region or brand. Of these commitments, 386 were made by retailers and 265 by brand manufacturers. This means that on average, a retailer makes around 14 sustainability commitments and a brand manufacturer makes about 24 commitments. Substantial differences can be seen when comparing different companies, with the number of commitments ranging between 1 and 54.

Figure 1: Number of sustainability commitments per company

Figure 1: Number of sustainability commitments per company.

It is important to emphasise that the number of commitments does not necessarily say something about the ambition levels and the scope of the individual commitments, as no value judgement was given on the impact of a commitment. Thus, switching to LED lights in a number of stores is counted as one commitment, whereas the arguably more ambitious goal of becoming carbon positive throughout the entire supply chain is counted equally. However, what this figure does indicate, is that retailers and brand manufacturers are actively making sustainability commitments. This is not just a trend for retailers and brand manufacturers: 90% of the 500 largest companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States published a sustainability report in 2019 (G&A Institute, 2020). Although sustainability reports do not necessarily give a total overview of the sustainability efforts of a company, it can be seen as one of the most important tools for communicating sustainability performance and impact.

‘Commitment issues’: food companies have a preference for short-termed commitments

Most food companies make relatively short-term commitments, as the majority of goals have an intended goal deadline between 2020 and 2025 (87%; figure 2). The top priority for goals that lie further ahead (≥2030) is climate, with a strong focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The most long-term goals that are set for between 2035 and 2050 are all classified within the category climate. It is also interesting to note that 85% of the commitments have an intended deadline year that ends with either a zero or five (e.g. 2020, 2025, 2030).

Figure 2: Intended goal deadline of sustainability commitments, excluding year-to-year goals

Figure 2: Intended goal deadline of sustainability commitments, excluding year-to-year goals.

Retailers focus substantially more on ecological sustainability than social sustainability

We determined the trending sustainability subjects amongst food companies by dividing all commitments of retailers and brand manufacturers that met methodological criteria amongst five impact categories: climate, ecosystems and biodiversity, health and safety, resources and social well-being. These impact categories are based on the classification of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), a worldwide non-profit collaboration between more than 100 businesses, NGOs, government organisations and universities, aiming to uniformly assess and improve the supply chain sustainability of more than 100 product categories.

Retailers focus substantially more on ecological sustainability as opposed to social sustainability, with the least attention for the categories ‘social well-being’ and ‘health and safety’. Brand manufacturers focus more on social sustainability than retailers, with social well-being on top of the list with about one-third of all commitments.

Table 1: Top 5 impact categories in the sustainability reports of retailers and brand manufacturersTable 1: Top 5 impact categories in the sustainability reports of retailers and brand manufacturers.

Climate and energy is a ‘hot’ topic for both retailers and brand manufacturers

We connected commitments to a more specific sustainability issue within the impact category. Both food manufacturers and retailers have focused most of their commitments on the sustainability issue ‘climate and energy’, with the majority of goals addressing greenhouse gas reductions. Two other sustainability issues were high on the list for both brand manufacturers and retailers, namely commitments around packaging (e.g. making packaging recyclable) and sustainable sourcing (e.g. the certification of (raw) materials and ingredients). Some differences can also be seen: retailers were more involved with the issues ‘waste and circularity’ and ‘food waste’, whereas brand manufacturers were more concerned with the issues ‘nutrition’ and ‘water’. If we only include supply chain-related commitments of the retailers, which was 55% of their total, the issues deforestation and animal welfare are priorities as well.

Table 2: Top 5 sustainability issues in the sustainability reports of retailers and brand manufacturersTable 2: Top 5 sustainability issues in the sustainability reports of retailers and brand manufacturers.

Overall, more than half of the commitments that retailers (66%) and brand manufacturers (62%) make are centred around five sustainability issues. This shows us that food companies seem to have shared priorities – with ‘climate and energy’ topping the list.

Looking beyond the commitment

For a true understanding of a companies’ ambitions, it is necessary to look beyond the commitment. For example, a popular phrase in the analysed sustainability reports is a ‘100% sustainable sourcing’. Yet what counts as ‘sustainable’ can be subject to different interpretations. There are companies that refer to their own sustainability programmes, such as Coca-Cola’s Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles and PepsiCo’s Sustainability Farming Program, but also third party sustainability standards, such as the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade International. Consequently, the same terminology rests on different sustainability standards. Whether these programmes really effectuate ‘sustainable’ sourcing can be up for debate, depending upon how we define sustainability.

The scope of a commitment can also have a substantial influence on its impact. For example, several brand manufacturers have committed themselves to a 100% renewable electricity. However, the scope of the commitment can differ, from including manufacturing operations to offices (Table 3).

Table 3: Renewable energy commitments that seem similar, but differ significantly in scopeTable 3: Renewable energy commitments that seem similar, but differ significantly in scope.

Overall, sustainability commitments are a great tool for shaping sustainability strategies and communicating this to the consumer. Yet, for a true understanding of its impact, a more detailed examination is often required.

Stay informed about the sustainability strategies in the food sector

Looking at the sustainability commitments of large companies can give many different insights into a company’s sustainability strategy, the sustainability trends that we can expect in the future and the harmonisation between different companies. This can give companies the tools to communicate and cooperate with other businesses, and provide investors and consumers with the possibility to compare businesses with one another. Lastly, public actors can use the information as input for policies.

Do you want to stay informed about sustainability commitments in the food sector? All sustainability commitments of retailers are stored in the database of TSC for members only. TSC has the ambition to keep these commitments up to date and to inform its members and non-members about developments via regular publications like this one. Discover more on www.wur.eu/tsc.

Methodology

This analysis is limited to public commitments in sustainability reports that are:

  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely),
  • have an intended goal deadline of 2020 or beyond,
  • and are not focused on a specific region or brand.

Commitments that are issued in other sources than a sustainability report (e.g. website, press release, et cetera) are not included, unless they are referenced in the sustainability report.

Retailers and brand manufacturers were selected based on sales volume. Some additional companies were added that show a particular interest in TSC products. The retailer database includes at least the most recent sustainability reports as of March 2020. The brand manufacturer database includes the most recent sustainability reports as of January 2021.

Retailers include: Ahold Delhaize, Aldi North, Aldi South, Amazon, Auchan, Carrefour, Colruyt Group, Costco, CVS, ICA, IKEA, John Lewis, Kesko, Kroger, Lowes, Marks & Spencer, Metro, REWE Group, S Group, Sainsbury, Spar, Sprouts, Target, TESCO, The Home Depot, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Walmart & Sam’s Club.

Brand manufacturers include: AB Inbev, Coca-Cola, Danone, Kraft Heinz, Heineken, Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez, Tyson Food, Pepsico, Unilever.

New Report Finds Companies Producing Home and Personal Care Products Increasingly Implementing Safer Practices

Insights report focuses on company THESIS performance in ingredient disclosure, risk assessment and chemical footprint. 

4/14/2021ScottsdaleAZ – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released today the THESIS Industry Insights: Household Chemicals report using data from TSC’s The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS). This report is the second report in an ongoing series aimed at using THESIS’ unique data set to raise awareness of key challenges and opportunities in creating more sustainable products. THESIS data from 2019 highlights that companies producing home and personal care products are increasingly implementing practices towards safer products 

Increased consumer interest in the ingredients in their household cleaning products combined with the recently passed U.S. law, called the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act, are driving progress in chemical policies among brands and retailers. Product categories highlighted in the report include: 

  • air fresheners,  
  • cleaning wipes, 
  • dishwashing products,  
  • household cleaning products,  
  • laundry detergent and  
  • fabric softener 

The industry projects more than $50 billion in growth in green chemicals by 2023, and consumers are becoming more aware of studies showing that some of the ingredients in these products can result in human health impacts such as neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption 

Jessica Ginger, TSC senior director, TSC Impact, states, “One of the unique values of THESIS is the ability to compare similar consumer goods side-by-side by issue. This type of insight raises questions like ‘Why are certain products making headway while others are lagging?’ From that point of reflection, manufacturers, retailers, investors, innovators, and everyday people like you and me can begin making smarter, more sustainable choices.”

TSC’s THESIS data shows that many of the companies manufacturing household cleaning products are going beyond legal compliance by engaging in practices such as risk assessment, product safety assessment, and chemical footprinting. Almost half of these companies calculated a chemical footprint and disclosed to the public. Almost 3/4s of these companies are implementing ingredient disclosure to customers even though they are not required to by related legislation.  

THESIS performance assessments helped Church & Dwight make sure over 97% of chemicals of concern are removed from our formulated products. THESIS enables us to effectively measure and quantify the performance of our wide range of products that we are actively working to improve,” states Art Esposito, Sustainability Director, Church & Dwight.  

This free report is available for download hereTSC will be releasing similar reports throughout the year. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products.  

 

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

 

Media Inquiries:

Erika Ferrin 
The Sustainability Consortium 
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org 
480-965-7752 

Study Highlights Recycler’s Northwest Arkansas Operations

Article from Talk Business & Politics

Global nonprofit The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) recently released a study featuring Cassville, Mo.-based recycler Marck Recycling that shows more work is needed to improve existing systems to recycle plastic film, including grocery and trash bags, food packaging, and wraps for agricultural products.

The study, Plastic Film Management Insights, was completed by TSC researchers based in Bentonville and focused on the recycler’s Northwest Arkansas operations, said Erika Ferrin, senior director of marketing, communication and development for TSC. The study is available on TSC’s website.

If not handled appropriately, the film can damage material recovery facilities and enter regional watersheds. Nearly 90% of the film is incinerated or goes to landfills.

“One reason it is challenging for communities to manage plastic film is that there is very little visibility into how it is collected and handled for recycling,” said Sarah Lewis, senior director of innovation for TSC. “This case study provides a window into how one leading commercial recycler is managing plastic film, thus providing insight into how this system works and how it could be improved to increase the amount of plastic film recycled.”

Founded in 1997, Marck Recycling operates nine facilities in the Midwest and South, including recycling facilities in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Rogers.

“Recycling LDPE films in Northwest Arkansas is one of the most optimum grades of plastic to recycle in the area,” said Mike Wilson, vice president of Marck Recycling. “At Marck Recycling, we see transparency as the key to improving the recyclability of plastic films. We are fortunate to be able to reduce our environmental impact by being local to the consumers of this material. We are excited to be a part of this new study and hope the actions Marck is taking can help others in the industry.”

In January, TSC opened an office at 700 S.E. Fifth St. in Bentonville, northeast of the Momentary. The organization was co-founded in 2009 by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University. It is jointly administered by the universities and has an office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. TSC has 32 staff, including 14 in Northwest Arkansas.

The Most Important Person In Sustainability Doesn’t Work In Sustainability

Article from GreenBiz

By Euan Murray

Sustainability impacts are everywhere. And yet it is rare for any one person to be responsible for a sustainability problem or for solving it. The science tells us food and consumer goods are critical. They are responsible for 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, two-thirds of tropical deforestation, 80 percent of global water use and three-quarters of forced and child labor. This means creating a sustainable future is really about creating a global revolution in sustainable consumption.

People with “sustainability” in their title are working tirelessly on sustainable strategies. But there’s an extremely important role in the supply chain that doesn’t necessarily work in sustainability: the buyer, the person who makes decisions about what winds up on store shelves (whether that’s a physical or online retail space).

Why are the buyers so important? Is it about shaping consumer purchasing? Yes, but that’s not the whole story. I believe people shouldn’t have to choose between products they can afford and products that are good for them, their families, their communities and the planet.

We know that growing numbers of shoppers are voting with their credit cards by favoring brands that share their values. And new initiatives such as Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program make it easier for shoppers to prioritize products that have leading sustainability certifications such as GreenSeal and the Reducing CO2 label from The Carbon Trust.

And yet, for most consumers and for many product categories, that change won’t come fast enough. We need sustainability “built in” to everything shoppers buy.

So, who is responsible for delivering that?

The truth is that it is down to everyone working in those value chains. From consumer brands to manufacturers to traders, farmers, miners and beyond. We need everyone stepping up to understand their impacts, set targets consistent with the science, and to mobilize their companies and supply chains to get it done. It is a huge endeavor, involving a big slice of the entire global economy.

That can feel a bit overwhelming — like turning an oil tanker with a kayak paddle. So how do we get things moving more quickly, and how do we shift the balance of incentives to get the whole value chain doing more?

At The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), we’ve crowdsourced the best sustainability science to develop maps of every value chain in food and consumer goods, then identified the most important social and environmental hotspots, wherever they may be. The complexity, and the diversity, is huge. From apples to laptops, from T-shirts to shampoo, from car batteries to potato chips.

And yet, every detailed map has the same basic shape — an hourglass. There’s huge diversity and breadth in production, and that is mirrored by the huge diversity in the use of products, too. But the map always narrows right at the center. And here lies the most important person in sustainability. They don’t work in sustainability, and some of them don’t even see that this is part of their role yet. But they have the single greatest ability to drive sustainability of anyone. I am, of course, talking about the retail buyer.

tsc_3/4/21_article_image_1

These folks, working in retail procurement, do more than anyone else to shape how products get made and which we buy. They decide which products get most shelf space, which are promoted most actively and which get delisted for the next season. Both historically and today, these folks are driven by a handful of key metrics: sales volume; margin; stocking rates; returns. But what about adding sustainability into that mix?

The most progressive retailers — think Walmart, Target, Kroger, Walgreens — already arm their buyers with data and insights about the sustainability performance of their products and suppliers. Some retailers are even experimenting with new incentives for those buyers to get more sustainable products on shelf. At TSC, our THESIS Index program gives retail buyers the sustainability insights they need to make informed choices about the suppliers they work with and the products they source. It has grown rapidly; it is used by over 1,500 of the largest food and consumer goods companies covering products worth around $1 trillion in annual retail sales. Most important, we are seeing a 5-10 percent improvement in sustainability performance year-on-year.

So, what do buyers need to be successful? Three things:

They are a data-driven bunch: They need sustainability data and insights that are relevant and actionable. They don’t buy whole companies, they buy products. So, they need data about the products they buy that covers the whole value chain and whole product lifecycle. And that data needs to give easy insights into how things compare, which products have improved and which suppliers need help or a nudge to get going.

We all believe sustainability is critically important. But if “important” equates to “separate,” then sustainability is consigned to be forever siloed, where it is not part of everyday business. Sustainability data and insights need to sit alongside the other business metrics buyers manage, and so they need to be built into the software and tools those professionals use every day.

Lastly, and most important, commercial buyers need help. They can’t do it alone. They need a senior management team who has put sustainability at the heart of corporate strategy. They need a management structure that recognizes them for the progress they are making. And they need partners in product design, marketing, operations and, of course, sustainability to make things happen.

So, next time you meet a buyer, please say “thank you” for all they do today, and all they can do to unlock the revolution in sustainable products and sustainable shopping we need to see.

 

New Report Shows Lead Acid Batteries Can Be Recycled at 99% with Policy and Reverse Supply Chains

 

3/9/2021, Scottsdale, AZ

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released today the Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Success: Policy + Reverse Supply Chains report in collaboration with the Responsible Battery Coalition. TSC and the Responsible Battery Coalition partnered on collaborative research to understand how lead acid batteries have achieved 99% recycling in different parts of the globe.

The report shows learnings from three regions that have created different regulatory policies and reverse supply chains that have enabled responsible recycling of lead-acid batteries: Brazil, the United States, and the European Union. These systems differ by the type of reverse supply chain they use, who collects used batteries, how centralized and standardized the program is across different regions, and whether a deposit is required on new batteries. Despite these differences, all three have achieved very high recycling rates through a combination of:

  • Regulatory efforts to ensure safe collection and reprocessing; and,
  • A reverse supply chain structure that provides financial incentives for everyone involved.

Lead-acid batteries are still present in almost every automobile on the road today, including electric vehicles, and also have opportunities for sustainable energy storage applications. The global market for lead-acid batteries in the U.S. alone is between $40 and $50 billion annually(?). Currently there are only two responsible end-of-life options for lead-acid batteries: recycling in a licensed facility domestically, or export to one in another country.

“Lead acid batteries can be a hazard if dumped in the trash or recycled in an ad hoc, uncontrolled manner. Every jurisdiction needs incentivizes and infrastructure to encourage battery returns, and policy to ensure recycling is done safely,” said Dr. Kevin Dooley, chief scientist at TSC.

The new report covers three national-level programs that have been highly successful in recycling lead-acid batteries. In Brazil, an initial open-loop reverse supply chain approach yielded many collection and recycling sites that were not adequately controlled by existing regulations. Their system was corrected when new national policy only allowed the purchase of used batteries from environmentally certified recyclers; the policy also requires that logistics providers in the supply chain also had to be certified.

In the U.S. and Europe, the report contrasts two different reverse supply chain structures and regulatory policies that nevertheless achieved the same 99% recycling rate. The U.S. uses a true closed-loop system and requires a deposit on new batteries to incentivize return, while Europe uses third-parties for collection, which creates a competitive market for efficient and reputable services.

“Lead-acid batteries are an incredible success story, both as reliable, affordable sources of power and as one of the most recycled consumer products in the world,” said Steve Christensen, executive director of the Responsible Battery Coalition. “Plus, the closed loop recycling approach that has been used for lead-acid batteries for decades is an important forerunner and model for moving toward a truly circular economy for the next generation of batteries.

This free TSC/RBC report is available for download here. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. TSC’s Circular Economy hub houses projects that tackle the issue of product circularity on a regional and global level.

 

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

 

About The Responsible Battery Coalition

The RBC is a coalition of companies, academics, and organizations committed to the responsible management of the batteries of today and tomorrow. Members include: Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Clarios, Club Car, Environmental Restoration, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, Honda, LafargeHolcim, Li-Cycle, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Renova Energy, Terracycle, Walmart.  RBC was created in April 2017 to advance the responsible production, transport, sale, use, reuse, recycling and resource recovery of transportation, industrial and stationary batteries and other energy storage devices. For more information: https://www.responsiblebatterycoalition.org/

 

DOWNLOAD LINK

 

Media Inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org
480-965-7752

ZOETIS JOINS THE SUSTAINABILITY CONSORTIUM TO LEAD EFFORTS IN SUSTAINABLE PORK TOGETHER WITH U.S. PORK PRODUCERS AND SUPPLY CHAIN LEADERS

Article from Zoetis

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, February 24, 2021 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that Zoetis, the leading animal health company, has joined TSC to focus on increasing supply chain transparency and sustainability with U.S. pork producers.

Zoetis is committed to the health of animals and supporting the people who care for them. With the firm belief that healthier animals will help create a healthier future, Zoetis uses its expertise in animal health innovation to solve sustainability challenges facing animals and people. Zoetis will be a leading voice in the development of protein-related key performance indicators for TSC’s THESIS Index.

“We are excited to join The Sustainability Consortium and its members in support of science-based sustainability efforts,” said Shari Westerfeld, vice president of U.S. Pork at Zoetis. “We are committed to playing a key role in producing a safe and sustainable global food supply. We are excited to expand our collaboration with pork community leadership to enhance the work that has already been done in this area. We will be actively engaged in supporting efforts to refine and develop key performance indicators that enable suppliers to better communicate their story to retail customers.”

Zoetis joins more than 100 TSC members and will focus its membership on supporting U.S. pork producers by helping to anticipate their needs, align with packers’ goals, understand retailers’ perspectives, and assist pork producers with greater supply chain transparency. Zoetis will be one of the first animal health companies to join TSC and will collaborate closely with other TSC animal protein members, including the National Pork Board and Pipestone Systems.

“Pork producers realize that we’re stronger together than we are apart,” said Brett Kaysen, vice president of sustainability for the National Pork Board. “The Sustainability Consortium is a good example of how collaboration is key to making our industry more sustainable, and I commend Zoetis for taking a leadership role by joining the consortium.”

Zoetis will work collectively with other stakeholders on TSC projects in agricultural supply chains. These efforts involve topics including sustainable animal feed, agricultural metrics, worker health and safety, wastewater, consumer outreach and education, and packaging.

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “We are thrilled to welcome Zoetis to our growing member-base of leaders in their industries. Like other leaders, Zoetis recognizes that change is happening quickly in sustainability. We are impressed by their commitment to support and partner with pork producers to further enhance sustainability efforts  and look forward to adding their industry knowledge to TSC’s tools and services.”

TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products and is pleased that Zoetis is joining TSC in these efforts.

About TSC
The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses in advancing care for animals. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, technologies and services, including biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2020, the company generated annual revenue of $6.7 billion with approximately 11,300 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

For more information contact:
Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
480-965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

Julie Groce
Zoetis
919-316-8749
julie.groce@zoetis.com

New Case Study Released to Help Companies Improve Regional Plastic Film Management

2/25/2021, Bentonville, AR

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released today the Plastic Film Management Insights case study featuring local Northwest Arkansas recycler, Marck Recycling. This case study is an extension of work previously done by TSC in the region on creating circular economies.

Plastic film is a versatile packaging material that includes grocery bags, trash bags, food packaging, wraps for agricultural products, dry cleaner bags, irrigation drip tubing and more. This material, if not handled appropriately, can damage material recovery facilities (MRFs) and can find its way into the regional watersheds. Currently, 90% of plastic film is incinerated or ends up in the landfill. Turning plastic film into economically desirable materials makes sure that this material finds its way back to new products and packaging.

Conclusions and recommendations from the report include:

  • Existing systems to recycle plastic film have yet to be optimized, there is much room for improvement
  • Regular communication about quality and improved source separation with generators who supply film has been shown to work
  • End markets for plastic film are affected by an inconsistent volume of film, which is often delayed at recycling facilities
  • Education and training are important so that employees are able to better sort materials
  • Challenges remain with high-turnover of employees in positions of film sorting
  • Consumer education needs to be increased as most consumers aren’t familiar with different types of plastic and what should or shouldn’t be recycled
  • Regions should consider expansion of curb-side recycling of plastic film to eliminate consumers needing to bring film to specialized recycling spots
  • COVID-19 has slowed down the development of new facilities slated to handle end markets

TSC and Marck Recycling collaborated on this case study in 2020 to understand how to help other companies decrease plastic pollution in the region and to showcase how to find appropriate end markets for this increasingly important challenge.

Sarah Lewis, TSC senior director of innovation, said, “One reason it is challenging for communities to manage plastic film is that there is very little visibility into how it is collected and handled for recycling. This case study provides a window into how one leading commercial recycler is managing plastic film, thus providing insight into how this system works and how it could be improved to increase the amount of plastic film recycled.”

Marck Recycling has over 23 years of experience collecting, processing, and marketing recyclable materials. They currently operate nine facilities across the Midwest and Southern United States including two recycling facilities in Northwest Arkansas and one in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“Recycling LDPE films in Northwest Arkansas is one of the most optimum grades of plastic to recycle in the area. At Marck Recycling, we see transparency as the key to improving the recyclability of plastic films. We are fortunate to be able to reduce our environmental impact by being local to the consumers of this materials. We are excited to be a part of this new study and hope the actions Marck is taking can help others in the industry,” states Mike Wilson, VP, Marck Recycling.

This free report is available for download here. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. TSC’s Circular Economy hub houses projects that tackle the issue of product circularity on a regional and global level.

 

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About Marck Recycling

Marck Recycling is a fully integrated, full-service recycling company that’s been recycling for over 20 years. Our Full Spectrum Recycling Program looks at every aspect of your business and its waste stream to find reusable and recyclable homes for solid waste materials, helping you reach your sustainability goals.

 

DOWNLOAD LINK

 

Media Inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org
480-965-7752

New Report Finds Sustainable Sales Packaging and Recycled Content Key to More Sustainable Packaging

2/16/2021, Scottsdale, AZ

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released today the THESIS Industry Insights: Packaging report using data from TSC’s The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS). This report is the first report in an ongoing series aimed at using THESIS’ unique data set to raise awareness of key challenges and opportunities in creating more sustainable products. These free reports are released to TSC members first and then made available for the general public. THESIS data highlights two key ways that companies are creating more sustainable product packaging: designing out packaging waste and choosing more materials and formats that are recyclable.

Packaging is an essential element in most consumer products. It protects the product and provides a platform for information and marketing to reach the consumer. When assessing environmental hotspots within a product’s life cycle, packaging is more likely to be relevant than not. For example, most food and beverage products contain packaging. In the U.S. however most packaging gets landfilled, even when it is recyclable. Because of this, consumer goods companies are increasingly adopting new packaging designs to be more sustainable.

TSC’s THESIS defines sustainable packaging as packaging that has recycled content or contains sustainably sourced materials and that can be reused or recycled after use.  For example, in 2019, the manufacturers of soft drinks had as a sector 34% post-consumer recycled content and 17% sustainably sourced content. Soft drinks come in a variety of materials – plastic, metal, and glass. Conversely, dessert and pastry products, which use plastic and paper primarily as packaging, has on average the same amount of recycled content (32%) as soft drink packaging, but contains more sustainably sourced material (30%) because of its paper content. THESIS data also showed an increasing number of brands communicating to consumers about sustainability attributes on-package.

Jessica Ginger, TSC’s senior director, TSC Impact, states, “Companies are working hard to create a visionary world where we all benefit from consumer goods without creating harm to people or the planet. Our THESIS Industry Insights will help companies target their time and resource investments by understanding how their industry is progressing and where the challenges remain.”

The data from this industry insights report represents 36 product manufacturers. This free report is available for download here. TSC will be releasing similar reports throughout the year. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products.

 

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

 

Media Inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org
480-965-7752

New Maps Show Forests Absorb Twice as Much Carbon as They Release Each Year

Article from World Resources Institute

New methodology, released in Nature Climate Change, provides greater detail into forest carbon fluxes

January 21, 2021 – New globally consistent methods for mapping forest carbon sources and sinks around the world show that forests absorb a net 7.6 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. The data confirms that globally forests are an overall carbon sink, though there is variation within forests. The new maps, released today in Nature Climate Change, offer a highly detailed picture of forests’ role in regulating carbon emissions.

The forest carbon flux map, now publicly available on Global Forest Watch, shows that between 2001 and 2019, forests emitted an average of 8.1 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from deforestation and other disturbances. At the same time, forests absorbed 16 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The study highlights the need to invest in both reducing deforestation in tropical countries and maintaining and enhancing forest carbon sequestration at the same time. The continued destruction of the world’s largest tropical forests – 11.9 million hectares of tropical tree cover was lost in 2019 alone – makes them less powerful carbon sinks.

The granularity of these data enables emissions and removals to be quantified more consistently across any geographic scale ranging from small local forests, to countries, to entire continents. For example, the data show that 27% of the world’s net forest carbon sink falls within protected areas, underscoring the need for conservation within these areas.

The methodology was developed by a team of scientists and researchers from CIFORNASA GoddardNASA Jet Propulsion Lab, The Sustainability ConsortiumUniversity of MarylandWageningen UniversityWoodwell Climate Research Center and World Resources Institute. By combining ground measurements with satellite observations this method provides the first globally consistent dataset for estimating carbon fluxes from forests. This new monitoring system will support more targeted policies and actions, and transparent tracking towards forest-specific climate mitigation goals with both local detail and global consistency.

QUOTES:

“Forests act as a two-lane highway in the climate system. Standing forests absorb carbon, but clearing forests releases it into the atmosphere. A detailed view of where both sides are occurring – forest emissions and forest removals – adds transparency to monitoring forest-related climate policies.”

– Dr. Nancy Harris, Research Director for Forests Program, World Resources Institute

“With separate accounting of forest emissions and sequestration, we can more clearly see the dual role that forests play in carbon accounting. This model also enhances flexibility – it can be improved as better data become available.”

– David Gibbs, GIS Research Associate for Global Forest Watch, World Resources Institute

“The new maps will be important for the UNFCCC’s first global stocktake in 2023 by better linking and harmonizing national GHG inventories with global IPCC estimates.”

– Dr. Martin Herold, Wageningen University

“We now have a framework that can combine these large satellite derived global datasets into a unified system for forest carbon accounting and potential real world applications. It’s something that we in the forest remote sensing community have been working towards for many years, but was a big scientific and computational challenge until now.”

– Dr. Temilola (Lola) Fatoyinbo is a Research Physical Scientist in the Biospheric Sciences Lab, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

“We now have eyes everywhere to monitor changes of forest cover and carbon stocks globally. Harnessing these new observations, mostly from NASA and European space agencies, has given the science and policy communities the capability to better design and implement climate mitigation agreements.”

– Dr. Sassan Saatchi, Principal Scientist for Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

“The maps provide a sound basis for developing policies and programs that will sustain and enhance the capacity of global forests to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, even as they are threatened by increasing risks of climate change and natural disturbances.”

– Dr. Richard Birdsey, Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center

“Thanks to remote sensing technology it was possible to leverage sparse field measurements with spatially detailed wall-to-wall images, resulting in a better understanding of the carbon storage and fluxes across the Earth’s forested landscapes. In the near future, measurements collected by recent space sensors such as NASA GEDI will have the potential to improve these estimates.”

– Dr. Alessandro Baccini, Research Professor, Boston University Center for Remote Sensing; Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center

Sustainable Retailing

Article from ScienceDirect

Abstract

As consumers seek products that cause minimal environmental harm and bring about positive social impact, and as awareness of supply chain impact grows, retailers must embrace sustainability. Given their unique position in the supply chain between upstream suppliers and downstream consumers, retailers are key to a circular economy in which products at the initial end-of-life stage are returned to the supply chain for continued use. By serving as a connection between suppliers and consumers, retail initiatives can help to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Furthermore, retailers can leverage their unique position in the supply chain to enable and legitimize a focus on social issues across the supply chain. We discuss such actions, the challenges that need to be overcome to have scalable impact, and the mechanisms retailers can utilize to make such progress.

Sustainability has emerged as one of the most critical issues facing retailers (Erez, 2019Widlitz, 2020). Retailers’ sustainability initiatives reduce the negative impact of products on both people and the environment throughout the supply chain, which continues to be a top consumer demand. Retail Industry Leaders Association reports that 93% of global consumers expect brands to support social and environmental issues. According to a recent study of 19,000 consumers in 28 countries (Widlitz 2020), nearly 60% are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact, with 80% saying sustainability is important to them. In a survey of 120 outdoor retailers from thirteen countries, 94% claimed that consumer demand for sustainable products has increased in the last two years (Suston-EOG Survey 2019). From 2013 to 2018, 50% of CPG growth came from sustainability marketed products (Whelan and Kronthal-Sacco 2019). In a Mintel survey in 2020, 59% of consumers said treating employees fairly is the best way for a company to show they represent consumers’ personal values.

In addition to providing environmentally sustainable materials and packaging, consumers want to buy from companies that take the long-term view, focusing on both the environmental and social impact of their supply chain activities (Erez 2019). More and more retailers are paying heed. For example, Ikea has pledged to use only renewable and recyclable materials and reduce its footprint by 70% per product, and Levi’s is leading the fashion industry by reducing chemical and water use during production (Widlitz 2020). Walmart is eliminating empty miles through backhaul and has initiated Project Gigaton to eliminate one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global supply chain by 2030. Patagonia implements a “4-fold” process ensuring that its suppliers meet sourcing, quality, social, and environmental standards predetermined by Patagonia.2 CVS is partnering with the Aetna Foundation to address social factors that impact people’s health, and operates Project Health to offer free screenings in underserved communities (Cheney 2020). Starbucks supports coffee farmers with their Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices as well as through coffee research centers to address agricultural challenges faced by coffee farmers (Splitter 2019).

For retailers, sustainability is a competitive imperative that goes beyond simply portraying themselves as good corporate citizens (Mueller 2018). First, sustainability can help differentiate the brand from its competitors, improve brand equity, build customer loyalty, and attract younger consumers (Erez 2019). A study by Nielsen Insights (2015) suggests that both Millennial and Generation Z consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that are committed to social and environmental causes. Second, there are increased regulations on environmental and other sustainability related practices. Retailers mitigate business risk through increased regulatory compliance and reduce liability by strengthening the sustainability of their supply chain (Mueller 2018). Third, sustainability practices aid retailers in attracting capital by meeting requirements from institutional investors with specific ESG requirements (Kang, Germann, and Grewal 2016). Fourth, sustainability helps businesses expand margins by cutting fixed and variable costs through waste reduction, energy savings, lower packaging and transportation costs, lower inventory and warehousing costs, reduce employee turnover, and mitigate healthcare costs. Among retailers, 51% state cost savings as their main objective for adopting sustainability goals (Mueller 2018). Retailers are also motivated by the positive impact of sustainability on legitimizing the company (Hofenk et al. 2019) and attracting and engaging employees (Whelan and Fink 2016). There is an increased emphasis on integrating sustainability related values in retail supply chains, which can increase their attractiveness to consumers (Rakowski 2018). Yet, challenges in implementing sustainability as a holistic system incorporating suppliers and customers persist.

Sustainability: Concept, Definition, and Application in Retailing

Winterich (2019) defines sustainability as a set of ideas, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors that involve the strategic consideration of economic, environmental, and social resources for the success of current and future generations. Stated differently, a sustainability oriented retailer, while considering the long run, goes beyond just economics to include environmental and social considerations for current and future generations. Sustainability for businesses is often referred to as the triple bottom line (TBL or 3BL) or the 3P’s, which refer to a company’s consideration of economic performance [profit] as well as environmental impact [planet] and social impact [people] (Elkington 1998). Sustainability goes beyond environmental stewardship to also embrace the “people” component. Sustainability attends to the working condition and well-being of employees, the impact of sourcing decisions on inequalities in society, and opportunities for underrepresented segments of society. Sustainability initiatives for increasing living wages, providing safe working conditions, and ensuring fair treatment apply not only to the retailer’s direct employee pool but also to indirect employees, who work for partners within the retailer’s supply chain. Considerations of stakeholders such as local communities and society at large reflect the broadening definition of sustainability.

Conceptually, sustainability goes beyond corporate responsibility initiatives or philanthropic activities that some retailers have promoted for decades. Early corporate social responsibility initiatives that focused on social issues were primarily grounded in ethics and moral philosophy. Sustainability initiatives that arose later focused on environmental issues grounded in physical science (Bansal and Song 2017). Over time, these initiatives have merged and expanded to also include social welfare issues under the umbrella of sustainability. Today, the concept of sustainability embodies environmental, ethical/moral, and social issues. In terms of definition and scope, we view sustainability as going beyond CSR initiatives alone. We also intend to circumscribe the unique and central position of retailers–among manufacturers, wholesalers, customers, and consumers–that can be leveraged to provide long-term benefits for the environment and society at large as well as retailers’ financial performance.

Financial performance goals such as sales growth and shareholder value have historically been the primary focus of retailers. Increasingly, retailers are integrating sustainability goals with profit and sales growth goals. Rather than competing goals, retailers aim to tackle them as complementary goals whereby achieving sustainability also enhances profits and growth.

Economic benefits aside, retailers are beginning to consider operating costs by limiting the use of natural resources and minimizing harm to the ecosystem by reducing emissions. For example, grocery retailers are responsible for approximately ten percent of U.S. food waste (43 billion pounds annually) with even more food waste in the supply chain (Weigel 2020). Responding to this challenge, large food retailers, including Walmart, are deploying technology to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain, saving money and environmental resources (Kleinman, Schneider, and Strumwasser 2018Kor, Prabhu, and Esposito 2017). Although it was not always easy to calculate, the impact of sustainability initiatives on critical outcomes can now be ascertained using new measurement techniques and technologies embedded in retail supply chains. For example, retailers in the apparel industry can use the Higg Index to measure and score a product’s sustainability performance at every stage (Radhakrishnan 2015).

In terms of human impact, sustainability recognizes that retail supply chains do not exist in a vacuum; they impact, and are impacted by, their employees, suppliers, and the communities in which retailers operate. For example, Walmart has invested $100 million in training programs to help employees advance their retail careers as well as for training one million farmers who are directly and indirectly part of its supply chain (Macri 2018). When low coffee prices threatened coffee farmers, Starbucks committed $20 million in relief funds to provide them with income stability (Almeida 2019). While social issues may be more difficult to quantify, the advantage of addressing social issues in the supply chain is that it can simultaneously boost firm performance and enhance legitimacy (Carter and Jennings, 2002Yawar and Seuring, 2017). For example, in the U.K., B Corps, which are a network of purpose-driven companies using business as a force for good, were found to have an average year-on-year growth rate of fourteen percent, 28 times greater than the national economic growth rate of 0.5% (Sustainable Brands 2018). Thus, it is not surprising that companies are increasingly seeking to address social issues in their supply chain and expand from a for-profit business model to a for-profit model with social purpose (Lee, Bolton, and Winterich 2017). The B Corp Beautycounter offers “clean” beauty products that eschew ingredients that are legal yet questionable. Its employees and customers are also instrumental in lobbying for clean beauty regulations. In 2018, Beautycounter’s annual revenue grew by 33% (Raphael 2019).

In terms of time frame, retail supply chain sustainability not only focuses on the present and near future, but the long term. Specifically, sustainability considers how current operations will impact future generations, as stated in the 1987 Bruntland Report (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). At the same time, it promotes a shift from short-term quarterly results to a long-term focus on both financial and ESG performance recognized by investors (Eccles and Klimenko 2019).

In summary, sustainability in the supply chain requires retailers to deploy system-wide integration in the entire supply chain to minimize harm to the environment and individuals, and to benefit the environment and society over time. Going beyond placing recycling bins in retail stores, sustainability includes a full consideration of the environmental and social impact of doing business, from acquisition of raw materials to product disposal, reuse, or recycling; from safety and well-being of employees to safety and well-being of society at large. Fig. 1 provides a framework for assessing retailing sustainability (adapted from Winterich 2019). A notable feature of Fig. 1 is to assess the joint emphasis on the economic (profit), social (people), and environmental (planet) impact of supply chain activities with an eye toward their long-term future impact. To be sure, relatively few companies have implemented and achieved the desirable holistic and system-wide integration in their supply chain and business models (Mosher and Smith 2015). Table 1 depicts an application of the framework to Ikea. Ikea sustainability efforts have three foci–profit, people, and the planet. Notably, many investments by Ikea will yield returns in the long run and have a future focus.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1. A framework for conceptualizing and assessing sustainability (Winterich 2019).

Table 1. Ikea’s sustainability assessment.

Planet Aerator in every bathroom and kitchen faucet reduces water flow while maintaining pressure; 100% of cotton is from sustainable sources; buying back furniture for resale or recycling.
People Provided rug weavers with regular work in a safe environment with legal, regulated wages and benefits. Started training schools where trainees are paid while learning.
Profit Ikea saw 29% increase in sales of products that contributed to a more sustainable life at home for consumers. All lighting is LED, cutting energy costs.
System-wide Integration Integrated business functions by working with suppliers for sustainable raw materials and changing consumer behaviors through reuse; circular business commitment by 2030 through advocacy and partnerships.
Future Focus Waste reduction for future health of planet and society; all plastic in products will be renewable or recycled by 2030.

Retailing and Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Sustainable supply chain management or SSCM is defined as “the management of material, information and capital flows as well as cooperation among companies along the supply chain while taking goals from all three dimensions of sustainable development, i.e., economic, environmental, and social, into account which are derived from customer and stakeholder requirements” (Seuring and Müller 2008, p. 1700). SSCM aims to maximize supply chain productivity and social welfare while minimizing environmental impact. Initially, sustainable supply chain management focused on reducing environmental impact; in recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the social impact of SSCM.

SSCM has attracted tremendous attention from academics and practitioners in recent years (e.g., Linton, Klassen, and Jayaraman 2007Wilhelm et al. 2016). Emerging evidence suggests that SSCM helps organizations achieve better financial and nonfinancial performance (e.g., Tsoulfas and Pappis, 2006Vachon and Klassen, 2008). Yet, despite its popularity, SSCM is poorly understood in the retail sector.

SSCM is closely associated with the concept of circular economy (Abbey and Guide 2018Bernon, Tjahjono, and Ripanti 2018Govindan and Hasanagic 2018); an idea rooted in the ancient concept of “circle of life” which recognizes that when something perishes, it gives rise to something new (Toupin 2019). Applied to a supply chain, the concept of circular economy contrasts the traditional, unidirectional flow of material and products from a consumer to the end consumer (also called forward supply chain) to a bidirectional flow of material and products amongst members of the supply chain. Specifically, a circular economy emphasizes “closing the loop” by incorporating a reverse supply chain along with the traditional forward supply chain, where the reverse supply chain enables the reverse flow of materials among channel members in such a way that materials are reused or recycled wherever possible (Carter and Ellram 1998). Reverse supply chains augment forward supply chains by ensuring that the product itself is easy to recycle or reuse and made with minimal new materials. For example, an outcome of Coca-Cola’s efforts to build a reverse supply chain is the increased use of recycled products in the manufacture of Coke bottles and cans. A closed-loop supply chain can help a company achieve sustainability goals more easily (Abbey and Guide, 2018Amin and Zhang, 2012French and LaForge, 2006Souza, 2013).

Fig. 2 envisions a circular economy for the clothing industry. The solid lines in Fig. 2 represent the forward supply chain. Ensuring that the clothing industry’s forward supply chain aligns with the principles of the circular economy requires members of the supply chain to focus on reducing reliance on non-renewable inputs and new raw material as well as reducing pollution and waste. The reverse supply chain of the clothing industry, represented by the dotted lines in Fig. 2, aspires to make the supply chain regenerative, ensuring that clothing material does not end up in waste. To do so, companies are innovating ways to reuse clothing via rental and secondary markets as well as through repair services. For example, H&M recently introduced a recycling machine in one of their Stockholm stores that converts old garments that a customer brings in (e.g., a sweater), into something new (e.g., a hat) while the customer watches (H&M 2020). The reverse supply chain in the clothing industry also entails developing chemical processes to turn used polyester and other clothing material back into raw materials so that there is zero reliance on natural resources. Such bidirectional or closed-loop supply chains focus on preventing natural resource depletion and environmental degradation through product recovery, reuse, and recycling, while at the same time addressing social issues such as societal inequities along the forward and the reverse supply chain.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2. Closed-loop sustainable retail supply chain (the circular economy).

Dell Inc., the computer manufacturer, provides a good example of a closed-loop supply chain. Historically, Dell did not focus on a sustainable supply chain and consumers of its products discarded them, with many ending up in landfills. Today, Dell designs its PCs and components to be easily reused and upgraded. Moreover, they can be easily disassembled and recycled at the end of their life. Additionally, the company has set goals to use 50 million pounds of recycled-content plastic and other sustainable materials in its products by the end of 2020 and to recover two billion pounds of used electronics in the same period (Hardcastle 2017).

Although bidirectional flow of material makes a supply chain more circular, it is not just material flow that matters. Information flow is equally, or even more, important in creating and providing opportunities for sustainable practices and helping channel members coordinate. Besides environmental benefits, enabling a circular economy and this bidirectional flow of material and information can also provide opportunities to advance global social justice by addressing societal and wage inequity. It can also aid and accelerate human development by improving human health in societies facing pollution and environmental degradation, and by providing better health and safety conditions for labor forces across the globe.

Achieving the Circular Economy Through Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Achieving a circular economy encompasses three principles or the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2020).

Reduce focuses on reducing inputs such as resources, energy, and material during the manufacturing phase, along with reduced emissions and waste in the forward supply chain. This includes the application of new technologies and processes to reduce the negative impact of production and consumption on the environment, humans, and society while keeping an eye on financial returns. Companies may also redesign products to reduce the packaging necessary to protect them when shipped. For example, Tide and Seventh Generation have introduced redesigned laundry detergents that are several pounds lighter by cutting down on plastic in the packaging and making the detergent more concentrated (Pisani 2018). Similarly, Modelez committed to eliminating 65,000 metric tons of packaging (Chief Packaging Officer 2019).

Reuse refers to the reuse of the entire product or its components, after its first life cycle, that is, initial utilization by the original consumer. Reuse can take the form of remanufacturing the product into new products or repairing the products for extending their lives. Consider the fashion industry. Global consumption of apparel hovers around 80 billion items, but, on average, each clothing item is worn between three to seven times based on the country studied (Thomas 2019). Yet, in a single year, fashion contributes nine trillion liters of water usage, 3.3 billion tons of CO2 emissions, and uses 1,074 billion kWh of electricity (Gwozdz, Nielsen, and Müller 2017). Rent the Runway, an e-commerce retailer, rents out fashion clothing, and leverages the principles of reduce and reuse to lower total production and consumption of apparel by facilitating reuse.

Recycle involves converting and transforming materials that would otherwise be considered waste into new materials or products that can be used. Retailers can encourage recycling by providing a convenient place for consumers to return goods at the end of the initial life cycle, and even incentivize them to do so. Adidas’ Futurecraft Loop shoe is the first performance running shoe designed for a circular life cycle. Adidas takes back these worn shoes to make new shoes. Apparel retailer North Face offers a discount on purchases when customers bring in worn clothing to be recycled. By telling customers that the materials collected for recycling will be transformed into new products, retailers can increase their recycling behavior (Winterich, Nenkov, and Gonzales 2019).

Achieving a circular economy through the 3R’s involves both upstream suppliers and downstream consumers, and retailers can play a pivotal role in facilitating, propagating, and enforcing the 3R’s in the retail supply chain. Retailers can enhance their suppliers’ sustainability efforts by helping them reduce the amount of raw material and natural resources (e.g., wood, water, energy) used in manufacturing the products they sell. For example, retailers can encourage their suppliers to use reusable packaging or returnable transport items as replacements for cardboard shipping or pallets. Using this type of packaging may encourage buyers to send the material back to manufacturers (e.g., Glock and Kim 2015). Retailers can also encourage their suppliers to reuse waste, used products, and scrap material to manufacture the product (Lapkin, Joyce, and Crittenden 2004), ultimately reducing the amount of material that ends up in landfills. A critical aspect of this is providing infrastructure, information, and training to suppliers who often lack these means to implement sustainability initiatives. This is particularly true of small, native, and indigenous suppliers in developing or underdeveloped geographies.

A major challenge facing upstream suppliers in implementing a circular economy is creating a process for acquiring already-used products to return to the reverse supply chain loop (Abbey and Guide 2018). On this front, retailers can motivate, enable, and facilitate consumers to reduce, reuse, and recycle and therefore facilitate the adoption of the circular economy in multiple ways. First, retailers hear consumers’ demands for products that meet environmental and social sustainability goals and alter shelf-space allocation for companies that meet these demands. Second, retailers enable consumers to reduce waste by encouraging them to purchase less aesthetically pleasing products (Grewal et al. 2019Koo, Oh, and Patrick 2019) or products that have less packaging. Third, the success of the circular economy hinges on consumers returning used products via various product acquisition management programs (Amin and Zhang, 2012Guide and Van Wassenhove, 2001). Retailers can increase consumer convenience through simple efforts such as clearly labelled recycling bins at each store location. Fourth, consumers need to be open to reused and remanufactured products. Retailers can promote reused and remanufactured options to increase their attractiveness, thereby addressing this concern. Last, retailers are the face of the product for many consumers and are best suited to meet consumer demand for social initiatives through better treatment of employees and charitable initiatives.

Retailers can use the basic strategic levers of product, place, promotion, and price as well as packaging to ensure that consumers and suppliers adopt sustainability goals. For example, retailers can encourage renting products instead of owning them while at the same time encouraging suppliers to manufacture more durable products. Retailers can use price promotions to incentivize consumers to recycle and suppliers to adopt more recycled products as part of their product line. Similarly, retailers can use advertising to enhance perceptions about sustainable products and simultaneously communicate to suppliers about the need to focus on such products. Table 2 describes the many ways in which retailers can facilitate the circular economy by using these strategic marketing levers to ensure that suppliers and consumers are focused on the 3R’s and social impact. Specifically, the columns in Table 2 describe the goals of a retailing SSCM (reduce, reuse, recycle, and social) and how they can be achieved through consumers (downstream) and suppliers (upstream). The rows show the 5P’s that serve as action levers consistent with the basic marketing framework. We specifically separate out product and packaging. Our view is that packaging involves an entirely separate set of activities, processes, and initiatives with respect to sustainability management in supply chains.

Table 2. A framework for achieving sustainable supply chain management in retailing.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Social Outcomes
Consumer Supplier Consumer Supplier Consumer Supplier Consumer Supplier
Product Reduce ownership through rental Design products for high use or with less raw material Increase duration of product use via repairs Partner to offer repair services Offer durable products from recycled material Use recycled materials in products Ingredients are less harmful to consumers Production minimizes toxins to laborers
Package Offer reduced or no packaging Innovate product design to eliminate packaging Packaging is refillable Design package for reuse Use packaging that is commonly collected with curbside recycling Design durable packaging that is readily recycled Reduce frustration with packaging waste Reduced or compostable packaging reduces plastic pollution
Price Lowered usage costs from reduced energy use Design products to use less energy Price refills at a discount relative to new purchases Revise profit model to accommodate increased sales of refills but decrease in new unit sales Offer discounts or return deposits for collected recyclables Collaborate with regulators and supply chain partners to incentivize use of recyclables Support companies using fair labor Pay fair wage to laborers
Place Access to second-hand or refurbished goods Develop partnerships with suppliers to sell returns and damaged goods Improve access to refills Alter shelf space to promote refills Serve as collection center for recycling Develop a distribution model for collected recyclables Consumers donate to food banks at checkout Distribute food and household products to food banks and communities in need
Promotion Offer alternatives to free products with purchase Identify promotional items with reduced environmental footprints Promote reusables through incentives Alter infrastructure to streamline service when customers bring reusables Communicate correct recycling policies Encourage suppliers to add recycling labels to packaging Communicate practices through certifications Meet certification standards

Retailers’ Role in Facilitating the Circular Economy

Retailers are well positioned to take the lead in driving sustainability via the circular economy concept for several reasons. Retailers represent the central and critical linkage between the upstream and downstream actors in a supply chain (Grewal and Levy 2007). They can lead and support the supply chain linking raw material producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, transporters, warehousers, and other elements of the supply chain involved in serving customers (Ellram, La Londe, and Weber 1999). The upstream actors include natural resources and resource producers, suppliers (manufacturers, wholesalers, transportation vendors, among others), technology partners, NGOs, and other constituents that interact with retailers prior to customer purchase of a product. The downstream actors include customers who purchase the product from a retailer, retailer employees interfacing with customers, consumers who consume the products, the households and communities where consumption occurs, and potential stakeholders who influence and are influenced by the consumption process. Examples of these stakeholders include, but are not limited to, local organizations that facilitate recycling efforts, providers who help consumers with their consumption process such as household service providers (lawn mowing, cleaning, housekeeping, etc.), and so forth. As shown in Fig. 2 and Table 2, retailers are the focal point of interaction among the myriad upstream actors (e.g., suppliers) and downstream actors (e.g., customers) in the supply chain. This is discussed next.

Retailers’ Influence on Upstream Suppliers

A retailer’s supply chain may account for four times the gas emission as the focal company (CDP 2018). A typical consumer goods company’s supply chain accounts for more than 80% of its greenhouse gas emissions and 90% of its impact on natural resources like air, land, and water (Bove and Swartz 2016). There is growing realization that successful sustainability efforts engage suppliers and other upstream members of the supply chain, with one-third of businesses planning to choose suppliers and partners that are more sustainable (HSBC Navigator Survey 2019). Getting upstream suppliers to adopt sustainability initiatives is an effortful and resource intensive task for most retailers.

Retailers may partner with suppliers on compliance challenges over human rights and labor issues (Nidumolu, Prahalad, and Rangaswami 2009). One of the ways firms attempt to reduce costs throughout the supply chain when consumers demand inexpensive and throwaway products is by reducing wages and creating unsafe working environments (Lewis et al. 2015). In some unfortunate cases, these practices encourage modern-day slavery (Bales 2016). Retailers face a conflict as increased consumption drives economic growth while also often precipitating environmental degradation as well as human rights abuses in marginalized communities (Fuchs and Lorek, 2005Trentmann, 2016). As such, sustainability efforts increasingly consider the working conditions of the low-wage labor pool, especially in developing nations, expecting they be given a basic living wage, sanitary and safe working conditions, and opportunities to grow. This heightened awareness pressures retailers to manage their supply chain partners to uphold the sustainability values important to customers and community stakeholders.

Because of retailers’ unique position connecting suppliers and customers, retailers can motivate suppliers to adopt sustainability goals by implementing standards, norms, and guidelines that drive suppliers’ sustainability efforts (Gielens et al., 2018Hermes, 2012). Retailers can also educate their upstream supply chain members on customers’ sustainability needs, willingness to pay for a sustainable product, and ways to effectively communicate with them. While in some cases retailers may consider cancelling relationships with supply chain partners because of environmental or human rights infractions, it may actually be beneficial for both parties to continue the relationship. By investing in supply chain relationships, upstream partners can earn the required resources to implement the appropriate compliance strategies to mitigate environmental and social deficiencies. If retailers were to completely end relationships with channel partners, there may be a decrease in sustainability improvements because of a lack of required resources or compliance oversight.

A comprehensive example of how a retailer uses its position in the supply chain to improve supply chain sustainability is Walmart’s ambitious Project Gigaton. Project Gigaton seeks to eliminate (reduce) one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030. Walmart requires suppliers who agree to participate in this initiative to be part of the sustainability hub, set goals, and report their impact to other members. Walmart incentivizes participants by not only exercising their position in the supply chain, but also recognizing the suppliers who participate in this initiative. The consortium provides an opportunity to educate Walmart’s suppliers of the benefits of sustainable practices and empowers them with the tools that enable the adoption of sustainability goals. Perhaps an indicator of its success, at last count, over 1,600 suppliers partnered in this initiative. In addition to its environmental benefits, Project Gigaton yields societal benefits including improved air quality and working conditions for suppliers’ employees, job creation, and better consumption experiences for Walmart’s customers.

Table 3 lists various retailer initiatives that promote sustainability in the upstream supply chain. For example, in order to offer “Forever” bottles to reuse with cleaning tablets, Blueland must work with suppliers to develop durable bottles as well as cleaning solutions that dissolve in water and require minimal packaging. Retailers can also serve as a distribution point for reused, remanufactured, or recycled products from suppliers. For example, Nordstrom’s “See You Tomorrow” retail store sells returned and damaged clothing, which is a change in supplier relations as Nordstrom no longer returns these items to the supplier or landfills them.

Table 3. How retailers are using the 3r’s to enhance sustainability outcomes.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Social Outcomes
Product Rent the Runway offers clothing rentals Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers repair services Walmart and Hilary Duff develop “bring it to the bin” campaign to encourage recycling Levi’s digitally finishes jeans, stopping employee exposure to harsh chemicals
Care by Volvo and Hertz My Car offer vehicle subscription services Dell designs its computers to be upgraded easily Adidas Futurecraft Loop shoes are to be ground down after use and made into new shoes. Coca-Cola pledges to eliminate child labor in sugar harvesting by 2025
Starbucks introduced new strawless lids with nine percent less plastic Ikea buys back furniture for resale Google plans to introduce recycled materials in 100% of their Made by Google products launching in 2022 and beyond. Ikea partnered with Better Cotton Initiative to promote sustainable use of resources within its cotton supply chain, improving the lives of farmers in South Asia
Package Lush offers 35% of products “naked” (packaging-free) Blueland has concentrated cleaning tablets to refill “forever” bottles Green Toys uses paper or cardboard packaging that is easier to recycle than plastic toy packaging Henkel sets up social plastic, which allows people to get tokens for food when returning packaging
Seventh Generation and Tide redesigned lighter laundry detergents by cutting down on plastic in packaging Loop provides products in refillable packaging Molson Coors makes compostable, biodegradable six-pack rings to reduce harm to wildlife from pollution
Price Nest promotes cost savings from smart Nest Thermostat Dollar Shave Club offers low-priced razor blade refills to encourage reuse of razor handle North Face created “Clothes the Loop” to encourage apparel recycling by offering a discount on next purchase Target raised minimum wage for frontline workers
Place Nordstrom’s See You Tomorrow Resale Shop sells returned and damaged clothing Ulta Beauty sells customizable Eyeshadow Bars with single refills sold in store Preserve partners with Whole Foods to collect plastic utensils in store, utilizing distribution centers Each Aldi store partners with a local Feeding America member food bank
Promotion Net-a-Porter uses proprietary labels to identify eco-conscious products Target offers a 5-cent discount for each reusable bag Walmart will Label 100% of food and consumable private brand packaging with the How2Recycle® label by 2022 Beautycounter is a Certified B [Benefit] Corporation
Kroger offers Pickuliar Picks for imperfect produce

Retailers Influence on Downstream Customers

Consumer participation is vital in closing the sustainability loop. Prior research has documented an “intention-action” gap in consumers’ sustainability efforts and their adoption of sustainable products. Not all consumers who report positive attitudes toward sustainable products and services follow through with their wallets. In one recent survey 65% said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, yet only about 26% actually did (White, Habib, and Hardisty 2019). Further, 31% of consumers said lack of support from business is a barrier to participating in a circular economy and 27% admit to not knowing how to participate in a circular economy (Sharma 2020). These statistics suggest that customers may lack the motivation, ability, and opportunity to support sustainability goals.

Retailers have sought to address these concerns with the end customer’s sustainability efforts through many initiatives outlined in Table 3. For example, Unilever entered a partnership with Walmart and Hilary Duff to develop a “bring it to the bin” campaign. Designed to motivate shoppers to recycle in all areas of the home, this campaign seeks to educate and incentivize consumers about recycling all packaging, including bathroom plastics. Lush Cosmetics, a bath and body brand, offers free products to customers who bring in empty product packaging to recycle, and makes solid shampoo bars that help reduce packaging waste, offering “naked” or packaging-free products. Other retailers are helping educate customers about sustainable products by creating entire sections for sustainable products in their stores or websites (e.g., REI allows consumers to filter results by sustainability attributes such as recycled materials, animal welfare, and organically grown cotton). Loop, the company that is bringing back the “milkman” model by offering traditional consumer products in refillable packaging will have an aisle in retail stores (Pierce 2019). Other retailers are educating consumers by developing proprietary labelling systems that label products as eco-conscious, socially responsible, or sustainable (e.g., Net-a-Porter and Selfridges use proprietary labels).

As listed in Table 3, retailers have integrated customers into the circular economy. Consumers may rent clothing from retailers like Rent the Runway or repair electronics through services like BestBuy’s Geek Squad. Retailers also educate consumers about how to recycle, as with Preserve’s collaboration with Whole Foods. Whole Foods collects plastic cutlery that is returned to their distribution centers for Preserve to transform them into products that range from recycled toothbrushes to tableware. Additionally, many retailers are now selling used products in their stores. Not only does this increase the acceptability of consuming used products, but it also makes it easier for consumers to buy and return them. Specific examples of such efforts are Nordstrom’s “See you Tomorrow” shop that sells reused and damaged clothing, and Walmart’s recent partnership with ThredUp to give its customers exclusive access to ThredUp’s gently used branded products.

Scaling Sustainable Supply Chains for Systemic Impact

Most retailers are in the early stages of scaling up their sustainable supply chains with sustainability viewed as ad-hoc, bolted-on solutions with little systematic efforts. Retailers must overcome five key impediments to implement a scalable sustainable supply chain focused on both 3R’s and social outcomes. Fig. 3 shows the five impediments: short-term focus, single stakeholder, internal change, stand-alone initiatives, and adoption orientation. By moving to the right on each of these factors retailers can achieve scalable, sustainable supply chains and reap the benefits associated with such supply chains, thereby serving as mandates for the increasingly popular C-suite role of Chief Sustainability Officer.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3. Impediments to scaling up sustainable supply chain management.

Long-Term focus

Many sustainability practices do not yield immediate positive returns as they require either a change in customer behavior or adoption and/or implementation of standards across supply chain members, both of which take time. For example, the resale market grew 25 times faster than the overall retail market in 2019 with total resale market expected to hit 64 billion dollars within the next five years, but such growth has taken decades to arrive (Thomas 2020). It is only now that recommerce retailers such as ThredUP or Rent the Runway are reaping the benefits. Similarly, on the supplier side, sustainability initiatives, albeit often framed as a win–win, involve making trade-offs between economic, social, and environmental goals in the short run as many suppliers might not meet sustainability standards set by retailers. In such cases, instead of severing relationships, retailers will have to work with the suppliers to help them achieve these standards. Indeed, The Sustainability Consortium is an attempt at helping the suppliers meet sustainability standards in the long run. Additionally, some sustainability-promoting technologies might be prohibitively expensive in the short term, but exponential improvements of technology and lowering of costs can make these profitable in the long run. Thus, to achieve scalable sustainable supply chains, retailers must take a longer-term approach in evaluating their sustainability initiatives and measuring their benefits. Perhaps recognizing this, some retailers and channel members (e.g., Unilever) have shifted to annual rather than quarterly reporting. Additionally, for lasting impact, retailers must move away from short-term metrics and use nontraditional performance indicators that assess environmental and social impact. One way to accomplish this is to create a report card that explicitly incorporates short-term and long-term metrics and goals that signal progress on those metrics.

Multiple Stakeholders

Supply chains, by definition, involve a network of businesses that facilitate the flow of goods and services globally. While retailers can initiate their own sustainability practices, they need to coordinate activities across multiple participants in the supply chain to scale their impact. Even within its immediate supply chain, while it might be relatively easier for retailers to enforce and monitor sustainability standards of first-tier suppliers, it becomes particularly challenging to ensure that second- and third-tier suppliers adopt sustainability standards (Villena and Gioia 2020). To overcome this challenge, Ikea,3 which uses approximately one percent of all cotton produced in the world, partnered with Better Cotton Initiative to promote a sustainable cotton supply chain, improving the lives of farmers in South Asia and reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Other stakeholders have to be considered to enable a sustainable supply chain. An initial focus on suppliers’ social and environmental impact needs to be aligned with consumer attitudes. Sustainability practices should also consider industry resistance and potential collaborations to overcome such resistance among stakeholders. Regulatory pressures may be thwarted if multiple stakeholders partner with a retailer and are engaged in the process of self-regulation, that is, voluntary setting of new industry standards, norms, and goals. Indeed, many sustainability issues will require many different retailers to collaborate across their respective retail supply chains. For example, Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT), an initiative made up of global brands and retailers and trade unions, aims to achieve living wages for garment workers through collective bargaining. Retailers can engage multiple stakeholders through information sharing, participating in industry forums, and developing formal and informal networks among the diverse stakeholders who may otherwise not interact with each other.

Infrastructure Overhaul

Once a retailer makes internal changes to be sustainable, they can alter the infrastructure in conjunction and consultation with other stakeholders. Lack of supporting infrastructure can lead to some sustainability initiatives failing and can prevent others from ever getting started. For example, many retailers plan to use renewable energy to power their stores but the infrastructure to adopt renewable energy sources and its cost are still prohibitive for most retailers. Starbucks, for example, has made a commitment to source 100% of the energy across its U.S. and Canadian stores from renewable sources either through purchasing credits or through making direct investments (Golden 2019). Similarly, electric-vehicle adoption is hindered by lack of EV charging stations. Many gas stations (e.g., Wawa, Sheetz) have recently turned their attention on increasing the footprint of these EV charging stations, addressing an infrastructure need.

Lack of infrastructure overhauls can result in solutions being bolted on, instead of the process being reimagined. For example, poultry and produce currently produced in the U.S. can be shipped to China for processing before it is returned to the U.S. for consumption. While such processes may lower costs and seem efficient, they might not enhance (environmental) sustainability efforts. To achieve environmental sustainability goals, it might make sense to process the produce in the U.S. as well, thereby requiring a complete infrastructure overhaul. Similarly, at the heart of sustainable supply chains is the idea of hyper-transparent supply chains, that is, supply chains where companies know the sourcing and working conditions of all its suppliers, not just tier one suppliers. Such hyper-transparent supply chains can only be achieved by digitizing the supply chain and incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and RFID. For example, Nike is trying to gain transparency and visibility into the operation of its factories and inventory flowing across multiple countries by extensively adopting RFID and other technologies, and reimagining the supply chain infrastructure.

Industry organizations can help raise funds for developing new infrastructure and establish guidelines and norms for their utilization and deployment. The success of such infrastructure initiatives allows them to be expanded and replicated. Consumers may be more likely to change behavior because of the convenience and ease afforded by infrastructure, facilitating reduce, reuse, and recycling initiatives. For example, infrastructure that allows single-stream recycling pickup from consumer houses can dramatically improve recycling compared to when consumers are required to take their recyclables to a recycling center.

System-Wide Integration

Several retailers start stand-alone, ad-hoc sustainability initiatives in response to consumer or supplier demands, regulatory changes, or macroeconomic shocks (e.g., COVID-19). These stand-alone initiatives may achieve short-term outcomes such as preventing consumer boycotts or regulatory fines but they are unable to achieve the magnitude of impact that can occur under system-wide integration. System-wide integration occurs when the initiative is (1) supported by and relevant to multiple participants, (2) backed by resources and infrastructure, and (3) woven into the fabric of “how retailing is done.” An example of a company moving from stand-alone initiatives to system-wide integration is Starbucks. Take the example of plastic straws. In 2018, Starbucks eliminated plastic straws and replaced them with paper straws in Korea.4 In the same year, they announced the goal to eliminate plastic straws globally across their stores by 2020, developing innovative strawless cold beverage lids. In 2020, following their commitment to eliminate plastic straws, Starbucks eliminated plastic straws in Asian countries such as Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand while at the same time improving their innovative strawless lid by making it with less plastic. When sustainability initiatives are integrated throughout the supply chain from raw material suppliers to consumers, the benefits from any one initiative are multiplied, particularly since stand-alone initiatives can easily run out of resources and/or be adopted by others, providing very little or no competitive advantage. However, to achieve system-wide integration, retailers should focus on a smaller number of sustainability initiatives rather than chasing the latest environmental fad.

Entrenchment Orientation

As explained by Zeitz, Mittal, and McAulay (1999), “adopted practices that are not yet entrenched are referred to as fads, and entrenchment is defined as the embedding of practices such that they are likely to endure and resist pressure for change” (page 741). By adopting an entrenchment orientation toward sustainability, retailers can ensure that sustainability initiatives and practices endure within the retailing sector and do not become passing fads. This requires a longer-term focus, involving multiple stakeholders, overhauling infrastructure, and focusing on system-wide integration so that sustainability is fully embedded in the retailing sector. From a leadership perspective, retailers can also reform industry and organizational culture to integrate sustainability as a core value, which can mitigate consumers’ concerns regarding greenwashing. As Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, notes: “We try to take stands only on issues where we have solid experience and never rely exclusively on advertising to make our point” (Stanley 2020). Indeed, and to this point, Patagonia refuses to take stands on issues such as immigration wherein they are not experts but always stand for environmental issues, family leave, and childcare (Stanley 2020). An entrenchment orientation goes hand in hand with system-wide integration–by focusing on a few initiatives retailers such as Patagonia ensure they are consistently implemented and, over time, become entrenched in the supply chain rather than being uprooted by the latest fad (Mittal and Sridhar 2020).

Key Behavioral Mechanisms to Enable/Influence Sustainable Retail Supply Chain

Retailers can help infuse sustainability in the retail supply chain through the five mechanisms described next.

Incentive Alignment Mechanisms

There is a vast literature in marketing showing the effect of incentive alignment on how consumers, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and others behave (Alba et al. 1997). To the extent that actors are value and/or profit maximizing, their behaviors can be influenced by aligning their motivation and opportunity to the goal of sustainability. Retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target can play a pivotal role in aligning incentives for various actors in the supply chain to promote sustainability. Indeed, aligning incentives is perhaps the most sure shot way of advancing sustainability goals across the supply chain. As an example, Best Buy offers promotions to encourage customers to recycle used appliances and computer equipment, and Henkel provides unique tokens for individuals to redeem food if they bring in used plastic. Retailers may provide monetary and nonmonetary incentives to their suppliers and partners to promote sustainability practices in their supply chain. For example, Target, both in store and online, labels products that are formulated without a group of commonly unwanted chemicals, incentivizing suppliers not to use such chemicals.

Infrastructure Development and Investments to Facilitate Long-Term Sustainable Behavior

Sustainability initiatives such as recycling, reusing, and reducing require substantial infrastructure investments (e.g., recycling containers, green investments) and careful coordination across multiple entities for optimal utilization (Yudelson 2009). Since most sustainability efforts require reimagining the way companies do business, infrastructure investments are often the difference between successful and failed sustainability efforts. For example, Best Buy’s recycling infrastructure has collected over two billion pounds of electronics and appliances through its recycling program, which involves close coordination around processes such as picking up appliances from customers’ homes, helping customers wipe hard drives clean, providing promotions to incentivize customers to recycle, and to educate them about purchasing greener electronics.5 Similarly, to meet their goals for 100% renewable energy, Starbucks invested in solar farms in North Carolina.

Mechanisms for Developing and Enforcing Norms

Norms play a critical role with helping structure economically efficient relationships among independent parties (Heide and John 1992). Retailers can not only help to develop norms favorable to promoting sustainability but also enforce them through mutual reinforcement (Burchell, Rettie, and Patel 2013). For example, studies show that promoting norms such as “75% of guests reuse their towels” led to increased towel reusage among hotel guests (Goldstein, Cialdini, and Griskevicius 2008Terrier and Marfaing 2015). Consumers are also more likely to reduce energy use when their usage is compared to neighbors (Allcott 2011). Sustainability norms also influence suppliers as individual companies and industry organizations set new standards to which suppliers must conform. As an example, the American Cleaning Institute’s Cleaning Product Ingredient Safety Initiative provides specific guidelines to its members. These non-binding guidelines provide sector-wide norms that are accepted and followed by manufacturers of cleaning products sold in retail stores.

Governance Mechanisms

The development, maintenance, and support of sustainability initiatives requires adequate governance at many levels: from local, state, and national governments to shareholders and even customers (Aras and Crowther, 2008Young, 2016). For example, corporate governance mechanisms such as those related to ESG (environment–sustainability–governance) have led to specific actions that are documented and disseminated widely to shareholders and customers. Yet, to this day, while companies have shown improvement in addressing the impact of social and labor issues within their own operations, they may be neglecting the risks that exist among their suppliers. The 2019 Business Sustainability Risk and Performance Index report that analyzed over 40,000 companies found that 80% of suppliers lack supply chain due diligence measures, 57% failed to monitor working conditions, and 44% lack health and safety preparedness, revealing the need for proper governance and monitoring mechanisms across the supply chain (EcoVadis 2020). Governance mechanisms are not restricted to within the supply chain. Retailers are also impacted by state or local governments such as bans on single-use plastic bags (National Conference of State Legislatures 2020). At the same time retailers can design and advance internal governance mechanisms such as conducting periodic audits and issuing reports evaluating their sustainability efforts and using ethics committees to resolve dilemmas pertaining to their sustainability initiatives (Zyung et al. 2020).

Information Exchange and Education

The importance of information exchange and education is critical from a variety of perspectives. The Suston-EOG (2019) Retail Sustainability Survey found store managers and small retailers had low to intermediate knowledge about key sustainability themes such as product CO2 footprint, microplastics, and the Higg index. Similar concerns abound about suppliers, their lack of knowledge and inability to achieve sustainability goals imposed on them (Villena and Gioia 2020). Retailers use many avenues to disseminate their sustainability-related knowledge and their efforts to address sustainability. For example, Walmart’s 2019 Environmental, Social & Governance report provides important information to its shareholders while Walmart’s sustainability consortium transfers knowledge among suppliers. Best Buy’s recycling infrastructure provides customized information to residents of each state to help them recycle appliances and electronics in a manner consistent with state and local laws. As another example, the Center for Retail Compliance (2018) educates consumers and retailers on the environmental impact of products, greenhouse gases, chemicals, toxins, and waste.

Using the Five Mechanisms to Scale Sustainability

Retailers can use all five mechanisms to ensure the widespread adoption and entrenchment of sustainability in their supply chain although the relative efficacies of these behavioral mechanisms can vary based on various contextual factors such as the focus of the sustainability initiative, the size of the firm undertaking the sustainability effort, and the resources available to the focal company. We believe that retailers utilizing several mechanisms simultaneously and systematically are more likely to succeed than retailers using a single method sporadically. As an example, setting norms, aligning incentives, and enforcing governance and oversight is more likely to ensure the success of a supply chain sustainability initiative than relying on norms alone or on governance mechanisms that fail to align participants’ incentives.

Table 4 builds on Table 3, and provides various mechanisms used for successful retailing sustainability initiatives. We use the basic marketing strategic levers of 5P’s to discuss how retailers can enable customers and suppliers to achieve sustainability goals associated with 3R’s and societal outcomes through the five mechanisms discussed above. We now revert to Walmart’s Project Gigaton example to discuss how these five mechanisms can be used to enable the circular economy. In terms of infrastructure and coordination, Walmart provides a well-defined process and website that can be used by suppliers to document their progress with sustainability. Suppliers are recognized for their efforts, which sets social and economic norms that can be followed by others. By stating that more than 1,000 suppliers have committed to Project Gigaton, Walmart is creating and supporting a social norm for sustainability (Boynton 2019). Walmart uses voluntary and involuntary governance mechanisms to support sustainability. Thus, Walmart has pledged to support only suppliers whose textile mills use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) to measure and help improve environmental performance by 2022 (Boynton 2019). The module helps standardize the way that apparel, footwear, and textile manufacturing websites share information with the brands buying their products (Clancy 2018). Finally, Walmart conducts an annual summit to facilitate information exchange and education among its supplier and employee community. This is in addition to the updated information available on the Project Gigaton website. By incorporating all five mechanisms in Project Gigaton, Walmart ensures that its sustainability efforts yield the expected impact throughout the supply chain.

Table 4. Behavioral mechanisms enabling sustainability in retail supply chain.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Social
Product Rent the Runway offers clothing rentals at lower price than owning clothes Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers repair services Walmart and Hilary Duff develop “bring it to the bin” campaign to encourage recycling Levi’s digitally finishes jeans, stopping employee exposure to harsh chemicals
Care by Volvo and Hertz My Car offer vehicle subscription services Dell designs its computers to be upgraded easily Adidas Futurecraft Loop shoes are to be ground down after use and made into new shoes. Coca-Cola pledges to eliminate child labor in sugar harvesting by 2025
Starbucks introduced new strawless lids with 9% less plastic Ikea buys back furniture for resale Google plans to introduce recycled materials in 100% of their Made by Google products launching in 2022 and beyond
Behavioral mechanisms

Infrastructure

Norms

Incentive alignment

Incentive alignment

Infrastructure

Norms

Education

Infrastructure

Education

Governance

Norm

Incentive alignment

Package Lush offers 35% of products “naked” (packaging-free) Blueland has concentrated cleaning tablets to refill “forever” bottles Green Toys uses paper or cardboard packaging that is easier to recycle than plastic toy packaging Henkel sets up social plastic, which allows people to get tokens for food when returning packaging
Seventh Generation and Tide redesigned lighter laundry detergents by cutting down on plastic in packaging Loop provides products in refillable packaging Molson Coors makes compostable, biodegradable six-pack rings to reduce harm to wildlife from pollution
Behavioral Mechanisms

Education

Incentive alignment

Infrastructure

Incentive Alignment

Infrastructure

Norms

Education

Governance

Infrastructure

Incentive alignment

Education

Norms

Price Nest promotes cost savings from smart Nest Thermostat Dollar Shave Club offers low-priced razor blade refills to encourage reuse of razor handle North Face created “Clothes the Loop” to encourage apparel recycling by offering a discount on next purchase. Target raised minimum wage for frontline workers
Behavioral mechanisms

Incentive alignment

Education

Incentive alignment

Norms

Education

Incentive alignment

Infrastructure

Norms

Norm

Governance

Place Nordstrom’s See You Tomorrow Resale Shop sells returned and damaged clothing Ulta Beauty sells customizable Eyeshadow Bars with single refills sold in store Preserve partners with Whole Foods to collect plastic utensils in store, utilizing distribution centers. Each Aldi store partners with a local Feeding America member food bank
Behavioral mechanisms

Incentive alignment

Infrastructure

Norms

Norms

Infrastructure

Education

Infrastructure

Education

Norms

Governance

Norms

Education

Promotion Net-a-Porter uses proprietary labels to identify eco-conscious products. Target offers 5-cent discount for each reusable bag. Walmart will Label 100% of food and consumable private brand packaging with the How2Recycle® label by 2022 Beautycounter is a Certified B [Benefit] Corporation
Kroger offers Pickuliar Picks for imperfect produce
Behavioral mechanisms

Norms

Education

Governance

Incentive alignment

Infrastructure

Norms

Education

Governance

Education

Norms

Norms

Governance

Education

Sustainability in Retailing: A Research Agenda

Research examining sustainable supply chains can benefit from taking the vantage point of a retailer trying to enable upstream suppliers and downstream consumers to adopt sustainability related goals. Taking a consumer and supplier perspective can provide a broadened and richer avenue for developing future research. In this section, we discuss future research on the retailer-consumer link and retailer-supplier link. Table 5 provides illustrative future research questions in each of these domains and the identified subdomains.

Table 5. Under-researched sustainability domains and illustrative research questions.

Domain area Illustrative future research questions
Effective communication

How can sustainability related information on social and environmental impact be standardized to reduce consumer confusion?

How can the environmental and social impact of product purchase be effectively conveyed to consumers?

How can marketing communications influence post-purchase consumption behaviors that are aligned with a circular economy?

Motivating behavior change

How can supplier incentives and customer incentives be aligned for profitable take-back programs? What role does the framing of incentives–instrumental and symbolic–play in alignment?

How can new business models such as shared services, rather than ownership, be normalized without stigma? What role do self-service technologies and web-enabled consumption play in sustainable behaviors?

How can retailers use alternative offerings to mitigate overconsumption through disposable lifestyles? What is the role of ownership utility versus consumption utility in promoting or preventing sustainability behaviors during consumption?

Retail transformation

To what extent might consumer attitudes toward sustainability incentivize minimal product returns even if they are free? How can the wastefulness of product returns be made salient to consumers to minimize returns? Can shipping fees be used to help consumers engage in sustainable consumption?

When do customers’ sustainability values drive the choice of delivery mode for online purchases? How can this be enhanced?

As the social and environmental costs of home delivery (e.g., traffic, pollution) continue to be treated as externalities, what are the potential consequences to retailers if this issue is addressed by public policy?

Sustainability culture in retailing

What are the economic and noneconomic antecedents and outcomes of a sustainability culture?

What is the role of customer focus in adopting and implementing a sustainability culture? Do sustainability culture and customer-focus reinforce or impede each other?

How can retailers balance their focus on satisfying customer needs when customers may not value sustainability as much as other stakeholders?

What factors encourage senior leaders and employees of a company to value sustainability?

Retailer-supplier relationships to promote sustainability

What is the role of a retailer’s relational capital with its suppliers in enabling the adoption and entrenchment of sustainability in the supply chain?

What governance mechanisms and norms work best to achieve sustainable supply chains in retailing?

What role does information technology play in the adoption and entrenchment of sustainability?

Sustainability outcomes

Should sustainability outcomes be conceptualized in terms of the level of reduction, reuse, and recycling? How can we measure them using standardized and easy-to-use scales?

How can marketing help develop a customer-based measure of retailer sustainability? Future research should not only develop such a sustainability index, but also examine its association with a variety of firm-level outcomes.

What impact does sustainability have on broader societal outcomes such as quality of life, life satisfaction, and how it improves people’s lives?

Retailer-Customer Sustainability Efforts

Customers (buyers) and consumers (users) are two of the most influential external stakeholder groups that can influence retailers’ desire to implement SSCM in retailing. First, customers must purchase and pay for sustainable products and services. Second, consumers should return, reuse, and recycle products after initial use by reintroducing the product back into the supply chain. Third, customers’ purchase and consumption behaviors must reflect their stated desire for sustainability. This may not occur if customers and consumers do not have the motivation, ability, or opportunity to do so; in many cases, customers and consumers remain confused and overwhelmed by product information on sustainability attributes and appropriate behaviors. From a marketing perspective, there are many research opportunities.

Effective communication

As companies recognize consumers’ growing demand for sustainable products, they are offering more and more green labels and sustainability attributes. One consequence of these efforts is greenwashing, misleading claims about environmental performance, or environmental benefits of a product or service that can leave consumers confused and skeptical (Chen and Chang, 2013Delmas and Burbano, 2011). One solution to address this issue entails cooperation among retailers, suppliers, and industry organizations to create standardized labels that consumers can easily interpret. Future studies should examine what types of communication (e.g., standardized labels) generates the best response from consumers. Studies should also examine if voluntary regulation by an industry is an effective way to generate consumer support or if it is riddled with concerns of authenticity.

More generally, research is needed to better understand consumer decision-making regarding sustainability product claims—how do consumers weight and trade off sustainability with other attributes. Evidence also suggests that sustainability may not be the most important attribute in consumer decision-making; consumers may still weight price and quality more than sustainability (Luchs et al., 2010Van Doorn and Verhoef, 2011) especially since sustainability is not only an abstract attribute (White, Habib, and Hardisty 2019), but one whose benefits may not be apparent to customers (Tully and Winer 2014).

Marketing scholarship should also conduct research to better understand communication approaches and strategies with customers and consumers about post-purchase behaviors. After consumers purchase a product, what is the best way to help them utilize the product in a sustainable manner? Even when consumers do not buy a product for its sustainability benefits, can they learn the benefits of sustainability during the consumption process? How can communication efforts be tailored to increase customer engagement and involvement in sustainability efforts? Strategy researchers can examine the role of communication strategies designed to align customers, employees, and shareholders. A key question that has not been examined in previous research is the extent, and consequences, of alignment between firms’ communication to these different stakeholders.

Motivating behavior change

Even when consumers understand information about retailer and supplier sustainability efforts, they may not be motivated to change their own behavior, as evidenced by the intention-behavior gap (White, Habib, and Hardisty 2019). At the basic level, retailers and academics seek to examine ways to motivate consumers to purchase sustainable products. However, motivating behavior change–from a sustainability perspective–is even more important during the post-purchase consumption phase. Thus, research into changing consumers’ post-purchase behaviors so that they reduce, reuse, and recycle is a key research priority. Research should examine the myriad impediments to post-purchase sustainable behaviors. The cost to the environment of a “throw-away” lifestyle is high, but consumers must be motivated to invest the effort to overcome the convenience factor. In contrast to disposable goods, consumers’ attachment to material possessions can make it difficult for them to part with such possessions that could otherwise enter the secondary market or circular economy via recycling (Trudel, Argo, and Meng 2016Winterich, Reczek and Irwin 2017). There may be stigmas such as frugality that need to be overcome for nontraditional rental business models to be successful, for which social norms may be useful. In general, consumer behavior scholars should address the efficacy of many different approaches–norms, incentives, and education–that can be deployed simultaneously to encourage sustainable behaviors. From a marketing strategy perspective, research is needed to develop metrics that help retailers measure the success of their sustainability efforts. These metrics should go beyond traditional sales-based metrics in retailing to focus senior management’s attention on repeat utilization, recycling rates, and margin expansion from savings gained through reusing, reducing, and recycling (Sustainable Development Goals 2020).

Retail transformation

The transformation besetting retail–online shopping, home and autonomous delivery, replacement of brick-and-mortar stores with click-shopping, implementation of technologies such as omnichannel, shopping platforms such as Etsy–has fundamentally redefined the retailing industry (Fisher, Gallino, and Xu 2019). This transformation has exacerbated concerns about sustainability based on factors such as increased packaging for home delivery and overconsumption from increased convenience. But, it has also provided niche retailers with the opportunity to focus on customers who value sustainability and are willing to pay for it. We need more research to understand the strategic implications of this transformation for the retail sector. Does the asymmetric growth of retail giants such as Walmart and Amazon increase or decrease sustainability in retail supply chains? Will the advent of online specialty retailers fragment the market for sustainable products and services? These are issues marketing strategy scholars should examine using analytical and empirical research approaches.

From a consumer behavior perspective, research should examine the impact of these changes in consumer choice processes, and their impact on consumer attitudes and behaviors related to reduce, reuse, and recycle. These research programs will invariably also inform public policy debates (Rai, Verlinde, and Macharis 2019). For example, as the rate of home deliveries and pickups expands, so do related social costs such as fuel pollution and global warming. Research is needed to understand if, when, and how retail transformation can be a stimulus or a barrier to sustainability practices.

Retailer–Supplier Sustainability Efforts

As noted previously, a key factor facilitating sustainable supply chains is the long-term cooperation between retailers and their suppliers. Both parties must take a longer-term, system-wide approach to supply chain management to overcome impediments to sustainability. Invariably, marketing scholars can inform these efforts using a variety of research methods such as analytical models, surveys linked to specific behaviors, and secondary/archival datasets. In this regard, several research perspectives can inform research inquiry.

Sustainability culture in retailing

Organization culture has been defined as a set of accepted behavioral rules, norms, and rituals (e.g., Trice and Beyer 1984) or shared values, ideologies, and beliefs (e.g., Schwartz and Davis 1981). A strong organizational culture can help companies adapt to changing goals (Cameron and Quinn 2011). In the context of sustainability, research is needed to ascertain the antecedents, dimensions, and consequences of a sustainability culture among retailers and their partners. In terms of articulating the dimensions of a sustainability culture, research should incorporate both economic and noneconomic antecedents and outcomes of a sustainability culture, since a narrow economic focus may be limiting. More generally, there is a need to understand the role of customer focus in adopting and implementing a sustainability culture. Is it possible for retailers to overfocus on sustainability at the expense of satisfying underlying basic customer needs such as quality, low price, and convenience? Do sustainability culture and customer-focus reinforce or impede each other? How can retailers balance their focus on satisfying customer needs when customers may not value sustainability as much as other stakeholders such as institutional investors and suppliers?

Retailer-supplier relationship to promote sustainability

Marketing scholarship has a storied history examining exchange relationships from a business-to-business perspective (Gundlach and Murphy 1993). As discussed earlier, retailers desirous of scaling up sustainability in retail supply chain would need to develop a close and cooperative relationship with their suppliers and other stakeholders. Several questions in this regard remain unanswered. What is the role of a retailer’s relational capital with its suppliers in enabling the adoption and entrenchment of sustainability in the supply chain? Accounting for price and quality, what is the extent to which retailers’ satisfaction with their suppliers depend on the suppliers’ sustainability performance (Mittal and Sridhar 2020)? What governance mechanisms and norms work best to achieve sustainable supply chains in retailing? Specifically, research can examine the efficacy of governance structures such as incentive-oriented structures, monitoring-based structures, or enforcement-based structures to implement supply chain sustainability.

Increasingly, investment in and application of information technology systems has been advanced as a key reason for increased competition and a differentiating factor that enables organizations to survive and thrive (Aral and Weill, 2007McAfee and Brynjolfsson, 2008). However, limited studies have examined the role of information technology in enabling the triple bottom-line. Nonetheless, technology has increasingly emerged as an enabler of sustainability goals from nudging customers to engage in sustainable actions to facilitating sustainable procurement practices, reducing wastage and reducing impact on the environment. Future studies should examine the role of information technology in promoting sustainability. Specifically, how the use of technology, information exchange, and data facilitate the adoption and integration of SSCM in the retail sector. How the use of technology can ensure supply chain transparency and influence the costs and benefits of transparency. Again, both analytical and empirical models can be used to examine these issues.

Sustainability outcomes

Sustainability is a broad and multidimensional construct. Should sustainability outcomes be conceptualized as the level of reduction, reuse, and recycling? Which specific social outcomes should be included in sustainability? Similar to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, is there a need to develop a customer-based measure of retailer sustainability? Future research should not only develop such a sustainability index, but also examine its association with a variety of firm-level outcomes. These downstream outcomes may include financial outcomes (accounting and stock market metrics) and nonfinancial outcomes related to retailer reputation and brand-equity (Martin et al. 2018).

As more and more retailers and supply chain members adopt sustainability goals, shareholders will require a clearer understanding of how to evaluate performance of these sustainability initiatives, enhance accountability of channel members toward these sustainability initiatives, and ascertain the bottom-line impact of these sustainability initiatives on company and societal goals. From a macro-marketing perspective, scholars should measure the impact of SSCM on broader societal outcomes such as quality of life, life satisfaction, and how it improves people’s lives. Further, sustainability should also be linked to brand equity since brand equity is seen as a key antecedent of financial performance. In this context, researchers can also examine concepts such as eco-branding, sustainability branding, and employee-based brand equity. Sustainability related issues can have political overtones (Jung and Mittal 2020); since they can polarize a firm’s consumer base, studies should examine when firms should actively lead such efforts and when they should play a follower role (Hydock, Paharia, and Blair 2020).

Conclusion

With changing societal norms and consumer attitudes, the need for businesses to consider and incorporate sustainability in their core strategy has never been more important. Retailers, as customer-interfacing entities, are in a unique position in any supply chain to influence both upstream suppliers as well as downstream customers. As described in this paper, retailers can address sustainability in retail supply chain using the circular-economy concept. Retailers can ensure that all supply-chain participants reuse, reduce, and recycle and address societal issues to attain sustainability goals. Achieving these goals requires implementing specific behavioral mechanisms to gain commitment from suppliers and consumers, and we describe ways in which retailers can accomplish these goals. We hope that retailers, scholars, and others will benefit from the insights in this article to make the needed and necessary progress on sustainability.
Executive summary
Sustainability is an increasing focus of retailers as consumers are becoming more concerned with environmental and social impact of their purchases. Because retailers are an important link in most supply chains, they can play a pivotal role in ensuring sustainability of the entire supply chain. Specifically, they can influence both upstream suppliers and downstream members of the supply chain (customers) to be more sustainable through a circular economy, which occurs when products at initial end-of-life stage are returned to supply chain for continued use. However, sustainable supply chains in the retail sector are not well understood. As such, many retailers have yet to commit to sustainability and those that do may struggle to meet their sustainability goals. This paper seeks to bridge this gap in extant knowledge by showcasing how retailers can enable a sustainable supply chain by leveraging its position in the supply chain to encourage suppliers and customers to adopt sustainability goals. In doing so, the paper identifies key issues that hinder adoption of sustainable supply chains among retailers and advances a research agenda for academics to better educate retailers on how to effectively adopt and achieve sustainability goals.

The paper begins with a discussion of sustainability and its application to the retail sector followed by a brief review of sustainable supply chain management, focusing on how sustainability requires enabling a circular economy. From this examination, the critical role of retailers in a circular economy, due to their position in the supply chain between suppliers and consumers is identified. To better understand how retailers can use this position of influence, a framework for achieving sustainable supply chain management in retailing is proposed. This framework draws upon the traditional marketing touchpoints (product, price, place, promotion, as well as packaging, given its relevance to a circular economy) that retailers have access to and pairs it with core principles of a circular economy (reduce, reuse and recycle as well as social impact). Using examples of retailers’ current sustainability initiatives, this framework illustrates how retailers can use their strategic levers to work with both consumers and suppliers to adopt sustainability goals.

Of course, retailer’s engagement in sustainability initiatives are not without challenges. Thus, the next section of the paper addresses impediments to scaling sustainable supply chains to ensure that they have a systematic impact. Specifically, companies can advance the sustainability imperative by adopting a more long-term focus that engages multiple stakeholders and requires a system-wide integration and infrastructure overhaul that will ultimately result in sustainability being an entrenched organizational orientation. Such guidance could serve as mandates for increasingly popular top-management roles such as chief sustainability officer. Building on this discussion, the key behavioral mechanisms that can improve the success of retailer sustainability initiatives are presented. Drawing upon the illustrative examples used in the framework, the authors argue that incentive alignment, infrastructure development, development of norms, governance, and information exchange and education will help scale sustainability in retail supply chains.

The paper concludes by setting a research agenda to further advance retailing sustainability, particularly from a marketing lens. Consistent with the theme throughout the paper, we discuss how marketing can add to research on sustainable supply chains via both the retailer-customer link and retailer-supplier link. More specifically, we identify six broad and fertile avenues for future research: 1) effective communication, 2) motivating behavior change, 3) retail transformation, 4) sustainability culture in retail, 5) retailer-supplier relationship management and 6) measuring sustainability outcomes. Altogether, this paper lays the foundation for retailers to work with both customers and suppliers to achieve sustainability initiatives using key behavioral mechanisms and overcoming potential impediments.

New Resource Guide Released on Sustainable Animal Feed, Helps Companies Navigate Environmental Impacts of Rising Demand for Animal Protein

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released today the Resource Guide on Sustainable Animal Feed, a digital resource created to help companies in the animal feed supply chain better understand and address how the demand for animal protein products – and subsequently animal feed –  affects the environment, including air, land, soil, water and biodiversity. The free resource guide was developed by TSC alongside a group of stakeholders made up of over 20 different organizations including Field to Market, BASF, Greenfield Solutions, National Pork Board, The Nature Conservancy, Pipestone Systems, Syngenta, American Feed Industry Association, Sustainable Food Lab, and others.

The global demand for animal protein is increasing rapidly due to population growth, rising income, and changes in diet. This increased demand has significant impact on people and the planet. Recent life-cycle assessments estimate that feed production accounts for 70% of the total carbon footprint of animal products. In order to meet growing global demand, companies and organizations involved in the food supply chain need access to resources and information specific to feed sustainability.

“As the demand for animal protein increases, so does the demand for animal feed. Every company along the value chain has the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards feed sustainability. This resource guide supports these organizations in their efforts,” stated Dr. Christy Slay, TSC’s senior director of science and research.

The resource guide – intended to be a resource for sustainability professionals, procurement teams, feed and animal protein industry professionals, researchers, and non-profits – aggregates relevant resources and information related to feed sustainability globally with a focus on the U.S. The guide is organized in five chapters:

  1. Leading organizations engaged in feed sustainability efforts
  2. Useful tools
  3. Reports and case study spotlights
  4. Research
  5. Companies’ feed sustainability initiatives

This free guide will continue to be updated as new resources become available. In recent years, consumer goods companies have increased commitments to regenerative agriculture, expanding from sustainable grain crop production initiatives to ones focused on feed eco-efficiency and novel feed ingredients. The authors behind the guide, Dr. Slay and TSC research assistant, Dr. Teresa Garcia-Moore, LL.M., hope companies will use this resource list to create a more holistic approach to enhancing the overall sustainability of the animal and environment systems.

“The National Pork Board is committed to greater transparency about our industry’s efforts regarding environmental sustainability and our journey of continuous improvement,” said Dr. Brett Kaysen, vice president or sustainability at the National Pork Board. “This means making information, resources and tools available to those who buy pork to sell pork, and help them better understand the animal feed supply chain. We’re proud to work with TSC and the other stakeholders to produce this valuable guide.”

“The Feeding Our Food working group is grateful to TSC for providing us a space to collaborate and highlight the sustainability efforts and research underway throughout the animal feed supply chain. It’s so important to have participation from each of the industries represented in this resource guide. I see this as a great start to improve understanding of how our feed is sustainably sourced. I look forward to continuing to build connections throughout the industry,” states Jennifer Luchte, Sustainable Solutions Manager, Green Field Solutions.

The free, digital guide is available here. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Media Inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org
480-965-7752

The Supply Chain’s Responsibility in Sustainability

Article from Supply and Demand Chain Executive

Experts throughout the supply chain stress how the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has fast-tracked numerous emerging trends, one of the most important being sustainability. As more and more executives see the value in endorsing strategies aligned with sustainability, it becomes more prevalent throughout the supply chain. While ethically, many may think it is the right thing to do, monetarily- and resiliency- wise it can be the best decision. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in 2019, showed that the U.S. economy is projected to decline 10% by the year 2100 due to effects from climate change. The report also noted that import and export prices for U.S. businesses will see drastic increases.

Additionally, consumers drive conversations and interest in sustainability. Investment in old strategies simply because that is how it has been done in the past does not necessarily mean for a solid future. Consumer demand pushes new trends, and today, that means sustainable initiatives such as renewable energy, social responsibility and trash reduction.

During a past SCN Summit, hosted by Supply & Demand Chain Executive, speaker Marisa Brown, senior principal research lead for supply chain management for APQC, explained that as the automobile was making its way onto the roads, many organizations in the transportation industry were investing in the latest and greatest carriage driving whips. Soon, the automobile became the prevailing mode of transportation, and all that investment in the whip was wasted. The same goes today for those who invest in non-sustainable practices.

“Brands and manufacturers, now more than ever, are committing to transparency through corporate commitments, science-based targets and transparency on key sustainability issues to their consumers,” says Christy Slay, director of science and research at The Sustainability Consortium (TSC). “Consumers want to know not just that the brands they buy products from are working on sustainability; they want to see a commitment and they want an easy way to understand that the product is safe for people and for the planet. Numbers from our latest impact report indicate companies are still struggling with challenges that include measuring and reporting GHG emissions, changing to more sustainably sourced or recycled material in product and packaging design and addressing social responsibility issues like labor rights.”

Lift trucks are now operated with renewable energies for a more sustainable practice.Nuvera

Pressure from regulations and consumer demand may be a source of contention for organizations looking to find an ideal strategy in the drastically different modern landscape in business. Each company must determine what strategy is right for their own operation, despite outside pressures. There are a multitude of ways to introduce a sustainable model in any business.

A circular economy

One way companies in the supply chain implement sustainability is through a circular model. The concept is to not produce any waste and keep products and packaging in use, a more advanced form of recycling.

“The circular economy and reusability is top of mind,” says Jennifer Wong, head of sustainability at Convoy. “Millennials and Generation Z, in particular, are much more sensitive to their carbon footprints, so they will buy from businesses [that] have sustainability programs such as recycling, re-using and compostable materials. This is creating a rising focus on reusable goods, as more and more people are incorporating products [that] can be re-used into their daily lives.”

A circular economy in the supply chain is exceptionally important, as it is one of the biggest factors in climate change.

“According to the global management consultancy McKinsey, more than 90% of the impacts on the air, soil and land caused by consumer products and more than 80% of a company’s business-consumer greenhouse emissions are due to the supply chain,” says Jeff Pepperworth, president and CEO of iGPS. “This is largely due to the inefficient use of resources and waste products that enter the environment at the end of the supply chain. This is to say, to make a significant impact on these percentages, sustainability is and should be a key part of supply chain planning. The easiest way to begin planning a sustainable supply chain is to take advantage of closed-loop models that already exist.”

Unfortunately, interest in the circular economy does not necessarily mean implementation. In February, Gartner Inc. released a study that showed 70% of supply chain leaders plan to invest in the circular economy in the following 18 months, However, only 12% of those had linked their digital and circular economy strategies so far. More commonly in place are renewable energy and reduction in energy consumption initiatives.

Renewable energy

“A focus on energy consumption is here to stay. Both businesses and consumers are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, which are non-renewable sources of energy and the leading contributor to climate change,” Wong adds. “Renewable energy will become more common in the future, and we are already seeing many industries reducing their energy consumption by moving toward electric vehicles, LED lighting and LEED certified buildings, which are all seeing a spike in momentum because they change how much energy we actually consume.”

The prevailing trend with renewable energy regarding the logistics and supply chain industries is seen most in vehicles. Whether it be lift trucks in the warehouse or transportation, companies are turning to lithium batteries and other types of electric.

“One of the trends we see today is the shift toward more sustainable lift truck power sources,” says Steven LaFevers, vice president, emerging technologies, Hyster Company. “According to one report, a full 93% of companies surveyed reported using energy efficiency to meet their goals while 63% cited implementing renewables. Forklifts are an indispensable and extremely common supply chain tool, so lift truck power can help operations make progress toward sustainability targets. Lift truck power sources are an especially favored means to a more sustainable warehouse, as these alternatives can also enable business wins such as productivity gains and the opportunity to reduce operational costs on top of delivering both performance and sustainability.

“Lift trucks with advanced power sources such as lithium-ion batteries or hydrogen fuel cells help operations comply with emissions and health regulations and make strides toward sustainability commitments, powering equipment while producing zero harmful emissions,” he says. “These advanced power options have become increasingly practical solutions by offering other advantages that can help operations overcome industry challenges like the hiring, training and retaining a limited labor pool. With fewer moving parts that internal combustion engines, electric options require less maintenance and newer electric options like the previously mentioned lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells offer simpler, faster charging than traditional lead acid batteries. This allows lift truck operators to spend more time on the task at hand, rather than managing lift truck power.”

Different issues for different sectors

While sustainability is an important value throughout every sector of business, how it is incorporated varies greatly. The supply chain is focused on electric vehicles because transportation is a major part of this business, but other industries such as apparel might be more focused on human and animal rights issues. Ryan Lynch, practice director, sustainability at BSI, says that these issues are now so important that these sectors broaden to other issues and pay acute attention to detail. For instance, the apparel industry branched out to other environmental impacts or honed in on specific issues like the ethical treatment of migrant workers in their sourcing chain.

“I see pharma companies starting to pay more attention to water-related issues of their active pharmaceutical ingredient suppliers,” he says. “High-tech and consumer goods are starting to partner with suppliers on embedding circular economy principles into their practices through reducing waste, incorporating compostable or recyclable materials and designing products for improved refurbishment or reuse. The transport and logistic sectors are working toward reducing emissions. The food sector is looking to incorporate regenerative agriculture into upstream practices to improve soil health, water retention and carbon sequestration.

“Even the clean energy sector, which has often gotten a pass, has been pressed on human rights impacts and land use and acquisition issues,” he adds. “I also see an increasing focus on companies measuring Scope 3 GHG emissions, much of which is being driven by an increasing number of companies adopting science-based targets. Scope 3 covers indirect emissions, many of which are generated throughout their supply chain. Even beyond those Scope 3 accounting efforts, companies are also working to understand how they can engage their suppliers, beyond these accounting efforts, to support suppliers in improving upon their present-day performance.”

Partnerships are key

The accessibility of the sustainable trend is also important, Wong adds. The more accessible and the more convenient it is to adopt to a sustainable operation, the more common it will become. This can be difficult as the supply chain has become so globalized and stretched, and companies may not realize they are working with someone that does not have the same values. This is where evaluating partnerships are important, says Jon Fish, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Arrive Logistics.

“Sustainability is more relevant and critical for initial conversations when evaluating partnerships, especially for larger organizations,” he says. “Today, sustainability practices are one of the first things to come up in conversation vs. 10 years ago, when most of the time, it was an afterthought.

“As far as approach, there isn’t one strategy dominating the industry. Every company is taking a different approach, from focusing on reducing overall environmental footprint to investing in technology to improve efficiency. Companies are finding that a commitment to sustainability is good business because consumer buying habits show that they are more brand loyal to brands committed to sustainability. There is brand equity in sustainability, and I expect that to only increase in the next few years.”Now even pallets are incorporated in a circular economy.iGPS

The importance of sustainable practices in partnerships are becoming the new compliance regulators, says Slay. When it comes to procurement and partnership, retailers and CPG brands move faster than government organizations in the implementation of policies. These companies do not do business with partners that could potentially conflict with their own sustainable guidelines.

Technology assistance

As consumers push for a sustainable supply chain from start to finish, companies look to technology to assist. While technology adoption has been a top talking point in every aspect of the supply chain for years, it is with good reason. Even in regard to sustainability, technologies like automation are an important part of modernizing.

“New technologies have created more opportunities than ever before to visualize and manage complex manufacturing processes, and this includes ways to identify new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts,” says Jon Chorley, chief sustainability officer and group vice president of SCM product strategy, Oracle. “By applying technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to collect data from the physical world and by using data analytics to make sense of that data, manufacturers can improve quality, significantly reduce waste and minimize the use of natural resources. They can also lower regulatory compliance risk. All of this leads ultimately to cost savings.

“Increased collaboration and trust is another key trend. Today’s pace of business and inter-locking supply chains requires secure, real-time collaboration with multiple parties sharing data to address mutual business challenges, including sustainability. Modern supply chains need this unified view of data, while still being able to independently verify their transactions, such as production and transport updates. The ability to track and trace is key to detecting and resolving issues and reducing delays, errors and costs.

“All of this helps to establish trust between trading partners, and blockchain is emerging as a key technology to support these requirements,” he continues. “Automation and robotics is also a major trend and will play a significant role in transforming supply chains. Long established in the manufacturing shop floor, automation and robotics is now finding its way into logistics. Organizations are starting to use drones and driverless vehicles to streamline transportation, as well as a new class of autonomous mobile robots in their warehouses.”

These all help to reduce waste and minimize adverse environmental impacts like greenhouse gas emissions, says Chorley. Together, this combination of emerging technologies (robotics, IoT, artificial intelligence and blockchain) are likely to become more mainstream in supply chains.

Additionally, technology is now even an essential part of regulation and compliance.

“There is such an enormous range of laws and regulations across countries and communities when it comes to assessing and reporting companies’ environmental footprints, and even among experts there can be widely diverging views on the most appropriate calculations,” says Wong. “Many countries and communities choose to set higher standards for themselves, but a common baseline has to revolve around being transparent about the data and methodology used for any reporting of sustainability metrics. Data transparency allows businesses and consumers to decide what is best for their needs and their values.

“One example of data transparency in action is, if we take a look at science-based targets, a joint initiative of CDP, the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),” she says. “They have created a framework for addressing climate change. The goal is to enable businesses to set ambitious and meaningful corporate greenhouse gas reduction targets. By aligning their GHG reduction targets with their fair share of the climate budget, companies demonstrate leadership and responsibility and take ownership in the process.”

Past and future

These trends are vastly different than just a few years ago, when sustainable efforts were taken more for show or if it was extremely accessible. Today, organizations develop departments specific to environmentally safe practices, human rights justice and inclusion.

“Prior to current corporate trends, embracing sustainability was to many companies and industries a novel supplement to CSR efforts, and was often implemented only if it was easy and inexpensive to do so,” Pepperworth says. “As consumer demand for corporate sustainability has grown and the effects of climate change are seen and felt more vividly across the world, supply chain leaders are looking to incorporate sustainability in their business practices both vertically and horizontally. It is clear that organizations are also increasing their investment in sustainability job roles, or even in the creation of entire departments devoted to green efforts and environmental responsibility. Supply chain companies, especially ones that for years have already embraced sustainable solutions, are now well-positioned to offer innovative practices to reduce their clients’ carbon footprints.”

Beyond the value of sustainability in the supply chain having grown, the way it is implemented changed significantly.

“In the past, corporate sustainability initiatives have traditionally focused outside the scope of the logistics team, which included things like investments in renewable energy and reductions in excess packaging,” says Wong. “Today, forward-leaning companies like Anheuser-Busch, CHEP, and Waiākea have put the supply chain at the center of their carbon reduction efforts. Many businesses are also taking a deeper dive into the supply chain and working with their partners through the value chain from source to shelf.

“While many organizations have made progress on reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions, they haven’t made much progress on reducing Scope 3, which is typically larger than Scopes 1 and 2 combined,” she says. “Forward-thinking companies like Target and Levi Strauss are setting goals for the entire supply chain. For example, Target has set an impressive goal to reduce its absolute Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2017 levels by 2030. These goals have also been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). Target is one of only a few U.S. retailers to have an SBTi-approved Scope 3 goal, setting a bar for the industry — as Levi Strauss did for the apparel industry with its similarly ambitious goals in 2018.”

Enter COVID-19

Supply chain sustainability changes became more compounded following March of this year, after COVID-19 hit the United States. Prompting many to think that maybe it is time to reevaluate the supply chain all together.

“COVID-19 has had an uneven impact on businesses based on the way their particular business model was impacted by the shut-down,” says Chorley. “Still, most companies have experienced some form of supply chain disruption, perhaps dealing with suppliers that are no longer in business or experiencing a sudden drop or spike in demand. The bigger picture however is that COVID-19 has underlined and accelerated trends that were already underway. More consumers are shopping online and relying on logistics and freight solution providers to deliver their products.

“There have been renewed discussions on the need to rethink supply chain business models already under stress from geo-political and macro-economic trends, of which sustainability is an important part. COVID-19 has proven the need for an agile and resilient supply chain like never before. It has shown us the need for more transparency throughout the global supply chain – and not just with the supplier, but the supplier’s supplier and beyond. What was previously “on the radar” is now crystal clear and imminent.

“Companies must understand who all their suppliers are, where they are located, where they source from, their risk exposure, and so on,” he says. “This transparency, key to managing supply risk, is also essential for improvements in sustainability.”

COVID-19 also exposed gaps in the supply chain to the everyday consumer, whereas in the past only industry experts were aware of issues in transparency and sustainability.

“Broadly speaking, businesses, and the general public for that matter, are more acutely aware of how fragile global supply chains can be, particularly when a buyer hasn’t maintained an active line of sight into how their business partners operate,” says Lynch. “We’re also seeing companies question the benefits and drawbacks of an overreliance on limited inventory and just-in-time production. There’s an understanding that the cashflow benefits come with a level of increased fragility and risk.”

“As a result of COVID-19, we witnessed significant disruptions to the global supply chain,” Wong says. “In recent years, there had been a broad effort to focus on building resiliency into the supply chain, but the pandemic showed it was not as resilient as we once thought. This supply chain disruption has also amplified the focus from consumers and businesses to better understand where their products come from.

“Yet to achieve true supply chain resiliency, we need to have more transparency far beyond tier 1 suppliers,” she says. “These suppliers directly supply goods to the company, whereas tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers are deeper in the supply chain, supplying goods to other suppliers in the chain. For every supplier in a supply chain, businesses need to know who their suppliers are, where they are located, the risk exposure, and where they source from.

“There is also a need to refine supplier sourcing. In the past, cost has been the primary criteria for selecting a supplier, but there needs to be a more sophisticated cost/risk model which factors into transparency. Post COVID, a business may actually pay more to source from a local supplier to reduce the risk of disruption to their supply chain.”

Unfortunately, complications from COVID-19 go beyond gaps and transparency. The lack of the ability for physical interaction has allowed many sustainable regulations slip through the cracks.

“Although companies may be planning for supply chain disruptions from climate change, almost none were planning for the extent that COVID-19 has caused in daily life around the world,” says Slay. “In addition to supply chain disruptions, lack of regulatory enforcement due to COVID-19 has created a surge of illegal activities such as deforestation and gold mining in the Amazon. Factory workers from Bangladesh textile mills to U.S. slaughter/processing plants have seen illness outbreaks and deaths. The light at the end of the tunnel will be that companies are now planning more resilient strategies and thinking long term about their workers, their supply chains, and their operations – the companies that are doing this or have done this are the ones that will survive and the ones that aren’t won’t.”

The exposure and complications from COVID-19 are vast, but it still came with benefits for the future.

“The disruption and risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic present both challenges and opportunities for supply chain sustainability,” says Pepperworth. “Significant resources are required to maintain workers’ and consumers’ health and safety during this crisis, typically in the form of PPE and more stringent sanitization practices. As with any new and unanticipated industry need, some supply chain providers may struggle to balance worker and consumer safety, embracing sustainability, and keeping business costs low in an industry with an historically narrow profit margin. Companies who have already spent years developing sanitization and sustainability services can nimbly respond to the crisis with minimal or no disruption to their customers’ supply chain and costs.”

 

Perhaps, the supply chain will rebuild following the pandemic with new strategies in place and sustainability at its core. Now that businesses realize leaning into sustainable practices helps their bottom line and stopping climate change may help their businesses long-term, a completely sustainable supply chain may be coming in the future.

 

K•Coe Advisors Earn Credential to Help Food & Ag Businesses Improve Sustainability Performance and Reporting

Article from: K•COE ISOM

K·Coe Isom is excited to announce that sustainability advisors Zach Pinto and Lisa Becker have completed the training and testing required to become credentialed as The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) Trained Service Providers for THESIS.

“Many of our clients are being asked to do more to report on and address their performance in terms of sustainability, so we spend a lot of time making sure the sustainability team members are experts on the latest industry reporting protocols,” says Laura Sands, K·Coe Isom partner and sustainability leader.

THESIS reporting, often required by suppliers to some major retailers, is an opportunity for food and ag businesses to demonstrate to their customers, investors, and industry stakeholders that they are contributing to the sustainability priorities of key customers.

“Our trained THESIS experts help assess, report, benchmark, and improve upon the key sustainability outcomes that are measured by THESIS,” adds Sands.

THESIS was developed by The Sustainability Consortium.  Typically, food and agriculture businesses who supply to companies like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Kroger, and Sprouts are asked to report key pieces of sustainability data in the THESIS Index, formerly known as the Walmart Sustainability Index.

K·Coe’s certified sustainability advisors are equipped to help complete requests for THESIS data by:

    • Reviewing Key Performance Indicator (KPI) responses
    • Advising on how to improve THESIS scores and maximize performance
    • Identifying opportunities for market advantages
    • Developing business KPIs to collect sustainability data each year
    • Creating dashboards and data capture systems
    • Setting goals and science-based targets to drive continuous improvement over time

“Our team advises businesses on multiple reporting methodologies,” says Sands. “We recognize that for many of our clients, keeping up with all the reporting requirements is overwhelming, so we do it for them.”

Click here to view a PDF document of K·Coe’s comprehensive sustainability data services.

Should you have questions on THESIS data or scoring, contact a K·Coe sustainability advisor.

 

CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE

Lenovo and PMI Commit to Product Transparency, Release Sustainability Scores and Rankings Publicly

10/29/2020, Santa Cruz/Phoenix

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and SupplyShift announce today that Lenovo and PMI Worldwide are recommitting to their corporate sustainability goals by publicly releasing their THESIS scores and rankings for the first time. THESIS, powered by SupplyShift, is a science-based performance management system that helps retailers and their suppliers understand, report, and solve the most important sustainability issues in their supply chains.

In the past, product sustainability information has been kept confidential between retailers and their suppliers, but as more companies adopt transparency practices, that is beginning to change. These companies are the first THESIS users to make their scores available to the public.

Over 1500 brands have reported into THESIS in 2019, representing nearly $1 trillion in annual retail sales. Twice that amount are expected to participate with THESIS 2020 assessments. Suppliers using THESIS to communicate with their customers complete science-based performance assessments that correspond to the products they sell. Results are sent to retailers and shared back with suppliers to help improve communication and performance between suppliers and their customers.

Lenovo and PMI Worldwide participated in the THESIS Index in 2019 and are actively using THESIS data to inform progress on their own goals.

Lenovo’s use of THESIS helps drive their goals of energy efficiency, sustainable packaging, and ethically and environmentally preferred material sourcing. In 2019, Lenovo demonstrated above average sustainability rankings in the technology sector, ranking 6/31 with a score of 66% in Other Electronics, 5/10 with a score of 67% in Computers, and 3/11 with a score of 66% in Computer and Gaming Peripherals and Accessories.

“The THESIS Index is an excellent opportunity for Lenovo to measure our progress against our retailer customer expectations and it helps inform our strategy as a valuable source of stakeholder input,” says – Mary Jacques, SESM & Director Global Environmental Affairs & Sustainability at Lenovo. “THESIS provides a very clear way for us to measure and report back internally as to what our retailer partners find important and where we are doing well or can do better.

PMI Worldwide uses THESIS to track progress on their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the sustainability of their packaging, and reduce waste. PMI emerged as a leader in multiple outdoor categories, ranking 2/13 with a score of 71% in Camping Accessories, 1/7 with a score of 72% in Coolers, 1/5 with a score of 72% in Other Camping Equipment, and 1/25 with a score of 72% in Other Sports, Outdoor Fitness.

“The THESIS Index provides a comprehensive tool for PMI to assess our on-going sustainability performance and align our strategy with the interests of key stakeholders and retailers,” says Emily Cichy, Corporate Responsibility Director at PMI Worldwide. “We look to the THESIS assessment for important input which allows PMI to identify opportunities for improvement and to celebrate our successes.”

These suppliers provide a glimpse into the broader progress catalyzed by SupplyShift and TSC’s partnership around THESIS. In TSC’s 2020 Impact Report, they highlight that THESIS scores have improved 23% from their 2016 baseline.

“Walmart and TSC continue to work together to integrate THESIS into everyday decision-making and give suppliers better insight into their supply chains and ways to communicate sustainability progress to us and ultimately their customers,” said Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President, Sustainability at Walmart. “TSC and SupplyShift’s partnership on THESIS forms an important step in advancing Walmart’s sustainability goals.”

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “We are thrilled to have PMI and Lenovo make a commitment to sustainability through the release of their THESIS scores. These companies are emerging as leaders by adding THESIS scores to their public sustainability commitments and are taking one giant step towards true transparency.”

“SupplyShift’s mission has always been to employ data and collaboration to facilitate change,” says Alex Gershenson, CEO of SupplyShift. “Our work with TSC on THESIS has vastly increased the scope of that goal, and we’re thrilled to see such measurable progress happening as a result of this partnership.”

In 2019, THESIS on SupplyShift saw its initial rollout with Walmart and Sam’s Club. Eight additional retailers are joining THESIS this year.

To learn more, visit THESIS resources on TSC and SupplyShift websites.

Report advises expansion, coordination on NW recycling

Article from Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Mark Thomas of Lincoln unloads a trailer of cardboard Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020 at the Boston Mountain transfer station/recycling center in Prairie Grove. The Sustainability Consortium of the Northwest Arkansas Council released a report Wednesday saying the region has invested well in recycling, but more needs to be done to increase volume, coordinate the flow and create local markets for recycled material. Visit nwaonline.com/201019Daily/ for more images. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T.WAMPLER)

FAYETTEVILLE — Northwest Arkansas should expand recycling to keep more of the entire process in the region, from collection to companies that buy the products, according to a report released Wednesday by the Northwest Arkansas Council.

The effort will require collaboration among more than 30 cities, two solid-waste districts and hundreds of private haulers and companies, but it can be done, according to the report.

The Sustainability Consortium and the Northwest Arkansas Council spent a year studying recycling in the region to come up with recommendations to keep more waste out of landfills. The Walmart Foundation paid for the study that included Benton, Washington and Madison counties. The cost of the study was not provided.

The Sustainability Consortium is a global organization that works with companies in the supply chain. The Northwest Arkansas Council is an economic development organization that collaborates with cities, schools and nonprofits on a number of issues.

The region needs better data on what recyclable material is collected and where it goes, said Sarah Lewis, director of innovation for the consortium. That way, everyone involved can figure out what facilities are needed and which companies would benefit, she said.

A regional coordinator is necessary to get cities, solid-waste districts and private haulers on the same page, according to the report. Right now, most cities report what materials and how much they collect to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on handwritten forms, according to the report. Private haulers aren’t required to report, although some do so voluntarily.

Fayetteville runs its own recycling program, while Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville contract their services to private companies.

“The first step for this community is to get coordinated, get organized and improve data collection,” Lewis said. “Through that, you build transparency. From there, you look at what kind of end markets we can create.”

The participants in the yearlong study developed an online form that all cities, haulers and solid waste districts could use to report recycling to the state, Lewis said. The Northwest Arkansas Council intends to work with the state to test the form, the report says.

Contracts between cities and private haulers need to be stronger, according to the report. The report uses Gravette’s contract with private hauler Republic Service as an example of a small town with a service catered to its needs.

Gravette Mayor Kurt Maddox said his city saved residents money by having a drop-off recycling site, rather than curbside service. The result is residents who frequently use the service, he said. Materials are hauled to the Benton County Solid Waste District.

The city has flexibility to change the arrangement and didn’t accept a blanket contract without negotiating, Maddox said.

Fayetteville has self-imposed transparency rules that disclose what is taken to which end markets, which are the companies that buy recycled materials, according to the report. Such information is usually proprietary and isn’t shared, but other cities could adopt a similar model, according to the report.

The market needs clean, sorted materials now more than ever, especially since China stopped buying recyclables from the United States in 2018 because of high rates of contamination, according to the report.

Only Prairie Grove, Siloam Springs and Fayetteville have hand-sorted recycling programs, resulting in far less contamination, according to the report. Other Northwest Arkansas communities have single-stream systems with automated sorting.

Facilities should be expanded throughout the region to keep the flow sorted and clean, according to the report.

A unified approach to educate residents on what can be recycled and how also is key, said Robyn Reed, director of the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District, which serves Washington and Madison counties. Many people try to recycle items, such as plastic yogurt cups or deli containers, not knowing there is no market to accept them, she said.

 

Northwest Arkansas Circularity Would Improve with More Coordination, Study Finds

Northwest Arkansas Council releases study and recommendations by The Sustainability Consortium based on movement of recyclable materials

Northwest Arkansas communities have invested in recycling infrastructure, but more needs to be done to increase the volume, coordinate the flow and create local markets for recycled material, a new study concludes.

Creating Circular Economies in Northwest Arkansas” was completed by The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and funded by the Walmart Foundation.

As part of its Greater Northwest Arkansas Development Strategy, the Northwest Arkansas Council is working to ensure regional collaboration as a way to more effectively pursue big-ticket, infrastructure goals, including recycling. The Council commissioned the study to provide a better understanding of the pathways available and to identify actions and opportunities for sustainable development based on the circular movement of recycled and recovered materials in the Northwest Arkansas region.

“What is most needed are efforts to coordinate between recycling programs and facilitate the creation of a common vision for circularity that will improve the efficiency, transparency, trust and volumes needed to increase circularity in the region,” said Sarah Lewis, TSC’s senior director of innovation. “What’s helpful toward achieving that is the innovative efforts happening in the material management space in Northwest Arkansas.”

The study recommends:

  • Setting up a Northwest Arkansas materials exchange. No Northwest Arkansas community has a materials exchange, and establishing a regional exchange would allow cities, companies and others with collected material to notify buyers that recycled material is available for sale. The Council, the Benton County Solid Waste District, the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District or another party agreed upon by those entities should create the exchange.
  • Improving data collection and clarifying reporting requirements. The Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) asks cities to share recycling information each year, but not all recycling programs do the reporting. The Northwest Arkansas Council should work the state to ensure the data is collected, using a standardized reporting template created by TSC as part of this project.
  • Strengthening recycling and trash collection contracts. Northwest Arkansas cities are inconsistent in what they expect of companies that haul trash and collect recycled materials. The two solid waste districts should work with cities to improve the contracts, and that includes taking steps to increase transparency by requiring companies to periodically report how much recyclable material was collected, where the material was sent and how it was used.

The full list of recommendations is available in the report.

“We’re thrilled to support the Northwest Arkansas Council’s effort to better understand the region’s current sustainability practices,” said Erin Hogue, director of community operations and Northwest Arkansas giving for Walmart.org. “This report will be a great asset in helping the region identify areas where strengthening recycling opportunities is needed.”

The study area included Benton, Madison and Washington counties, which are served by the Benton County and Boston Mountain solid waste districts. It focused on the city- and solid waste district-owned material streams created for residential sources. The year-long study was complicated work given the complexities of two dozen local governments in rural and urban areas as well as two solid waste districts, DEQ and private companies all interested in strengthening recycling opportunities.

The Council, recognized for its excellence in coordinating and pressing for regional collaboration over its 30 years, is working with the solid waste districts to bring increased consistency in recycling and cost-efficient, waste reduction actions across Northwest Arkansas.

Nelson Peacock, the Northwest Arkansas Council’s president and CEO, said the Council will work to achieve recommendations made by TSC in the study.

“We’re already communicating with the solid waste districts to identify appropriate next steps based on the Creating Circular Economies in Northwest Arkansas study,” Peacock said. “What’s clear is cities and companies that recycle in our region are interested in a collaborative approach. The Council and solid waste districts intend to work together to facilitate more opportunities for partnerships.”

Download Reports

Measuring the Economic Impact of Circular Material Flow in Northwest Arkansas

Creating Circular Economies in Northwest Arkansas: Full Report

Creating Circular Economies in Northwest Arkansas: Executive Summary

About Northwest Arkansas Council

Established in 1990 by Sam Walton, Don Tyson, J.B. Hunt and other business leaders, the Northwest Arkansas Council is a private, nonprofit organization working to advance job opportunities, talent recruitment, physical infrastructure and quality of life in the region. Most of the Council’s more than 100 members are companies, including Walmart, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., Simmons Foods and George’s, Inc. Learn more at nwacouncil.org.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

 

About Philanthropy at Walmart

Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employs more than 2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.

 

For media inquiries:

Nate Green
Communications Director
Northwest Arkansas Council
501-650-4653
nate@nwacouncil.org

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
480-965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

HMTX is First Flooring Company to Join The Sustainability Consortium

HMTX joins TSC to bring focus to their efforts to create more sustainable flooring options for customers

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, September 28, 2020 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that HMTX Industries has joined as the first flooring company member. HMTX Industries is a global luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring manufacturer serving a diverse cross-section of both the residential and commercial marketplace. HMTX represents a family of companies that include Halstead, Metroflor, Teknoflor, Aspecta and Vertex. They will join over 100 TSC members that are leaders in their industries working to create more sustainable products.

As a global leader in sustainable and transparent practices, HMTX sets industry standards for high performing and biophilically designed products. The manufacturing processes, workplaces, global outreach and product ingredients all reflect a dedication to the environment, all aspects of human well-being, social justice and equity. Their China-based factories achieved the JUST℠ social justice label in 2018—a first for any company in China (and all of Asia). This year, HMTX announced they were the first manufacturer to achieve the JUST℠ 2.0 social justice label. The JUST program gauges a company’s performance in a wide range of metrics, diversity & inclusion, equity, employee benefits, and stewardship.

As a member of TSC, they will join collective efforts in creating more transparent and sustainable supply chains and pushing innovations in the construction industry. They join other companies working together on TSC projects that involve topics like worker health and safety, green chemistry, ingredient disclosure and consumer outreach.

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “HMTX joining TSC is a game-changer for our industry. We welcome them as the first flooring company to set the path for others to follow. HMTX has a clear commitment to sustainability and transparency, and we are thrilled to have them join the TSC family as leaders in the flooring sector.”

“I am honored to work for a company that seeks out inspirational partners that are so immersed in true data-driven work. It’s exciting that HMTX Industries represents a brand new sector for TSC and I’m expecting that the work accomplished together will influence the flooring and other building products industries,” says Rochelle Routman, Chief Sustainability and Quality Officer, HMTX.

HMTX joins several other TSC members as leaders in their industry, signaling a need for sustainability action and measurement within the building and construction industry. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About HMTX:

HMTX Industries is a global new materials flooring company and a leader in LVT manufacturing whose brands service a diverse cross-section of the construction marketplace.  Headquartered in Norwalk, CT, and doing business in more than 40 countries around the world, the HMTX family includes: Halstead, the leading supplier of LVT to The Home Depot under the LifeProof brand; Metroflor, its signature residential brand in North America; Teknoflor, its focused healthcare and institutional brand; Aspecta, its high-end global contract brand for architects and designers; as well as Vertex, the foundation of the international supply chain for HMTX.

 

For media inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
480-965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

Tiffany Davis
Director of Corporate Communications
HMTX Industries
770-402-3037
t@hmtx.global

 

 

Trusted Data Advisor: 3 Digital Collaboration Trends That Are Changing the Way Ag Retailers Do Business

Article from CropLife

Agriculture Metrics

As a Senior Account Executive for Agworld, talking with growers as well as ag retailers about data collection, data sharing, digital collaboration, and information visualization is something I do every day. In the last 18 months, however, I have noticed some significant changes in both mindset and methodology among ag retailers and I’d like to share this as it’s an interesting topic for many in our industry, in my opinion. I should note when I refer to “data” this includes machinery data, agronomy data, but also all field-based jobs, records, and other expenses that contribute to field-level ROI.

For many years already, digital technology has been playing an increasingly important role in the relationship between ag retailers and their grower clients. From just performing agronomy tasks and selling inputs, ag retailers that want to stay ahead of the competition and/or industry disruptors now feel the need to focus more on being their growers’ trusted advisor in regard to data collection and utilization of it for decisions.

In recent research by The Sustainability Consortium, 71% of growers interviewed said that their ag advisor or consultant has never suggested increasing farm data collection or sharing. Furthermore, 62% of growers surveyed do not use any farm-level data software.

While not disputing these numbers, I do genuinely feel that ag retail’s mindset is changing and the majority do want to be that “trusted data advisor” for their growers and recognize the importance for their growers to collect and share more data through adopting a collaborative software solution that starts with the grower.

Something I’m noticing is the difference in what ag retailers are looking for when aiming to adopt a software solution. Where historically ag retailers might have been looking to adopt software that would serve their organization and its back office function, such as accounting, agronomy, retail, stock, and other modules, the focus has now definitely shifted to adopting software that puts the connection with grower clients first.

Surprisingly, there are still ag retailers out there that don’t create full crop production plans for their growers’ season together with them on a collaborative digital platform. So, these growers have no visibility into their advisor’s expectations throughout the season and the advisor/ag retailer has no visibility into what is happening in each field throughout the season and how each recommendation affects profitability. Although this lack of sharing critical data is still happening in 2020, trends suggest that the industry is changing rapidly.

Technological Advancements to Avoid Disruption

Industries with an internal focus tend to get surprised by digital disruption (the taxi industry is a great example) whereas those industries that move ahead with technological advancements tend to survive and thrive by not giving potential disruptors a foothold. I’m glad to note on a daily basis that ag retail is very aware of the threat of disruption (by Farmers Business Network, for example) and is adopting relevant technology to counter this threat and continue to focus on service.

Again, instead of adopting software to just serve themselves, ag retailers are adopting software with their client base in mind. AgvendBushel, and Agworld are three good examples of digital solutions that are very popular with ag retailers and that allow them to remain competitive and relevant to their grower customers. Digital platforms that enable true collaboration and data sharing where it makes sense for both parties are the key ingredients of all these digital solutions and it’s no miracle that growers love to form a “digital relationship” with their ag retailers based on these types of solutions. I’ve also discovered that growers feel better about adopting an independent third-party software vs. something that is proprietary to their retailer.

Collecting Data Is Good, Using It Is Even Better

If 71% of growers indeed haven’t been advised to collect and share more farm data, there is a disconnect in the chain of information somewhere. What I often see happening is that an advisor, for example, might see the benefit of a grower collecting ag data, but that they find it difficult to articulate the exact advantages and benefits of doing so to their growers. If the “why would I do that” question doesn’t get a satisfactory answer, chances are that nothing will change on the farm.

In my opinion, data should always serve the grower first and foremost. Growers shouldn’t have to waste their time collecting data on behalf of “big ag” who will use it in a way that doesn’t serve the grower or for some other purpose that doesn’t serve them. Growers should collect data so they can visualize it and have it support them in their decision-making process. Decisions that are underpinned by data aid in profitability improvements and allow growers to manage their risk and reward ratio better than if they didn’t have said data.

One of my favorite tools for data visualization is Microsoft Power BI. This powerful tool helps turn field-level farm data into easily-digestible dashboards and any farmer can use it, not just the technologically savvy. Both data collection and data visualization need to be made easy in order for them to become part of growers’ daily routine, which is why I am so passionate about the Agworld-Microsoft Power BI integration.

Summarizing the Trends

Growers are looking for guidance and encouragement through deeper engagement from their trusted advisor when trying to achieve the goal of data-driven decisions. If ag retailers and agronomists don’t adopt this mindset with their grower, someone else will — guaranteed. Growers want to collect more data that has purpose and meaning to their business sustainability, and they want to share this data with those that matter to them and they want to be able to utilize this data to improve the way they operate their business.

The way I see it, ag retailers will become even more focused on their growers when it comes to adopting digital tools into their operation; because they want to, and because they need to. The time of just focusing internally, and allowing the grower to do the same, are definitely gone; digital collaboration is key, and this trend will only become stronger.

THE SUSTAINABILITY CONSORTIUM JOINS U.S. PLASTICS PACT, COMMITTING TO MEET AMBITIOUS CIRCULAR ECONOMY GOALS BY 2025

 

Led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Plastics Pact will unify approaches to rethink the way we design, use, and reuse plastics

Scottsdale, AZ, (AUGUST 25, 2020) – Today, The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) has joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, a collaborative, solutions-driven initiative rooted in four ambitious goals intended to drive significant systems change by unifying diverse cross-sector approaches, setting a national strategy, and creating scalable solutions to create a path forward toward a circular economy for plastics in the United States by 2025. The first North American Pact of its kind, the U.S. Pact is a collaboration led by The Recycling Partnership, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

As part of the U.S. Pact, activators like TSC recognize that significant, systemwide change is imperative to realize a circular economy for plastics. As such, the U.S. Pact will convene more than 70 brands, retailers, NGOs, and government agencies across the plastics value chain to bring one voice to U.S. packaging through coordinated initiatives and innovative solutions for rethinking products, packaging, and business models.

Sarah Lewis, TSC Sr Director of Innovation, says, ““We are thrilled to be a founding Activator of the U.S. Plastics Pact and are eager to work collectively to meet the ambitious goals set forth. TSC’s Circular Innovation Hub focuses on projects that help create circular systems that reduce the impacts associated with consumer goods production and consumption. This aligns well with the mission of the US Plastics Pact and we look forward to learning and sharing in ways to sustainable solutions for the US and the world.”

As a founding Activator of the U.S. Plastics Pact, TSC has agreed to collectively deliver against these four ambitious goals:

  1. Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025. ​
  2. By 2025, all plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. ​
  3. By 2025, undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
  4. By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%. ​

While the U.S. Pact is complementary to, and follows the ambitious precedents set by the existing global network of Plastic Pacts, it will be tailored to meet the unique needs and challenges of the U.S. market. The Pact will reflect national priorities and realities, while still propelling the nation closer to other developed nations in its management of plastic waste.

“Together through the U.S. Plastics Pact, we will ignite system change to accelerate progress toward a circular economy,” says Sarah Dearman, Vice President of Circular Ventures for The Recycling Partnership. “The U.S. Pact will accelerate systemwide change by inspiring and supporting upstream innovation through a coordinated national strategy, creating a unified framework and enabling members to accelerate progress toward our ambitious 2025 sustainability goals. Members’ full participation will be vital to reaching our shared goals.”

Achieving this vision will require new levels of accountability from all facets of the plastics supply chain. The U.S. Pact emphasizes measurable change and as such, TSC is committed to transparent, annual reporting, guided by WWF’s ReSource: Plastic Footprint Tracker, which will be used to document annual progress against our four goals. The first task of the founding members of the U.S. Plastics Pact will be to establish a “roadmap” in Q1 2021 to identify key milestones and national solutions to achieving the U.S. targets and realize a circular economy in which plastic never becomes waste.

TSC is a global organization propelling the consumer goods industry forward to create more sustainability products through science-based assessments and solutions. Their full impact report is available here.

 

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

 

About The Recycling Partnership

The Recycling Partnership is a national nonprofit organization that leverages corporate partner funding to transform recycling for good in states, cities, and communities nationwide. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain from the corporations that manufacture products and packaging to local governments charged with recycling to industry end markets, haulers, material recovery facilities, and converters, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 230 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 465 million gallons of water, avoided more than 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at www.recyclingpartnership.org.

How to Buy Tech That Lasts and Lasts

Article from The New York TimesHow to Buy Tech That Lasts and Lasts

All of our tech products will one day become obsolete, but here are some strategies to buying gadgets that you can enjoy for many years. When we buy a gadget these days, we rarely assume that it will endure. We expect to play a video game console only for as long as companies make games for it. We expect to use a smartphone or a laptop for just as long as the battery has juice or until it can no longer run important software. At some point, we feel that we must upgrade. We must have the latest and greatest camera. We must have apps that run faster. We must have brighter screens. Here’s the thing: This is all the doing of marketing professionals, seared into our subconscious. The reality is that consumer electronics, such as your phone, computer or tablet, can last for many years. It just takes some research to obtain tech that will endure. This exercise will be increasingly important in a pandemic-induced recession, which has forced many of us to tighten our spending.

“It’s a matter of buying what you need, not what the company is telling you that you need,” said Carole Mars, the director of technical development and innovation at the Sustainability Consortium, which studies the sustainability of consumer goods.

Strategically choosing tech with a longer shelf life is not intuitive. It involves assessing how easy or not it is to repair a particular product and determining when it makes sense to invest more money. Here are some questions to consider for the long run.

The next time you shop for an electronic product, try this exercise: Before you buy it, find out whether you or a professional can easily fix it. If so, then go for it. If it’s too difficult, make it a hard pass.

Vincent Lai, who works for the Fixers’ Collective, a social club in New York that repairs aging devices, offered several approaches to assessing whether a gadget can be straightforwardly fixed:
  • Consult iFixit, a website that offers instructions on gadget repairs. For some products, the site tears apart gadgets and does an analysis on its ease of repair. Apple’s iPhone SE, for example, has a repairability score of 6 out of 10 (10 being the easiest to repair), so it could be a device worth considering for the long haul.
  • Check if local technicians can service the device. Plenty of technicians have the parts and ability to service popular phones like iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices. But if you want to buy a handset from a less popular brand, like OnePlus or Motorola, it’s worth calling around first to find out if anyone can fix it in case something goes wrong.
  • Find out whether there’s a community of enthusiasts. Sometimes there are no local fixers who can help with a product, but there may be enthusiasts who write their own guides that you can follow. While you probably can’t find someone to repair a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush that is out of warranty, there are instructions on how to service it on iFixit.

One of the clearest indicators of a product’s durability is whether the batteries are replaceable. Gadgets that work without wires are powered by a lithium-ion battery, which can be charged only a finite number of times before it deteriorates.

Fortunately, most phones and laptops have batteries that can be replaced by professionals. But more compact products have components that are glued together and tightly sealed up, making their batteries impossible to replace. Wireless earphones like Apple’s AirPods and Bose’s QuietComfort 35 are examples of popular products with irreplaceable batteries. Once the batteries die, you have to buy a brand-new pair.

So if you’re buying anything with a battery — including digital picture frames, wireless security cameras and Bluetooth speakers — do a web search to see if the battery can be replaced. If not, consider it disposable.

 

Is the product reliable?

Like household appliances, tech products have failure rates — the ratio of working to defective units. These rates can give you a sense of a brand’s reliability.

Consumer Reports, well known for publishing reliability ratings for household appliances, compiles similar reliability data for smartphones, laptops, tablets, TVs and printers by surveying subscribers who own the products.

People tend to have more problems with products that have moving parts, like printers with ink cartridges, than with electronics like TVs or tablets, said Jerry Beilinson, a technology editor at Consumer Reports. Brother printers fared well in the publication’s surveys. For phones, Apple and Samsung had strong reliability ratings.

Mr. Lai of the Fixers’ Collective recommends a grass-roots approach to assessing reliability. He reads web forums like Reddit to see what people are saying about a product. If a large number of customers report problems with the device, he said, he steers clear.

Another rule of thumb to consider is investing more in a product to make it last. That doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive phone or computer on the market. But it does mean investing in configurations that will make you happier in the long run, said Nick Guy, a senior staff writer for Wirecutter, a New York Times publication that tests products.

Let’s use an iPad as an example. If you wanted an iPad, you could pay $329 for the base model with 32 gigabytes of storage. But it’s probably a better idea to spend $429 on the model with 128 gigabytes of storage — that’s quadruple the capacity, which you can use to hold apps, games, photos and videos for years to come.

In tech parlance, this strategy is known as “futureproofing.”

If you’re turned off by the idea of spending more, there’s a way around that. You can look to buy the same higher-priced product refurbished — meaning it was returned by a customer and restored to its former glory — for a significant discount, Dr. Mars said.

Because many modern gadgets, like smartphones and tablets, mostly lack moving parts, their software plays a strong role in determining their longevity. After a company stops providing software updates to a device, you can expect to run into problems, such as your favorite apps ceasing to work properly.

This is where an iPhone has an edge over an Android. Each year, when Apple releases a new operating system for the iPhone, it generally works on phones as far back as five years ago. (Apple’s iOS 14, due for release this fall, will support the iPhone 6S from 2015.) That means when you buy an iPhone, it will probably get new features and stability improvements for at least five years.

Android users will have a tougher time. Typically, manufacturers provide software updates to Android devices for two or three years.

To get around that, Android users might turn to the grass-roots community. For some Android phones, Mr. Lai said, there are enthusiasts who offer so-called ROMs, or custom-made operating systems, which can be installed to keep the software up to date. Check the website XDA Developers to see whether tinkerers are building custom software for the Android phone you intend to buy.

Many so-called smart home gadgets — ordinary appliances with wireless sensors and an internet connection — offer interesting benefits, like a refrigerator with a camera that sends an alert to our phone when the milk is running low.

Just keep in mind that smart home products can create more problems than they solve. A trash can that automatically opens its lid when you wave your hand over it may feel magical, but it relies on batteries and moving parts that eventually wear out.

“If it moves, if it flashes, if it can connect to the internet and tattle on you, it’s an electronic,” Dr. Mars said, “and you’re inheriting all the issues that come with an electronic.”

It all comes back to buying what you truly need. Sometimes a “dumb” product will do just fine.

Circularity of Lead Battery Industry Delivers Timely Benefit: Reliable Domestic Supply Chain

Read full article

Our guest blogger, Dr. Carole Mars with The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), discusses the benefits of the lead battery sustainability model, especially during a global pandemic that is interrupting supply chains. Dr. Mars is TSC’s Director of Technical Development and Innovation. As policymakers explore how to ensure domestic sources of essential goods and services, the lead battery model can serve as an example. 

The U.S. lead battery manufacturing and recycling industry has long practiced circularity. The industry’s ability to collect and recover used batteries as feedstock for new ones not only keeps valuable materials in use and potentially dangerous chemicals out of the environment but secures a reliable domestic supply chain for battery manufacturers. The global pandemic has highlighted many weaknesses in supply chains that rely on imports and how important it is to know the source of materials needed to manufacture products. As more companies move to understand how their supply chains work, the circular model developed in the lead battery industry is one to study.

A Circular Economic Model

As part of my work at The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), whose mission is to help make consumer products worldwide more sustainable, I have had the opportunity to engage with the successful lead battery circular economy model. The primary tools we have developed to understand sustainability performance in supply chains are a series of surveys that look at the impacts and improvement opportunities across the full lifecycle of a given product category. Companies can use the results of these surveys to identify and address potential sustainability risks in their supply chain and communicate their efforts to their customers. Buyers can use this information to help purchase more sustainable products and inform decision-making around

The lead battery companies who have responded to the survey do very well because of the active product takeback programs managed by the manufacturers, efficient recycling processes, and high amounts of recycled materials in a new battery. These are key components of the circularity of material flow that the industry has created – lead batteries have closed the loop more effectively than almost any other product in the consumer goods space, reflected in their 99% recycling rate in North America. Furthermore, that recycling rate means a large percent of U.S. lead battery manufacturing supply chain inputs (73% of its lead) are sourced from domestic recyclers. Getting this product into a “loop” has been a great advancement and something this industry has done much better than others.

The Benefits of Circularity

A new battery is roughly 80% recycled material. Keeping lead battery materials in circulation for as long as possible increases:

  • Sustainability: Recycled materials greatly reduce manufacturers’ need for virgin materials and mining – domestic and foreign – which reduces their environmental impact due to sourcing. Additionally, because the materials are sourced locally or regionally from battery recyclers, there is less transportation and shipping needed which lowers emissions and, thus, carbon footprint. The lead battery industry as a whole uses far more recycled material than virgin material. None of the other battery chemistries have reached that point yet; they are still heavily reliant on virgin materials and imports for production.
  • Reliable material sourcing: Manufacturers have a consistent supply of high-quality inputs, which ensures product availability, despite global disruptions from natural disasters, political uncertainties and import tariffs.

Lead Batteries’ Circularity and Economic Viability

The lead battery industry has achieved economical viability within its circular supply chain through several key enablers. Foremost, is the industry’s longevity (age is a good thing here). They’ve had time to evolve and address issues, like cost-effective recycling.

Here are other factors:

  • Design: Not only the product but also the entire life cycle is designed to optimize resource recovery and reuse. The standard design of lead battery and its minimal componentry is a huge plus.
  • Scale: Adequate quantities of used batteries are available to justify investments in recycling infrastructure. Lead batteries’ high recycling rate provides the materials needed for new batteries.
  • Policy: Regulations have prohibited inappropriate disposal, established appropriate incentives though core charges to ensure consumers recycle their batteries, and enabled manufacturers to recycle both their own as well as competitors’ products. These are examples of how policy can have a positive influence to improve sustainability and support circular economy models.
  • Collection: Lead batteries have a well-established, coast-to-coast collection network. It’s effective at collection and getting the word out to people that these batteries should come back. It makes it very local and immediate. That has been one of the biggest successes for lead batteries.
  • Logistics: The logistics of getting batteries back to where they need to go isn’t discussed much, but it’s an essential topic since logistics can be the most expensive part of recycling. The lead battery industry has done what other have yet to do – figure out and optimize reverse logistics to recapture value and/or ensure proper disposal.
  • Continuous improvement: Through THESIS, TSC measures sustainability by how well a company knows its supply chain. How well are you talking to your vendors both upstream and downstream of where you are? What are you doing to address those issues that are going to make you more sustainable? How can the system be more efficient and effective? The lead battery industry takes continuous improvement very seriously and is always looking at how they are going to continue raising the bar.

Will Pandemic Affect Sustainability’s Momentum?

I believe COVID-19 will be a net positive for sustainability. The crisis has made input sourcing more transparent. Shortages on shelves has made supply chain challenges real to many people in a way that hasn’t happened in our lifetime. Going forward, it will be harder for companies to assume stability in their supply chains. This won’t stop global trade, but it could mean multi-national companies try harder to create closed loops within each country or region where they operate.

It’s much easier to understand how your supply chain works if you have control over all aspects of it, which the lead battery industry nearly does through its closed-loop system.

We need to leverage their lessons learned to help other industries have the same type of performance for their used products to improve sustainability, create more circular material systems, and reduce supply chain risk.

Partnering to create sustainable change

A guest article by Robert Anson, Director of International Business Development for Henkel & Board Member of The Sustainability Consortium

Read full article

As I look back on two decades with Henkel, I find it interesting that a completely unexpected career trajectory has brought me some of the greatest satisfaction. About 10 years ago, I took on the informal role of sustainability champion at Henkel, in addition to my formal role in sales, representing the sales organization in partnership with our Research & Development (R&D) colleagues targeting our relationship with key retailers. I found myself exploring the intersection of sales and sustainability: working with our R&D folks to develop sustainable solutions; educating and engaging employees around the world; and, ultimately, helping the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry make everyday products more sustainable.

Long before “sustainability” become a buzz word, it was simply a way of doing business at Henkel. Early in its nearly 145-year history, Henkel developed new, more sustainable production processes and products, such as phosphate-free laundry detergents. Today, Henkel has set ambitious targets as part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which aims to add value while reducing its environmental footprint by 2030.

Many retailers, however, weren’t really talking about sustainability a decade ago. To spark that discussion and drive change in the industry, Henkel became a founding member of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) in 2009.

TSC is a global organization of diverse stakeholders working together to transform the consumer goods industry with an aspiration of making all consumer goods sustainable. TSC is working to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that does not impact people and the planet. Their work focuses on the largest sustainability issues that occur in consumer goods supply chains by working with industry and our partners in academia and civil society in balance to make bold changes that are good for business and good for people and the planet.

When I became involved with TSC, it became even more clear to me how important sustainability was, and its significant impact on our retailers and consumers. I remember back to when TSC held its first set of meetings in 2008 with about 25 companies and organizations that would eventually become members, and I realized we had a powerhouse team that would help drive change in the industry.

It was clear early on that cooperation from suppliers would be critical to TSC’s mission to help companies make everyday products more sustainable. Over the years, TSC has developed an independent, science-based, holistic sustainability performance solution to put sustainability at the heart of supply chain transparency conversations.

One of those tools, which Henkel was instrumental in helping TSC develop and create, is a sustainability insight system that rates products on a variety of sustainability social and environmental “hotspots”, such as packaging, animal welfare, deforestation and water use. This index — known today as The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS) — tracks the sustainability performance of products covering the full breadth of food and consumer goods. By helping suppliers understand and then tell the story of their products, the index makes it easy for buyers to make informed decisions to support their corporate sustainability goals. Today, THESIS is used by over 1,500 manufacturers representing almost $1 trillion worth of consumer product annual sales.

Henkel is one of our founding members and brings a unique and complete perspective on supply chain and sustainability within the home and personal care sector. Rob lends us his expert advice and experience to help us make decisions that are not only good for the planet, but also good for business.

Euan Murray, Chief Executive The Sustainability Consortium

After all, today’s consumers are increasingly making buying decisions based on more factors than they have in the past. Beyond price and quality of the product itself, they want to know products are safe and healthy for their families — and the planet. They want to buy from companies whose values align with their own.

Today, TSC has a global impact and more than 100 members and partners representing manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, nonprofits, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. At Henkel, we are grateful to have a seat at the TSC table, where we can support sustainability improvement through our own experience and knowledge.

Together with partners like TSC, we’re advancing sustainability along the entire value chain. Along with my own evolution, it’s been a highlight of my career to see how the TSC has evolved — and Henkel’s role in that. It’s been a fantastic journey that gives me hope for the future.

The Local Approach

by 

This is the first in a series of articles called “Steps to Circularity” that will explore a variety of different projects and viewpoints connecting the business of recycling to the wider circular economy movement.

Municipalities face challenges when trying to provide value through their waste management services. There is increasing pressure on communities to divert as much waste from landfill as possible, and local officials are also tasked with measuring and communicating their waste diversion performance to citizens and city government.

Today, in addition to fulfilling their traditional sanitation mission, municipal public works organizations are also expected to do business development, as residents and the local government expect them to create revenue and jobs for the city.

With these factors in mind, the city of Phoenix recently recently established the “Reimagine Phoenix: Transforming Trash into Resources” initiative in support of its goal to divert 40 percent of its waste away from landfill by 2020.

In order to explore different ways of measuring and communicating waste diversion and recycling success to the City Council and residents, the Phoenix Public Works Department partnered with the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Service and The Sustainability Consortium at Arizona State University to perform research on diversion metrics.

As part of that effort, the research team created a conceptual framework to help identify the steps that a city could take to improve waste diversion and recycling – or more generally, to become more of a circular economy in which we move away from the current linear model of make-use-dispose.

This article describes our “5S Model” for circularity in a city, which boils down to five tenets: support, serve, sort, save and sell.

It is a simple framework that communicates what a city can do to create a more circular economy. It can also be used to help a city plan its strategic waste management goals and actions; to identify strengths, weaknesses opportunities, and threats in existing programs; and to serve as a template for measuring circularity success.

Taking cues from world of public health

In seeking ways to think about success in circularity, our research team was inspired by the United Nations’ UNAIDS 90-90-90 program.

AIDS is a complex and nuanced issue in which planning, measurement and communication are key factors. Traditionally, health care leaders articulate goals and progress with difficult-to-understand metrics, like mortality rates. UNAIDS identified a pathway to success for managing and treating AIDS. A person has to: (1) know they have HIV/AIDS, (2) get treated, and (3) get better. If all three happen, a successful outcome is achieved.

This campaign led to the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goal – 90% of people living with HIV will know their status; 90% of those infected with HIV will get treatment; and 90% of those treated will have viral suppression. It gave planners and leaders a simple way to think about and communicate what was needed for success.

We asked the same question: What are the steps that, if taken, will lead a city to be more successful in creating a circular flow of materials? Our 5S Model, shown in the figure below, is formulated around those steps.

A model for circular success

Not to be confused with “5S” from lean manufacturing, our 5S Model suggests that circularity can be achieved by way of a clear path that takes into account a handful of important realities.

City residents have their own role in making a city more circular. First, they can purchase products with reusable or recoverable content. Second, they can purchase or own fewer products or purchase products with less packaging, which reduces waste. Finally, they can repair, refurbish and reuse the products they own.

Meanwhile, the city and its commercial partners need to provide convenient recovery channels for the recyclable material to be collected, and residents need to correctly sort their waste from recyclables. The city can also engage in additional activities that recover materials bound for landfill after being disposed by residents.

Finally, recovered material can be sold for revenue. If recyclers or remanufacturers are local, then it can also lead to local job creation.

The 5S Model takes those basic facts of material use and recovery and outlines five distinct areas where a municipality can take clear action.

Support: What can the city do through education, policy or public-private partnership that can help residents purchase reusable, repairable and recyclable products and packaging?

Serve: To what extent has a city provided convenient and easy-to-use channels for recovering recyclable materials?

Sort: How well do residents successfully separate trash from recyclables?

Save: What additional steps does a city take to minimize waste to landfill?

Sell: What economic benefit does the city and its commercial partners gain from recovery and recycling of materials?

Implementing and measuring 5S

In this section, we will share some examples of how cities (and, in some cases, state governments) have implemented various elements of the 5S Model and how performance can or cannot be easily measured.

When it comes to “support,” the politics and culture of a jurisdiction will shape to what extent it can drive regional change. Some cities are more aggressive in use of regulatory power or collaboration with the private sector.

For example, the city of Austin, Texas promotes repair through its Fix-It Clinics, where residents can find a repairer or learn to make their own repairs. Some cities and states have used financial (dis)incentives to reduce use of unwanted materials or to encourage their collection. For instance, San Francisco’s plastic bag ban, enacted in 2007, is now effective statewide. In 2020, California has also made it illegal to offer plastic straws by default. Restaurants may only provide plastic straws upon request or face a $25 fine.

The measurement of the “support” dimension is more likely qualitative than quantitative. From 2001 to 2008, however, California surveyed its residents and organizations to measure landfill diversion. Activity such as use of e-billing or composting yard waste was counted toward an overall landfill diversion rate.

Moving to “serve,” cities can make it easier or harder for residents to get recyclables successfully into a formal recycling stream. For example, San Francisco offers residents a free compost pail, free home hazardous waste pick-up, and a free program geared toward collection of medical waste and syringes. Medford, Mass., meanwhile, utilizes a pink bag for curbside clothing collection. And Boulder, Colo. created a Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) for electronics, a variety of plastics and miscellaneous materials such as concrete.

In order to measure the “serve” dimension, a city has to take into account the convenience of their programs. Is curbside pick-up the only channel to be considered convenient, or does a bin at a local shopping mall count? How far do residents have to travel to get to a specialty recovery facility for materials such as electronics or organics? Measurement of “serve” also requires the city define what materials are considered recyclable and whether it matters if the channel is being offered through a private entity, such as a service that picks up used carpet or building materials.

A number of possible actions fall into the “sort” section. Research shows that educating residents as to what can and cannot be recycled is a key driver of improving the sorting that residents do. In Phoenix, an auditing process is used to see how much contamination is in a household’s recycling bin, and the resident either gets an “Oops” or “Shine On” sticker for the outcome.

Success in the “sort” dimension is typically measured by two rates – percent of recyclables that contain non-recyclables, and percent of non-recyclables that contain recyclables. Most cities or commercial partners pay more attention to the first metric, as this impacts the quality of recovered material, the cost to remove contamination, and the market price obtained for the recovered material. As with “serve,” measuring “sort” requires a city to define what materials are considered recyclable in order to calculate rates. Planners also must determine whether to include bulk recyclables (carpet and e-scrap, for instance) or organics as part of the accounting.

This brings us to what cities can do to “save” additional tonnages from going to disposal. In Phoenix, the city has implemented a common-sense practice: If operators within the transfer station see a large heap of yard waste, they can extract it and send it instead to the organics composting stream.

Technological advancements could create more opportunities for more “save” actions. Last year, for instance, a sortation pilot project was established in Portland, Ore. to study the possibility of recovering mixed plastics from loads of residue at regional MRFs. The practice of landfill mining is also a strategy that has been discussed in different areas across the globe.

Finally, there is the need to “sell” the benefits of materials recovery to the wider community. The recent collapse of the recycling markets has decreased revenue for cities and commercial partners, making it harder for cities to justify continued operation of recycling. For that reason, it is important for cities to consider ways to change the dialogue from measuring revenue from commodity materials sales to measuring benefits like the number of jobs created through local remanufacturing. For example, in a recent report the National Resources Defense Council estimates that achieving a 75 percent recycling rate in California has the potential to create at least 110,000 additional recycling jobs.

The path to progress

A city can become more circular in its materials by (1) supporting the local circular economy through education, policy and public-private partnerships, (2) serving residents with convenient channels for material recovery, (3) educating residents how to sort materials correctly, (4) taking action to maximize recovery of recyclables or compostables, and (5) selling the recovered material for revenue, ideally locally so local jobs are created.

Kevin Dooley is chief scientist of The Sustainability Consortium and Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Jacob Bethem is a visiting assistant professor of sustainable business at the University of Redlands. William Campbell is a project manager at the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainable Solutions Service at Arizona State University. Carole Mars is director of technical development and innovation at The Sustainability Consortium.

Contact the authors at kevin.dooley@asu.edu.

Companies Urged to Fortify Supply Chains from Climate Change Disruption


New report from HSBC and TSC helps companies understand how and why climate change risks should be addressed within supply chains

NEW YORK and SCOTTSDALE, Ariz – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and HSBC released a new report today urging companies to prepare supply chains for the risk of climate change disruptions that threaten to raise costs and jeopardize their ability to meet customer needs.

Co-authored by Dr. Christy Slay, TSC Director of Technical Alignment and Dr. Kevin Dooley, TSC Chief Scientist and faculty at Arizona State University (ASU), with funding and support from the HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance, Improving Supply Chain Resilience to Manage Climate Change Risk warns that climate change will result in more extreme weather events and continued sea-level rise continue to disrupt supply chains configurations with increasing more frequency. Supply chain disruptions from climate change can increase the cost or lower the quality or quantity of supplies provided to a manufacturing by its suppliers.

Dooley states, “We all see the myriad of supply chain disruptions occurring during the current coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately this prefaces the types of challenges that supply chains will face in the future from increasing climate change. Now is the time to create more supply chain resilience.”

“As companies worldwide are in the midst of dealing with COVID-19’s impact on their business operations and their supply chains, current events put in sharp relief the impact of supply chain disruptions on a global scale,” said Patricia Gomes, Regional Head of Global Trade and Receivable Finance (GTRF). “We’re helping our customers think holistically about supply chain risks, and this report provides valuable insight into planning for, and mitigating disruptions caused by, climate change.”

The whitepaper also found that:

  • Climate change risks may also force more investor attention on a company’s supply chain related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To better plan for the future, companies need to incorporate climate change into a broader supply chain risk management strategy.
  • Bridging and buffering are strategies to enhance a company’s ability to withstand risk events and protect against inevitable failures and supply disruptions. Risk events include increased cost, lower quality supply, and delayed supply, where a disruption can delay delivering goods or services to a company’s own customers.
  • Companies that address resiliency can be more attractive to employees, customers, and investors. The authors include a supply chain climate resiliency questionnaire for those wanting to do a quick assessment of a company’s supply chain resiliency or discuss with managers.

TSC is a global organization propelling the consumer goods industry forward to create more sustainability products through science-based assessments and solutions. In order to create change on a global scale, in an increasingly volatile world, TSC incentivizes and supports manufacturers and their suppliers to adopt new practices and design more sustainable products. Their full impact report is available here.

The HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance provides thought leadership about transforming the real economy and strengthening the financial system response to climate change. HSBC’s in-house think tank, the Centre generates and promotes publicly available reports that support the climate change ambitions of key stakeholders including industry, financial regulators, governments and financial institutions.

Media enquiries to:

Erika Ferrin, Senior Director of Marketing, Communications and Development TSC, (480) 965-7752, erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

&

Oksana Poltavets, Vice President of Communications HSBC USA, (212) 525-8226, oksana.poltavets@us.hsbc.com

Note to editors:

About HSBC ⁠— HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in our geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,918bn at 31 March 2020, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations.

About TSC ⁠— The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Walmart’s Sustainability Efforts Take to the Seas with MSC-Certified Sustainable Private Brand Canned Tuna

Practicing more sustainable fishing hasn’t always been easy. But with a growing global consciousness surrounding sustainability, change is possible.

Walmart’s customers count on us to deliver affordable products in a way that helps preserve the planet, and we’re taking steps toward sourcing seafood more sustainably.

As of July 2020, achieving a key aspect of our original goal years in advance, Walmart is moving to source its U.S. stores Great Value canned tuna as either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified or, based on supplier reports, from a time-bound Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) actively working toward certification.

The MSC Fisheries Standard has three core principles every fishery must meet: sustainable fish stocks, minimal environmental impact and effective fisheries management.

Why It Matters

While seafood remains an important source of protein and income for people around the world, according to the United Nations, one third of global fisheries have been fished beyond sustainable limits.

Advanced action could help change that narrative, though, and lead to a better future.

“With a clear signal from leadership, our team has invested in research to help us better understand the value chain of tuna and ask the question, ‘What’s the right way to do this?’” said Sean Reber, who leads Walmart’s global sourcing team on direct import programs for packaged food.

And we know Walmart can’t do it alone. Sourcing seafood more sustainably requires greater effort on the part of suppliers and others toward the goal of reducing overfishing, eliminating bycatch and supporting healthier oceans.

Walmart buyers have been hard at work collaborating with Great Value tuna suppliers to source canned tuna in our U.S. stores as MSC-certified or, based on supplier reports, from an FIP actively working toward certification with definitive goals, measurable metrics and time-bound milestones.

“Making sure affordable, high-quality tuna that meets these requirements, makes it all the way to the aisle is a very complex process,” said Jessica Baldini, buyer for Walmart U.S. shelf-stable tuna. “It takes alignment and collaboration with internal leadership and external stakeholders – so there are a lot of people who have to be on board with the idea that ‘sustainability is what Walmart stands for.’”

Leading the Charge

This milestone could serve as a first step to influence global practices around sustainable seafood, with Great Value canned tuna setting a roadmap for other brands to show how they can be part of creating positive change.

And part of driving change is expecting accountability, which is why Walmart asks suppliers to report their progress using the Seafood Metrics System, managed by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). This system helps measure and track supplier performance on sustainable sourcing.

“To help identify areas for improvement in aligning sourcing with sustainability policies and goals, SFP works with Walmart to collect information on the sources of their seafood supply. Building continuous improvement across seafood supply chains can drive much-needed progress in fishery management and production around the world,” said Kathryn Novak, Global Markets Director at SFP.

The Future of Sustainable Fishing

With Walmart’s global reach, we have a role to play in accelerating more sustainable fishing practices. And we are committed to creating a better, more sustainable supply chain for tuna in collaboration with key allies.

While meeting this Great Value canned tuna goal is an important step, we’re aiming to do the same for all of Walmart’s shelf-stable tuna assortment by 2025.

“When Walmart says, ‘we’re committed to buying sustainable tuna,’ it sends a message loud and clear to the fishing vessels, to the captains and to the industry at large,” added Reber.

June 8, 2020

Link to original story

New Research Highlights Farmer Perspectives on Farm-Level Data Collection and Sharing

First-of-its-kind report from Farm Journal’s Trust In Food initiative and The Sustainability Consortium explores the complex relationship among farmers, their operation’s production data and conservation.

LENEXA, Kan.May 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Several challenges prevent farmers from collecting and sharing data on production practices with downstream supply chain organizations, such as food companies and retailers, according to new research from Farm Journal’s Trust In Food initiative and The Sustainability Consortium (TSC).

“This research provides the entire ag value chain with direct farmer feedback on the realities of farm-level data collection and sharing,” said Mitch Rouda, President for Farm Journal’s Trust In Food. “These insights will enable organizations to more effectively engage with farmers in the scaling of conservation practices and production practice transparency.”

Farm-level production data plays a critical role in conservation and sustainability efforts for food, fuel and fiber supply chains. Despite this importance, according to previous TSC research, nearly 50% of food and beverage companies report having no visibility into the on-farm practices that produce the inputs they use.

To help close the gap between in-field practices and supply chain needs, Trust In Food and TSC surveyed American farmers on their perceptions of data collection and sharing. The resulting report, “Farmer Perspectives On Data,” highlights insights from nearly 400 farmers in more than 40 states.

Key findings include:

  • 62% reported not using data collection and sharing software during the 2019 season; of those who did, only about 30% say the software meets all their needs.
  • Lack of access to capital, equipment, training and reliable data networks are the biggest barriers farmers face in scaling up their on-farm data efforts.
  • 71% of farmers said their primary ag adviser or consultant has never suggested increasing on-farm data collection, data sharing or both.
  • 49% of farmers do not believe their customer has a right to know how they manage their farm.
  • Responses to open-ended questions reveal downstream organizations enjoying greater financial benefits from farm-level data sharing than the farmers who provide that data is a major issue farmers consider when deciding to share their data.
  • 74% of farmers implement conservation agriculture practices because they believe it is the right thing to do for the environment; 61% use conservation practices to ensure they pass on a profitable and viable farming operation to the next generation.

“The results of this report show growers value data collection and the environment and they implement conservation agriculture practices on their farms, but there are several surprising barriers to sharing farm data,” said Christy Slay, Director of Technical Alignment for The Sustainability Consortium. “TSC is committed to working on these issues and barriers with our partners to ensure farmers receive the value they deserve for protecting natural resources and that the sustainability story brands communicated to retailers and consumers is enabled by the farm data reported into TSC’s THESIS platform.”

Original article can be found here

The report can be viewed at https://bit.ly/Farm-Data-TIF.

Contact: Susan Rhode (913) 213-7110 or srhode@farmjournal.com

Supply Chain Disruption Q&A: From Redundancy Comes Resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the global supply chain and causing uncertainty across sectors. To better understand the ongoing implications of COVID-19 as a global supply chain disruption, we are speaking to a number of industry experts on a variety of supply chain topics.Our first interviewee is Dr. Kevin J. Dooley, PhD., a professor of Supply Chain Management from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and Chief Scientist of the Sustainability Consortium at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. His domain of expertise includes supply chain sustainability and complex adaptive supply networks.

The below is the adapted text from our interview with Professor Dooley, in which we discuss:

  • What makes COVID-19 a unique, global supply chain disruption,
  • How to build resilience into supply chains
  • The new mindset that will be required to become resilient,
  • Steps that retailers and brands can take now, and
  • The dynamic between COVID-19 and supply chain sustainability

Disruptions are usually supply OR demand

What is a supply chain disruption?

A supply chain disruption, quite simply, is when there is some change in supply and/or demand that makes us manage the system differently and react to that new situation. There are two ways that the supply chain industry has looked at supply chain disruptions.

The traditional supply chain disruption is around a moment in time—an event that takes supply away from you. Maybe a factory goes down for some reason, or there’s a fire at the plant, a labor strike, or an extreme weather event. In that moment as a downstream buyer, you have to decide how you’re going to react to that—how do you manage and mitigate the disruption to your business?

On the flip side is the famous bullwhip effect, which is when there’s an unexpected disruption in demand. The bullwhip posits that there are some fairly significant increases or decreases in demand that will invariably disrupt the supply chain upstream. In fact, what we find with the bullwhip effect is that if there’s a change in the demand signal, that inventory variability tends to increase the farther upstream the supply chain we go. So, retailers and brands are left with lower variability of inventory, but upstream the suppliers are left with huge inventory variations as a reaction to that change.

COVID-19 is disrupting supply AND demand

Why is COVID-19 different?

What’s different about COVID-19 is, first of all, the length of time of the disruption. We often think of a disruption as a singular event that may range from minutes to a week-long event, after which we can start to recover. COVID-19 is far longer in magnitude in terms of its duration.

Then, when we look at what it’s impacting, we’re seeing two key things. First, COVID-19 is simultaneously disrupting supply and demand. Secondly, we also have changes in demand—not decreases, but increases across different categories, which are creating different ripple effects on supply chains.

COVID-19 is simultaneously disrupting supply AND demand. That’s not normal.

One obvious example is on the scarcity of toilet paper, but one non-obvious place I’ve been thinking about is waste management. Typically, you have waste and recycling being generated at a business and maybe two different companies pick that up once a week. But, those aren’t necessarily the same two companies that pick up residential waste and recycling. Almost overnight, people started working from home. Garbage and recycling was quickly displaced to the home environment; one channel is starved for demand, the other has too much.

The colloquial term for COVID-19 disruption? “Chaos.”

As a disruption, COVID-19 is multidimensional. Is there a name for that?

Half-jokingly, I suppose the colloquial term for the COVID-19 disruption is “chaos”. There’s a common theory that’s used in technology design and studies called “normal accident theory”.

The premise is that when you build a complex system, it is bound to fail, which comes down to two things. First is when a failure occurs. If a system has a single point of failure, it can react to it, but if two occur by chance or one causes another, then it cascades and can’t catch up. The second thing is that systems become incomprehensible to humans. People can’t react quickly enough, and the machines that were set up as safety mechanisms end up making poor decisions.

On the other side of COVID-19, we’ll hopefully better understand how the system failed.

Right now, the pandemic is affecting every industry, vertical, and utility. In supply chain, because it’s tied to both supply and demand, the disruptions have a cascading effect. On the other side of COVID-19, we’ll hopefully better understand how the system failed—why the global supply chain was so dramatically impacted—and determine what needs to be fixed. Until then, we call it chaos.

Reactions to disruptions have been too slow

How have businesses responded?

You would think that information technology, in general, would allow more visibility and more visibility would allow better decision-making. The bullwhip effect suggests that no, people don’t look at the global.

When we did a research study on the recession, we found that the bullwhip effect was true. Even though all of those suppliers upstream were reading the same newspaper stories as everyone else, they didn’t react until it was too late. And I think we’ll probably find that that’s true here when we look back at our own national response. The managerial challenge becomes, how do we take advantage of the technology that we have that allows us to track…allows us to foresee things beyond our immediate buyer or supplier and make more intelligent decisions that way?

Most businesses don’t react because there isn’t an immediate disruption for the system to react to. In some ways it relates back to the normal accident theory. Your systems react to situations and make decisions as necessary, which they can’t do until something happens. But, if your systems could read the newspaper—if your ERP systems could read the stories you were, then it might make different decisions.

Supply chain resiliency comes from redundancy

Were businesses adequately prepared?

Certainly some retailers and brand manufacturers were more prepared than others, but I believe that’s due to an increase in reshoring initiatives in 2019 as a result of tariffs, not the pandemic.

My intuition is that when we look back, we will find that companies that fared better were already building redundancy into their networks or were more aware of their bottlenecks. Of course, that’s much easier to say in retrospect and we’re still not on the other side of this thing yet.

It’s very difficult to find your bottlenecks or pinch points if the system isn’t being pushed.

It’s very difficult to find your bottlenecks or pinch points if the system isn’t being pushed. Instead of focusing on which companies were better prepared, I think we will see a renewed interest in businesses understanding those bottlenecks better after COVID-19 exposed them. Figuring out ways to avoid specific pinch points being overloaded, and in a lot of cases, breaking as a result.In terms of the pandemic, it’s a convenient headline to say, “Oh, companies are now afraid of China.” But that isn’t a useful position or necessarily a huge change point since we just got done dealing with the trade wars. Generally speaking, if your position is to get out of China and consolidate facilities in another singular region, then that just doesn’t make sense. And, that was true before the pandemic.

Instead, you have to recognize that supply chain resiliency comes from redundancy. So if you’re saying, “We have operations in China, and now we’re going to create some redundancies in different geographical areas, too.” Now, that’s logical.

Basically, you need some kind of buffer

What is an example of how the supply chain can be more resilient?

Think about inventory and the concept of “leaning out” [or leaning away from lean manufacturing]. If you look at the inventory-to-sales ratios for U.S. manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a lot more inventory on hand. In the early 1990s, right around the peak of the lean manufacturing movement, there was not. Since then, inventory levels have come up a bit, but not to where they should have been to offset the impact of COVID-19 or create any sort of supply chain resilience.

Basically, you need some kind of buffer. I’m not saying lean manufacturing is bad, but in some ways it’s gone too far. We’re seeing the implications of that now.

I’m not saying lean manufacturing is bad, but in some ways it’s gone too far.

Redundancy is counterintuitive for most supply chain professionals where their entire careers are built on optimization and efficiency. But, in terms of true supply chain resilience—redundancy is the efficient solution.Even though holding more inventory doesn’t sound economically feasible, it becomes so once it’s industry-accepted. That is going to require a new mental model for supply chain leaders.

To make it really happen, there must be a metric

What will it take to invest in supply chain resilience?

Supply chain professionals are accountable for a series of metrics that are centered around optimization by way of reduction: Inventory reduction, reduction of holding costs, inventory turns, and in some cases, supply base rationalization and reducing the number of suppliers. If those are the metrics for which you’re accountable, it’s difficult to rationalize a series of increases to make the supply chain more resilient.

The unfortunate reality is managers rarely get rewarded for risk management. If risk isn’t uncovered, there’s no recognition—no opportunity to save a project and be a hero.

The supply chain needs some kind of resilience or flexibility metric that is well-accepted and acknowledged.

The supply chain needs some kind of resilience or flexibility metric that is well-accepted and acknowledged. It’s similar to packaging and a problem that exists in the engineering domain. The function of packaging isn’t to be thicker, thinner, lighter, or heavier; the function is protecting the product. But there has been consistent movement to optimize the economics and make packages thinner.At some point, you reach that optimal where you can’t thin it anymore without endangering the product itself, which is the reason you have packaging in the first place. Holding inventory serves that same purpose. It provides insurance, but if our metrics don’t take into account the benefits of inventory, then they’re creating an industry that is lean, mean, and unprepared.

Survival of the fittest is about differentiation

What kind of retailers and brands will survive COVID-19?

Unfortunately, not every business is going to survive the pandemic or the subsequent recession, especially if they weren’t doing well pre-COVID-19. I’m not an expert in retail, but I believe that most of the large-scale enterprises that have enough capital will survive and I also think the specialty retailers with brand recognition or those that occupy niche markets will be ok, too.

The immediate risk I’m seeing is the number of stranded assets and excess inventory. Every category is different, but it’s unlikely that whatever pent-up demand there is will be great enough to consume the overflow of goods in the market right now.

Single-category retailers will have the hardest time, unless they have a strong product brand behind them. Those that have relied on convenience of location, like the mall, or proprietary supplier relationships, what do they have to compete on? What is their point of differentiation? A nice website won’t cut it. Everyone has the same product and everyone has the same price, so most people will just end up at Amazon because it, too, is convenient and it also has brand recognition.

An opportunity to pause and improve

Are there steps retailers can take now or key considerations to keep in mind?

On the other side of this, whenever that’s going to be, we will likely be living in a whole new environment.

Personally, I like the people who are saying, “Let’s use this as an opportunity to change things and make them better.” It’s like the saying from Machiavelli, “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.”

Right after a catastrophe is just about the only time you can sell upper management on making an investment in risk management—like employing additional suppliers or holding more inventory. If you don’t, three to six months will pass and the immediacy is gone and forgotten.

I like the people who are saying, “Let’s use this as an opportunity to change things and make them better.”

Compositionally, every business is different so next steps will vary. Enterprise retailers and brands have the capital to invest in new, fancier contracts or have backup suppliers when one goes offline. For smaller businesses, if half of their supply base is no longer in business or is temporarily offline, they may need more support from service providers on how to rapidly find and certify new suppliers, but because they’re smaller, they can probably move a lot faster than an enterprise business could.That said, anyone that does survive must face the workforce issues that are arising. Every business in retail and logistics is going to have to solve the challenge of high unemployment rates or transitioning workers into new departments, like distribution and fulfillment to help support online retail. There will be a period of time required to train and onboard. As a result, I do think there will be a renewed buzz around automation and robots—not to replace humans, but to optimize the road ahead for employment.

Bold, previously inconceivable ideas will transform supply chain

Will the pandemic finally force the supply chain to transform?

Opportunism is not the right word because it has a negative connotation, but people are going to use this as an opportunity or a launch pad of sorts. Entrepreneurial people, innovative people, will now be able to put forth bold plans that would not have had an audience a year ago.

It’s not about if things will change, but how they will.

It’s like the chaos theory. Right when the system is at the precipice of stability and instability—at the moment of collapse—is when innovation occurs. Those bold, previously inconceivable, ideas make everything a little more unpredictable, so it’s less about whether or not change will occur, but about how things will change.

2020 is still a big year for supply chain sustainability

Has the focus on supply chain sustainability changed?

I have not seen a decrease in demand for sustainability. From my perspective, consumers’ growing interest in sustainability has not changed, nor have investors’ and companies’ long-term investments in becoming more sustainable.

I’m an optimist here. You have to be an optimist when you work in sustainability, but I think this pandemic is giving people a high degree of confidence that sustainability is the right thing to focus on. Anecdotally, people around the world have noticed the benefits of cleaner air, cleaner water, less noise, and less traffic. So, again, it’s an opportunity to see not what a “less active” society looks like, but what a “conscientiously active” society could be.

The ways we consume are changing. Our value systems are changing.

In many ways, this is changing people’s lifestyles. We’re figuring out that video conferencing with our friends or teaching classes that way may not be great for every occasion, but it works, and one output is fewer carbon emissions and waste. The way we consume is changing. Our value systems are changing.There’s a renewed sense of minimalism. Consider millennials. When you cross minimalism with millennials, that’s where the “experience economy” comes in. It’s not difficult to imagine that entire generations will care less about physical materials and more about investing in experiences.

Redundancy and optionality will soften the blow next time

Will we ever be able to proactively plan for major supply chain disruptions?

No. I think that the disruptions will increase in number because of climate change and frequency and severity and concurrency. And so, it’s a matter of planning for that different future, and planning for more adaptation—planning for redundancy. Part of redundancy is having multiple sites, multiple suppliers, etc., and having options for supply.

If you can only buy a particular component from a single supplier or a single type of material is the only one that will work for you, then you’re stuck, you don’t have flexibility. So, redundancy isn’t just on the supply chain design side, but even on the product design side.

We need to think about how we build in more options so we aren’t faced with the same level of disruption the next time this happens.

A new mindset: Overcoming supply chain disruption

Dr. Dooley’s insights on supply chain disruption, particularly around redundancies and diversification, challenges the supply chain industry to think differently.

The last 30 years in the supply chain have focused on lean management, operational efficiencies, and trying to build a successful bridge to supporting eCommerce. As the frequency and magnitude of supply chain disruptions increase, there is a new dimension to supply chain efficiency, and it’s helping businesses figure out how they can be flexible enough to manage any disruption.

New, flexible logistics solutions make it possible to build low-risk redundancy into supply chain networks, react quickly when a disruption occurs, and modernize the supply chain to manage new operations and workflow.

About Dr. Kevin J. DooleyDr. Kevin J. Dooley is a Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. As Chief Scientist of The Sustainability Consortium, Dooley leads a global research team that works with over 100 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers to develop tools that measure and track progress on critical product sustainability issues. He has published more than 100 research articles and co-authored an award-winning book Organizational Change and Innovation Processes. Dr. Dooley has provided training or consultation for over 200 companies in the areas of sustainability, supply chain management, quality, and technology and innovation. He obtained his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois.

TSC Reports THESIS Index Users Represent Almost $1 Trillion in Annual Retail Sales

According to TSC’s 2020 Impact Report, 45 of the top 100 CPG companies performed THESIS assessments in 2019.

Scottsdale, AZ, April 30, 2020 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) reported today that of the top 100 CPG companies, 45 of these manufacturers performed THESIS assessments in 2019. These companies, plus the over 1,500 suppliers who used THESIS, represent almost $1 trillion in annual sales. The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS), powered by SupplyShift, is the independent, science-based, performance management solution that allows brands and manufacturers to understand the sustainability story of their products, to quickly identify ways to improve, and to communicate that story to retailers, customers, investors and consumers.

The launch of THESIS in 2019 saw the roll-out of a new measurement platform used by retailers and product manufacturers to optimize supply chain transparency. Product manufacturers were able to use new content and functionality to gain insight into their performance and drive improvements of the products they produce.

Scores among product manufacturers remained flat from 2018 to 2019 in the first year of the new THESIS index. Scores in the 2019 THESIS Index have improved 23% since baseline year of TSC’s original sustainability index in 2016. Systems and processes put into place by manufacturers over the last several years have led to an improvement in scores, but the unchanging scores from 2018 to 2019 indicate that systemic challenges remain to improve supply chain transparency.

In their 2020 Impact Report, Defining Leadership in Sustainable Supply Chains, TSC details that companies are still struggling with challenges that can include measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, changing to more sustainably sourced or recycled material in product and packaging design, and addressing social responsibility issues like labor rights.

“Gaining transparency into your own operations and your supply chains is an important first step,” says Dr. Kevin Dooley, Chief Scientist of TSC.  “Now companies can use THESIS to identify gaps and take steps to change their product, packaging, or processes to become more sustainable. And to get recognition for doing so from their customers.”

Many product categories are featured in TSC’s Impact Report:

  • Hand tools have doubled THESIS scores since 2016 and performed well on energy efficiency, product design and responsible battery management
  • Footwear has improved 75% since 2016 and performed well on labor rights, worker health and safety, and protections for homeworkers

In individual assessments, THESIS high scores stand out for:

  • Activewear for Children, Men and Women scores high on labor rights, worker health and safety, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and wastewater management.
  • Dishwashing products performed will with high scores in chemical selection, fragrance safety, ingredient disclosure and packaging design.
  • Overall, plant-based foods scored well because of shorter supply chains and good relationships between buyer and supply chain
  • Livestock categories had high scores related to similar data already collected for regulatory compliance.

TSC Chief Executive, Euan Murray, states, “This is the year TSC will define sustainability leadership in each category as a part of a multi-year strategy to help brands and manufacturers understand the sustainability story of their products and tell that story to retailers, investors, consumers and NGOs.”

TSC announced in early 2020 that their five year strategy will see THESIS as a tool for retailers and product manufacturers to manage their businesses and communicate with stakeholders, and will see TSC reduce the effort and increase benefits for THESIS users and develop new audiences for results. In addition to THESIS changes, TSC committed to expanding their current Innovation Program to focus on products that translate science and create transparency as well as launch their Leadership Institute, a program to tackle issues collectively and develop the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.

Director of Corporate Responsibility, PMI Worldwide

“Reporting on sustainability is one of the best ways to drive improvement. The quality philosophy that what gets measured gets improved holds true in sustainability work. Assessing our sustainability performance through THESIS has enabled PMI to identify gaps, see where sustainability improvement was needed, and celebrate sustainability wins,” states Valerie Bone

Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Walmart

Walmart encourages suppliers to participate in The Sustainability Consortium’s THESIS Index as part of our efforts to promote sustainability and transparency across our supply chain,” says Jane Ewing,

TSC is a global organization propelling the consumer goods industry forward to create more sustainability products through science-based assessments and solutions.

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

100% of Ocean Spray’s Cranberries Verified as Sustainably Grown Using FSA, becoming the First Fruit Cooperative Worldwide to achieve a 100% FSA Verification

BOSTON, April 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., the agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 farmer families, announces it is the first major fruit cooperative worldwide to achieve 100% sustainably grown verification for its Ocean Spray cranberries through the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform’s (SAI Platform) Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA). The cooperative has received a verification that 100% of the cranberries it utilizes from its farmer-owners qualify as sustainably grown using SAI’s FSA.  To continue these efforts, Ocean Spray is also working with National Geographic to support fieldwork in regenerative agriculture.

100% of Ocean Spray’s cranberries verified as sustainably grown using FSA, becoming the first fruit cooperative worldwide to achieve a 100% FSA verification. The farmer-owned cooperative is also working with National Geographic to combat climate change and lead a new era of regenerative agriculture by supporting global grants for sustainability fieldwork

.

 

The SAI Platform defines sustainable agriculture as the efficient production of safe, high-quality agricultural products in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers and their communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species. Third-party certifier SCS Global Services evaluated Ocean Spray’s sustainable agriculture program and on-farm practices at representative number of its farmer-owners’ farms, validating performance against the FSA’s 112-question checklist.  These performance requirements measure farm sustainability holistically, from soil health, to water conservation practices, to health and safety of farm workers and local communities. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.’s achievement also marks the first FSA verification in Chile across all agriculture.   

“We were able to confirm Ocean Spray’s efforts to move the needle on sustainable agriculture in their global supply chain, verifying their achievement of Silver and Gold performance levels in implementing the FSA with their cranberry growers,” said Bonnie Holman, Director of Sustainability Certifications at SCS Global Services.  “We commend Ocean Spray’s dedication to leadership in sustainable cranberry production!” SCS Global Services is a global leader in third-party sustainability and food safety certification, auditing, testing, and standards development.

Ocean Spray’s farmers take great care of the water, soil, ecosystems, and communities on and around their farms.  On average, every 1 acre of cranberry bog conserves 5.5 acres of natural lands, such as wetland, forests, and grasslands, conserving natural land for native plants and wildlife. To further conserve resources, many farmers use water efficiency technologies such as soil moisture probes, and monitor their soil health and nutrient management to ensure vines receive nutrients at the right time and in the right amount for berry growth and protection of water resources. As a long-lived perennial vine, farmers also work to ensure the farm is sustainable for generations. Some farmers are growing cranberries on vines that have been passed down over decades and are over 100 years old. Many farmers are leaders in their community, providing agritourism on their farms, serving on local school or municipality boards, and volunteering time and farming equipment to help their community infrastructure.

“As Ocean Spray moves into our 90th year as a cooperative and as the world faces unprecedented challenges, we are committed now more than ever to the future of our farms and the communities we serve.  We are so proud that our cranberries have been verified as sustainably grown through SAI Platform,” said Christina Ferzli, Head of Global Corporate Affairs and Communications at Ocean Spray. “We are now able to apply the learnings from our farms by supporting National Geographic’s work, shaping the importance of regenerative farming to combat climate change in the context of an agricultural system under pressure to feed 8.3 billion people by 2030.”

By supporting the National Geographic Society through grants, Ocean Spray will focus on the critical importance of regenerative farming practices to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges of our time including food security, preserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Ocean Spray will support National Geographic fieldwork across the globe to aid in agriculture practices that help preserve the health of the planet. The field work includes projects such as bee-friendly agriculture, automated land-use, insect collection and biodiversity discovery, and global mapping of center pivot agriculture.

“The issue of improving agricultural practices that help preserve the health of our planet has not received the attention it deserves, and we are proud to work with Ocean Spray to support regenerative agriculture around the world,” said Alex Moen, Vice President of Explorer Programs at the National Geographic Society.  “National Geographic has been investing in science, exploration and education for more than 130 years, and we look forward to working together with Ocean Spray to support these impactful projects.”

Additional initiatives will be rolled out this year to help curb climate change, as well as to support food security and the health and wellbeing of all.

About Ocean Spray: 
Founded in 1930, Ocean Spray is a vibrant agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 cranberry farmers in the United States, Canada and Chile who have helped preserve the family farming way of life for generations. The Cooperative’s cranberries are currently featured in more than a thousand great-tasting, nutritious products in over 100 countries worldwide. Leading by purpose, Ocean Spray is committed to the power of good—creating good, nutritious food that has a direct and powerful impact for the health of people and planet. All for good. Good for all.  For more information visit: www.oceanspray.com

About SAI Platform
Founded in 2002, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) is a global not-for-profit organisation transforming the food and drink industry to source and produce more sustainably. With over 100 members, from companies and organisations in the food and drink industry, we are at the forefront in pioneering sustainable agriculture around the world.  We enable our members to share expertise, create solutions to common challenges and promote sustainable agriculture in a pre-competitive environment. By developing tools and principles we are creating secure and resilient agricultural supply chains. Our current focus is on beef, dairy and crops. Our innovative and industry-focused tools, the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA), Spotlight and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP), lead the way to effective sustainable practices while delivering value to our members, farmers, their communities and consumers. To find out more about SAI Platform, visit our website: www.saiplatform.org

About SCS Global Services
SCS Global Services has provided global leadership in third-party sustainability and food safety certification, auditing, testing, and standards development since 1984. Its programs span a wide range of industries, recognizing achievements in food and agriculture, green building, product manufacturing, forestry, consumer goods, climate, and more. SCS is a California Benefit Corporation, reflecting its commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. More information available at www.scsglobalservices.com.

Contact: teamoceanspray@jonesworks.com

SOURCE Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.

Related Links

http://www.oceanspray.com

The Sustainability Consortium Welcomes Green Field Solutions as a Member to Focus on Breakthroughs in Upcycling By-Products

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, April 23, 2020 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that Green Field Solutions (GFS), a new business unit of  the International Companies of St. Louis, MO, has joined as a member. Green Field Solutions is the world’s leading sustainable nutrition company. The new business unit reflects the company’s leading role in providing full-service by-product management for food companies. They will join over 100 TSC members that are leaders in their industries working to create more sustainable products for a sustainable planet.

GFS offers food manufacturers ways to up-cycle by-products through research and development, improved compliance, innovative applications and market development to help companies maximize value from food production residuals. As a member of TSC, they will join collective efforts in creating circularity in agriculture by turning food manufacturing residuals into nutrient-rich ingredients for animal feed and pet food. They join other companies working together on TSC projects that involve topics like food waste, GHG reduction, agricultural metrics and more. To learn more, visit gfsolutions.com.

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “We are proud to welcome Green Field Solutions to the TSC member family. They bring their expertise in animal nutrition, food science and manufacturing to help  our entire system upcycle food residuals into beneficial feed ingredients. Understanding how to reuse resources that already exist is part of TSC’s core mission to create more sustainable products.”

“In the by-product marketplace, our customer needs are changing, so we are evolving to better serve them. At our core is a passion for meeting the evolving needs of our clients, partners and customers, while making the most out of excess food resources.” Clayton Brown, CEO of the International Companies.

Green Field Solutions joins  other TSC members as leaders in their industry, signaling a need for sustainability action and measurement across the consumer product landscape. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

For media inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
480-965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

Coronavirus Is a Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain Management

Article from Harvard Business Review

As procurement teams struggle to cope with the Covid-19 global pandemic, most have been trying to keep up with the news about global response measures and have been working diligently to secure raw materials and components and protect supply lines. However, vital information is often not available or accessible across their global teams. As a result, their response to the disruption has been reactive and uncoordinated, and the impact of the crisis is hitting many of their companies full force.

In contrast, a small minority of companies that invested in mapping their supply networks before the pandemic emerged better prepared. They have better visibility into the structure of their supply chains. Instead of scrambling at the last minute, they have a lot of information at their fingertips within minutes of a potential disruption. They know exactly which suppliers, sites, parts, and products are at risk, which allows them to put themselves first in line to secure constrained inventory and capacity at alternate sites.

Despite numerous supply-chain upheavals inflicted by disasters in the last decade — including the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Thailand floods, and Hurricanes Maria and Harvey — most companies still found themselves unprepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. Seventy percent of 300 respondents to a survey conducted by Resilinc in late January and early February, immediately following the Covid-19 outbreak in China, said they were still in data collection and assessment mode, manually trying to identify which of their suppliers had a site in the specific locked-down regions of China. There are a number of reasons for this problem — and potential solutions.

The required resources for supply network mapping are expensive.

Many companies and leaders talk about the need to do supply network mapping as a risk-mitigation strategy, but they have not done so because of the perceived large amount of labor and time required. Executives of a Japanese semiconductor manufacturer told us that it took a team of 100 people more than a year to map the company’s supply networks deep into the sub-tiers following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. This explains why most companies are like a major South Korean consumer goods company, which recently told us it had known that it should have mapped its supply networks but has not done so because of the difficulties involved.

Consequently, many companies continue to rely on human intelligence from top-tier and a select few lower-tier suppliers. But the information collected via personal relationships is typically anecdotal and often mere conjecture, and when procurement personnel leave, change roles, or retire, their knowledge leaves with them. It can take new employees years to get to know immediate suppliers, let alone the suppliers’ suppliers and their global footprint.

Yes, supply network mapping can be resource intensive and difficult. However, there is no way around it. Companies will discover the value of the map is greater than the cost and time to develop it.

The most common approach is to use the bill of materials and focus on key components. It typically starts with the top five products by revenue and goes down to their component suppliers, and their suppliers, ideally, all the way down to raw materials suppliers. The goal should be to go down as many tiers as possible, because there may be hidden critical suppliers the buying firm is not aware of. The map should also include information about which activities a primary site performs, the alternate sites the supplier has that could perform the same activity, and how long it would take the supplier to begin shipping from the alternate site.

A new breed of services companies can help acquire and analyze supply network data and organize the results in a user-friendly way. Their services typically do not map the supply networks all the way down to raw materials, but they may provide a start. A few of the companies operating in this space include ElementumLlamasoft, and Resilinc. (Disclosure: One of us, Bindiya Vakil, is the founder and CEO of Resilinc.)

The procurement function is measured by cost savings, not revenue-assurance.

Most of procurement’s activities are centered around cost savings, which means obtaining supplies at the lowest cost possible, provided they fall within specified quality parameters.

When the procurement function has to resort to extraordinary measures to secure supplies on time (e.g., by expediting shipments or purchasing parts or materials at a premium), the higher costs are assigned to other parts of the organization (the logistics function in the case of expedited shipments, and the finance function in the case in the case of premium prices for raw materials and parts). Often, no one asks: Why was expediting or paying a premium necessary in the first place?

People from procurement, logistics, and supply-chain financing need to come together to talk about what key gaps (tools, information, people, processes, etc.) need to be fixed to protect the company from disruptive events in the future and how to align the goals of procurement with the overall business objectives.

Supply chain disruption is often not part of supplier performance metrics.

When a disaster strikes, everyone suffers: buyers and suppliers alike. Therefore, it only makes sense that firms should incorporate disruption-related metrics in their evaluations of suppliers.

For example, when selecting a supplier and writing the initial contract, many leading companies include language that requires the supplier to participate annually in its supply-chain mapping efforts. When force majeure events like the current pandemic strike, those supply maps can be used as a roadmap to solutions to the crisis.  (Suppliers in China made more than 3,000 force majeure declarations during the first few months of the Covid-19 crisis.) Contracts should also spell out expected recovery times and methods during such events.

After the Covid-19 crisis dissipates, we will see companies fall into one of two categories. There will be those that don’t do anything, hoping such a disruption won’t ever happen again. These companies will be taking a highly risky gamble. And there will be firms that heed the lessons of this crisis and make investments in mapping their supply networks so they do not have to operate blind when the next crisis strikes and rewrite their contracts so they can quickly figure out solutions when disruptions occur. These companies will be the winners in the long term.

 

More Organizations Strive For Greener Supply Chains

There are many reasons why companies should strive to make their supply chains a little more earth-friendly. While the altruistic case for doing so is obvious, there are also benefits for businesses to reap in terms of efficiency and costs, but it will take significant buy-in at basically every step of the supply chain to truly achieve those goals.

A large and growing number of organizations with varying involvement in the global supply chain are taking notice of the need to go green, and often partner up with groups to help them achieve that goal, such as The Sustainability Consortium. Cornell University recently joined TSC, which also counts among its membership some of the world’s biggest retailers and manufacturers, as well as environmental organizations.

TSC exists to bring greener, cleaner science to various types of organizations – including massive businesses whose operations have a negative environmental impact – so that partners can reduce their carbon footprint. By partnering with major non-profits and universities, all involved can work together to remain on the cutting edge of finding more reasonable solutions to these problems.

green supply chainsMore companies in the supply chain want to reduce emissions.

Utilizing technology
Meanwhile, the auto giant Mercedes-Benz recently announced it will start testing a pilot project to increase transparency about emissions related to the supply chain through which it sources its cobalt, according to Green Car Congress. The metal, which is used in the batteries that power increasingly all-electric vehicles, is a necessary part of the company’s efforts to make nothing but carbon-neutral vehicles by 2039, and for true compliance, luxury automaker needs to reduce emissions for its supply chain as well.

To do so, Mercedes-Benz is utilizing the blockchain as a means of monitoring not only how the cobalt it uses gets from Point A to Points B, C, D and so on – but also how that can lead to CO2 emissions, the report said. Because of the size of its reach and its heft in the industry, the company will also have the power to demand compliance with these new transparency standards from all its partners, potentially reducing emissions and enhancing transparency to increase efficiency.

Why blockchain works
The technology behind blockchain is growing more common for companies to adopt as they attempt to green-ify their supply chains overall, according to sustainability and business expert Mike Scott, writing for Forbes. When more devices are connected to the internet of things, and churning out more data about supply chains than ever before, all that information needs to be traceable and easy to parse, which the blockchain does by design.

That way, every bit of data can be tracked at every step of the supply chain, and can improve innovative companies’ reputations in their supply chain, the report said.

With all this in mind, companies should always strive to get a better understanding of where their operations fit into their supply chain partners’ long-term plans, and do what they can to comply with ever-evolving standards around efficiency – both in their operations and with the planet in mind.

Agriculture Drove Recent Record-Breaking Tree Cover Loss

Article by World Resources Institute

Global tree cover loss reached record highs in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, roughly one soccer field of tree cover was lost every second. What drove this loss? Global data on the drivers of tree cover loss, developed by WRI and The Sustainability Consortium and updated this week on Global Forest Watch, can tell us.

Tree Cover Loss Drivers Graph

 

The original analysis, published in Science in 2018, applied a computer model to GFW’s annual tree cover loss data to determine the most likely drivers of loss based on thousands of high-resolution satellite images collected between 2001 and 2015. Nearly half of all loss was linked to agriculture, either through deforestation to make way for cattle grazing, oil palm plantations or other commercial commodities, or for smaller-scale farming and its expansion into forest areas.

An updated model incorporates tree cover loss data from 2016 to 2018 to help identify factors responsible for the sharp spike in loss since 2015.

What’s Changed in the Past Three Years?

Tree Cover Loss by Driver

In terms of what’s driving loss overall, not much has changed. The relative proportions of the drivers don’t look much different on a global and regional level in recent years than they have in the past. In the northern hemisphere, most loss is due to a combination of forestry and wildfire and in the tropics, agriculture continues to push into the forest frontier. Deforestation for large-scale agricultural commodity production drives most loss in Latin America and Southeast Asia, whereas in Africa 94% of loss is a result of smaller scale shifting agriculture. For 98% of the world, these dominant drivers have remained unchanged, but looking closer at more specific locations gives a more nuanced picture. Here’s a deeper look at what the new data shows:

Colombia: new loss driven by expansion of large-scale agriculture

Tree cover loss in Colombia rose dramatically since 2015, with loss in 2018 more than 2.5 times the historical average between 2001 and 2015. The reason: a distinct wave of new commodity-driven deforestation, combined with expanding small-scale agriculture, is gobbling away at the primary forest frontier. The updated drivers model aligns with recent reports that deforestation for commodity production is underway along new frontiers— mainly related to illegal land grabbing for pastureland to raise beef cattle. Weekly deforestation alerts for 2019 and early 2020 pick up where GFW’s annual loss data end, showing continued deforestation into the northwest Colombian Amazon between Tinigua, La Macarena and Chiribiquete national parks; the western sector of the Chiribiquete park expansion zone; and the northwestern segment of Nukak National Natural Reserve.

Driver of Tree Cover Loss Colombia

Western North America: Surge in fire-driven loss

Across North America, wildfire was the dominant driver associated with more than 5.2 million hectares of tree cover loss between 2016 and 2018. California had two record breaking fire seasons in 2017 and 2018, leading to 144 deaths as well as extensive property damage in California wine country. The updated drivers model picked up the 2018 Mendocino Fire Complex, including the Ranch River fires, which caused massive tree cover loss north of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, some areas classified by the original model as forestry “flipped” to wildfires in the update. During forest management, foresters often administer prescribed burns of the stumps and debris left on the forest floor after harvest. This is done to prepare the land for the next planting cycle. Since many of these areas occur within logging concessions, we presume these post-harvest practices caused the change from forestry to wildfire. In the next round of updates, the wildfire class will almost certainly pick up forests burned in the recent and dramatic Australian brushfires.

Thailand: Agriculture intensifies in the North

In many tropical regions, traditional shifting cultivation systems are the main form of agricultural production. Short cultivation periods of a diverse mix of crops are interspersed with longer phases of forest recovery and regeneration, which allow nutrients in the soil to replenish. Increasingly, these agricultural systems are being replaced by more intensive and permanent production of cash crops to feed hungry supply chains, and fallow periods of forest recovery are getting shorter. In the mountainous Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand, more and more areas historically used for subsistence agriculture are transitioning to crops such as corn, which feeds the region’s growing livestock industry. This land use dynamic shows up as a shift from yellow shifting agriculture to red commodity-driven deforestation cells in the updated drivers model through 2018.

Drivers of tree cover loss

Moving Forward: Sharpening the Picture

This model, although updated and refined, provides us with a relatively coarse understanding of what drives tree cover loss around the world. Each cell on the map is roughly the size of 10,000 soccer fields. Within each cell, multiple dynamics could be at play on a much finer scale.

In addition, there are more causes of tree cover loss than the five outlined in this model. As a result, certain drivers that weren’t included in the model, like hurricanes or other natural disasters, are mis-classified under the heading of shifting agriculture— as was the case in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2018. The two wildfire examples above also show that the model cannot distinguish between human-caused vs. truly “wild” wildfires. Local knowledge is required to understand the detailed complexity of reality.

Regardless, thematic maps like the one generated by the drivers model can paint a broad picture of the global patterns of forest loss and draw attention to different areas that need different types of interventions. The drivers data is already being utilized by The Sustainability Consortium’s Commodity Mapping Platform to help companies understand the impacts of their global supply chains. As new techniques in computer vision and artificial intelligence develop, we will refine the model and advance our understanding not just of where forests are falling, but why.

Can carbon labels on food help save the planet? It’s complicated

Article from WIRED

A packet of Quorn sausages is a remarkably informative document. It will tell you, for example, all 30 ingredients in said sausage (mycoprotein; rehydrated free range egg white; sodium alginate, etc) as well as their nutritional content (11.2g of protein per serving; 125 calories; 15 per cent of your recommended daily salt intake). In accordance with standards laid out by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international body which has set global food labelling standards since the 1960s, it will also convey the time, place, and batch in which the sausages were produced, when to use them by, any allergens they might contain, and advice how to store the sausages, cook them, and dispose of the packet. In short, almost anything you could want to know.

But starting later this year, Quorn labels will also convey something unusual: their carbon footprint. In January, the Quorn Foods company announced it will start printing the emissions of 30 of its best-selling products on the packet, as part of a company-wide drive to combat the climate crisis. “We hope that the initiative helps galvanise more food producers to take that step and start measuring [carbon emissions],” says Tess Kelly, corporate development and communications manager at Quorn Foods. “And if they are measuring, to start communicating to the public, who can then feel at least a bit more empowered to make smarter decisions for the planet.”

Carbon labelling – the idea that labels should not just tell us what a product contains, but what it cost the planet to make it – are gaining momentum. Alongside Quorn, other large food companies including Nestlé, are reportedly considering putting carbon labels on their food. Certification schemes such as that offered by the Carbon Trust are soaring in popularity. “In the last 18 months it’s suddenly taken off,” says John Newton, associate director the Carbon Trust’s labelling and certification program, which certifies more than 28,000 products. “We’re getting loads and loads of inquiries. It’s quite difficult to keep up with the demand.” In the US, startups like Allbirds and Peak Design are among the first to achieve the newly-launched Climate Neutral certification, which validates that a company calculated and offset the environmental impact of its products.

Carbon labelling isn’t a new idea. In 2007 Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, announced ambitious plans to print carbon footprint labels – expressed in grams of CO2 – on all 70,000 products then found in Tesco stores. But five years later Tesco quietly scrapped the labels after managing only a few hundred products, arguing that calculating the footprints was too complicated, and blaming competitors for not following its lead.

“The complexity was immense,” says John Newton, associate director of the labelling and certification program at the Carbon Trust, which worked on Tesco’s labelling project. “They had to go to every single, say, dairy farm and ask for all the data. It was a huge task doing the simplest footprint.”

Calculating carbon footprints is intricate work. Take a tomato, for example. What fertiliser, if any, was used? How was it transported and packaged? Was the land deforested to make room for farmland? What about water use? These factors alone mean a single ingredient’s environmental impact can vary wildly. Intensively farmed beef on deforested land can generate 12 times the greenhouse gas emissions of that produced using more sustainable methods. 1kg of asparagus grown in South America and flown to the UK by air freight produces an estimated 8.9kg of CO2, while asparagus grown locally and in season can produce a fraction of that. Equally, air-freighted soft fruit can generate ten times the CO2 emissions of those grown seasonally in the UK. No wonder consumers often drastically underestimate the carbon footprint of their food.

Then there’s the label itself. What should it look like? In the UK, food labels often use a traffic light system that indicates whether a food item has a low, medium or high amount of certain specific nutrients, but even that is controversial. When traffic light labels were introduced in the UK in 2013, EU member states including Italy, Germany and Spain lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission, claiming that they would damage sales of artisanal produce. (Italy has blamed traffic light labels for a 14 per cent drop in sales of Parma ham.)

Faced with such challenges, most brands have abandoned detailed carbon labels for simpler certification schemes, which – like the Organic or Rainforest Alliance logo – use a symbol to indicate that the product has reached a certain threshold for environmental sustainability. The Carbon Trust’s footprint logo, for example, is now used on 28,000 items, from foodstuffs to smartphones. It also offers a ‘Reducing’ label, which indicates a company has demonstrated a reduction in emissions, and a carbon neutral certification. Its latest product, a ‘Lower’ label, is designed to highlight products that are significantly lower impact than their equivalents, such as plant-based meat alternatives.

But certification schemes can be equally confusing. According to the Eco Label Index, there are currently 463 ecolabel certifications worldwide, symbolising everything from animal-free lab testing to sustainable building practices. The standards required to reach such certifications can vary widely, and in some cases companies also display their own eco symbols to give the impression of an official third-party certification, even when there isn’t one.

“Honestly? It’s hard,” says Euan Murray, CEO of the Sustainability Consortium, which advises large corporations on how to reduce their carbon footprint. “If we do the simple thing, then there’s a risk of greenwashing, and a real risk that we set things back. The sweet spot we’re trying to find is translating the science into something that’s easy for consumers to digest – and then do the right thing.”

This time, things might be different. “The availability of data is so different from what it was 12 years ago,” says Newton. “Now, so many companies across the supply chain are reporting their own CO2 emissions. There’s much better secondary data and generic data. We know things like what the footprint of different plastic is. We know shipping data, so all we need to know is where it’s coming from. The whole process is a lot simpler now.” Today, many farms report real-time data using smart sensors, and data tools like CoolFarmTool, the Sustainability Consortium’s THESIS Index, and startups like Mondra can help companies track sustainability metrics across their entire supply chain. There are recognised standards of reporting, meaning it’s easier to compare similar products.

Consumer awareness of climate science has also transformed since 2008, Newton says. “I don’t think in 2008 people really understood the concept.” He gives the example of Walkers crisps, one of the first brands to embrace carbon labels: a 33.5g bag, it turned out, was responsible for 75g of carbon emissions. “People would say surely there’s a mistake, how can there be more carbon than crisps?” (Walkers no longer includes specific carbon emissions on its crisp packaging.)

The biggest challenge of all, of course, is convincing companies to adopt carbon labels. After all, while climate-friendly companies are keen to sign up to certification schemes – they already have a good sustainability story to tell – getting the largest polluters to admit their impact is more difficult. And although consumers say in surveys that they want carbon labels, evidence suggests they don’t actually help boost sales. Often, the carbon footprint of what we buy is far greater than we think. Faced with that information in the aisle, you may reconsider buying it at all.

What is clear is that the humble label can make a difference. Proponents of carbon labelling often use the story of household appliance energy labels. In that case, it took EU legislation to force companies to finally adopt the labels (which rate the energy efficiency of products like white goods and lightbulbs on an A-G rating) but the EU now estimates that the resulting efficiency savings will save 38TWh/year in electricity by 2030, and an equivalent scheme in the US has saved three billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

“I do think that I think the window of opportunity is as wide open as it’s ever been,” says Murray. “I think companies do see the competitive advantage [of labels], and and a lot of companies are genuinely trying to do things better and differently,” says Newton. If labels can help people to eat more sustainably, then the resulting benefit for the planet could be huge. The challenge this time, is making them stick.

continue to article

Cornell joins consortium to ‘green’ business supply chains

The university has new opportunities to champion greener consumer products, supply chains and commercial trade, as the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability on Jan. 13 began a partnership with The Sustainability Consortium (TSC).

With more than 100 corporate, academic and nongovernmental organization (NGO) members – including Amazon, ExxonMobil, Campbell’s, Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsico Inc., Walmart and the World Wildlife Fund – the consortium explores paths to address environmental, social and economic imperatives in business supply chains.

TSC and Atkinson will work together to connect faculty, students and staff with ongoing consortium projects that could translate Cornell research into business tools that spur consumer product sustainability. The partnership will also spur new projects to influence decision-making at corporate and policy levels, and to advance conservation finance to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and investment.

Faculty will now have a direct, clear and shorter path to engage directly with the consortium and with the companies and NGOs that belong to this group.

“The Sustainability Consortium’s success in bringing science to business opens an important way for moving academic knowledge into action,” said Patrick M. Beary, the Atkinson Center’s senior director for strategic partnerships.

Faculty and researchers will be able to join or collaborate with working groups so that their research or insights might improve trade. “With many thorny environmental and social issues to unwind, this brings Cornell faculty closer into these sustainable supply-chain conversations,” said Beary.

Last October, Christy Slay, the consortium’s director of technical alignment, visited campus to meet with researchers and learn about digital agriculture, the hospitality industry, ornithology and the university’s ongoing sustainability efforts.

As a result of those meetings, Slay vowed to leverage Cornell research for major policy and supply chain impacts.

“Connecting Cornell University with TSC’s members, including other academic institutions like the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and North Carolina State University, will create a powerful academic partnership for sustainability research and innovation to achieve large-scale, positive change,” she said.

Said Beary: “Cornell and Cornell Atkinson are dedicated to catalyzing real-world impact through partnerships between experts from across the university and diverse collaborators in both the public and private sectors.

“Now we have a seat at the table,” he said, “where we’re not just having conversations, but engaging decision-makers and companies to pilot and test solutions.”

 

Read More

TSC and Cornell University Join Forces on Research and Innovation for a More Sustainable Future

TSC and Cornell University Join Forces

TSC and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability to explore improvements in digital agriculture, conservation finance, sustainability research projects, metrics and policy.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, January 13, 2020 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced a partnership with the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability to engage Cornell’s deep expertise in sustainability research with TSC’s mission to improve the sustainability of consumer products. Key areas of collaboration will include digital agriculture, conservation finance, sustainability research projects, metrics and public policy.

TSC and Cornell Atkinson will work together to connect faculty, staff, and students from Cornell’s many colleges and schools with ongoing TSC projects to translate cutting-edge sustainability research into globally-relevant, scientifically-credible business tools that support innovation in consumer product sustainability. The partnership will also spur new projects to influence decision making at corporate and policy levels, advance conservation finance to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and investment, and catalyze innovation uptake.

Dr. Christy Slay, TSC Director of Technical Alignment, stated, “Connecting Cornell University with TSC’s members, including the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, Wageningen University, and North Carolina State University, will create a powerful academic partnership for sustainability research and innovation to achieve large-scale, positive change.”

Patrick Beary, Sr. Director of Strategic Partnerships at Cornell Atkinson said, “Cornell Atkinson is dedicated to catalyzing real world impact through partnerships between experts from across the university and diverse collaborators in both the public and private sectors. The Sustainability Consortium’s proven success in bringing science to business opens an important pathway for moving knowledge to action.”

Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates over 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability

The Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability is the hub of collaborative sustainability research at Cornell University, forging vital connections among researchers, students, staff, and external partners. The center’s funding and programming accelerate groundbreaking research within and across all of Cornell’s colleges and schools. In turn, the center is the university’s home to bold ideas and powerful new models that ensure people and the planet not only survive, but thrive. For more information, visit www.atkinson.cornell.edu.

Media Inquiries

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
(480) 965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

How to Make Your Business More Sustainable In 2020 New Year’s Resolution Series

If you’ve ever performed an act of kindness like picking up someone else’s litter or donating to a charity, you’ll have experienced that little rush of dopamine that comes with doing a good deed. “Giving back” is not only good for society but good for you as well. While individuals make a New Year’s Resolution to give back more, businesses can do so on a company-wide scale by making 2020 the year your organization takes meaningful action on supply chain sustainability.

Businesses have been talking the sustainability talk for some years now, but pressures to implement meaningful changes that transform the way businesses operate are mounting. The Sustainability Consortium’s Impact Report revealed over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions, 66% of tropical deforestation and 80% of global water use are a direct consequence of global supply chains.

Why is Sustainability Important?

The moral motivations for making sustainability a number one business priority are obvious – if we want to save the planet and reverse the impact of climate change, businesses cannot continue to operate as they have been doing. Between 2001 and 2018, climate researchers logged sixteen of the hottest years on record, natural disasters (including wildfires and flooding) are on the rise, and it’s predicted that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free by the middle of this century.

Fortunately, companies today no longer need to choose between profit-making and do-gooding, because sustainability makes real business sense. In fact, it’s proven that green organizations grow faster than their non-eco-conscious counterparts. Here’s why:

  • Customers care. Consumers today are far more sensitive to environmental issues, demanding green products that are produced and packaged using sustainable methods. Millennials and Gen Z are particularly eager to support sustainable brands with 73% and 72% respectively willing to splash extra cash on sustainable products. If your business isn’t operating sustainably, customers will vote with their wallets. On the other hand, being a champion of environmental responsibility is great for brand awareness and reputation.
  • It saves money. Fossil fuels are becoming more expensive, scarcer and more contentious year on year. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, could reduce costs because they require far less maintenance. Sustainability initiatives such as waste reduction schemes in manufacturing can drastically improve efficiency, product quality, and benefit the organization’s bottom line.

Boards and CEOs are also increasingly aware that companies like JP Morgan publish Environment, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG) ratings, which impact stock prices.

  • Employee satisfaction. Businesses focused on sustainability are more likely to hire and retain top talent. A LinkedIn survey found that almost 75% of job-seekers want to work for companies where they feel their work matters. Studies have also found that employees are happier, more motivated and more productive in workplaces with leading sustainability programs.
  • It helps manage and mitigate risk. Disruptive technologies and natural disasters are making business today unpredictable and uncertain. Focussing on driving efficiency and profit at all costs doesn’t best equip leaders to manage and mitigate risk. Sustainability initiatives are, by definition, long-term initiatives, which can better equip companies to deal with problems as they arise and adapt to the shifting landscape.

How to Make Your Business More Sustainable

Companies must evaluate their production, shipping, and waste management processes, considering how these impact both the environment and the communities in which they operate. Optimizing business operations, for example, will significantly reduce the use of resources and waste. For manufacturing companies, this means fewer defects, better product quality, greater efficiency, and fewer project delays.

Sustainable shipping requires manufacturers to collaborate with local suppliers and companies, which also provides employment opportunities for the local community.

Revaluating how products and parts are packaged, and investing in reusable packaging, will reduce waste and save money.

Recently, there has been an uptick in green architecture, with the global green building materials market size expected to grow to $364 billion by 2022. Features including green roofing, sustainable wood, low-water bathrooms, and recycled rainwater can help conserve energy, lengthen a building’s lifetime and contribute to the local community.

How to Implement Sustainability Measures at Your Industrial Business

Making real, lasting change in your organization will require buy-in from employees, stakeholders, suppliers, and the local community. It takes ambition, effective communication, and patience, which means big changes won’t happen overnight. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.

  • Utilize new Technology: Tech could be a major enabler in driving supply chain sustainability with big data accurately predicting demand, 3D printing reducing transportation costs, and machine learning reducing empty truckloads. Over 80% of manufacturing executives are actively investing in tech for sustainability reasons.
  • Think in the long-term: Prioritizing short-term needs over long-term sustainability strategy won’t save your company money in the long run. The value created and risk reduced are a worthy reward for long-term investments.
  • See the bigger picture: Companies shouldn’t implement major changes without considering all sustainability factors including environmental, economic, and societal impacts.
  • Harness the power of the crowd: No single organization has all the sustainability answers. Many companies are opting to partner with environmental NGOs who can provide expertise and talent that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • Be positive: Employees won’t respond well to negative communication about how terrible their company’s sustainability efforts are. Hopelessness and guilt don’t drive action, whereas positive messages about the impact individuals can make, do.
  • Be formal: Companies who want to see real change will need to formalize their approach to sustainability, outlining and clearly communicating goals, priorities, and strategies across the entire company.

Finally, keep in mind that an employee who has made a genuine commitment to “give back” more to society may struggle with the fact that they work for a company with a poor environmental or social record. Sustainability is good for the planet, good for business, good for employee retention, and is, therefore, a worthwhile project to tackle in 2020.

Free Online Toolbox Educates Textile Industry on Wastewater

Article by PRINTWEAR

A TSC-member task force of leaders in the textile industry created the toolbox, including HanesBrands, Fruit of the Loom, Walmart, NC State, Cotton Inc., and the U.S. Department of Energy. © Mulderphoto / Adobe Stock

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), an organization dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products, launches a Wastewater 101 Toolbox to educate the textile industry on the causes, impact, and treatment of wastewater.

This free online learning module is self-guided and intended to help manufacturers and brands improve their wastewater footprint.

According to the announcement from TSC, the toolbox integrates new standards, knowledge, and resources across all parts of the textile supply chain. A TSC-member task force of leaders in the textile industry created the toolbox, including HanesBrands, Fruit of the Loom, Walmart, NC State, Cotton Inc., and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sarah Lewis, senior director of innovation for TSC, states, “The Wastewater 101 Toolbox fills a need—the need to easily connect people with resources and information about properly treating wastewater. Resources and information about wastewater treatment have been available but hard to find in one place. As a result of this industry collaboration, people can now more easily learn about wastewater and its impacts, share resources about treatment, and access information that helps them take action.”

Philip Henson, the director of energy and sustainability at HanesBrands, says the industry is competitive. Still, HanesBrands believes in equal opportunity when it comes to “proper treatment and disposal of wastewater.”

Adam Wade, senior director, sustainability and risk management, Fruit of the Loom, states, “We were pleased to take part in the development of this toolbox. The project was a perfect fit to apply our Core Environmental Values that include commitments to activities directed toward the presentation and conservation of our natural resources and educating and encouraging our employees in the preservation of our natural resources.”

The Wastewater 101 Toolbox can be accessed here.

Here’s A New Tool To Tackle Textile Wastewater Issue!

Article from Apparel Resources

Wastewater 101 is the new tool box that will help the textile industry players understand the cause, impact and treatment of wastewater and thus improve the wastewater footprint.

Launched by the Sustainability Consortium (TSC), Wastewater 101 is a free resource tool that aims to serve as a platform where textile players can communicate their case for wastewater treatment and integrate new standards, knowledge and resources across all parts of supply chain.

The tool box connects users to globally relevant resources that are specific to 17 of biggest textile-producing countries in the world.

Philip Henson, Director, energy and sustainability, HanesBrands said “The textile industry is very competitive. We believe in a level playing field when it comes to  proper treatment and disposal of wastewater, which is a very important issue.”

The technology was developed by TSC member task force leaders in the textile industry including HanesBrands, Fruit of the Loom, Walmart, NC State, Cotton, Inc., and the US Department of Energy.

More on the new technology, Sarah Lewis, Senior Director of innovation for TSC remarked “The Wastewater 101 Toolbox fills a need – the need to easily connect people with resources and information about properly treating wastewater. Resources and information about wastewater treatment have been available but hard to find in one place. As a result of this industry collaboration, people can now more easily learn about wastewater and its impacts, share resources about treatment and access information that helps them take action.”

Adding to this, Adam Wade, Senior Director, sustainability and risk management, Fruit of the Loom says “We were pleased to take part in the development of this Toolbox. The project was a perfect fit to apply our ‘Core Environmental Values’ that include commitments to activities directed towards the presentation and conservation of our natural resources and educating and encouraging our employees in the preservation of our natural resources.”

Wastewater Toolbox Launched to Help Textile Industry Improve Wastewater Footprint

TSC Wastewater 101 Toolkit

Free resource aims to help the textile industry reduce wastewater issues in textile manufacturing.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, November 7, 2019 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) launched a Wastewater 101 Toolbox to help the textile industry learn about the causes, impact and treatment of wastewater. This free online resource will help manufacturers, retailers and brands improve their wastewater footprint and help the producers of clothing and textiles have a lesser effect on people and the planet’s resources. The Toolbox is a hub for communicating the business case for wastewater treatment and integrates new standards, knowledge and resources across all parts of the textile supply chain.

The Toolbox was created through a TSC-member task force of leaders in the textile industry that include Hanes Brands, Fruit of the Loom, Walmart, NC State, Cotton, Inc., and the U.S. Department of Energy. The purpose of the site is to help the textile industry learn about the treatment of wastewater as part of the textile manufacturing process, act on this sustainability issue through available resources and trainings and share their experiences with the wider community. The Toolbox connects users to globally relevant resources specific to 17 of the world’s biggest textiles-producing countries. This self-guided website that uses tags to curate results will be a living and breathing resource for years to come.

“The textile industry is very competitive. We believe in a level playing field when it comes to the proper treatment and disposal of wastewater, which is a very important issue,” said Philip Henson, Director, Energy and Sustainability, Hanes Brands.

Sarah Lewis, Sr. Director of Innovation for TSC, states, “The Wastewater 101 Toolbox fills a need – the need to easily connect people with resources and information about properly treating wastewater. Resources and information about wastewater treatment have been available but hard to find in one place. As a result of this industry collaboration, people can now more easily learn about wastewater and its impacts, share resources about treatment, and access information that helps them take action.”

Adam Wade, Sr Director, Sustainability and Risk Management, Fruit of the Loom, Inc., states, “We were pleased to take part in the development of this Toolbox. The project was a perfect fit to apply our ‘Core Environmental Values’ that include commitments to activities directed toward the presentation and conservation of our natural resources and educating and encouraging our employees in the preservation of our natural resources.”

The Wastewater 101 Toolbox can be accessed online here. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products. Learn more about TSC’s 10-year anniversary here.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Media Inquiries

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
(480) 965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

Can Retailers Play a Role in Ending Cocoa-Related Deforestation?

Article from Confectionery News

 

The newly-formed Retailer Cocoa Collaboration strongly supports CFI and the Frameworks for Action as a landmark multi-stakeholder initiative for protecting and restoring forests in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Colombia and other areas. ‘Retailers as drivers for change’ was a topic at The World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting in Berlin, where challenges and solutions were discussed.

 

Driving Conscious Capitalism – Podcast

Podcast by Walton Biz Talk

Companies have the opportunity to enact major change to improve sustainability on a global scale. Dr. Sarah E. Lewis, Senior Director of Innovation at The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), discusses how TSC is driving meaningful change in business by partnering with powerful corporations to improve supply chain sustainability and ecological integrity.

TSC Impact Report shows strong improvement in sustainability performance since 2016

The 2019 Impact Report of The Sustainability Consortium’s (TSC) performance of consumer products worldwide, shows an impressive 30.5% improvement from the baseline year of 2016. This result demonstrates which industries are solving sustainability, which issues are not seeing the required improvements, and where organisations commit to boosting transparency in the future.

On a 100-point scale, the 1450 consumer product manufacturers who participated in the 2018 THESIS Index scored an average of 44.8. Three years of comparable data clearly show a trend of improvement; in 2016 the average score was 34.3 compared to 38,6 in 2017.

Wageningen Economic Research is coordinating the European activities of TSC, of which Unilever, Mars, Walmart, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and more than 100 other companies and organizations are members. WUR currently co-operates with Albron, Bidfood, Sodexo and Sligro and their suppliers on implementing the THESIS index in the Netherlands.

 It is great to see so many companies make real progress and through THESIS be able to get acknowledged for that by their clients. This will encourage more companies to get on board which is a necessity to meet the huge sustainability challenges of our planet. Give us a call if you want to know more.

Koen Boone – Director Europe TSC

Room for improvement

The increased index scores largely represent increased transparency that product manufacturers have into their own global operations and increasing transparency into sustainability issues elsewhere in their value chain: product use, intermediate manufacturing, on-farm activities, and activities in fisheries and aquaculture.

For the third year in a row, a vast majority of product manufacturers who participated in The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS) reported that they made changes to products, packaging, internal or supply chain practices to improve their index score. Of the 86% who reported making changes, 23% changed processes, 30% changed product or packaging design, 76% improved internal communication, 77% engaged suppliers, and 30% made more public disclosures.

However, there is still significant room to improve with supplier transparency around deforestation, transportation, product packaging, product end-of-life and disposal. Issues such as supply chain distance (spatial and structural), relational distance (willingness to share data), and existing regulations, certifications, and traceability infrastructure can all be reasons why supply chain transparency is relatively high or low. For example, many countries, including US and EU, have regulations regarding traceability of specialty crops like fruits and vegetables, while other countries do not.

About The Sustainability Consortium

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) developed a globally harmonized sustainability assessment index of consumer products (THESIS). It provides businesses with an efficient tool to stimulate sustainability consistently, completely, and continuously throughout the chain. The tool is used by over 2500 companies globally.

Will California’s ingredient transparency law spur safer cleaners?

News from GreenBiz

California Ingredient LawGrowing public demand for ingredient transparency across the marketplace is prompting regulators to require manufacturers and retailers to publicly communicate the ingredients in everything from personal care and baby products to cosmetics and cleaning products. Starting in January, cleaning product manufacturers for the first time will have to post their product ingredients online to comply with a new ingredient disclosure law in California.

As the nation’s leading environmental certification organization, Green Seal always has required manufacturers to fully disclose their product ingredients to us to qualify for certification. We believe that public disclosure of product ingredients can empower purchasers to choose healthier, safer products.

But we also know that reading a long and complicated list of ingredients without context can be confusing or even misleading, defeating the purpose of ingredient transparency.

To help both purchasers and companies get the most out of the new ingredient transparency law, we recently launched Formula Facts, an ingredient label program that makes it easier for leading manufacturers to provide clear, accurate and meaningful ingredient communications.

Will disclosure finally prompt companies to weed out the stew of toxic chemicals that lurk in most cleaning products? Here is what we have learned about the benefits and challenges of ingredient transparency over decades of working with the nation’s leading cleaning product manufacturers.

1. Manufacturers don’t know all their product ingredients

Ingredient disclosure is made harder by the fact that cleaning product manufacturers often don’t have access to information about some of their ingredients. That’s because they buy their raw materials from other suppliers who keep their formulas confidential. Manufacturers know what the raw material will do in the cleaning product (for example: it’s a solvent), but they may not know the specific identity of the active ingredient or whether there are any additives.

Think of it as making homemade cookies with bakery-bought chocolate chips. You know that the chips will taste delicious in your cookie, but you don’t know where the chocolate was sourced or whether any ingredients were added to keep them tasting fresh.

When Green Seal evaluates a cleaning product for certification, we work with the company’s raw material suppliers to track down every ingredient in that product. Because so many ingredients in a finished cleaning product are contained within the raw materials and hidden from view to the manufacturer, it will be essential for manufacturers to convince their suppliers to disclose them — even when they involve confidential business information. This will help promote safer product formulations.

2. Some chemicals are hard to detect

In addition to ingredients that are intentionally added, cleaning products can contain byproducts and other impurities that are unintentionally created during a chemical reaction. One example is 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen found as a reaction by-product in ethoxylated substances, often used as surfactants in cleaning products.

The state laws require manufacturers to identify certain byproducts and other impurities that are associated with harmful health and environmental impacts. But this information can be hard for manufacturers to find because there is no requirement for raw materials suppliers to disclose the byproducts and impurities in their products. These chemicals also tend to be present at much lower concentrations that are harder to detect.

Green Seal always screens for byproducts and impurities when we evaluate a cleaning product for certification to fully understand the product’s composition. Often, this process alerts manufacturers to the presence of chemicals they weren’t aware were in their products. Identifying these chemicals is the first step to weeding them out — another win for ingredient disclosure.

3. ‘Chemicals of Concern’ are constantly changing

The ingredient labeling laws require companies to clearly communicate whether their products contain any “chemicals of concern,” which include known carcinogens, reproductive toxins and other ingredients harmful to human health. But this task isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. There are dozens of different lists of chemicals of concern, including 22 referenced by the California law. What’s more, the lists constantly are updated as new studies and information become available about the potential health impacts of the chemicals available in the marketplace.

In order to comply with the laws, manufacturers will have to track ongoing changes to each of these lists and update their ingredient labels accordingly. In this way, the disclosure laws will force companies to pay close attention to new findings about the health risks of common chemicals.

4. Ingredients have aliases

The laws require cleaning product producers to list ingredients in descending order of weight, but even something as simple as communicating an ingredient’s name can be complicated. More than 2,000 chemicals are used in conventional cleaning products — but an estimated 10,000 names for those chemicals. For example, the carcinogenic byproduct 1,4-dioxane goes by a number of aliases, including Diethylene Oxide, Diethylene Dioxide, Dioxane, para-Dioxane, 1,4-Dioxacyclohexane and Diethylene Ether.

Companies will have to follow the states’ regulatory guidelines for choosing the most appropriate names for their ingredients. However, variations in naming conventions are likely to continue to cause confusion and uncertainty for consumers, who can’t be certain whether the ingredients they are screening for are hidden under aliases.

5. Communication won’t do the job of certification

Communicating product ingredients can help companies increase credibility and build trust with their customers. However, even the clearest ingredient labels can be difficult to decipher for anyone but a toxicologist. Long lists of chemicals can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing even when the chemicals are harmless.

Consumers can’t be expected to know whether chemical combinations are producing harmful byproducts or whether an ingredient that is considered a carcinogen in aerosol form is benign in liquid form.

When reviewing a product for certification, Green Seal always starts with ingredient disclosure — but that by itself does not translate to safer, greener products. Disclosure precedes a scientific analysis of the formula information, and then the essential work of filtering out products that don’t meet strict health, safety and performance benchmarks.

Reputable ecolabel standards stay far ahead of public awareness about the health risks of toxic chemicals. For example, commonly found toxins such as methylene chloride and 1,4-dioxane — which only recently have spurred widespread public concern — have been prohibited in Green Seal-certified products for decades.

While ingredient communication itself is not sufficient to transform the market, these requirements often encourage manufacturers to move toward safer product formulations — in effect taking their first step towards environmental certification. With ingredient labels that consumers can access and understand, transparency will continue to spur innovation and guide the economy towards a healthier, cleaner future.

 

Lead Batteries’ Top Sustainability Score May Be Model For Other Sectors

Article from InsideEPA

A global non-profit organization that assesses the sustainability of consumer products is awarding widely used lead-acid batteries one of its highest scores as the most recycled consumer product, a significant finding that experts suggest could be a model for other sectors as they weigh steps to participate in the emerging circular economy.

As markets expand for electric vehicles, solar storage, and other alternative energy technologies and the demand rises for zero waste, the high rating for lead batteries poses a challenge for lithium-ion batteries that are found in most portable consumer products and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, because those batteries are much harder to disassemble and reuse and are an important component of electronic waste-streams. Other consumer battery types also face major recycling challenges.

Speaking at an August 15 session of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Fifth Annual Sustainability and Circular Economy Summit held in Washington, DC, Carole Mars, director of innovation and technical development at The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), described lead-acid batteries as part of a “very tight circular system.”

While many products “end up in the dump,” lead-acid batteries have a 99.4% recycling rate, earning the products a 68.64% score under the TSC assessment system. The batteries “are one of the highest scorers in our entire portfolio” or more than 100 individual product categories, Mars said.

TSC, a joint effort between Arizona State University and University of Arkansas, uses science-based information to evaluate the life-cycle impacts of consumer products. TSC uses data to examine key performance indicators, such as climate and energy; worker health and safety; emissions control; resources conservation; and responsible sourcing. TSC was “the engine behind the Walmart Sustainable Supplier Index,” which the company uses to green its supply chain, Mars said.

Noting that 68.64% is “a tad specific,” but based on data, Mars remarked that sustainability scoring is interesting because it is possible to say a product is more or less sustainable but not to define “an absolute sustainable number.” The TSC score reflects how well a company knows its supply chain, how well is it communicating with its upstream and downstream vendors, and what a company is doing to address issues that will make it more sustainable. A score of 100% would suggest that TSC wrote its questions incorrectly or a company is being dishonest, she said. The lead-acid battery sector received its score “because they do take this seriously” and are asking how to take the sector even farther forward.

Technical Challenges

TSC is working with the Responsible Battery Coalition of companies, academics, and NGOs to explore how to the same recycling levels as lead-acid batteries can be achieved for other batteries.

At the session, Christopher Edward Pruitt, CEO of privately-owned East Penn Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest single-site lead battery manufacturing facility, described his company’s production and recycling processes. He said that the company relies on extensive data to operate efficiently and its operations are so effective that EPA has used the facility for teaching new hires, bringing them to the East Penn recycling plant to learn what is possible.

Mark Drezdzon, vice president for research & development at RSR Technologies, a non-ferrous smelting and refining industries R&D company, described the technical challenges of recycling advanced batteries and the need to educate the public about differences among battery types. He also noted that the Argonne National Laboratory has technology that can now look in detail at how a lead battery operates, providing molecular-level insights 160 years after the batteries were first used that will enable more efficient lead batteries in the future.

During discussion, Mars noted that standardization has been a catalyst for lead battery recycling, making any lead battery easy to break open and recycle. Diverse materials, as with lithium-ion batteries and different types of plastic, are harder to recover, perhaps pointing to the need for simplifying materials to make recycling work. Batteries embedded in watches and other products, making them unremovable, and single-use button batteries will be an especially difficult challenge ahead.

Because not everyone acts in their best interest, “regulatory encouragement” is also important, Mars said. California is looking at an “extended producer responsibility model,” she noted, adding that the key is to collect used products. After collection, a use can be found for the items.

Pruitt added that a company also needs the right “culture,” recognizing that economics matter but also that the “soft tissue stuff” of recyclability and sustainability must be top priorities. Drezdzon said for advanced battery recycling the biggest challenge in the United States will be to make a cultural change to foster recycling and responsible reprocessing. — David Clarke

 

About Those Straws: Even In Arid Arizona, All Drains Can Lead To The Ocean

Article by AZ Central

I wrote last week about my friends’ reusable straws and how I suddenly felt responsible for every sea turtle with a plastic drinking straw stuck up its nostril. In response, I got an email from reader James West asking, somewhat sarcastically, I presume, “Please explain how your straws that go to the Maricopa county land fill get into the ocean?” It was an interesting question. We’re nowhere near the ocean.

Since my knowledge of this topic is limited to “Finding Nemo” and the wisdom of Gill, who said, “All drains lead to the ocean,” I asked someone who would know. Carole Mars is director of Innovation and Technical Development at the Sustainability Consortium at Arizona State University. It’s true most of the plastic in the ocean comes from the nation’s densely populated coastlines, Mars said. But if you live inland, the trash you toss, straws included, can end up there, too. Rhonda Rhiner stopped using plastic straws because Aquaman said it was bad for the ocean. Not all straws make it to the landfill. Small and lightweight, they fall on the ground, tumble out of trash cans and fly out of garbage trucks. Wind or rain could wash them into storm drains. From there, one good storm could wash the straws into one of Arizona’s waterways, which, even though they’re dry much of the time, flow toward the ocean. (The Gila River meets the Colorado River, which empties into the Sea of Cortez.)

TSC Impact Report Shows 30% Improvement in Consumer Goods Supply Chain Transparency Since 2016

“Reaching Sustainability Through Transparency” shows a continued trend towards increased transparency by suppliers answering KPIs as a part of TSC’s THESIS Index

September 4, 2019, Scottsdale, AZ – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released its 2019 Impact Report, “Reaching Sustainability Through Transparency”, online today showcasing year-over-year trends in sustainability reporting based on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive TSC’s THESIS Index. The data represented includes over $200 billion in annual consumer purchasing from Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, Walgreens, and Sprouts. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. With over 100 members and partners, TSC brings together a wide range of companies, NGOs and sustainability experts to drive environmental and social sustainability impact at scale.

TSC’s latest report shows that product manufacturers have better insights into their own global operations, thereby increasing transparency into sustainability issues throughout their supply chains. Areas of improvement identified include product use, intermediate manufacturing, on-farm activities, and activities in aquaculture.

In 2018, over 1,500 suppliers reported to the Index. On a 100-point scale, the suppliers who participated in the 2018 THESIS Index scored an average of 44.8. This represents a 30.5% improvement from the baseline year of 2016, when the average score was 34.3. In 2017 the average score was 38.6. For a third year in a row, a vast majority of product manufacturers reported that they made changes to products, packaging, and internal or supply chain practices in order to improve their THESIS Index score.

“Over the last decade TSC has made tremendous strides in increasing transparency, which is essential for meeting these goals, and in proving how progress grows rapidly once companies decide to measure the impact of their supply chains. TSC has also emerged as the fundamental tool in driving and unlocking transparency not just for product categories, helping change companies and entire industries,” states Elizabeth Sturcken, Managing Director, EDF+Business at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

This year’s data shows that product manufacturers who have engaged with the Index over a longer period of time have higher scores. Suppliers who commit to reporting to the Index have taken specific actions that are giving them increased transparency over time. TSC reported fewer improvements concerning supplier activities around deforestation and transportation, product packaging, and product end-of-life and disposal.

Pineapple Sustainability

  • TSC’s highest scoring product category was pineapple, which surpassed all others in having the highest THESIS Index score. This is driven my pineapple manufacturers having 100% visibility into key issues in their supply chain like fertilizer and pesticide application, food waste, child labor, labor right, and yield.
  • Apparel and home textiles have made significant strides with transparency into water use increasing by 33% and into worker health and safety by 30% since 2016.
  • Both chicken and pork have improved scores on measuring environmental and social impacts at the farm level.
  • Manufacturers of antifreeze products have made the largest gain of any product category since 2016.
  • Manufacturers of specialty produce have widely adopted crop supply mapping techniques in order to understand where their supply comes from and what risks it might face.

TSC Chief Executive Euan Murray states, “We are seeing a remarkable increase in results from companies that have engaged in the Index over multiple years. There are huge rewards for companies willing to be ambitious and to commit for the long haul. As TSC celebrates 10 years this year, I can’t help but be proud of the progress we’ve made and the promise of a more sustainable future.”

Dr. Kevin Dooley, TSC Chief Scientist, says, “We’re seeing that companies take about two years to get new processes in place to have visibility into the sustainability of their operations and supply chains. Once they clearly see what their risks and opportunities are, they are starting to take actions that move the needle.”

This is TSC’s fourth Impact Report. In 2018, TSC published “Transparent Supply Chains for Better Business”. The report provided evidence significant progress has been made in all aspects of increasing transparency. The full 2019 Impact Report can be found here: www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/impact/impact-report/.

THESIS

In 2019, TSC partnered with SupplyShift on a new reporting platform for THESIS Index, formerly known as The Sustainability Index. TSC has more information about THESIS here. TSC’s retail members include Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, Amazon, M&S, and Sprouts. TSC does additional work through their beauty and personal care product sustainability rating system with Target, Rite Aid, Sephora and CVS. Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products. Learn more about TSC’s 10-year anniversary here.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Press Inquiries

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
(480) 965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

Green Finance, New Jersey Shipyard Gets Clean Economy Makeover

Podcast from GreenBiz

greenbiz

 

The green finance revolution (17:07)

This week, GreenBiz welcomed veteran sustainable investing advocate Mark Tulay to oversee development of sessions on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics, measurement and sustainable investing at February’s GreenBiz 20 event, as well as the accompanying GreenFin Summit, in Phoenix. As head of ESG for Risk Metrics Group (now MSCI), Tulay helped create an ESG fund for the largest 400 companies in Japan. He was also the first full-time employee of Ceres. Tulay chats with Executive Editor Joel Makower about the “crisis of confidence in capitalism” that is leading forward-thinking companies to embed ESG concerns and risk factors into their management ethos.

A model for urban infrastructure resilience (22:40)

Rebuild or reimagine? After Superstorm Sandy devastated the Kearny Point commercial and industrial site in 2012, real estate developer Hugo Neu made a bold decision to embark on a $1 billion redevelopment project intended to serve as a model for green infrastructure and public-private collaboration for urban resilience. This segment features highlights from our chat with CEO Wendy Neu and Senior Vice President Dominique Lueckenhoff, the former EPA official who joined the company this spring.

The Internet of Apparel – Project WearEver Podcast

Podcast from The Mr. Beacon Podcast

‘Digital to physical convergence and the Internet of Apparel, with a sustainability twist!’ Dr. Kevin Dooley, a professor specializing in supply chain at Arizona State University, joins in his role as the Chief Scientist of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC). TSC is a 100+ member community of retail giants including Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, as well as major CPG Brands, non-profits, and academic institutions. They work across all product categories to determine a way to make the things we buy more sustainable. On this episode, we learn about WearEver, a TSC project with goals to embed technology into apparel to measure usage which has the potential to increase demand for ‘clothes that have better emotional and physical utility and durability’ whilst unlocking a treasure trove of information about where / when / what consumers wear. Kevin discusses what drives interest in tracking usage of consumer products, the potential technologies to achieve this, and their current limitations.

 

 

The Sustainability Consortium’s CEO Reflects On Its 10-Year, Trillion-Dollar Impact

News from GreenBiz

Euan Murray

Euan Murray, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium.

Sustainability partnerships among corporations, nonprofits, academics and other strange bedfellows come and go. But in its 10th year, The Sustainability Consortium’s work is just getting started in gathering some of the world’s biggest businesses to improve the supply chains of countless consumer products.

TSC has come a long way from its origins alongside the development of Walmart’s Sustainability Index, created so the retailer could measure the sustainability of every item on its shelves. Given the multi-tentacled nature of global supply chains, the effort to create such standards necessarily had to be a distributed one. Thus TSC formed with such founding members as Dell, P&G, SC Johnson, Unilever and Waste Management.

Today, the nonprofit’s more than 100 members reflect a wide swath of sectors, including Amazon, Mars, Wrangler and Zoned Properties, and its impact likely extends to thousands more companies. TSC offers scores of tools, trainings and reports. Its Sustainability Index is getting an update and new name this summer; TSC and SupplyShift are partnering on the THESIS (The Sustainability Insight System) Index that will improve communication between suppliers and retailers about products.

TSC’s foundation on science and collaboration among seeming competitors is a natural fit for CEO Euan Murray, who succeeded Sheila Bonini in 2016. He has served in leadership at TSC for seven years, worked previously as the Carbon Trust’s carbon footprinting director, and holds a master’s in materials science from Cambridge University.

Elsa Wenzel: How do you explain what The Sustainability Consortium is, and what it does?

Euan Murray: We’re working to future-proof the global economy. It’s by taking that sustainability lens and building it into how companies think about their operations, but more importantly, how they think about their products and their supply chains, so that goods are delivered to all of us as end consumers in a way that maximizes positive impact and minimizes the downsides.

Wenzel: What does The Sustainability Consortium offer to member companies? What do you tell them when they ask, “What’s in it for me?”

Murray: We have a staff, but really the consortium is its members. …The network that we’ve created [includes] some of the biggest, most forward thinking, most influential retailers and food and consumer goods companies in the world, some of the most important social and environmental NGOs and a whole raft of leading sustainability experts.

We internalize a lot of the complexity, but out of that comes … solutions that they can all take back to their organizations … back into their supply chain. … A typical retailer has an impact consistent with its size. When you then look at the supply chain of everything that they sell, then the impact goes up by at least 10 times. If you look then downstream at the use of those things they sell, then we’re often talking about 100 times the direct impact.

Wenzel: When you’re talking to companies interested in potentially joining, there are significant membership fees. How do you make the case that it’s worth it for them, the return on that investment?

Murray: In the membership, we have about 100 organizations today, but then through the use of our work … the Sustainability Index and beyond, we’re touching on several thousand companies who use our tools, our sustainability snapshots and sustainability supply-chain diagrams to understand where their own hotspots are, and our KPIs. … In that several thousand we’re helping Walmart and Kroger and Walgreens and so on manage the performance of more than $200 billion worth of annual consumer purchasing — a big chunk of the retail and consumer goods economy there.

Then in the membership itself, what brings those companies to the table? … We’re a translation service that takes complicated sustainability science and turns it into insight, to help companies understand what they should do tomorrow to make things better than they were yesterday…. We can help those member companies deliver on their overall sustainability objectives and do it faster, do it more easily and do it with greater impact than they would be able to do on their own.

Wenzel: Since you became CEO in 2016, what’s been the biggest surprise that you’ve seen so far?

Murray: The biggest surprise here is really how much is going on —almost in spite of all the political headwind in the U.S. and Europe. … Many more people are doing this work in sustainability because they see that sustainability makes good business sense. … They buy the logic that taking a sustainability-minded approach will make them better businesses by de-risking their supply chains, by helping them manage supply chain costs more effectively by helping them tap into new markets.

A glimpse at TSC's THESIS tool

A glimpse at TSC’s THESIS Index.

It’s also been easier to help organizations collaborate than I ever expected. We bring together competing retailers. We bring together business partners who negotiate over prices every day. … By getting the framing right, by showing them there are win-wins there and it’s a safe space in TSC for them to come and collaborate, we’ve been able to achieve much more than I ever expected.

Wenzel: Is The Sustainability Consortium having a ripple effect, maybe, of copycat efforts or partnerships?

Murray: The point of difference is that the overall approach that we take, there are lots of great organizations there that give you ratings on companies. Where we’re different is that focus on products. If you think about it from a consumer perspective, when we go out and buy a Snickers bar, we’re buying a Snickers bar. We’re not buying a part of Mars, Incorporated. That same logic is true when we’re working with the procurement and buying teams of retailers and consumer brands. That way of thinking was really quite new when TSC was started 10 years ago.

We spent the last couple of years pulling together scores of different initiatives in the agriculture supply chain. The project was called the Data Landscape Mapping Project. … Really what that did was help create a common language and terminology in that whole industry without asking anyone to give up what makes their initiative unique and valuable.

What we’re getting to is the point where, for the farmer let’s say, the data that’s gathered by their tractor automatically can then be used directly in their farm management software, and then that same data can be used for the other reporting needs of their corporate customers and their customers’ customers. We’ve created links in the chain that go right along the supply chain. We’ve launched a web tool and an API so that a company can, let’s say they use Field to Market or the Cool Farm Tool. They can put their existing data into one of those tools … and then in real time, that’s automatically calculating their results against our KPIs. … We’re able to join the dots along the supply chain and simplify everything for all of the different initiatives and all the different companies that are working there so that we’ve got good, compatible data. We have retailers and brands at one end of the supply chain managing their part of the supply chain using the same data as the farmers generating on the farm.

Wenzel: TSC names its areas of innovation in six key areas: circularity in batteries; sustainability and coffee; waste water and textiles; food waste; IPM (integrated pest management); reducing worker exploitation. Which of those areas do you see gaining the most momentum? What do you see the most excitement around?

Murray: There are some common themes: Firstly, it’s a well recognized sustainability issue. Typically, it’s a systemic issue or there’s some sort of market failure where right now, everyone’s acting rationally, but that’s what’s causing the issue rather than solving it. Companies recognize that they need to act, but they know that they can’t do it alone, that the issue’s really just too big for one company to solve. Often, that’s also where there’s a set of shared suppliers that lots of different brands or lots of different retailers are buying from.

Thirdly, that there’s room for collaboration to frame the problem and identify the solutions. Then ultimately, out of that, there’s room for competition, where companies can differentiate.

A chicken supply chain diagram by TSC

A chicken supply chain diagram by TSC.

There are a couple of other topics that we’re leading the charge on. … One of those is green chemistry, where we are helping the home and personal care industry take the next step in figuring out the ingredients for the future for their products.

The second one is work we’ve just started doing in clothing use. …The clothing supply chain of getting clothes to the point of sales is increasingly well understood and well managed, but what happens once a consumer buys something is much less clear. We’ve recently received from funding from Target to take a look at this. We’re just recruiting volunteers, and we are embedding sensors in the clothes of these volunteers to see how they use them.

Out of this are going to come great benefits for the circular economy, and also to help product designers make sure that the clothes they’re designing are ultimately fit for purpose, because they’ve got some real data for the first time on how things are used. Then of course, we can have some fun with it as well, because we’re not just getting fantastic sustainability data, but we’re also going to be able to tell if you wash your socks as often as you say you do. …

One of the side benefits of us doing this work as an open, nonprofit organization, is that … we’ll publish the approach and a lot of those results, too, in a way that avoids this becoming a proprietary bit of IP for one company. … That’s de-risking it for a lot of people. … If you want to volunteer, we would love to have you involved.

Wenzel: That’s great. I don’t know about my socks though.

Murray: Well, that’s fine.

Wenzel: Could you tell me more about your interest in the circular economy, in particular?

Murray: There’s maybe a bit of a myth out there that Europe is ahead. … In some cases, it’s true, but in a lot of other cases, the North American market has caught up and maybe even overtaken.

It’s kind of unsexy, but the best ever example that I’ve seen of circular economy thinking is actually lead-acid batteries in cars. In the U.S. and other western markets, about 96 percent of lead-acid batteries are collected and recycled at the end of their lives. That is an incredible success story. Yet we know looking forward in really just a couple of years, we are going to be in a situation where the lead-acid battery no longer exists at any scale like that.

New chemistries, lithium and other chemistries are dominant in automotive. We want to make sure that that great success in existing technologies isn’t lost, and that we’re able to replicate that and recreate those circular models in new lithium-iron batteries for automotives for the future.

Wenzel: The previous TSC impacts reports have had a focus on, respectfully, engagement and transparency. Do you have future areas of focus in mind?

Murray: There are still thousands, probably tens of thousands of major companies out there who are only just getting started. It’s important for us to work with the leading companies as we do. Yet, if we’re really going to move whole markets and solve the problems we want to solve, then we’ve got to work with the middle and shift the middle as well.

The other big new area for us is working in our innovation program on the circularity projects that we’ve just talked about, on some of the other projects that you referenced earlier around food waste and so on.

If I’m to characterize our history as an organization, then the first 10 years of our life has been focused on helping companies understand sustainability. The next 10 years is about getting our sleeves rolled up and actually solving it.

Wenzel: On the TSC website there is a list of areas inviting people to contribute financially to them. Can you explain what that’s about?

Murray: A big chunk of our work is funded by our corporate members. We also receive a number of grants from different foundations and grant giving bodies to support the organization. We increasingly see that there’s growth and interest from the wider community from just people out there who want to learn more about sustainability, who see the good work that we’re doing and want to contribute. Even if they’re giving us $5 through the button there, then that’s $5 that we’re delighted to have.

Wenzel: Your background includes a master’s in materials science, involving metallurgy. How does that inform your current work or other areas of focus? 

Murray: Well, I guess I’m a bit like TSC. We bring together companies and NGOs and sustainability experts to find shared solutions. … I embody a little bit of all of those. I’m a scientist by training and so I understand the strengths of that and also the limitations.

I also spent the early part of my career in strategy consulting and financial services. I grew up on a farm. I experienced firsthand what it takes to make a small business run. Yet, I also care deeply about the sustainability mission of our organization. There’s a host of reasons for that.

The TSC Product Finder

The TSC Product Finder.

Before joining The Sustainability Consortium, before even I joined the Carbon Trust in London prior to that, I spent three months in the desert in Namibia in southern Africa. It was an amazing project. We brought 20 teenagers from local communities and also from disadvantaged backgrounds in the U.K., and our project for that three months was to help build the infrastructure for a new national park. … I also realized that all of that would be lost if I went back home and we didn’t solve climate, and we didn’t solve water, and we didn’t solve over-consumption in the west.

What I bring with my scientific background, but also my appreciation of how companies run, and my love for the oryx antelope that I got to help conserve when I was there in Namibia, really is what makes me tick.

Wenzel: What advice would you give to people early in their career, especially given that your career path has been winding through all these different areas? If someone wants your job someday, what would you tell them to do?

Murray: I mentor a couple students at Arizona State University. … They are just so switched on in a way that I think frankly I never was at that age. …

It’s also staggering to me that I’m probably the last generation to work in sustainability that doesn’t have a sustainability qualification. Those things didn’t exist when I was getting into this. I think people are stepping forward now with just a much greater understanding, a much greater grounding in the basics of this. Giving them advice on any of that, I honestly feel underqualified.

No one has a monopoly on wisdom there. We know that this is a rapidly evolving area and everyone has something they can do. Everyone has a solution that they can bring to the table.

If I want to impart anything, it’s the idea that young people in the early part of their career have a voice as big and as strong as mine. I guess you just need to look at Greta Thunberg and the youth strike for climate movement and the enormous impact she has had, a single 16-year-old girl from Sweden. She’s done more in her career so far than I have done or probably ever will.

No one has the monopoly on that wisdom, or the ability to act. “Be brave” is probably the single bit of advice that I would give. Don’t be shy. Step forward. You are the next generation that will solve these things working with us. I’ve been doing it for a while, and if everyone steps forward with that mindset, does their best, thinks creatively, works tirelessly, we will solve this.

Wenzel: What is the single greatest achievement or impact that the TSC has made in the first decade? The second part: What would you like that to be in another 10 years?

Murray: First off, we built one of the biggest, if not the biggest database, of sustainability science on consumer products anywhere in the world. Then in doing that, we’ve created this network of over 100 of the biggest, most influential companies and NGOs and sustainability experts, and got them focused on that mission. We work with the retailers and brands to embed the sustainability systems into their business operations and into their business decision-making.

It’s not a separate sustainability team, but it’s part of how they engage with their suppliers and how they buy products every day. … We estimate that the ripple effects of that across the wider economy to be over $1 trillion of annual economic activity. Now we’re seeing out the back of that, that over the last three years, there’s been a 30 percent improvement in the transparency and the traceability and sustainability of the products and supply chains from those companies that are using our tools.

We’ve got to that scale. … Then I think as I look forward to the next 10 years, well, some things will stay the same. For us, facts matter and we’ll continue to be led by the science, wherever that takes us. We’ll see also a growing focus on innovation, where companies and other experts are coming together to work together with us to solve some of those trickiest sustainability problems that they can’t solve alone.

THESIS: TSC’s Newest Way to Track Retail Suppliers’ Sustainability Performance

News from Sustainable Brands

 

THESIS

Heads up to retailers and suppliers: The Sustainability Consortium has moved its measurement and reporting system over to a new platform. What does this mean for retailers, and their suppliers? And will it offer more assurance to consumers?

Known to many as the Walmart Sustainability Index, this is the system used by Walmart and a number of other retailers to measure the sustainability progress of all their suppliers. Target, Amazon, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and Kroger are just a few of the other retailers using the system, which tracks the sustainability performance of products across over 100 consumer goods categories.

The system has been used by retailers and suppliers for nearly a decade and uses key performance indicators that are used to build category scorecards, benchmark suppliers and track progress. So, what’s changed, and what does this new platform mean for retailers? What will it mean for their suppliers? And will it offer more assurance to consumers?

We caught up with Euan Murray, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), to find out.

What is The Sustainability Index and how does TSC power it through a platform?

Euan Murray: The Sustainability Index launched with Walmart in 2014 and is now known as the THESIS (The Sustainability Insight System) Index.

The THESIS Index helps retailers and suppliers manage the transparency and sustainability of all the products they make and sell. It includes key performance indicators for over 120 different consumer goods categories, which help business decision-makers focus on the issues that matter and the suppliers that matter. The THESIS Index puts sustainability at the heart of procurement conversations, helping companies capture the rewards from improved resource efficiency, lower supply chain risks and new markets for sustainable products. The THESIS Index is powered by SupplyShift.

How is the new platform an improvement over the previous platform?

We’ve migrated the THESIS Index from the Product Stewardship Network, and it is now powered by SupplyShift. As well as the change of platform, we’ve acted on user requests in lots of other ways:

  • To reduce survey fatigue, suppliers can easily share their assessment results with multiple corporate customers. To enable this, suppliers themselves select which sustainability assessments best represent their products, rather than have retailers do this for them. We’ve heard from lots of companies that they really value this extra control.
  • In real-time, as suppliers complete their assessments, they get new Action Recommendations on how to improve their score. This helps sustainability novices get started on their journey and sustainability experts optimize everything they are doing.
  • Retailers and suppliers are also able to access much richer results reporting, with real-time scoring and benchmarking, as well as more sophisticated tools to identify what’s working well and where is the best place to focus next.
  • Lastly, companies that already use SupplyShift can reuse their existing log-in details. And we are exploring a range of new partnerships with the other sustainability partners on the SupplyShift platform.

Which retailers will be affected and what does the change mean for them?

In the US alone, TSC is actively working with Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Kroger and Sprouts to continually improve supplier sustainability performance. We have designed the system so that it significantly reduces the time and money it takes for retailers to engage with their suppliers. Suppliers themselves now select which sustainability assessments best represent their products, rather than have retailers do this for them. This was a consistent request from suppliers; but it reduces the time and effort for retailers to implement, as well. Improvements like this mean the switch to SupplyShift is a win-win for both retailers and suppliers.

What does this mean for transparency and overall impact?

The best way to increase transparency and boost sustainability is to get the right sustainability information into the business conversations between buyers and suppliers. The switch to SupplyShift is about making it easier for retailers and suppliers to get involved, and helping them drive improvements in their own organizations and supply chains. This will help us reach greater scale, paving the way for more sustainable consumer goods, better lives for workers and communities, lower impacts on our planet, and better choices for consumers on the shelves.

What is SupplyShift and what has it introduced to the landscape of sustainability performance metrics?

SupplyShift was founded by two PhDs in Climate Science and Environmental Economics, who saw that companies were spending too much time managing data collection and not enough time driving transformative change in supply chains. That mix of vision and skill-set was exactly what TSC was looking for in a partner.

SupplyShift’s proven technology, novel network architecture, existing partners and expert team made them a great fit for TSC and for the THESIS Index. They’ve been able to seamlessly integrate the THESIS key performance indicators into SupplyShift, creating a fantastic user experience for buyers and suppliers alike.

What value will consumers see?

As more companies use THESIS, we are seeing step-change improvements in the transparency and sustainability of everyday consumer products. This means consumers are able to buy the brands they love, knowing that they have sustainability built in.

With a handful of retailers and brands, we are exploring how to share this information with their consumers, to allow them to make smarter choices and to reward those brands and companies that are taking the lead. We will be sharing more on this soon — watch this space …

 

Mick Jagger Wants You To Stop Throwing Away Your Plastic Cups

News from PRI’s The World

Mick-Jagger-Plastic-Cups

Mick Jagger, left, and guitarist Keith Richards perform during the kickoff show of the Rolling Stones’ “No Filter” tour at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, June 21, 2019. Credit: Daniel Acker/Reuters

Across the globe, we’ve developed a coffee addiction, and we’re not just talking about dependence on our morning pick-me-up. We’ve become addicted to single-use cups: 600 billion disposable cups (for all drinks) are produced and sold annually. That’s nearly 80 cups for every person on the planet. But there’s a growing push to cut this down.

Here’s the problem with disposable coffee cups: The thin, waxy, plastic coating inside makes it tricky to recycle or compost them. So, most go into a landfill. “We’re filling our landfills with items that are really designed for our convenience and only used once. And maybe only used, in the case of a coffee cup, only used for maybe five minutes,” says Christy Slay with The Sustainability Consortium. Single-use cups aren’t just a landfill problem — it takes a lot of energy and resources to make them.

“You’re talking trees, you’re talking about petroleum, you’re talking about chemicals. And in the case of compostable cups, you’re talking about corn or soy,” says Slay.

Starbucks and McDonald’s are trying to develop a disposable coffee cup that can be both recyclable and compostable. But that’s easier said than done. The coffee giants have been dangling a million dollars to anybody who can crack the code.

One coffee chain in England says we can’t afford to wait. The Boston Tea Party banned single-use cups at its 22 locations last summer. Owner Sam Roberts says they prevented 125,000 cups from going to the dump in 10 months. Good news, but sales of takeaway coffee also fell by 25%.

“We felt like it was a financial loss that we had to take,” says Roberts. “Someone has got to take a risk, someone’s got to take a stand. We don’t get a ‘Planet B.’” Consumers probably weren’t shunning the chain for going green; they were likely heading in and then realizing, “Oh, I forgot my cup!” But there are other solutions. Cambridge Consultants — an English firm that looks for technological innovations and new products to solve business problems — is designing a smart coffee mug. You pay a deposit on a cup, link it to an app and type in, “I want a soy latte in 15 minutes,” or whatever floats your boat. “So, you get to the store, you hand in that coffee cup, so it knows what that order is,” explains Ruth Thomson, head of consumer business with Cambridge Consultants.

The cup has an embedded chip with a micro antenna that sends a wireless signal to the barista’s computer that you’ve arrived. But the barista doesn’t fill up that cup you just brought in. They take another coffee cup and link that new cup to your account. The old mug gets collected. “That one goes back into the system and gets washed and then put out for the next person,” says Thomson. But wait. Let’s say I leave home in a rush and forget my smart coffee mug.“If you forget your cup, but you still want to use the system, then you pay another deposit to have a new cup,” says Thomson. “But now you’re kind of piling these up at home. If you took them back then you’re going to get that money back.”

Cambridge Consultants is eager to try out its new system; they’re just looking for a customer. And Cambridge Consultants aren’t the only ones thinking about sustainable cups. So are the Rolling Stones. If you see the Stones in concert this summer and go get a drink, there may be no single-use plastic cup for you.  The band and its promoter are working with Michael Martin — he’s produced a bunch of big Earth Day concerts. The Stones approached Martin and asked for help in eliminating plastic waste. He came up with a simple solution. “When you come up to get your first beverage, you put down a $3 deposit, you get a really high-quality Rolling Stones-branded cup,” says Martin. “You use it throughout the night, and at the end of the event you can turn your cup in and get your $3 back or you can keep your cup.” If you return the heavier plastic cup at the end of the show, it gets washed and used again. Or recycled. (At some concert venues, there will still be disposable cups available as well.) Martin, whose new company is called r.Cup, has been working with other artists, including U2, Bon Jovi, and Radiohead.

“The live-event industry goes through more than 4 billion single-use cups a year. At a typical stadium event, you could see 100,000 [or] 200,000 cups thrown out,” says Martin. But this idea — returning and reusing a cup — this isn’t exactly rocket science. So, why is this just being tried now? “That’s a really good question,” says Martin. “In America, we’re a throwaway society, and what’s happening is people are now seeing the ramifications of that. And so we’re hoping we’ll be able to wake people up and rejigger things.” Throwaway cups do serve a few purposes: They’re cheap and easy, and it’s a way for vendors to keep track of sales and make sure their employees aren’t giving away free beer. Still, Martin says we can get past that. He’d like to introduce reusable cups at sporting events, zoos, universities and festivals. He’s starting with rock concerts because artists have a pretty powerful platform. I mean, if Mick Jagger tells his fans to stop abusing the planet, who’s going to say no to that?

TSC Launches New Measurement Platform Unlocking Unprecedented Business Value Through Communication Between Buyers and Suppliers

Transparent Supply Chains

New platform in partnership with SupplyShift will encourage suppliers, buyers and retailers to have a reporting “conversation”, improving insights and actions toward more transparent supply chains.

Scottsdale, AZ – July 23, 2019 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that it has selected SupplyShift as its new partner and reporting platform for The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS) Index, formerly and most widely known as The Sustainability Index. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. With over 100 members and partners, TSC brings together a wide range of companies, NGOs and sustainability experts to drive environmental and social sustainability impact at scale.

The SupplyShift technology will be used by leading retailers and suppliers to optimize supply chain transparency. On the SupplyShift platform, through TSC key performance indicators, retailers and suppliers can engage customers, gain insights into the sustainability performance of the products they put on shelves and receive new tools to help them drive performance.

“As a longtime member of TSC, Mars is excited to gain more insights into the products we supply retailers with less effort by using the new TSC platform, powered by SupplyShift.”

Suppliers will have greater control over not just the data they share, but also how they share it with retailers. Additionally, suppliers will have improved ability to re-use data and results, helping to reduce survey-fatigue. Overall, the new platform will seek to improve suppliers’ ability to pull together data from their own supply chains all into one place as well as create deeper insights into their own performance alongside the performance of their peers.

THESIS Logo

Preview of THESIS on SupplyShift platform.

“As a longtime member of TSC, Mars is excited to gain more insights into the products we supply retailers with less effort by using the new TSC platform, powered by SupplyShift. Transparency into our supply chains is an essential part of Mars’ sustainability goals, and having a reporting tool that can link to supply chain data unlocks opportunities,” said Rachel Goldstein, Global Sustainability Reporting Senior Manager, Mars.

“Since we launched The Sustainability Index, now known as THESIS Index, in 2014, TSC has been on the forefront of helping retailers drive the sustainability performance of the products they put on shelf,” said TSC Chief Executive, Euan Murray. “Our new partnership with SupplyShift takes us a step closer to our vision of full transparency and data exchange along product supply chains. Delivering on that vision will see retailers able to deliver the sustainable store of the future, suppliers supported and rewarded for the development of the next generation of sustainable products, and all consumers able to make sustainable choices as part of our everyday lives.”

TSC will move THESIS Index over to the SupplyShift platform. SupplyShift’s expertise in sustainability, established technical development capability, and unique multi-tier/multi-tenant data gathering methods will allow for better analytics, insights, and business value for both suppliers and retailers. In addition, brand manufacturers will be able to operate as both a buyer and a supplier and, over time, pull from other data sources and sustainability programs using a list of APIs.

“Our new partnership with SupplyShift takes us a step closer to our vision of full transparency and data exchange along product supply chains. Delivering on that vision will see retailers able to deliver the sustainable store of the future, suppliers supported and rewarded for the development of the next generation of sustainable products, and all consumers able to make sustainable choices as part of our everyday lives.”

“Walmart and The Sustainability Consortium are working together to integrate THESIS Index into the everyday decision-making of our merchants, as well as giving our suppliers greater insights so they can achieve more on sustainability,” said Laura Phillips, Senior Vice President for Global Sustainability at Walmart Inc. “TSC’s new partnership with SupplyShift is an important part of that new future and an important step in helping us as we work towards our sustainability goals.”

“We are honored to have been chosen by TSC to be their technology platform,” said Alex Gershenson, CEO and co-founder of SupplyShift. “TSC’s science-based measurement and reporting system delivers proven metrics for retailers and suppliers that enable them to engage across a variety of issues. SupplyShift’s next-generation solution will make it easy to gain transparency at all levels of the supply chain and will help companies focus less on the complexity of data collection and management and more on taking action to improve their supply chain performance.”

TSC will launch THESIS Index on the new platform in August 2019. TSC powers THESIS Index through the development of key performance indicators. THESIS Index is designed to help retailers and suppliers measure sustainability performance for over 130 different consumer goods categories covering over 90% of all consumer products produced around the world. TSC’s science-based methodology produces key performance indicators that measure manufacturers’ progress again sustainability issues contained within the supply chain. TSC implementation services work closely with retailers to help assess their suppliers and analyze results. TSC relaunched their measurement and reporting system under the new THESIS brand in 2019.

“Henkel values the opportunity for conversations with retailers about our sustainability progress to help us gather insights and develop products that will meet consumer needs. TSC’s new platform with SupplyShift is an important evolution in measurement and reporting and will allow us to have better insights to meet our sustainability goals,” said Robert Anson, Director of Business Development, Henkel.

“Transitioning to a more environmentally sustainable business needs to be as easy as possible. TSC moves us one step closer by simplifying the reporting process with SupplyShift, ensuring that global supply chains continue to embrace transparency. The result will be transformative – insights and actions that suppliers and retailers can use for driving the creation of better consumer products,” said Elizabeth Sturcken, Managing Director, EDF+Business, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

TSC has more information about THESIS here. To learn more about SupplyShift, the technology powering THESIS, click here. TSC’s retail members include Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, Amazon, M&S, and Sprouts. TSC launched its beauty and personal care product sustainability rating system in 2018 with some of their current retail members and with additional participation from Target, Rite Aid, Sephora and CVS. Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products. Learn more about TSC’s 10-year anniversary here.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About SupplyShift

SupplyShift provides a comprehensive platform to seamlessly gather and analyze supplier networks, connecting companies to de-risk and improve supply chains. They have delivered the first cloud-based control center specifically built to ensure that sustainability insights can be thoughtfully considered in sourcing decisions. The platform is built with the belief that, when properly managed, a company’s supplier network can deliver incredible value for the company, the greater economy, and can play an important role in changing our world for the better. The SupplyShift platform makes it seamless to gain the insight needed to create a more responsive, responsible supplier network that makes the entire supply chain more productive. Learn more at www.supplyshift.net.

Media Inquiries

Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org
480-965-7752

Bob Young
SupplyShift
byoung@supplyshift.net
724-344-5738

Sprouts Joins The Sustainability Consortium

News from WholeFoods Magazine

Sprouts Produce Organic

Scottsdale, AZ — The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced in a press release that Sprouts Farmers Market has joined as a new member. TSC uses sustainability science to create business tools used across the world to make sustainable consumer products.

Sprouts joined TSC, according to the release, to “better understand the risks and opportunities within their supply chains and identify areas to improve the social and environmental performance of the products on their shelves.” They will be involved in TSC initiatives that include food waste, deforestation, and the circular economy.

Euan Murray, TSC chief executive, said in the release: “We warmly welcome Sprouts Farmers Market as new TSC members. Sprouts’ commitment to affordable and healthy food and personal care products and their eagerness to work with TSC to increase transparency in their supply chains is a welcome addition to our growing impact among some of the most progressive retailers in the world.”

Carlos Rojas, VP of legal, risk, and sustainability at Sprouts, said in the release: “We’re committed to providing unique, quality and sustainable products to the more than 3 million shoppers who visit our stores every week. We share TSC’s philosophy of improving the sustainability of consumer products and look forward to utilizing their science-based tools and solutions to improve our industry-leading practices.”

Does Your Toothbrush Make the Environment Bristle?

oral care sustainability

Christ Helt

 

 

Dr. Christopher Helt
Manager of Technical Development
The Sustainability Consortium

 

“Consumers have shown they care about sustainability.

Businesses should too.”

Oral care products include many types of products consumers use on a daily basis for oral hygiene, teeth whitening, and breath freshening. And yet, despite the heavy usage, most people do not stop to consider the impact these products have on the environment. You may be surprised to learn that conventional oral care products can have just as much effect on the environment as a discarded orange, a t-shirt, or a computer.

Clean teeth, dirty planet

The manufacturing of oral care products impacts our planet in various ways, through the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, excessive water use in factories, and harmful packaging that can clog up landfills. Additionally, oral care products may contain ingredients derived from palm oil, the production of which is one of the leading causes of deforestation and a significant contributor to climate change.

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) researches how sustainability science can help make the manufacturing of consumer products more efficient and environmentally-friendly. We and our team of researchers, based at the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, and Wageningen University & Research, help companies track and understand the sustainability issues endemic to their supply chains.

In comes TSC

TSC tools and resources give companies insight into how the manufacturers of oral care products are performing on sustainability metrics and how they can improve their practices. When companies better understand the consequences behind their actions, they are in a more-informed position to make business decisions to reduce their environmental footprint. These decisions can be better for business and better for the planet, and can include preventative maintenance on equipment, promoting energy efficiency in factories, reducing risks to worker health and safety, reduced animal testing, and using recyclable packaging materials.

The collective effort of manufacturers to reduce sustainability risks in oral care products not only helps the planet, but also helps their businesses run more efficiently and with fewer risks.

Interest in sustainable products, and brand loyalty shown the companies and businesses that produce them, is at an all-time high. Consumers have shown they care about sustainability. Businesses should too.

Dr. Christopher Helt, Manager of Technical Development, The Sustainability Consortium,

us.editorial@mediaplanet.com

 

The Sustainability Consortium Welcomes Sprouts Farmers Market as a New Retail Member

Sprouts Joins TSC

Sprouts joins TSC’s retailer members to tackle more sustainable products.

Scottsdale, AZ – May 16, 2019 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that Sprouts Farmers Market has joined as a new TSC member. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. With over 100 members and partners, TSC brings together a wide range of companies, NGOs and sustainability experts to drive environmental and social sustainability impact at scale.

Sprouts Farmers Market, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the United States, is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and has more than 300 stores in 19 states from coast to coast. They specialize in fresh, natural and organic products at prices that appeal to everyday grocery shoppers.

Sprouts joined TSC to better understand the risks and opportunities within their supply chains and identify areas to improve the social and environmental performance of the products on their shelves. They will be actively involved in TSC initiatives and innovation programs that include food waste, deforestation and the circular economy.

“We warmly welcome Sprouts Farmers Market as new TSC members,” said Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive. “Sprouts’ commitment to affordable and healthy food and personal care products and their eagerness to work with TSC to increase transparency in their supply chains is a welcome addition to our growing impact among some of the most progressive retailers in the world.”

“We share The Sustainability Consortium’s philosophy of improving the sustainability of consumer products and look forward to utilizing their science-based tools and solutions to improve our industry-leading practices.”

“As Sprouts continues to grow and evolve, we’re committed to providing unique, quality and sustainable products to the more than 3 million shoppers who visit our stores every week,” said Carlos Rojas, Vice President of Legal, Risk, and Sustainability at Sprouts. “We share The Sustainability Consortium’s philosophy of improving the sustainability of consumer products and look forward to utilizing their science-based tools and solutions to improve our industry-leading practices.”

TSC’s other retail members include Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, Amazon and M&S. TSC does additional work through their beauty and personal care product sustainability rating system with Target, Rite Aid, Sephora and CVS. Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products. Learn more about TSC’s 10-year anniversary here.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. specializes in fresh, natural and organic products at prices that appeal to everyday grocery shoppers. Based on the belief that healthy food should be affordable, Sprouts’ welcoming environment and knowledgeable team members continue to drive its growth. Sprouts offers a complete shopping experience that includes an array of fresh produce in the heart of the store, a deli with prepared entrees and side dishes, The Butcher Shop and The Fish Market at Sprouts, an expansive vitamins and supplements department and more. Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Sprouts employs more than 30,000 team members and operates more than 300 stores in 19 states from coast to coast. Visit about.sprouts.com for more information.

Media Inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
The Sustainability Consortium
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org
480-965-7752

The Sustainability Consortium Celebrates 10 Years of Helping Companies Create More Sustainable Consumer Products

TSC Birthday

TSC, cofounded by University of Arkansas and ASU, helps ensure that consumer products are made with sustainable guidelines for a growing population.

Scottsdale, AZ, May 15, 2019 – Today marks The Sustainability Consortium’s (TSC) ten-year anniversary. In 2019, TSC celebrates ten years of developing tools and resources that:

  • Cover sustainability reporting and improvements in sustainability for retail sales of partners that include Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger, Sprouts and Marks & Spencer
  • Impact the sustainability of over 90% of consumer goods product categories, covering more than 100 product categories across 8 sectors
  • Developed one of the largest databases of research on sustainability issues in consumer product development in the world
  • Assist over 2,800 users of TSC tools and products to address product sustainability in their supply chains
  • Resulted in an increase of 30% of supplier scores on TSC questionnaires over the last 3 years

TSC was founded in 2019 as a joint collaboration between the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. With over 100 members and partners of the consortium, TSC pulls diverse companies and organizations from the sustainability industry together to drive environmental and social sustainability impact at scale.

“TSC is about coming together and finding agreement based in science about what the world needs. It informs the work we should be doing, while measuring our progress along the way.”

Matt Kopac, Sustainability Business & Innovation Manager, Burt’s Bees, says, “TSC is about coming together and finding agreement based in science about what the world needs. It informs the work we should be doing, while measuring our progress along the way.”

In 2018, TSC published their latest impact report, Transparent Supply Chains for Better Business, showing proof that, since 2016, supply chain transparency is increasing as more and more companies commit to measuring their sustainability progress.

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “We understand now, more than ever, what we need to do to help companies understand sustainability. The next ten years of TSC will focus on solving sustainability. We know improvement is possible. We are seeing a tidal wave of companies committing to measuring their progress in sustainability in their supply chains.”

“TSC has worked closely with Walmart, suppliers and other retailers to help drive simplification and standardization of sustainability metrics for consumer product impacts,” said Laura Phillips, Senior Vice President of Global Sustainability for Walmart, Inc. “These efforts are aimed at driving continuous improvement in value chains and propelling positive change at scale.” said Laura Phillips, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Walmart.

Earlier this year, TSC launched their TSC 10 website that focuses on TSC impacts, TSC member stories and the interactive history of the consortium and its founding.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops Partners with SupplyShift to Build New Stewardship Calculator

Partnership delivers technology platform to make on-farm sustainability data easy to collect and share.

4/25/2019, Santa Cruz, CA: The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC) continues to develop opportunities to support food industry collaboration towards greater natural resource management and accelerate improvements in productivity, environmental quality, and human well-being.  As we face a growing world population and limited natural resources, the entire agricultural supply chain must work together to do more with less.

To support those goals, today, The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC) announces a new partnership with SupplyShift to create an online Stewardship metric calculator tool.

SupplyShift is a leading supplier management, responsible sourcing and supplier engagement technology platform. The SISC calculator will be available for the first time ever as a digital tool to measure on-farm sustainability metrics.

SISC is a coalition of growers, grower groups, buyers, and environmental NGO’s who collaborate to develop and maintain metrics that all parties agree are the most important indicators of stewardship.

“SISC’s objectives are to advance both optimal production and strong environmental protection by offering a suite of science-based, data driven metrics,” states SISC Director Alison Edwards. “After an evaluation of multiple technology providers, SISC chose SupplyShift as our technology partner because of their proven solution for collecting sustainability data at all levels of the supply chain right down to the farm level.”

Metric data give consumers, food buyers, and producers a common language for assessing the impact and continual improvement of farming practices – and the meaningful stewardship activities of farmers around the world.  By developing, refining, and promoting farmer-tested management tools that anyone can use to measure performance, SISC is aligned with many other initiatives globally in advocating for measuring specific outcomes rather than endorsing the use of less accountable ‘checklists of practices’ that many businesses have been asked to use.

“We are honored to have been chosen by SISC to support their mission,” added Jamie Barsimantov, Co-founder and COO of SupplyShift.  “We fully support their approach to measure outcomes with specific metrics as implemented in their calculator.  Their multi-stakeholder expertise combined with our sustainability technology platform will directly empower farmers and their industry partners to better assess and improve sustainability performance.”

The SupplyShift solution provides for streamlined data collection and ease of data sharing across all supply chain nodes. SupplyShift technology collects, analyzes, aggregates and reports data up and down the supply chain for all food industry partners.  The SISC calculator  will be available at no cost for growers to create a baseline of their stewardship and track continual improvement as they enact management changes.  Aggregators, retailers, brands, and industry groups can also use the SISC calculator to baseline and help improve the on-farm sustainability practices of their suppliers.

“The SISC calculator on SupplyShift will give growers the opportunity to better understand their footprint, benchmark with their peers, and share data in a secure way with their customers,” added Hank Giclas at Western Growers.  “We had evaluated other sustainability solutions and found SupplyShift to be the most compelling solution for SISC’s users’ needs.”

SupplyShift will be the central software provider offering the SISC calculator in an online system, with the ability for agricultural software tools to easily plug into the platform and provide input data to calculate the metrics. The SupplyShift platform will be used to securely and privately share data with grower groups, packer/shippers, distributors, brands, and retailers.

To learn more about the Digital SISC Calculator, click here.

 About the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC)

SISC is a multi-stakeholder initiative with growers, grower groups, brands, buyers and NGOs dedicated to developing tools for measuring on-farm stewardship performance across the specialty crop supply chain. SISC offers a suite of outcome-focused metrics enabling operators to benchmark, compare, and communicate their sustainability performance.  For more information, go to www.stewardshipindex.org.

About SupplyShift               

SupplyShift’s cloud-based technology enables supplier performance measurement, secure traceability for supply chain transparency, and improved collaboration throughout the entire supply chain. SupplyShift’s technology platform efficiently gathers and analyzes supplier data, connecting companies to de-risk and improve supply chains. The platform is built with the belief that, when properly managed, a company’s supplier network can deliver incredible value for the company, the greater economy, and can play an important role in changing our world for the better. The SupplyShift platform makes it seamless to gain the insight needed to create a more responsive, responsible supplier network that makes the entire supply chain more productive.

Contact:

Alison Edwards, SISC Director – aedwards@stewardshipindex.org
Bob Young, VP of Commercial – byoung@supplyshift.net

HSBC and Walmart Join Forces on Sustainable Supply Chain Finance Programme

News from AP News

NEW YORK & HONG KONG–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr 17, 2019–HSBC and Walmart today announced the roll-out of a sustainable supply chain finance programme that pegs a supplier’s financing rate to its sustainability performance.

This global programme allows Walmart’s suppliers who demonstrate progress in Walmart’s Project Gigaton or Sustainability Index Program to apply for improved financing from HSBC based on their sustainability ratings.

Project Gigaton is a Walmart initiative to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030 through supplier commitments. Walmart’s Sustainability Index Program gathers and analyses information across a product’s life cycle, and was developed by The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), a global organisation dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products, to help Walmart benchmark suppliers and encourage continuous improvement.

“At Walmart, we appreciate that the only way to a sustainable future is through combined effort, and we share HSBC’s commitment to empowering our suppliers on this journey. We want to encourage companies throughout the supply chain to focus on sustainability, as we have seen first-hand how this sparks innovation and generates value. Investing in sustainability can not only lead to higher productivity and cost savings for suppliers, but can also drive their business growth as they make a positive contribution to the world,” says Matthew Allen, VP Finance & Assistant Treasurer, Walmart.

HSBC believes that supply chains are one of the most important levers for banks and businesses to create a positive effect on the world. According to McKinsey, a typical consumer company’s supply chain creates far more social and environmental costs than its own operations, accounting for more than 80% of greenhouse-gas emissions and more than 90% of the impact on air, land, water, biodiversity, and geological resources. 1

Being sustainable is seen as very important by businesses around the world. According to the recent HSBC Navigator survey, 81% of global companies say ethical and environmental sustainability is important to them and 83% aspire to be a genuinely ethical or environmentally sustainable company. Also, improving sustainability outcomes is among the top three objectives for making supply chain changes.

As a leading international bank, HSBC plays a unique role in supporting a shift to sustainability in global supply chains. HSBC is embedding sustainability into the products and services it offers to customers, with the aim of supporting the sustainable development of its customers’ supply chains. Nearly one-third of businesses surveyed in the recent HSBC Navigator survey plan to make sustainability-related changes to their supply chains within the next three years.

Note to editors:

Please note the sustainability programmes and all ratings are administered by Walmart. HSBC is not responsible for establishing or maintaining such programmes or ratings.

For more information on Project Gigaton and Walmart’s Sustainability Index Program, please visit: https://www.WalmartSustainabilityHub.com/

HSBC Navigator: Now, next and how for business

HSBC’s Navigator report comprises a global survey gauging business sentiment and expectations on trade activity and business growth from 8,650 decision-makers in 34 markets. Research was conducted by Kantar TNS for HSBC between August and September 2018.

HSBC’s Navigator helps businesses capitalise on new opportunities and make informed decisions for the future by understanding the outlook for international trade.

The full report can be accessed here: www.business.hsbc.com/trade-navigator

 

 

The Sustainability Consortium Welcomes First Real Estate Development Member, Zoned Properties

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, April 17, 2019 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that Zoned Properties® has joined as a member. Zoned Properties is the first real estate development member to join TSC. They will join over 100 TSC members that are leaders in their industries working to create more sustainable products for a sustainable planet.

TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. Zoned Properties is a strategic real estate development firm whose primary mission is to provide real estate and sustainability services for the regulated cannabis industry. They will work with TSC on bringing sustainable real estate development principles to sectors like agriculture, paper, pulp and forestry and general merchandise.

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “We would like to welcome Zoned Properties to our membership base and are looking forward to working with them to better understand the sustainability potential of emerging industries. Understanding the sustainability needs of future industries is important to make sure TSC stays on the front lines of sustainability measurement and reporting.”

“We believe joining TSC will help elevate the sustainability discussion for the entire regulated cannabis industry and could provide the platform for actionable change and innovation. With the emergence and evolution of this new industry and the upcoming retailer participation, the TSC process and tools can help create the roadmap toward successful sustainability efforts,” said Bryan McLaren, Chief Executive Officer of Zoned Properties.

Zoned Properties joins several other TSC members as leaders in their particular industry, signaling a need for sustainability action and measurement within that industry, and will be hosting a roundtable at the upcoming TSC Sustainability Summit in May related to sustainable development for the regulated cannabis industry. Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products. Learn more about TSC’s 10-year anniversary here.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

About Zoned Properties, Inc. (OTCQX: ZDPY):

Zoned Properties is a strategic real estate development firm whose primary mission is to provide real estate and sustainability services for clients in the regulated cannabis industry, positioning the company for real estate acquisitions and revenue growth. We intend to pioneer sustainable development for emerging industries, including the regulated cannabis industry. We are an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Forbes Real Estate Council. We focus on investing capital to acquire and develop commercial properties to be leased on a triple-net basis, and engaging clients that face zoning, permitting, development, and operational challenges. We provide development strategies and advisory services that could potentially have a major impact on cash flow and property value. We do not grow, harvest, sell or distribute cannabis or any substances regulated under United States law such as the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, as amended (the “CSA”).

 

For media inquiries:

Erika FerrinErika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
480-965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

 

 

Zoned Properties, Inc.
877-360-8839
Info@zonedproperties.com

www.zonedproperties.com

Landmark Data Landscape Map and Software Released to Ease Burden of Reporting Sustainability Data for Growers and Food Companies

Ag Data Report

Scottsdale, AZ, March 4 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released today a landmark report that will help ease the burden of reporting sustainability data for growers and food companies.

Data Landscape Mapping for Agricultural Supply Chains is the first-ever report mapping agriculture technology platforms and sustainability metrics from farm to retail. The report identifies key technologies and platforms currently in place to collect and manage farm data. This report also documents metrics alignment opportunities that will help increase the flow of sustainability data in the agricultural sector.

In 2018, TSC convened, as a part of this project, over 100 industry leaders from companies and organizations with expertise in food production, farm data management, farm sustainability measurement, and consumer goods manufacturing. The report provides the results of case studies conducted with some of these participants regarding the current state of data systems connectivity and compatibility, as well as technology needs for sustainability data.

By gathering all input and output possibilities from key farm sustainability calculators in one place, TSC created an open-source software API and webform, called the Ag Metrics Translator, in hopes of streamlining data collection and increasing transparency across agricultural supply chains. This work was done in close partnership with key farm sustainability metrics calculators- Cool Farm, Field to Market, Potato Sustainability Initiative, Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, and Sustainable Agriculture Initiative.

The project addresses a critical issue – the lack of sustainability data for agricultural products sold at retail.

  • In 2017, TSC received over 20,500 responses to their key performance indicators for food and beverage products as a part of The Sustainability Index, primarily used by Walmart and Sam’s Club.
  • Of these responses, 49% of suppliers answered, “We are unable to determine at this time”.

“Our goal for this project was to enable mobility of sustainability data and to reduce the burden of reporting TSC key performance indicators across the value chain. Now we will work with our partners to implement the report findings and software API,” says Christy Slay, Director of Technical Alignment for TSC.

The Ag Metrics Translator API and this report were created to identify additional opportunities to automate sustainability data reporting and to increase the scores of farm-level TSC key performance indicators answered by food companies. As a result of this project, TSC will continue to work with companies and members to streamline systems to make sure growers spend more time producing and less time answering survey questions.

Amanda Raster, Manager of Technical Development for TSC’s Food, Beverage, and Agriculture sector notes, “Our ultimate objective for our work in the agricultural metrics space is to simplify the data collection and reporting process for growers, while ensuring that a consistent demand signal for sustainability information is being sent throughout agricultural supply chains. Connectivity across data systems is key to meeting that objective.”

The report is available for free download on the TSC website here. The TSC Ag Data Translator can be accessed here.

Founded in 2009, TSC celebrates 10 years of helping companies create more sustainable consumer products. Learn more about TSC’s 10-year anniversary here.

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

UA Small Biz Center Helps Businesses Achieve Dreams

News from TBP
By Jeff Della Rosa, Talk Business & Politics

UA small biz center

At center, Mary Beth Brooks, director of the University of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, speaks to clients. Brooks started as center director Aug. 27. (PHOTO: Courtesy Novo Studio.)

Mary Beth Brooks had been president and CEO of Bank of Fayetteville for 11 years when the bank was sold in November 2015 to Stuttgart-based Farmers and Merchants Bank. Brooks resigned following the sale to take a break and care for family members after a 30-year banking career.

She also began doing consulting work to determine the next step in her career, knowing she wanted to start something new.

In spring 2018, Brooks met with Stacy Leeds, who was interim vice chancellor for economic development at the University of Arkansas. Leeds was reaching out to people to seek guidance on her new role in the newly created Office of Economic Development. Leeds, former dean of the UA School of Law, was appointed in July to vice chancellor for economic development, and the next month, Brooks became director for the UA Small Business and Technology Development Center after she said Leeds convinced her to accept the position.

“I think she could see the energy that was coming together at the university around this type of work and knew that she would get to be a part of building something new and also building on our existing strengths,” Leeds said. “The new challenge pitch is what I think did it for her.”

The center is one of several offices that Leeds oversees, including Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Industry Engagement and Corporate and Foundation Relations, the Sustainability Consortium, World Trade Center Arkansas, Arkansas Research and Technology Park, Technology Ventures and Tribal Governance and Economic Empowerment Consortium.

Stacy Leeds

The center operating within this group of offices allows for greater partnership opportunities, Brooks and Leeds said. The Sam M. Walton College of Business previously provided oversight of the center, and since the center was reorganized July 1 under the Office of Economic Development, the college has continued to support the center at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development, Leeds said.

The center is funded in part through grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the UA, and is one of more than 1,000 centers across the United States that helps startups get started and existing small businesses to grow. The UA center’s 2019 operating budget is $357,840, and it offers professional training seminars, free market research and business consulting services to existing and potential small-business owners.

Businesses that have received help from one of the seven centers in Arkansas increased sales by 13.2% and jobs by 14.8% more than the average Arkansas business, according to Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. Across the state in 2018, the centers assisted 4,254 Arkansans, helped to obtain $82 million in capital and 116 business to start, and supported 6,034 jobs.

EXPANDING SERVICE OFFERINGS
Many of the conferences and seminars the center hosts are free, but some have a fee, usually no more than $40, Brooks said. Some of the events include training on building a website, exporting products and establishing a business. The one-on-one consulting and research are also offered as free services to clients. Brooks, who said she spends about 35% of her time out of the office working with clients, plans to host four to six events in cities and towns throughout the eight-county region in which the center operates, from Northwest Arkansas to the north-central part of the state.

The UA center has three full-time and several part-time staff working with 102 active clients, who are those staff have been working with over the past two or three months. The center has been operating at capacity, and recently hired a full-time employee. This year, the plan is to have graduate students help there as well. Brooks’ goal for 2019 is to reach 2,000 people through its events, consulting and research. Word of mouth is the most common way people find out about the center, and it receives referrals from bankers, businesses and chambers of commerce.

“It has been the place that people are naturally referred to,” Leeds said. “We don’t even need to generate new clients. There’s so many people who already know about the good work of the center that we have a backlog. But I think that what Mary Beth can do to take this to that next level is that we spend an incredible amount of time working with people who are at the beginning stages of their company, and what we would like to maximize on is working with those companies that have already been in existence that we might be the key to helping them grow to the next level.”

MAKING DREAMS REALITY
Brooks explained her position at the center was a great dovetail from her work as a community bank president.

“If you were to ask most bankers, I think that they would say, especially lenders, would say, ‘I’m helping people achieve their dream,’” Brooks said. “This is just in a different piece of that.”

She helps startups to develop financial and marketing plans and to prepare them before they present their plans to lenders or investors. She also provides clients with market research reports to help identify the target customer or show the best location for a business, based on demographics and traffic data. Brooks said she was working on a report for a florist that would have cost between $5,000 and $10,000 as the center has access to 14 to 15 databases. She helps clients to ensure that their dreams can become a reality and challenges their plans to make sure they’re realistic.

“We really play through scenarios to where they fully understand for those startups what they’re getting into,” she said. “We usually break it all the way down for them, and if it’s a restaurant, what kind of sales are you going to have to have every month.”

Rebecca Todd

The center’s work with clients is confidential, but businesses can sign waivers for their names to be released for promotional purposes. Such businesses include Fayetteville-based grocer Ozark Natural Foods, pet shop Woof & Wander in Rogers and cheese store Sweet Freedom Creamery in Bentonville. The center also works with veterinarians, fitness clubs, dry cleaners, bike and body shops, drug stores and professors who have a product they’d like to sell. Brooks said the center cannot work with businesses with more than 500 employees.

The center also helps technology companies obtain federal funding through programs, such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program or the Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) program. Brooks said she refers technology companies to Rebecca Todd, innovation consultant for the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center in Little Rock.

“She knows the ins and outs, what’s going to work and what’s not going to work,” Brooks said. “I’m here to help for moral support, but that’s such a specific expertise type area. And she does so exceptionally well with it.”

The SBIR and SBTT programs have a combined annual budget of $3 billion for small businesses and their partners with ideas for innovative products and services, Todd said. This funding is non-dilutive, which means a business doesn’t have to relinquish any ownership or shares for it, and it doesn’t have to be repaid. State funding through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission also is available.

Over the past year, Todd has worked with 79 clients and has 20 active clients in Northwest Arkansas. Clients include startups and established companies from agriculture to life science and advanced materials. Since 2010, Todd has helped Northwest Arkansas clients receive $10.5 million in federal and state funding.

 

TSC Retailer Member, Walgreens, Committed to Engaging Suppliers Using TSC’s Product Category Sustainability Toolkits

Walgreens CSR Report

TSC retailer member, Walgreens, is committed to engaging its suppliers using TSC’s product category sustainability toolkits. Read more about the collaboration and sustainability at Walgreens Boots Alliance in their new CSR Report.

 

Purina Wants to Feed Your Dog Crickets and Fish Heads

News from BNN Bloomberg
By Corinne Gretler and Deena Shanker, Bloomberg News

Purina Wants to Feed Your Dog Crickets and Fish Heads

(Bloomberg) — Fill Rover’s bowl with crickets and Asian carp, and keep the grass-fed beef steaks for yourself — it’s better for the environment.

So says Nestle SA’s Purina, which is experimenting with a new line of pet food featuring untapped ingredients like insects and invasive fish species. The menu goes against the grain in the $90 billion business, whose growth has been driven by dog and cat owners serving up meals that increasingly resemble their own — including organic, grain-free, vegan and even “human-grade” options.

Those new-age recipes may sound more appetizing than traditional pet food, made up of all the bits and byproducts people didn’t eat that are ground up and pressed into morsels to disguise their provenance. There’s just one problem: The richer diets take a higher toll on the planet, too, conflicting with the food industry’s push for sustainability.

“For us, the question is: how do we make sure we can continue feeding our pets?” said Chris O’Neil, senior brand manager at Nestle Purina.

In a test launched in October in the Chicago area, a Purina startup called RootLab is selling pet food with new proteins like crickets and Asian carp, which threaten to overrun native fisheries in nearby Lake Michigan.

RootLab also gives common pet-food proteins like chicken organs a fresh, sustainable spin. In an effort to build consumer acceptance for unpalatable-sounding ingredients whose nutritional benefits the company says have gone unrecognized, it lists them on the front of the bag instead of hiding them in the fine print.

“There’s an opportunity to change perceptions and re-educate what premium means,” said Martin Guerrieria, a director at market research firm Kantar Millward Brown. “Premium can mean what’s best for your pet — and what’s best for the environment.”

Growth Pillar

As consumers lose their taste for packaged foods, cats and dogs are a bright spot. Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider has singled out pet food as a driver of growth at Nestle, the world’s No. 2 provider behind Mars Inc., according to Euromonitor.

Other big players are upping the ante. Last year, General Mills inc. splurged $8 billion on Blue Buffalo Pet Products, while J.M. Smucker Co. bought Ainsworth Pet Nutrition for $1.9 billion and Amazon.com Inc. started Wag, its own brand of pet products. Each of them offers recipes aimed at the premium pet-food consumer, including grain-free formulations and proteins normally seen on fine-dining (and log cabin) menus, like venison and wild boar.

Pet-food producers are shifting strategy because of the increasing challenge of feeding the world’s growing populations of people and household animals. Livestock contributes an estimated 14.5 percent of human-caused greenhouse gases, according to the United Nations. Startups like The Honest Kitchen and Ollie, responding to pet-food recalls, misleading marketing and what they see as supply-chain opacity, tout the human-grade quality of their ingredients, prompting concerns that they’re taking food people could eat and putting it in dog bowls.

“With the trend toward feeding animals more human-quality foods, you’re going to see those pain points if those products are going to be needed for human food,” said Christy Slay, director of technical alignment at the Sustainability Consortium.

One solution is to feed pets those high-nutrient parts that aren’t palatable for humans, according to Tom Cumberlege, associate director of the Carbon Trust. RootLab pushes the envelope in this regard, embracing ingredients that might feature on a child’s recipe for witches’ brew — including cod heads.

Human Grade

The Honest Kitchen and Ollie say that while their ingredients are processed in facilities that make them fit for human consumption, some would be unlikely to end up on a person’s plate and might otherwise go to waste.

“Being human grade and being sustainable are not mutually exclusive,” a representative for the Honest Kitchen said.

To source the RootLab ingredients, Purina is getting creative. It worked with its cod supplier on a new processing system to rescue bits that otherwise would have gone overboard after the fish were caught for human consumption, allowing for near 100 percent use of the fish.

The company is also using cricket powder as a protein, following a 2013 UN report focused on edible insects as a solution to feeding the world’s growing population. O’Neil’s team asked Purina’s in-house chef to cook with it for them to help inspire recipe ideas. Convincing members of the team to dig in was not easy, he said. His Labrador, Mini, was less finicky.

“My dog loves it,” O’Neil said of the final product, a chicken, egg and cricket blend.

RootLab is currently limited to the Chicago area as the brand is still gauging consumer interest and fine-tuning its supply chain for the new ingredients. But already, it’s influencing the company’s other brands. Cod byproducts, for example, have made their way into Purina’s broadly distributed Beyond label.

Growing Competition

In the pursuit of sustainability, Purina faces growing competition from around the world. In Finland, Dagsmark Petfood sells the country’s first locally sourced dry dog food. Canadians can buy from Champion PetFoods, which bills its ingredients as coming from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen.

Whether RootLab succeeds will depend largely on whether Chicagoans are willing to pay a premium for sustainable dog food — even if their pet enjoys it.

“Dogs and cats do not buy pet food; owners do,” said Marion Nestle, author of Pet Food Politics and a professor at New York University who’s unrelated to the food giant. “Will owners be willing to feed these things to their pet ‘children’? It will be interesting to find out.”

Heavy Impacts From Lighter Devices

Published on December 14 on E-Scrap News 

The e-scrap industry in recent years has witnessed declining volumes of used electronics collected and recycled under legislated state programs. This development is not surprising – the shift from larger, heavier devices, such as CRTs, to thinner displays has been well-documented. But it does carry major implications for some state programs.

Several states have already made modifications to their laws to account for the declining volumes. Others have not, and the level of difficulty in getting legislated changes accomplished may prevent them from changing in the near future.

Because this is an issue stakeholders are likely to be confronting regularly in the coming years, it’s important to look at the how we arrived at this situation and how declining weights are set to continue affecting e-scrap programs nationwide.

A march toward weight targets – and challenges

The first few state electronics recycling laws to come on the books did not include weight-based goals.

California, Maine and Maryland established programs (in 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively) in which manufacturers were not required to meet a specific target in terms of pounds. Instead, these programs set up funding mechanisms and let the total amount requiring coverage be whatever was returned. In California’s case, funding came through a fee paid by consumers purchasing new devices. Maine and Maryland established different forms of manufacturer funding.

The state of Washington’s law, passed in 2006, was the first to make “pounds collected” a driving factor in requirements set out under a program. However, there was no overall pounds target, just a relative percentage target between the state’s “standard” plan and any “independent” plans. But since Washington has never had an approved independent plan, this target has been irrelevant.

Minnesota’s law passed in 2007 and was the first to explicitly use weight-based targets (measured by sales of new products) to determine collection requirements for each manufacturer. The law required manufacturers to report the weight of products they sold into the state each year, and then manufacturers were mandated to collect 80 percent of that sales weight total through recycling programs. The idea was to make larger manufacturers cover more of the recycling costs and perhaps to give an incentive to manufacturers to make lighter-weight products, thus reducing their contribution to the recycling stream of the future.

The Minnesota system did not dictate how manufacturers were to set up recycling programs, allowing them to develop methods they found most efficient. Other Midwest states – including Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – copied and made modifications to this basic approach of sales-based collection requirements. The actual percentage of sales to be collected by each manufacturer and list of covered products varied between the states, but all carried the basic requirement for manufacturers to track the pounds they sell in a state and collect a certain percentage. In addition, all these state programs were set up to penalize manufacturers if their collection results were lower than their targets.

Some other states that passed electronics recycling laws during the great wave of activity in this realm from 2007 to 2010 took a slightly different approach. Like the systems in the Midwest, these states adopted collection targets in terms of pounds but chose not to base the targets solely on sales weights. States including New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont instead set an overall statewide target in pounds or a per-capita equivalent, and then assigned manufacturers a percentage of that overall goal.

Unlike the Minnesota model where the total “pie” and each manufacturer’s individual slice are determined by current sales (in pounds), the states in the second group create a total target that can be based on many factors. Such factors include prior-year collection data, trends in other states and the addition of new covered products (Oregon added printers in 2015, for example). The size of each manufacturer’s slice is usually determined by market share, but it can include an element of brand return share, which is defined as the percentage of a manufacturer’s products in the actual recycling stream. Oregon and Rhode Island, for instance, incorporate brand return share into the calculus they use to assign manufacturer targets. Still other states, including Hawaii, North Carolina, and South Carolina, have a similar approach but limit the goals to TV manufacturers.

The two primary approaches to setting weight-based collection requirements encounter similar challenges in a market where total weight is falling.

The issue is more pronounced in the “Minnesota model” states since the drop in sales weights precedes the drop in collection volumes by several years – essentially, manufacturer requirements may be lower than the amount being returned in collection programs, leaving a funding gap. In states where manufacturers are not required to collect in all geographic areas, this reality has led to some collection programs being discontinued after volumes stacked up and recyclers charged fees to collectors to handle the material.

But “statewide target” programs also face challenges, mainly because it can be difficult to predict when the decline in weight of collected material will begin and how sharp it will be. Some of the states in this category give their environmental regulatory agencies latitude to set the overall target at whatever level agencies deem appropriate; others allow for the target to float up or down within a given range based on the previous year’s actual data. Both approaches carry drawbacks. Similar to what’s being seen under the “Minnesota model,” there’s the potential for collection programs to be cut back or stopped once manufacturer goals are met. Another possibility is manufacturers being penalized for not meeting targets, despite collection programs being kept the same.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that the maturity of state programs means the nation’s backlog of material in need of processing has been slowly cleared out. In essence, the industry has worked its way through the low-hanging fruit. That fact, together with lightweighting trends, can result in unscrupulous practices, such as double counting of weight collected or accepting out-of-state or non-covered devices in a given program.

Digging into the numbers

So what is data showing in terms of the weight being collected versus target weights in different programs? The table above lays out the results from four sample states.

In most states where sales numbers determine the statewide goal (such as Indiana and Wisconsin), manufacturers can meet the declining target. However, when the total amount being collected by recyclers is above the target, that means recycling of some material is not funded by manufacturers.

Also, even though the numbers from Indiana show the targets were met, these results must be viewed in the context of the overall 35 percent decline in the target from 2010 to 2016 (see chart below).

Other states with sales-based collection targets show a similar trend in overall declines in required pounds for manufacturers to collect.

We can also quantify the lightweighting trend through a few pieces of data tracked by the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER). The first is the total estimated pounds sold nationwide (this is determined using national market research data). The data estimates rely on an average-weight-per-device statistic that is also tracked and updated each year.

NCER’s tracking shows that in 2014, the total weight of common household electronics covered by most state programs was slightly less than 2.5 billion pounds. By 2017, that number had dropped to below 1.5 billion pounds.

The decline has been most pronounced in TVs, where the trend toward thinner, lighter devices was initially offset by larger screen sizes being sold but where lower total weights are now the norm.

At the same time, it is important to note that the addition of entirely new product types can spark notable weight variations within the electronics stream.

Tablets illustrate this example – their fast rise in sales coincided with the decline in desktop PC and monitor sales, and that meant a lighter stream. It takes the equivalent of at least 30 tablets to equal to the weight of one desktop and monitor combination (and that’s in the post-CRT era).

But it’s also dangerous to jump to conclusions in predicting how deep a product type’s influence will go. Tablets sales themselves have now leveled off and have not displaced sales of other types of computers. Nonetheless, we can look at data pertaining to current sales of electronics to get an understanding of the total weight that will eventually be recycled – and it seems clear that the weight decline will be continuing for recycling programs. The chart to the right lays out estimates from NCER’s 2016 electronics recycling stream study with The Sustainability Consortium. Despite there being an increase in number of units collected in the U.S., it’s predicted there will be a 20 percent decline in the overall weight of electronics collected for recycling by 2020.

Is Your Fortune 100 Company One of the Nearly 40 Percent that Lack a Climate Target? If so, Read This. Then Call Me.

Photo of San Francisco Air Pollution

Taken on Nov. 19, 2018 from my San Francisco apartment rooftop

By Elizabeth Sturcken
Managing Director, EDF+Business
Published Wednesday, December 5 on EDF+Business

I have helped Walmart, Starbucks and other companies get started with sustainability. I can help you too, using all the lessons I’ve learned from them.

I don’t want to sound like just another environmentalist waving my hands, jumping up and down that we need to act to reverse climate change NOW. The truth is simply this: I know it can be done, sustainability targets create business value and companies stand to lose big financially if they don’t act.

Don’t take my word for it. Take it from the White House, which recently released a report showing a side of climate change that many people haven’t yet seen – the precise price tag of climate impacts to the U.S. economy. Projected climate impacts by the end of the century include $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage.

Think back to the recession of a decade ago. Remember the devastating impact on our economy (and possibly your business)? This will be double that.

What does this mean for the nearly 40 percent of Fortune 100 companies that haven’t set a climate target – or more broadly, any U.S. company? Supply chains will be disrupted here in the United States and overseas. Disasters will impact factory production, transportation will be disrupted, costs will increase and agricultural productivity will suffer. Almost no industry here in the U.S. will be able to escape the negative effects of climate change on their business.

Therefore, I have an offer for you: pick up the phone and call me. Let’s get started on your company’s sustainability journey.

I lead our supply chain team at the Environmental Defense Fund, which invented the model for business and environmental partnerships over 25 years ago. We recently helped Walmart set a goal to cut one billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from their global supply chain by 2030.

We do not take money from the companies we work with, so my offer is better than any Black Friday deal. Seriously, if you are one of the Fortune 100 that wants to figure out how to move forward on sustainability, the offer to talk with us here at EDF is sincere. If you are feeling shy, but want some direction on the way forward with sustainability, here is some free advice: the three reasons for you to set a goal in 2019.

Reason #1: Savings

The first reason for you to set a goal in 2019 – money. A report from CDP– which holds the world’s largest collection of self-reported corporate environmental data, and other public sources – finds that nearly 80,000 emission-reducing projects by 190 Fortune 500 companies reporting data showed nearly $3.7 billion in savings in 2016 alone.

Reason #2: Your Family

The image above was the view from the top of my apartment building in San Francisco last week when the air quality was so unhealthy that I couldn’t let my kids play outside.

The recent wild fires in California, that killed people and destroyed homes and businesses, caused toxic air up and down much of the state. I keep telling my children – ages 11 and 13 – that “this is not normal!” However, unfortunately, as Governor Jerry Brown recently said, “This is the new abnormal.”

According to Gallup, more than half of Americans think that climate change won’t affect them personally. If you fall in this category, please take it from me – the effects to my family are as real as they can get. You will be affected one way or another – maybe severe weather, maybe dramatically more expensive food, or maybe living through one of these traumatic events directly yourself.

Reason #3: Science

Which leads me to the final reason you should act on climate – science. The White House report comes just after another report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries. The report shook me to my core and as the New York Times reports, it “describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 – a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

The bottom line: We need to not only reduce emissions but start to actually pull emissions from the atmosphere. And we need to do it all now. This means cutting emissions from factories, implementing full energy efficiency in every sector, ramping up renewable energy, designing products to minimize greenhouse gases, protecting tropical forests, planting trees, and improving agriculture to increase soil carbon and reduce fertilizer pollution.

If you needed more reasons than savings, family or science, how about supply chain risk reduction, new product innovation and employee and customer engagement? Whatever your reason, now is the time for you to act. This is your wake up call.

Now that you have (hopefully) a reason for setting a sustainability goal in 2019, here’s my final piece of advice – how to do it:

Start by evaluating your operations and supply chain before you set a goal in order to figure out your environmental impact and find the quickest wins and biggest opportunities to reduce that impact. Use tools like The Sustainability Consortium or CDP, to report publicly. This will help you set audacious, public and science-based targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

Collaborate for scale by working with others – including NGOs like EDF, companies and governments – in strategic and selective ways to create change beyond your boundary of control.
Engage proactively on environmental policy to ensure long-term competitiveness, innovation and bottom-line efficiencies. We can’t get where we need to go without driving large-scale change and we cannot do that without policy.

Accelerate environmental innovation. 21st century problems require 21st century solutions. Using technology, data analytics and visualization, companies and investors can make environmental problems visible and actionable – and even profitable.

 

Deforestation: When should I panic?

News from GreenBiz

Deforestation. (Aerial view).

Shutterstock / Fedorov Oleksiy

Euan Murray

By Euan Murray
Chief Executive, The Sustainability Consortium

There is plenty to panic about working in sustainability, and nothing is more fear-inducing than seeing cleared land where there once were trees. We know that forest loss comes hand-in-hand with the production of consumer products. We also know consumer products bring countless benefits to society, and although we are making progress on more sustainable consumer goods, there is still a cost to that production.

Along with industrial water pollution, forced and child labor and greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, deforestation continues to be one of the biggest costs of producing consumer goods. In fact, it is even bigger than we thought.

The Sustainability Consortium, along with the World Resources Institute and the University of Maryland, recently published a paper in Science, one of the world’s top academic journals. “Classifying Drivers of Global Forest Loss” shows that a quarter of global forest loss is permanent, and that deforestation is not slowing down. Despite the efforts of the entire sustainability community, governments and conservation organizations, the overall rate of commodity-driven deforestation has not declined since 2001.

A sobering statistic to be sure, especially considering the focus this topic has had in recent years.

“When we drill down into the data, we get a more nuanced picture, one that shows the changing locations where deforestation occurs.”


When we drill down into the data, we get a more nuanced picture, one that shows the changing locations where deforestation occurs. While deforestation in Brazil has slowed, our research showed an uptick in Southeast Asia. We also found that 27 percent of all deforestation was due to the large-scale production of food, including the production of soy, beef, palm oil and other crops. Unlike wildfire or the certified forestry industry, these forests never will grow back.
So, what do we do?

At the end of August, I hosted a meeting of the TSC Idea Forum on an island in the Pacific Northwest. We brought together many companies, NGOs and sustainability experts from across the retail, food and consumer goods industries. When we flew in, instead of lush greenery and the blue waters of Puget Sound, we were met with gray smoke from the wildfires burning nearby.

TSC Drivers of Tree Cover Loss Infographic_72dpi

Copyright: The Sustainability Consortium® | ©2018 Arizona State University and University of Arkansas Infographic design by Giada Mannino, Senior Designer, The Sustainability Consortium


Although wildfires make up 23 percent of forest loss globally and are predicted to become more intense because of climate change, they can be a natural part of forest growth. But the smoke and poor air quality were pretty scary to witness, and a reminder of why we need to stop deforestation for food production, support sustainable forestry practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that increase climate-related wildfires: These issues can be associated with nearly every product supply chain.

Because of this new report, we can see that companies, governments and NGOs still have a lot of work to do, even to deliver their existing deforestation commitments. The good news is that all the data from the report is hosted in the Global Forest Watch tool, so it is easy to understand what’s going on and to set credible, meaningful targets to solve this issue once and for all. As always, The Sustainability Consortium is committed to both using and contributing to scientific knowledge to support better decision making for the future of our planet.

5 Ways Companies Can Act On the Latest Dire Climate Warnings

  / Environmental Defense Fund

climate-warnings

 

Oh what a week it has been!

Trying to turn away from the political polarization and fracturing civility in this country, I looked elsewhere in the news and found something even worse…dire climate warnings for our planet.

Two reports in the news this week ring the alarm bell on climate change. The first report is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries. As the New York Times reports, it “describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

A second report out this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the petrochemical industry – which includes companies that make fertilizer, plastic and pharmaceuticals – threatens to erode climate benefits from reductions in other sectors. The main driver of the petrochemical industry’s growing climate footprint will be plastics. Petrochemicals are set to account for over a third of the growth in oil demand to 2030, and nearly half to 2050, even ahead of trucks, airplanes and shipping.

So, the news this week shows me that not only do we have to worry about the 18 billion pounds of plastic that end up in the ocean every year harming marine life; we have to deal with the massive climate impact that the exploding production of plastics will cause. And, according to scientists who authored the IPCC, “avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has ‘no documented historic precedent.’”

This news is frankly depressing and overwhelming.  But I’m here to tell you that we can do it. We have to do it. What makes me feel optimistic is that we at EDF+Business know the path forward for companies, which are going to be key to solving this challenge. We’ve been walking this road for over 25 years now, ever since we created the model of environmentalists working with business, when we first partnered with McDonald’s to reduce packaging waste.

Why are companies needed? It’s simple and it’s never been more apparent. Our federal government has stepped backwards on this existential issue of our time. Since the U.S. is the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China, U.S. companies have an opportunity – and a need to – fill this large gap. Companies must lead the way, and they must lead now.

The good news for companies is that doing good for the environment creates business value, whether it’s cost savings, risk reduction, new product innovation, or employee and customer engagement. As Kevin Rabinovitch, global vice president of sustainability at Mars Inc. said to a reporter this week, “You can’t run a successful business in a failing economy or a failing environment.” We fully agree with Kevin.

Here’s how companies can step up:

  1. Measure and report. Evaluate your operations and your supply chain to figure out your environmental impact and find the quickest wins and biggest opportunities to reduce that impact. Use tools like The Sustainability Consortium or CDP, to report publicly.
  2. Set public science-based targets for greenhouse gas emissions that address the impact of your operations (i.e., buildings, fleets and electricity) and that include rigorous engagement of the supply chain to address your products’ life cycle and your suppliers’ impact. Commit the resources and engage executives and employees to put your goals into action.
  3. You can’t do this alone. Work with others – including NGOs like EDF, other companies and governments – in strategic and selective ways to create change beyond your boundary of control. A great recent example of this is Walmart and Unilever’s announcement on deforestation that uses place-based or jurisdictional approaches, which means that the companies are collaborating with local governments, communities, and producers in their sourcing region.
  4. Support smart policy. Publicly support smart climate and environmental policy and ensure long-term competitiveness, innovation and bottom-line efficiencies. We can’t get where we need to go without driving large-scale change and we cannot do that without policy.
  5. Accelerate environmental innovation. 21st century problems require 21st century solutions. Using technology, data analytics and visualization, companies and investors can make environmental problems visible and actionable – and even profitable.

Now, it’s time to take action and get started. We can’t wait any longer.


Follow Elizabeth on Twitter, @esturcken.

Continue to article

 

Global Forest Loss – Who’s in the driver’s seat?

News from Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

TSC Drivers of Tree Cover Loss Infographic_72dpi

Copyright: The Sustainability Consortium® | ©2018 Arizona State University and University of Arkansas Infographic design by Giada Mannino, Senior Designer, The Sustainability Consortium

Christy Slay Headshot
Christy Melhart Slay, Ph.D.
Director, Technical Alignment, The Sustainability Consortium

Philip Curtis
Consultant for The Sustainability Consortium

In person or in pictures – felled trees where a forest once stood can be alarming to witness. Whether you have viewed satellite images of deforestation in the Amazon or watched as trees are cut down on a local hillside, the response is often the same- we ask ourselves “why” and “should I be concerned”? Not all forest loss is created equal. There are many different reasons why forests are declining, some of them are natural and some of them are man-made. Educating yourself on the “whys” around forest loss will not only help you interpret what you see, but will help you decide what you can do about it and which organizations you can support.

We depend on forests not only for food, wood, fuel, and shelter, but also to help supply materials for the products we use every day. When it comes to deforestation, where do everyday people, companies, and governments need to focus efforts to eliminate deforestation? The Sustainability Consortium together with the World Resources Institute, and the University of Maryland set out to answer this question in our new study, released in Science. By training a computer model to identify distinctive patterns connected to human and natural disturbances in forests we were able to model why forests are lost. What resulted was a map of the 5 main reasons we are losing our forests.

1) Deforestation for large-scale food production

Overall, we found nearly 27 percent of all forest loss — 31,000 square miles per year — is caused by deforestation that stems from the demand for food. Forest loss caused by the production of food will likely never regrow – these forests are lost forever. In other words, an area the size of Costa Rica was felled to grow commodity crops and graze cattle every year for the last 15 years. Globally, deforestation rates have not gone down, they’ve just switched from one continent to another. For example, deforestation rates have slowed in Brazil but we saw a large uptick in SE Asia. Basically, the human demand for commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, and other crops has driven the large-scale razing of forests around the world at a consistent rate of one Costa Rica equivalent per year.

2) The Forestry Industry

The next largest driver of forest loss worldwide is forestry at 26 percent to supply paper and wood products. If you have ever seen a forest that has been cleared, it can cause alarm to see a large area of bare ground where trees once stood. Yet, our study shows that forest loss due to the forestry industry will regrow, meaning that these forests will eventually be forests again. Certifications are relied upon heavily to ensure sustainable forest management but most forestry practices and suppliers are not certified leaving the majority of the world’s harvested forests vulnerable to poor management.

3) Shifting Agriculture for medium and small-scale food production

The third largest driver, shifting agriculture or what some call “slash and burn” is 24 percent. The pattern of shifting agriculture shows small to medium sized clearings that are replaced with crops and later abandoned. Over time, these areas will regrow trees and may end up being very different from what was there originally. This pattern is associated with farming to meet local demand for food and isn’t associated with the large, permanent farms we see in agriculture used to produce consumer goods on a global scale.

4) Wildfire

Although fire can be destructive to homes for both humans and other animals, forest fires are usually a natural part of forest growth. We looked at the patterns of wildfire around the world and were surprised to find that 23 percent of global forest loss was due to wildfire. These fires mostly occurred in northern latitudes and are often due to lightning strikes and may be intensifying due to climate change.

5) Urbanization

Many local and state efforts focus on low-impact development and urban planning, yet the urbanization category accounts for less than 1 percent of all forest loss. Even in developing areas of China and Africa the deforestation associated with cities is dwarfed in comparison to commodity-driven agriculture. Simply put, deforestation from urbanization is the least concerning category for overall impact. Urban development has other effects on our planet and affects the places where people live and for that reason should not be discounted.

Highest Scoring Categories on the 2017 Sustainability Index

Apples, Computers, Diapers, Peaches, Hair Coloring Products and Melons Reported as Highest Scoring Categories on the 2017 Sustainability Index

The Sustainability Consortium releases its list of highest scoring product categories.

September 24, 2018, Scottsdale, AZ – The Sustainability Consortium released today an additional chapter to their 2018 Impact Report, Transparent Supply Chains for Better Business, revealing the product categories that scored the highest on the 2017 Sustainability Index, which is primarily used by Walmart and Sam’s Club. TSC translates the best sustainability science into business tools that are used all over the world to create more sustainable consumer products. TSC’s surveys cover 120 different product categories representing more than 80% of the sustainability impacts of all of consumer goods.

Out of a 100-point scale, the six highest-ranking categories are Apples and Pears, Computers, Diapers, Stone Fruit, Hair Coloring Products and Cucumbers, Melons and Squash.

These six products are considered part of TSC’s 60 and Up Club for scoring 60 points or higher on the most recent Sustainability Index. The high performance of these categories is evidence that supply chain transparency is increasing in different sectors of consumer goods production.

Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive, states, “Many of these product categories already have systems in place in their supply chains to communicate operational data, but only recently have they been asked to share sustainability-related data. We are pleased to see so many different product categories score so well and to see progress towards more transparent supply chains”.

Apples and Pears scored particularly strong because all of the suppliers in this category responded that they conducted crop supply mapping for 100% of their crop. Additionally, most suppliers score high on transparency by tracking food waste in their distribution channels. Between 2016 and 2017, Apples and Pears suppliers also made significant improvement in their transparency scores related to soil erosion management and water irrigation on-farm.

In addition to apples, pears, peaches, cucumbers, melons and squash being in the Club, many other specialty crops, such as Berries and Grapes, Lettuce and Leaf Vegetables, Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant scored between 55 and 59 and earned an honorable mention.

“Specialty crops usually have shorter supply chains than more complex food products and traceability may be more likely to be achieved,” stated TSC Chief Scientist, Dr. Kevin Dooley.

A full analysis of these categories and the 2017 Sustainability Index can be found here.

 

 

About TSC

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Press inquiries:

Erika Ferrin
Sr. Director of Marketing, Communication and Development
The Sustainability Consortium
(480) 965-7752
erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

 

One-Fourth of Global Forest Loss Permanent: Deforestation Is Not Slowing Down

Map of Deforestation 2001-2015

Using Google Earth images, researchers developed model mapping global drivers of forest loss. More than a fourth of global forest loss from 2001 to 2015 is permanent deforestation from commodity-driven agriculture, meaning these areas likely will not be forested again. The rate of commodity-driven deforestation has not slowed down despite global efforts.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ. – More than a fourth of global forest loss from 2001 to 2015 can be primarily attributed to permanent land-use change for commodity agriculture – meaning these areas likely will not be forested again – according to a new study published today in Science, one of the world’s top academic journals.

The study was conducted by reseachers at The Sustainability Consortium, a global organization jointly administered by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University, the World Resources Institute, a global research organization, and the University of Maryland.

“Although many changes to tree cover were temporary, such as when a forest recovered from a wildfire or when timber farms were replanted, patterns seen in the imagery showed that a significant proportion of global forests are not growing back,” said Philip Curtis, consultant for The Sustainability Consortium and the study’s lead author.

Copyright: The Sustainability Consortium® | ©2018 Arizona State University and University of Arkansas
Infographic design by Giada Mannino, Senior Designer, The Sustainability Consortium

The authors used nearly 4,700 satellite images to train a computer model to identify unique patterns that revealed the causes of recent tree cover loss. Using a 10 by 10-kilometer grid for the entire globe, the computer model helped identify the most likely causes of forest disturbance – commodity production, forestry, shifting agriculture, wildfire and urbanization.

The permanent conversion of forest to non-forest land use for commodity production constituted 27 percent of global tree-cover loss. This driver was attributed predominantly to agriculture, especially palm oil production in Malaysia and Indonesia. Less than 1 percent of this category was mining and energy production and infrastructure. Areas that experienced this type of commodity-driven deforestation were large swaths of South America – expanding beyond the Amazon region – areas of the U. S. Central Plains, the rangeland of eastern Australia and scattered areas of west and central Africa.

Despite global attention to the problem and a commitment by hundreds of companies to address it via their supply chains, there has been no reduction in deforestation over the past 15 years, the researchers found. Their analysis showed that deforestation, or permanent forest loss, has shifted geographically from Brazil to Southeast Asia, but has not slowed down.

“Since 2010, leaders of nearly 450 companies signed commitments to achieve zero deforestation in their supply chains by 2020,” Slay said. “Consumers are demanding it, and companies know it is the socially responsible thing to do. Yet companies find it difficult to determine the source of their supply beyond the location of their direct supplier. Our findings, now incorporated into the Consortium’s commodity mapping tool, will help companies predict where agriculture and wood fiber products are sourced and what deforestation risk is present.”

The next three drivers of global tree-cover loss were forestry at 26 percent, shifting agriculture at 24 percent and wildfires at 23 percent. Shifting agriculture was defined as small- to medium-scale forest and shrubland conversion for agriculture that was later abandoned and followed by subsequent forest regrowth. In fact, all three of these categories were critical in that forest regrowth had already happened within the study period or was likely to happen in the near future. The researchers defined forestry as large-scale forest operations occurring within managed forests and tree plantations with regrowth after harvesting. With wildfires, the researchers found no visible human conversion to agriculture following burns. Deforestation due to urban development accounted for roughly one half of 1 percent and occurred mostly in the eastern United States.

The study showed drivers of deforestation varied regionally. Wildfires and managed forestry operations occurred primarily in temperate and boreal forests. Boreal ecosystems are found in northern latitudes. Shifting agriculture and commodity-driven deforestation dominated in tropical regions. Wildfires occurred primarily in North America and Russia.

Curtis, former lead researcher of The Sustainability Consortium’s commodity mapping program, worked with Christy Slay, the Consortium’s director of technical alignment; Nancy Harris, forest program research manager at the World Resources Institute; and Alexandra Tyukavina and Matthew Hansen, remote sensing scientists with the Global Land Analysis & Discovery group at the University of Maryland. Their study was to help corporations identify the source of wood fiber products and to pinpoint the location of permanent deforestation due to agriculture.

For the purposes of this study, deforestation was defined as permanent forest loss due to commodity production, primarily commodity-driven agriculture, and urbanization. Tree-cover loss due to forestry operations, shifting agriculture and wildfires were not considered permanent deforestation.

The study’s findings will be publicly available on Global Forest Watch, the leading global forest monitoring tool run by the World Resources Institute. At this site, an interactive map will now show geo-located drivers of loss related to tree-cover loss dating back to 2001.

“This study not only identifies where deforestation is occurring, it perhaps more importantly tells us where forest loss is not deforestation,” said Harris of the World Resources Institute. “Beyond seeing where and when tree cover loss has happened, people can now use Global Forest Watch to see why loss has occurred.”

About The Sustainability Consortium
The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. We are dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. Each member brings valuable perspectives and expertise. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective implementation. The Sustainability Consortium has more than 100 members and there are over 2,000 users of TSC tools worldwide; it convenes more than 200 global organizations annually over an average of 75 networking opportunities. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. It also has a European office at Wageningen University and Research, and a Chinese office in Tianjin, China. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Contacts

Erika Ferrin, director of marketing, communication and development
The Sustainability Consortium
480-965-7752, erika.ferrin@sustainabilityconsortium.org

When a Tree Falls, Is It Deforestation?

News from WRI | Article by Nancy Harris, Elizabeth Dow Goldman, Mikaela Weisse and Alyssa Barrett
Deforestation Malaysia

Shutterstock: Deforestation aerial photo. Rainforest jungle in Borneo, Malaysia, destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations

The narrative is not a new one: The world is losing tree cover at an alarming rate, and the effects on biodiversity, the climate and indigenous communities cannot be overstated.

The question is, why? What’s causing this loss? And will tree cover come back, or will the land be used for a new purpose? Our new study, released today in Science, gets us one step closer to answering these questions.

Together with The Sustainability Consortium and the University of Maryland, we visually interpreted thousands of satellite images in Google Earth to identify what caused forest disturbance around the world. We used this information to train a computer model to determine the most likely drivers of tree cover loss that was detected globally between 2001 and 2015. Starting today, the map is available on Global Forest Watch.

Five drivers of tree cover loss are shown. Understanding the implications of each of these drivers helps provide more context about the status of global forests.

Commodity-driven Deforestation: 27 percent

The results of this analysis are meant to identify drivers at a global or regional scale, interpreting the results at a local level is not recommended. The analysis indicates the dominant driver of loss within 10 km cells, even though multiple drivers may be present within a given cell over time and space.

Commodity-driven deforestation was the dominant driver associated with 27 percent of gross global tree cover loss between 2001 and 2015, equivalent to a deforested area approximately a quarter the size of India. This type of loss exemplifies the definition of deforestation, as it reflects a permanent conversion of forest cover into something else. In this class, trees are cut down to make way for activities like agriculture, mining, and oil and gas production. We see the most commodity-driven deforestation in the tropical forests of Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Continue to Full Article

Deforestation for the Production of Commodities Persists in Brazil and in the World

Deforestation Brazil

Study shows that 27% of global deforestation is due to the production of commodities. Photo credit: Alexander Lees, BBC

News from BBC | Article by 

In the last decades, the effort to preserve the environment seems to have been incorporated, to a greater or lesser degree, by governments, companies and citizens.

But, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science, there is one type of environmental problem, the most serious one, that is not being reduced: deforestation caused to free up space for the production of commodities.

The concept defines products that are virtually uniform and have their prices regulated by the international market – such as coffee, salt, sugar, soy and metals such as silver, gold and iron.

In general, the production of commodities is also dependent on large territorial extensions.

“Even so, commodities themselves should not be vilified, even though their production contributes significantly to the loss of forests,” data analyst Philip Curtis, a contributor to the non-governmental organization The Sustainability Consortium and the lead author of the study.

“As the world’s population increases, there is a growing demand for food for people and animal feed, so we should never lose sight of what is gained when forests are replaced for commodity production.”

The researcher found that one of the most damaging examples in this case is the cultivation for the production of palm oil. “Specifically in Southeast Asia,” he says.

“There are alternatives to palm oil and its byproducts, but they can be more expensive.” Certifications help reduce deforestation, but they are not the complete solution. Almost always the decision to prioritize forest protection faces economic forces such as the need to a business for profit and people’s demand for less expensive goods, so governments, businesses and consumers must decide how to balance the desire for cheap goods with a desire to protect forests if we are to prevent the permanent loss of forest land. ”

Deforestation Maps

To get the data, the analyst used current maps that show the deforested areas on the planet. Curtis analyzed forest transformations from 2001 to 2015. In addition to demonstrating these changes, the study also concluded that all forests undergoing drastic changes, even if they are punctual, end up being changed permanently.

The images were taken from records made and stored by the Google Earth platform, from satellite photographs. These figures show that 27 percent of global deforestation is caused by commodities – and, unlike other factors, this is a relatively constant figure over the last few years.

In the article, the scientists still point out that, irrespective of any further conclusion, the study “indicates that zero deforestation policies are not being implemented quickly enough to achieve the goals.” Curtis points out that 450 large global corporations have already committed to work on “zero deforestation” by 2020.

The study mapped all the reasons that lead to environmental changes through deforestation. The most serious is the change of a forest landscape in order to open space for the production of commodities, both in agriculture and mining. This intervention is permanent.

There are other worrisome factors, but these are of a temporary nature: shifting agriculture, controlled logging, and fateful forest fires.

Continue to Full Article

New Global Study Reveals the ‘Staggering’ Loss of Forests Caused by Industrial Agriculture

Tree Cover Loss Indonesia

Forest on Borneo in Indonesia, cut down for an oil palm plantation JAMI TARRIS/MINDEN PICTURES

News from Science | Article By Erik Stokstad

A new analysis of global forest loss—the first to examine not only where forests are disappearing, but also why—reveals just how much industrial agriculture is contributing to the loss. The answer: some 5 million hectares—the area of Costa Rica—every year. And despite years of pledges by companies to help reduce deforestation, the amount of forest cleared to plant oil palm and other booming crops remained steady between 2001 and 2015.

The finding is “a really big deal,” says tropical ecologist Daniel Nepstad, director of the Earth Innovation Institute, an environmental nonprofit in San Francisco, California, because it suggests that corporate commitments alone are not going to adequately protect forests from expanding agriculture.

Researchers already had a detailed global picture of forest loss and regrowth. In 2013, a team led by Matthew Hansen, a remote-sensing expert at the University of Maryland in College Park, published high-resolution maps of forest change between 2000 and 2012 from satellite imagery. But the maps, available online, didn’t reveal where deforestation—the permanent loss of forest—was taking place.

For the new analysis, Philip Curtis, a geospatial analyst working with The Sustainability Consortium, a nonprofit headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, trained a computer program to recognize five causes of forest loss in satellite images: wildfire, logging of tree plantations, large-scale agriculture, small-scale agriculture, and urbanization. To teach the software, Curtis spent weeks staring at thousands of images from Google Earth that showed deforestation with a known cause. “It was some of the most distressing part of the work,” he says, especially when looking at Southeast Asia. “The scale of the loss was staggering.”

All told, about 27% of the total loss between 2001 and 2015 was due to large-scale farming and ranching

The program’s decisions were based on mathematical properties of the images, which can help distinguish the larger blocky shapes of industrial agriculture from the smaller, irregular fields in shifting subsistence farming, for example. All told, about 27% of the total loss between 2001 and 2015 was due to large-scale farming and ranching, Curtis and his colleagues report today in Science. Such farming includes industrial plantations for palm oil, a valuable biofuel and a major ingredient in food, cosmetics, and other products. Forest cleared for those plantations is gone for good, whereas forest cleared for other purposes, including small-scale farming, typically grows back. (Urbanization, also a permanent conversion, made up just 1% of the total loss of forest.)

Deforestation from commodity-driven agriculture held steady between 2001 and 2015, the span of the analysis. But the trends vary by region. In Brazil, large swaths of Amazonian forest have been cut down for cattle ranches or soybean farms. The good news is that the rate of deforestation there fell by half between 2004 and 2009, because of enforcement of environmental laws, pressure from purchasers of soybeans, and other factors. But in Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, laws against deforestation are often lacking or poorly enforced, and ever more forests have been cut down for palm oil plantations. “We’ve known this [was happening], but we didn’t have the numbers to show it consistently across the globe,” Curtis says.

Continue to Full Article

Starbucks Tries to Save 6 Billion Cups a Year from the Trash … With Help from McDonald’s

News from PRI’S The World
August 13, 2018

Paper coffee cups have a thin layer of plastic on the inside to prevent leaking. It’s a well-engineered vessel, but difficult to recycle. Credit: Steven Davy/PRI

You go to the coffee shop and take your coffee to go. You enjoy your drink, then throw the paper cup in the trash. Or do you put it in the recycling? It’s confusing.

A lot of us — people everywhere — are using to-go cups these days.

“A recent report said that there are 600 billion cups — billion with a ‘b’ — that are produced and sold globally on an annual basis. So that’s a lot,” says Christy Slay with The Sustainability Consortium.

Starbucks alone says it contributes 1 percent of those disposable cups: That’s an estimated 6 billion cups a year.

To help reduce those numbers, Starbucks and McDonald’s are launching a three-year project to build a better cup: one that’s both fully recyclable and compostable.

Here’s the big problem with the paper ones you get there and in other coffee shops.

“They look like paper, but they actually have a thin layer of plastic on the inside,” Slay says.

That plastic coating keeps the cups from leaking. Problem is, it also makes the cups really hard to recycle, and only a few facilities in the world can do it. These cups also can’t be composted. “And so, they get thrown in the trash,” Slay says.

“Typically they’re compostable in industrial settings, so not your backyard compost that you and I might have, but at fairly technically advanced composting facilities.”

A few companies have already rolled out compostable coffee cups. But Dylan de Thomas with The Recycling Partnership says there’s a problem with those cups too.

“Typically they’re compostable in industrial settings, so not your backyard compost that you and I might have, but at fairly technically advanced composting facilities.”

There aren’t a lot of those facilities around either. Add it up, companies servicing our coffee habit are in a bit of a conundrum.

The goal of the plan recently rolled out by Starbucks and McDonald’s is to build a paper cup with a plant-based biodegradable liner, a cup that would be more easily compostable and/or recyclable.

Starbucks is calling it a “moon shot” for sustainability, and the coffee giant and McDonald’s are also dangling $1 million dollar prize to anyone else who can figure it out.

“It’s not necessarily very technically hard, although there are technical hurdles to overcome to make something recyclable and compostable,”

But even with these companies’ vast resources, it’s proving to be a really big challenge. Starbucks has already tried out 13 prototypes in the past year. So why exactly, in the 21st century, is it so hard to build a better paper cup?

“It’s not necessarily very technically hard, although there are technical hurdles to overcome to make something recyclable and compostable,” says Bridget Croke with Closed Loop Partners, a firm working to build what they call a circular economy. “[It’s] a fancy way of talking about turning waste into value.”

Croke says the big challenge for McDonald’s and Starbucks is the systems that are already in place.

“Almost anything is technically recyclable,” Croke says. “But recycling is a business, and if materials can’t move through the recycling system and be turned into a commodity that has value, it’s not functionally recyclable.”

In other words, even if you can come up with a more recyclable coffee cup, there just aren’t enough places out there that can actually make it worth recycling.

So along with investing in a new kind of cup, McDonald’s, Starbucks and groups like Closed Loop Partners are investing in ways to improve municipal recycling and composting processes, so when a new cup does arrive, they’ll be ready.

“If we can make it flexible, we’re going to have more success keeping that out of the landfill long-term,” Croke says.

The environmental advocacy organization Stand.earth is pleased with McDonald’s and Starbucks efforts, but only to a point. Executive director Todd Paglia says the companies are misguided in trying to make a cup that’s both recyclable and compostable.

“They are a cultural force in a lot of ways — they need to be one on the issues of waste. And they can be.”

“It’s 100 percent their responsibility,” Paglia says. “They’ve created this problem, they need to solve it.”

“If you use a composting cup, what you’re doing is you’re taking the forest, you’re cutting it down, you’re making it into a cup that you hold in your hand for 20 minutes, and it goes into compost, which means you have to cut down more trees to make more cups,” Paglia says.

A truly recyclable cup is good, but Paglia says the ultimate solution is for customers to start carrying their own reusable mugs or tumblers. And he says Starbucks needs to do more to encourage this.

“They are a cultural force in a lot of ways — they need to be one on the issues of waste. And they can be.”

But is it their responsibility to get us to bring a mug to their store? Or is it our responsibility to bring that mug to their store?

“It’s 100 percent their responsibility,” Paglia says. “They’ve created this problem, they need to solve it.”

Starbucks currently gives people a 10 cent discount in the US for bringing their own cup. Paglia says the coffee giant needs to flip that around and charge extra for a disposable one. He says that’s the only way to really change our behavior.

The company has been trying that out in the UK.

Christy Slay says if you buy to-go coffee even a few times a week and bring your own cup, “that could have a large impact. If you do that over multiple years, you’re talking about a lot of cups.”

So as Starbucks and McDonald’s work toward their “moon shot” cup, in the near-term, most agree that bringing your own might be the best solution.

Continue to article

Walmart Tried to Make Sustainability Affordable. Here’s What Happened

News from CNBC
August 13, 2018

Timothy Fadek | Bloomberg | Getty Images A customer walks down an aisle displaying bottles of laundry detergent for sale at a Walmart Inc. store in Secaucus, New Jersey.

What a difference the birth of a granddaughter can make.

For Lee Scott, who ran Walmart from 2000 to 2009, the arrival of his granddaughter not only convinced him the threat of global warming was real but set him on a course that altered the very DNA of the world’s largest retailer. He decided he wanted to use its size and resources to make the world an “even better place for all of us,” changing the way millions shop in the process.

In 2005, midway through his tenure, he challenged his employees: “What would it take for Walmart to be that company, at our best, all the time?”

More from The Conversation:

Lessons from Sweden in sustainable business
Yes, humans are depleting Earth’s resources, but ‘footprint’ estimates don’t tell the full story
When corporations take credit for green deeds their lobbying may tell another story

The answer