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Sustainable Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

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April 01, 2014, to April 15, 2014

Food Companies Try To Settle The Argument Over Paper Versus Plastic Foam Cups

Plastic foam cups do a great job of keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. But there is a perception among many consumers – and even some companies – that foam cups are not environmentally friendly because they do not recycle well. Scientists continue to debate the issue, but in the meantime retail restaurants like Starbucks, McDonald’s and Jamba Juice have turned to paper cups, particularly the more expensive double-walled ones that provide extra insulation. The big challenge for food companies is to find cups that work as well as plastic foam, don’t end up costing the consumer more and are more recyclable, according to industry analysts.

Computer Models Show That Solar Farms Can Harvest More Than Electricity

Stanford University scientists have developed computer models that use the principle of co-location of crops and solar panels on solar farms to harvest biofuel plants as well as electricity. The idea would work especially well in sunny, arid regions where water is scarce. Photovoltaic solar farms run on sunlight, but water is used to wash away dust and dirt from solar panels to ensure maximum efficiency. Water also dampens the ground to prevent the spread of dust. Crops planted beneath the solar panels capture runoff water used to clean the panels, optimizing the land. The plant roots help anchor the soil and foliage reduces the ability of wind to kick up dust.

In A Time Of Food Scarcity Around The Globe, European Retailers Waste Megatons Of Produce

To demonstrate the magnitude of produce wastage by European retailers, Feeding the 5000 and partner organizations prepared free lunches in Brussels on April 1 with edible food about to be discarded for frivolous reasons. Tons of produce from as far away as East Africa were used to prepare the meals. In Kenya farmers were found to be trashing 40 percent of what they grew because of  “unfair and unnecessary trading practices” of European supermarkets. Waste handlers who collect unwanted edible produce must guarantee in writing that none of the “green waste” will be used to feed people. Produce is discarded because European retailers have cancelled a forecast demand at the last minute, or because the produce has not met “ultra-fussy cosmetic standards”.

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March 01, 2014, to April 01, 2014

Mars Strengthen Commitment To Palm Oil Sustainability, Traceability

Candymaker Mars, Inc., announced it is committing to a fully sustainable and traceable palm oil chain by the end of 2014. The company has introduced a new sourcing charter that will require suppliers to have a fully sustainable and traceable palm oil supply across all operations by the end of 2015, or at least to have plans in place by the end of 2015. The policy aligns the company with global efforts to combat tropical deforestation because of rapid expansion of palm plantations. The enhanced pipeline traceability policy is designed to encourage suppliers to only source from companies whose plantations and farms are “responsibly run”.

Greenpeace Breaches Tight Security At P&G HQ To Protest Questionable Palm Oil Supplier

Greenpeace recently targeted Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a protest over palm oil allegedly purchased from a supplier linked to deforestation in Indonesia. According to the company, usually known for its stringent security measures, an environmental activist dressed in unobtrusive business clothes entered the building claiming to have an appointment. The person then let in collaborators carrying inconspicuous bags through another door. The protest materials included huge “eye-catching” banners unfurled from the 12th floor. In response, P&G’s “crackerjack” security team has since tightened security at the building.

Walmart Begins Testing Its WAVE Environment-Friendly Trucks

Walmart began testing its Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, or WAVE, cargo truck whichs is built from carbon fiber and is 20 percent more aerodynamic than existing trucks. Part of the retailer’s sustainability efforts, the truck will also feature a micro-turbine hybrid engine that can run on many types of fuel. WAVE trucks will also have an electric motor and a battery system for storing electric power. With its emissions reportedly still growing, Walmart aims to double the fuel efficiency of its trucks by 2015.

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February 15, 2014, to March 01, 2014

Swiss Chocolate Maker Completes Buyout Of African Cocoa Bean Supplier

Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has bought the remaining 51 percent of its stake in long-time certified cocoa beans suppler Biolands Group of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Biolands has been supplying East and West African cocoa beans to the chocolate maker since 2000. Barry Callebaut has owned 49 percent of the company since 2008. The company said the Biolands acquisition fits well with its strategy of becoming a leader in sustainable cocoa and of gaining access to individual farmers in addition to cooperatives.

Second Cargill Oil Palm Plantation In Indonesia Wins Sustainability Certification

A Cargill Indonesian oil palm plantation has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The plantation in West Kalimantan, PT Harapan Sawit Lestari, is the second certification for a Cargill plantation in the country, after one in South Sumatra. The company said a third plantation in West Kalimantan is in the process of being RSPO certified. The RSPO is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative on sustainable palm oil, comprising environmental and social NGOs, growers, manufacturers and retailers of palm oil products.

Unilever Joins Global Forest Watch To Help Fight Deforestation

Unilever joined the Global Forest Watch, an organization that aims to provide a dynamic online monitoring and alert system to help protect the world’s remaining forests. Global Forest Watch’s forest-protection objectives are in line with the company’s sustainability targets, which include making the palm oil it uses 100 percent traceable to known suppliers by 2014 and sustainably source all soy beans by 2014 and all soy oils by 2020. Global Forest Watch integrates satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to provide access to reliable information about forests in real time.

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December 15, 2013, to February 15, 2014

Bamboo May Find A Place In Kimberly-Clark’s Fiber Sourcing Plan

A study commissioned by Kimberly-Clark has determined that using bamboo to make paper products would have a smaller environmental impact than northern softwood tree species because it regenerates so quickly. The life-cycle assessment shows that bamboo could fit in well with the company’s sourcing strategy as an alternative fiber. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology assessed the environmental impacts of Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft fiber, recycled waste fiber, bamboo, wheat straw, giant cane Arundo donax and kenaf. Bamboo was found to have less impact on land use because it regenerates in three years, instead of the 70 years needed for softwood trees.

P&G Technical Innovation Leads To Safer Hair Dyes

P&G says one of its technological innovations will have “far-reaching benefits” for consumers of hair coloring products. The ME+ molecule is an advancement that reduces the risk of severe allergic reactions to hair dyes. According to the company, its research and modeling techniques led to an alteration in the molecular structure of the long-used pPD molecule to become the ME+ molecule, combining color performance and reduction in the risk of allergy. Colorists, hairdressers and technical experts who have tested ME+ say it provides permanent gray coverage and color intensity.

Many Large Palm Oil Producers Fall Short Of Sustainability Goals

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has published a report – and produced a short film – showing that big palm oil producers are failing to reach their sustainability targets. Though palm oil buyers – retailers, food companies and consumer goods producers – are using more sustainable palm oil, they are still not using enough to support responsible growers. Of 130 buyers polled by WWF, less than half purchase palm oil that meets social and environmental standards set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Thirty-one percent have made “only vague commitments to buying sustainable palm oil or none whatsoever”. The result is a glut of uncertified palm oil on the market, and not much progress toward protecting rain forests and endangered species like the orangutan.

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December 01, 2013, to December 15, 2013

Nestlé Continues To Replace Old Ice Cream Freezers With Eco-Friendly Models

As part of a commitment to use only environmentally friendly refrigerants, and phase out damaging hydrofluorocarbons, Nestlé announced that new commercial ice cream freezers in Europe would use only naturally occurring substances. Eco-friendly refrigerants include carbon dioxide, ammonia, water, air and hydrocarbons like propane and isobutane, none of which harm the ozone layer. The new ice cream freezers also reduce energy consumption by more than a third. The company has invested more than $264 million to replace synthetic refrigerants with natural alternatives in more than 92 percent of its industrial refrigeration systems.

Guidelines Issued For Sustainable Production Of Beef

A global industry program has issued a set of guidelines to help members produce beef sustainably. The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform says the guidelines are the most comprehensive developed for beef production to date. They include sustainable farming systems, economic sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. They also require achievements in each area of beef cattle production. Members of the SAI include major beef users, including McDonald’s and Unilever.

Unilever Enlists Supplier Linfox For Sustainability Initiative

Unilever signed a Joint Business Development Plan deal with partner Linfox Logistics. Under Unilever’s Partner to Win program, JBDP deals highlight the consumer goods company’s emphasis on working closely with its strategic suppliers to achieve sustainable business growth for all parties involved. Unilever’s deal with Linfox focuses on improving supply chain capacity, flexibility, and responsiveness, as well as improving costs and deploying safe and sustainable practices.

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November 15, 2013, to December 01, 2013

Kimberly-Clark Wins Recognition For Forest-Friendly Supply Chain Operations

Kimberly-Clark Corp. was named the industry leader for household and personal care products in terms of efforts to reduce deforestation risks across its global supply chain, according to the 2013 forest report by nonprofit group CDP. Factors the prompted CDP to award this recognition to Kimberly-Clark include the company’s completion of a full risk assessment of its forestry-related products in its supply chain, its efforts to determine country of origin of commodities beyond its first-rung suppliers, and its plan to achieve 100 percent certified materials or determine appropriate alternatives. CDP’s annual forests report looks at how the largest manufacturers work to minimize their operations’ adverse impact on the world’s forests.

Procter & Gamble Aims To Highlight Sustainability Efforts With Its Marketing

Procter & Gamble said it plans to integrate its sustainability message into its marketing, as part of its efforts to communicate to customers things it believes have a real impact on their lives. The shift in marketing comes with the company’s release of its sustainability update, and in line with its long-term vision of achieving 100 percent renewable energy and zero landfill-bound waste. P&G global sustainability director Virginie Helias said the company has worked to make sustainability a part of its innovation efforts and that P&G aims to connect sustainability with brand equity.

Henkel Receives CSR Honors For Sustainability Efforts In MENA Region

Henkel said it has been shortlisted for the 2013 Arabia Corporate Social Responsibility Awards’ Large Sized Enterprise category. Held under the patronate of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority president, Emirates Group CEO, and Dubai Airport chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the awards recognize companies’ CSR initiatives, including sustainability efforts, in Arabian countries. Henkel said it was recognized for its contribution to sustainability in the region by reducing its environmental footprint.

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November 01, 2013, to November 15, 2013

Walmart Launches Great Value Naturals Line Of Environment-Friendly Cleaning Products

Walmart announced the Great Value Naturals line of cleaning products made from natural ingredients. Available in more than 2,000 Walmart stores across the United States, the all-natural cleaning products are as effective as the leading brands of conventional cleaning products, the company said. Sold exclusively at Walmart, the products are made from plant-based Evolve cleaning technology and are 100 percent free from chemicals and toxins. They are biodegradable, non-allergenic and packaged in recyclable materials, the company added.

Unilever Unveils Home Water Purifier In Pakistan That Removes Viruses, Bacteria Cheaply

Unilever Pakistan has introduced a home water purification device that works without using electricity or gas. The new Pureit water purifier instead uses sustainable “Unilever proprietary technology” to provide safe and clean water, according to the company. The purification technology takes water through five stages using a “Programmed Germ Kill Technology” to remove harmful bacteria and viruses and provide “odorless natural tasting water” for about two cents a liter.

Unilever Plans To Buy Palm Oil Only From Traceable Sources By End Of 2014

Unilever announced its plan to purchase palm oil only from traceable and known sources by the end of 2014. One of the world’s largest buyers of palm oil for use in products, such as margarine, ice cream, and soap, Unilever buys about 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil and related products each year, accounting for about 3 percent of the world’s total production. Unilever’s chief procurement officer Marc Engel reiterated the company’s commitment to supporting the campaign for sustainability in the palm oil industry.

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October 15, 2013, to November 01, 2013

SC Johnson Reports Huge Manufacturing Waste Reduction

Consumer goods company SC Johnson reported it has reduced its global manufacturing waste by 62 percent and increased its use of renewable energy to 30 percent, according to the company’s 2013 sustainability report. As part of the company’s efforts reduce its environmental footprint, SC Johnson has invested in 10 major renewable energy initiatives worldwide during the past 10 years, including the installation of two 415-foot-tall wind turbines at its manufacturing facility. Also, the company as recycled about 8.5 million pounds of waste at its global manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, while seven of its factories now have zero landfill status. SC Johnson also released concentrated cleaners that use 63 percent less plastic than standard spray bottles.

Solar Industry Group Recognizes L’Oréal USA As Solar Energy Champion

L’Oréal USA received the 2013 Solar Champion award from the Solar Energy Industries Association during the Power International conference and trade show held in Chicago. SEIA’s report “Solar Means Business” recognizes L’Oréal USA as one of the 20 leading companies in the United States using solar power in their facilities. L’Oréal USA has installed more than 9.7 megawatts of photovoltaic systems in its US facilities in the past 18 months, generating clean energy enough to power more than 40,000 homes for a year. Also, its solar power systems have helped eliminate the amount of carbon dioxide emissions equal to those produced by 2,433 passenger vehicles in a year.

L'Oreal’s Strategy: Boosting Customer Base While Reducing Sustainability Footprint

L'Oréal CEO Jean-Paul Agon says his company can achieve its strategic goal of adding one billion customers over the next seven years while having a smaller impact on the environment. The company also said it will work to gets its customers involved in reducing the sustainability footprint by selling products that are “both sustainable and desirable”. The goal of meeting all the beauty needs of men and women globally – dubbed the “universalization strategy” – will involve raising awareness among consumers, through its brands, about sustainability and encouraging customers to “make more sustainable choices”. The company says it is committed to achieving 100 percent sustainability across its product line by 2020.

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October 01, 2013, to October 15, 2013

Get Involved, Make A Difference In The World, Unilever Head Tells Young Business Leaders

In a speech whose main theme was the importance of responsibility, Unilever CEO Paul Polman urged 1,200 young business leaders to go beyond the sustainability efforts of their companies and make a positive impact on global society. Governments and institutions cannot address the issues facing society, Polman said, unless individuals take responsibility for making a positive impact. People need to get involved, exert more pressure on leaders in order to “create the world we want”. That means “going beyond corporate social responsibility and becoming a force for good”. Polman addressed delegates from 190 countries attending the One Young World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Unilever CEO Remains Focused On Long Term Despite Recent Profits Warning

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said the company’s recent profits warning will not stop him from taking a long-term approach to doing business. Describing an effective leader as one who is comfortable with what he or she is and is an authentic person, Polman said he sees nothing wrong with crying when he needs to cry and that it shows he cares. Polman also said the ability to work with others requires leaders to have humility and a high level of self-awareness. Effective leaders should be able to build trust, and only those who do not fear transparency can encourage other people to trust in them, Polman added.

Kimberly-Clark's Sustainability Report Receives Highest Marks From GRI

Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s latest sustainability report has received the A+ application level rating from the Global Reporting Initiative, a nonprofit group that promotes sustainability reporting among corporations. Of the 3,527 sustainability reports released worldwide in 2012, only about 15 percent received GRI's A+ rating. Kimberly-Clark's sustainability report has received the distinction for the second consecutive year, due to the completeness of its disclosure.

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September 15, 2013, to October 01, 2013

Market Opportunity For Pet Food Companies: Eco-Conscious Pet Owners

Global concern for the environment is poised to extend into the $75 billion pet food industry, according to Euromonitor. Half of middle class families own a dog, cat or other pet, but only 40 percent of pet owners buy “green” pet foods. Pet food manufacturers can take advantage of a major marketing opportunity by reminding eco-conscious pet owners that environmental concerns reach into the pet food aisle. Pet owners who perceive their pets to be part of the family are 60 percent more likely to buy “green” pet food. The researcher says ads that show pets as valued family members who deserve healthy “green” food will attract eco-conscious pet owners.

Walmart Chooses To Become A Better Company Instead Of Telling A Better Story

Walmart chose to deal with its negative public image by telling its side of the story while working to become a better company at the same time. Like some other large corporations, Walmart has had its share of negative publicity. Rather than telling a better story, however, the retailer chose to set objectives in areas, such as sustainability, women’s economic empowerment, and healthy food. While the company’s CEO played a leadership role in the company’s efforts to reach such goals, the company chose to get its supply chain partners, customers, communities, and employees involved. Hurricane Katrina became the turning point for the retailer, which promptly mobilized to provide the storm’s victims with meals, emergency supplies, and cash. This encouraged the company to use its size and resources to make a difference in the communities where its stores operate.

L’Oréal Adopts The Body Shop's Approach To Ethical Sourcing

L’Oréal is gradually adopting the sustainable and ethical sourcing strategies of The Body Shop, a natural cosmetics retailer it acquired in 2006, according to the retailer’s Community Fair Trade program head Mark Davis. Almost all products that The Body Shop sells include at least one CFT ingredient, at present. As part of the CFT program, company buyers work with communities to expand the supply chain’s access to sustainable materials. Davis said The Body Shop has been working with L’Oréal to teach the cosmetics giant about sustainable sourcing.
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