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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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March 15, 2013, to April 15, 2013

Unilever Proceeding Rapidly Toward Sustainability Goals

In a time of climate change, water scarcity, and rising populations, sustainable agriculture is increasingly important not only for managing business risk, but also for boosting brand marketability, according to Unilever. For example, last year Knorr was able to claim that a new soup launched in France included tomatoes sustainably grown in accordance with the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code. The company procures half of its raw materials from the farming and forestry industries, so sustainability is hugely important. Unilever says it is now sourcing 36 percent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably. Significant progress has been made in raw materials such as palm oil, vanilla, sugar and sunflower oil.

Walmart’s Sustainability Blog Gets A Facelift

Launched a year ago, Walmart’s “Green Room” blog site – providing information on the retailer’s sustainability efforts – was meant to encourage a dialogue on sustainability with consumers and industry experts. The company has launched a more “robust” version of the blog that encourages visitors to share ideas on creating a sustainable world. The site features a cleaner design with improved navigation, more photos, videos and slideshows that illustrate sustainability topics and company news. Enhanced social sharing tools include interactive polls and quizzes, and mobile optimization.

Nestlé’s Investment In European Facilities Continues To Expand

Nestlé has opened a £35 million water bottling factory in Buxton, U.K., that will bottle natural mineral water and Nestlé Pure Life spring water. The new factory is another in the company’s strategic investments in European production facilities. Last year, Nestlé spent £200 million to refurbish its Product Technology Centre for confectionery in York, U.K., and £38 million to enlarge a Purina factory in Hungary. The company also built a Nespresso factory in Switzerland and a Nescafé Dolce Gusto factory in Germany. Last year, Nestlé announced a £ 310 million investment in its coffee manufacturing business in Tutbury, Derbyshire, creating 425 new jobs.

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March 01, 2013, to March 15, 2013

General Mills Employees Help Fight Poverty In Africa

Partners in Food Solutions, a nonprofit group established by employees of food company General Mills, works to help poor people in Africa through technology and knowledge transfer. The group's efforts include sharing with Africa-based partners and beneficiaries General Mills' knowledge and technical expertise as a food company. Among FPS' partners in Africa are Nyirefami, a flour-milling company in Tanzania, and COMACO, a nonprofit that markets food to consumers while working to save wild animals and ecosystems.

Unilever Foresees Harsh Business Climate In Nigeria In 2013

Unilever Nigeria PLC managing director Thabo Mabe forecast business will be more difficult in 2013. Speaking at the company’s 2012 Customers Forum event in Lagos, Mabe said global warming is expected to have adverse impact on the business environment in Nigeria, as well as worldwide. Mabe, however, promised his company will push its products harder despite the forecast hardships. Unilever’s reorganization of its business in the country’s northern region helped made the region the company’s highest sales point in its 2010 financial year, Mabe said.

Whole Foods Market Says To Require GMO Labels On Products By 2018

Whole Foods Market said it plans to require all products at its stores in the United States and Canada to have labels indicating if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by 2018. Making the announcement at the Natural Products Expo West event, Whole Foods Market said it has been cooperating with many of its suppliers for several years to source products without GMO ingredients. In 2009, for example, the retailer began subjecting its 365 Everyday Value line to Non-GMO Project verification and encouraged its grocery suppliers to do the same. 

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February 15, 2013, to March 01, 2013

Resources Are Available For Those Interested In Farming In The City

Urban farming is catching on all over the country, as people from all walks of life grow food on rooftops, balconies, window sills, etc. To promote the trend and provide resources for novice and experienced urban gardeners, Food Tank  compiled a list of organizations, conferences, videos, and books dedicated to the subject. The City Chicken Project, for example, teaches city dwellers how to keep chickens that provide not only eggs, but also soil aeration and fertilizer. Two organizations in Chicago offer urban beekeeping classes. And “The Urban Farm Handbook” provides instruction for the novice urban farmer and includes “a wealth of relevant topics”.

Thierry Mugler's The Source Makes Perfume Refilling Cool

Fashion and perfume vendor Thierry Mugler launched its The Source perfume refill recycling business. Results of analysis conducted by environmental specialist firm EVEA showed the refill recycling operations could save around 1,515 tons of used fragrance bottles and eliminate the need for 1.35 million new bottles worldwide. There are many obstacles, such as inconvenience, mess, and cost, faced by companies promoting refill recycling; however, Thierry Mugler’s move might make the concept fashionable and be readily accepted by consumers.

When It Comes To Packaging, Sustainability Is The Key For Global Consumers

A survey of nearly 20,000 consumers in 26 countries by French market researcher Ipsos finds a willingness to pay extra for packaging that keeps food and beverages fresher longer (55 percent), is environmentally friendly (55 percent), is re-usable and easy to use. But consumers were less interested in more sophisticated packaging that prevents mess or spills, keeps food and beverages at the right temperature, or makes it easier to eat and drink on-the-go (31 percent). Ipsos said the findings suggest a marketing opportunity “through innovative package designs that deliver sustainability of freshness as well as sustainability of the planet.”

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February 01, 2013, to February 15, 2013

Partnership Promotes Coconut Sustainability In Philippines

U.S. food producer and marketer Cargill has partnered with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and chemical company BASF to develop a certified sustainable coconut oil supply chain in the Philippines. The goal of the partnership, which is co-financed by a German government agency, is to enhance sustainability and improve the livelihoods of 2,500 coconut growers by improving productivity and coconut oil quality. The initiative provides farmers with newly designed coconut dryers to improve the quality of copra (coconut meat) and coconut oil, and provides better access to health insurance. About 3.5 million hectares are dedicated to coconut production in the Philippines, a quarter of the total agricultural land.

Multinational Companies In India Are Committed To Buying Palm Oil From Sustainable Sources

A commitment to creating sustainable supply chains is driving multinational companies to encourage producers of palm oil in Malaysia and Indonesia to adopt sustainable production methods. Indian companies that buy palm oil include Godrej Industries, Hindustan Unilever, Adani Wilmar, and Ruchi Soya. They are among 20 multinationals whose goal is to eventually buy only palm oil that originates from plantations certified as sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).Unilever, for example, has set a target of purchasing palm oil only from traceable sources by 2020.

SC Johnson Joins Mexico's Wind Farm Program To Increase Renewable Energy Use At Toluca Factory

SC Johnson said it has joined the wind farm program of Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad. Part of the company’s efforts to increase its sustainability, SC Johnson’s participation in the program will allow it to increase its use of renewable energy by 65 percent to about 86 percent of total power use at its facility in Toluca, Mexico. Also, it will decrease the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent. Other sustainability initiatives of the company include the use of wind turbines at its largest manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, and the use of waste palm shells as a fuel source to heat water for mosquito coil production at its Medan facility in Indonesia.

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January 01, 2013, to February 01, 2013

Unilever Adopts Frugal Innovation, Aims To Make More With Less

Unilever, along with Renault-Nissan and Siemens, is a pioneer in using frugal innovation as a business strategy. Defined as "the ability to generate considerably more business and social value while significantly reducing the use of scarce resources," frugal innovation helps enterprises perceive scarcity in resources as a growth opportunity. Unilever CEO Paul Polman has adopted the theory, integrating frugal innovation into his company's business operations. For example, Unilever gets almost 25 percent of its agricultural inputs from sustainable sources and uses lower-emission trucks in distributing its products.

Procter & Gamble Supports China's Environment Education Program For Young People

Procter & Gamble announced its support for the Little Green Scouts, a program aimed at helping young people in China to study, observe, and get in touch with nature and the environment. Peking University primary school students performed the “Greenhouse Effect” drama during the program’s launch in Beijing. Started by the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences, the Little Green Scouts program was integrated by the State Council into its action plan for the country’s science literacy in 2012.

Unilever's Social Experiment Aims To Find Ways To Improve Household Sustainability

Unilever launched the Bathroom Challenge, the second chapter of its sustainability social experiment in the United Kingdom. Highlighting the company's personal and household care brands Radox, Domestos, and Persil, the program asks 12 UK households to discover ways to lower their water and energy use and bathroom waste while doing daily activities, such as washing hands and brushing teeth. Data from Futures Company show heating water for household use accounts for 23 percent of domestic heating bills and one-fifth of households' carbon footprint in the UK. Launched in November 2012, the first part of the Sustain Ability Challenge asked 12 households to reduce the environmental impact of their kitchens.

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December 01, 2012, to January 01, 2013

SC Johnson Installs Wind Turbines At Waxdale Manufacturing Site

SC Johnson installed two wind turbines at its Waxdale manufacturing facility in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin. Capable of generating about 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity yearly, the wind turbines will enhance the plant’s sustainability, producing Scrubbing Bubbles, Glade, and Windex products with clean energy. Combined with the plant’s cogeneration turbines, the wind turbines will enable the plant to produce 100 percent of its electricity requirements onsite.

L'Oréal Joins Beraca, German Agency To Help Promote Sustainable Sourcing From The Amazon

L'Oréal partnered with Brazil-based ingredients supplier Beraca to help promote sustainable sourcing of raw materials from the Amazon. With Germany's Agency for International Cooperation as part of the agreement, the program focuses on supply chain's principal areas: organization and management, manufacturing and organic certification, and marketing. The German international agency will handle training of program beneficiaries in business management and collaborative solutions. L'Oréal will invest in infrastructure and safety equipment.

WRI Sustainability SWOT Tool Helps Target, Staples Profit From Environment-Friendly Operations

Retailers Target and Staples are using the World Resources Institute’s Sustainability SWOT tool to perform strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis of their sustainability efforts. The sSWOT tool developed by the WRI is designed to help businesses profit from their efforts to manage environmental risks, such as climate change and water shortage. Also, the sSWOT can help motivate companies to invest and collaborate to deal with sustainability-related issues in ways that add value to their business.

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November 15, 2012, to December 01, 2012

Unilever Expands Focus, Operations In Emerging Markets

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said emerging markets are accounting for a growing share and focus of his company's business operations, as well as of those of other multinational corporations. At present, emerging markets account for 56 percent of the company's revenue, and this rate will rise to 75 percent by the end of the decade, according to Polman. He also said that innovation, anticipation of consumer needs, and business speed and agility will enable Unilever to double its turnover while reducing its environmental impact. Polman said that increasingly, innovation is coming from the emerging markets, and the company is expanding its investments in developing countries.

Procter & Gamble Expands Fleet Of Lift Trucks Powered By Fuel Cells

Procter & Gamble Co. chose GenDrive fuel cells from Plug Power Inc. to power the electric lift trucks in the company's manufacturing plant in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania. Three other P&G manufacturing sites are using green fuel cell technology, with more than 340 units deployed. Compared with lead-acid batteries, which require being changed, charged, stored, and maintained, GenDrive fuel cells are powered by hydrogen, can offer constant voltage, and can be refueled in minutes.

Proposed Financial Reporting Method Includes Value Of Sustainability

More than 80 companies, including Clorox, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola, are evaluating the use of an integrated financial reporting framework that merges measurable financial results with sustainability, social, and regulatory factors. Overseen by the International Integrated Reporting Council, the pilot program aims to measure how sustainable a company’s operations are by considering the costs and benefits of its environmental strategies. Under the framework, companies must report all material information, including its sustainability goals and metrics. The IIRC believes integrated reporting, such as the pilot program, can help investors determine a company’s ability to generate cash flows.

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November 01, 2012, to November 15, 2012

Shiseido Promises To Use Only RSPO-Certified Palm Oil In 2013

Japan-based cosmetics company Shiseido pledged to use only palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in 2013. Shiseido joined the RSPO in 2010. Certification of Shiseido's sustainability plan involves using the Book&Claim system for trading palm oil and palm kernel oil made at RSPO-certified plantations.

Unilever Launches Study Of Sustainable Living In Real Life

Unilever launched the "Sustain Ability Challenge," a study aimed at understanding consumer attitudes toward sustainable living. After recruiting 12 families in the United Kingdom as participants, the study will involve a series of monthly challenges designed to help them reduce their monthly food expenditure by 15 percent and their household wastes by 25 percent, the company claims. Seeking to highlight the drivers and barriers to changing consumer behavior toward sustainable choices, the study will also help Unilever design better behavior-change marketing strategies.

China's Animal Testing Requirement Keeps Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Firms Away

China’s policy requiring cosmetics to be tested on animals before they are allowed to be sold in the country prevents some cosmetics companies, which are against animal testing, from entering the market. The Body Shop, for example, has refrained from expanding in to China to avoid violating the company’s cruelty-free policies. In the Philippines, The Body Shop launched its Christmas line of skincare products for 2012.

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October 15, 2012, to November 01, 2012

For Beauty Brands, Market's Viability Outweighs Challenges In Going Organic

Cosmetics manufacturers planning to produce beauty products that include organic ingredients have to consider many issues in order to ensure success in the organic beauty market. There are various standards and certifications bodies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program, and industry-initiated groups, such as NSF International, Oregon Tilth, and Ecocert/Cosmos in Europe. These challenges, however, are outweighed by the viability of the organic beauty market. Also, including organic ingredients enhances a beauty product's marketability. 

EU Fisheries Reform Needed To Prevent Disastrous Drop In Harvest Over Next Decade

Fishing fleets in the European Union will haul in 30 percent less fish by 2022 than in 2009 unless fish populations are managed sustainably, a report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund warns. To prevent a disaster of this magnitude, WWF says robust regulatory reform is needed. The European Parliament supports a call from the EU executive to revamp the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), but will not adopt the position until January. WWF says if EU lawmakers implement robust fisheries reform, and allow stocks to return to “sustainable levels,” fisherman could harvest 2.8 million tons (80 percent) more fish in EU waters, providing an extra €2.1 billion a year in income.

Sustainable Expansion Is Key Strategic Goal For Unilever And Dutch Dairy Supplier

Royal FrieslandCampina, a Dutch supplier of baby and infant food, milk-based drinks, and other dairy products and ingredients, and Unilever have extended their relationship with an agreement to develop and promote sustainable production, packaging and logistics. One of Unilever’s key strategic goals is to double their size while cutting in half their global environmental impact. FrieslandCampina is also committed to sustainable expansion and said its member dairy farmers are involved in various projects to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The company is Unilever’s preferred partner for ingredients used in the business-to-business markets such as butter, butter oil, cream in aerosol cans, as well as ingredients for ice cream, soups and sauces and other foods.

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October 01, 2012, to October 15, 2012

Unilever Calls For Innovation Support For Its Sustainable Growth Initiative

Unilever's research and development department announced three research projects for which the company is seeking help from the world's R&D and innovation community. Call for help is part of Unilever's Open Innovation online portal project, which encourages innovators to contribute to the fast moving consumer goods giant's sustainability efforts. To date, the portal has received more than 1,000 ideas, including technical solutions and new product ideas. Unilever hopes that its new call for innovation will just be as successful.

After Reaching Original Sustainability Goals, Reckitt Benckiser Unveils New Initiative

Reckitt Benckiser announced "betterbusiness," its new sustainability initiative, which aims to ensure that a third of the company's net revenue comes from sustainable products. In May 2012, the company announced it had achieved its goal of reducing its carbon footprint per dose by 20 percent, eight years earlier than 2020, its original target year. The company said it aims to achieve its new sustainability goals "through product innovation, sustainable operations, and by enabling consumer action."

Unilever Supports UK Metal Packaging Industry's Recycling Initiative

Unilever agreed to support the metal packaging industry's MetalMatters recycling program. Funded by a partnership among UK's leading manufacturers, users, and recyclers of metal packaging, the program aims to increase the capture rate for metal packaging collected for recycling by households. Unilever committed itself to supporting the program initially for two years.
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