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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.

<<234567891011>> Total issues:119

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June 01, 2016, to June 15, 2016

Aldi’s Cage-Free Egg Decision Proves Controversial In Australia

Despite criticism from egg producers in Australia, German retail grocery chain Aldi will spend the next ten years transitioning to cage-free eggs. Consumer pressure pushed the company to take the complicated, expensive and hopefully sustainable step. But egg producers ironically call the move a “slap in the face” to consumers who may not want to spend premium prices for cage-free eggs. Aldi’s decision will “hurt Australian egg farmers and can’t be justified on the basis of either science or consumer behavior.” One egg industry representative said Australian research shows that hen stress levels are similar across cage, barn and free range farming environments. Animal husbandry practices “have the greatest influence on hen welfare.”

New Partnership Will Help Determine Levels Of Food Waste In Countries

Though 800 million people globally are malnourished, about a third of all food – approximately $940 billion worth each year – is lost as it moves from farm (or factory) to table. To help end this trend, a group of international organizations has partnered to launch a Food Loss and Waste Standard that will help businesses, governments, and other organizations to measure the problem. Organizations involved in the initiative include the World Resources Institute, the Consumer Goods Forum, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and others. The basic goal of the program is to help companies and countries find out how much food is lost or wasted, and where it occurs within their borders, operations or supply chains.

Kroger Makes It To Newsweek's List Of Top 500 Environment-Friendly Companies

Retailer Kroger Co. said it has been included in the Newsweek Green Rankings list of the top 500 environment-friendly companies for 2016. Kroger's sustainability efforts include reducing its carbon footprint by reducing overall energy consumption in all of its stores by 35 percent. Also, the retailer is nearing the EPA's Zero Waste threshold of 90 percent. Kroger, a founding partner of Feeding America, supports organizations that bring food and hope to hungry people. During the last eight years, Kroger has created more than 74,000 new jobs.

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May 15, 2016, to June 01, 2016

Advocates Of A Streamlined Lifestyle Feel The Hate From Purists

Bloggers who write about their daily efforts to reduce household waste to zero are not immune from criticism. Purists of every stripe lambaste Kathryn Kellogg and other millennial women for not following the right kind of sustainable lifestyle, whether it be veganism or anti-toilet paperism. But despite all the hate mail, Kellogg and other followers of zero-waste gurus like Bea Johnson, author of “Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Waste,” persevere in their quest. Kellogg’s trash for the past year – everything that was not recycled or composted – fits in an eight-ounce jar. That’s a far cry from the average three pounds of trash produced by every American every day.

Juice Industry May Have A Profitable Way To Use Leftover Pulp

Scientists and grad students at Washington State University have figured out a way to put carrot pulp to good use. The pulp, or “pomace,” that is left over after carrots (and other fruits and veggies) are juiced can be added to cornstarch and used to expand snack foods, making them “puffier.” The researchers found that a five percent concentration level worked best. Mixing in the pomace not only increases the volume, it adds fiber and beta-carotene without affecting the flavor. An added bonus? It creates a use for a processing byproduct at a time when juice production is on the rise.

Gleaning Not Only Reduces Food Waste, It Broadly Benefits Communities

Gleaning is a well-established agricultural practice that involves collecting and sharing excess farm produce that did not make it into the commercial food distribution pipeline. AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Julie Schubert describes what she learned in her nine months of service in Vermont, participating in the gleaning process. The biggest takeaway is the realization that gleaning is all about the community relationships among farmers, volunteers, collection sites, and ultimately the people receiving healthful fruits and vegetables. In the Rutland community alone in 2015, the Farm and Food Link’s Glean Team gathered and distributed 36,500 pounds of produce – nearly $60,000 worth – from 29 local farms.

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May 01, 2016, to May 15, 2016

Sustainability, Purity, Simplicity Are Dannon's New Watchwordsl

Yogurt maker Dannon is requiring its milk suppliers to adhere to the company’s animal welfare standards and to improve and conserve soil. The new requirement is part of Dannon’s response to a growing consumer concern about the source and wholesomeness of food. Consumers increasingly seek fewer synthetic ingredients in their foods, want their food to be more pure, and want food animals treated humanely. A slew of new food companies represent fairly tough competition for Dannon – which sells a third of all yogurts in America – by touting the simplicity and purity of their products.

Chef Works To Ensure Bright Future For Coffee Flour

A Seattle chef is convinced there’s a bright future for coffee flour, made from discarded coffee berry pulp. He has converted part of his restaurant’s kitchen into a sort of lab where he and colleagues test new formulations that use coffee flour to develop new applications beyond pastas, salad dressings, dips and batter. Thousands of tons of coffee fruit pulp – everything but the beans themselves – are thrown away each year. But Jason Wilson believes the waste product can not only be transformed into a valuable cooking ingredient, it can help raise the living standards of coffee farmers, benefit the environment, and boost the economies of coffee-producing countries. Coffee flour is the brainchild of Dan Belliveau, a former director of technical services at Starbucks.

Dannon Promises Greater Sustainability, More Natural Ingredients, Label Transparency

Yogurt maker Dannon has pledged to farmers, retailers, and consumers that it will improve sustainable practices for its milk supply. It also promises greater transparency for its products as uses more natural – and fewer – ingredients. Improving its sustainable agriculture practices and technology will lead to better soil health, better water management, an increase in biodiversity, and a decrease in carbon emission. Moving to natural ingredients means fewer synthetic and more non-GMO over a three-year transition period. The company will ensure that by the end of 2017 any GMO ingredients will be clearly indicated on product labels.

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April 15, 2016, to May 01, 2016

Turning Used Coffee Grounds Into Gold

A former British architecture student has found a way to turn used coffee grounds into flammable bricks that can be used as fuel for wood-burning stoves, at the same time reducing food waste. The technology involves removing the oil from the grounds – collected from coffee shops, retailers, airports and coffee factories – then compacting them. The coffee bricks then burn without any coffee aroma. So far, Bio-bean has dealt with companies that spend a lot of money to transport and then dump the used grounds in landfills. The company picks up the waste grounds, processes them, and sells them back to their clients as cheap fuel. Bio-bean feels consumers will also save a lot of money burning coffee ground briquettes rather than conventional charcoal, wood, or coal.

Start-Up Gets Venture Cash It Needs To Market Its Food Waste Solution

A Redmond, Wash.-based start-up has raised more cash in a third financing round, bringing the total to $30 million, to support further development and marketing of a machine that reduces food waste by turning unsold and scrap food into a useful product. WISErg's machine, called the Harvester, is used by food stores to dispose of food waste. Customers include Whole Foods Market, Costco and PCC Natural Markets. The Harvester grinds food waste into a slurry that the company takes and processes into a fertilizer that can be used on organically grown crops. There are Harvesters in more than 20 locations in Seattle alone.

General Mills Touts Progress In Sustainability, Healthful Foods

In a corporate progress report, General Mills says it has made significant headway in its plan to sustainably source all of its 10 “priority ingredients” – about half of its yearly raw material purchases – by 2020. The company also noted progress in delivering more healthful foods. It has lowered sodium and sugar content (in cereals and yogurts) and reformulated some products in response to consumer preferences. It eliminated artificial colors and flavors in its cereals and added gluten-free products. It also said it is now “the third-largest U.S. natural and organic food producer.”

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March 15, 2016, to April 15, 2016

Technology Helps Irish Organization Distribute Surplus Food To The Needy

An Irish tech entrepreneur who is passionate about food waste developed a smartphone app and organization that links businesses that have surplus food with charities that will then redistribute it to the needy. Restaurants and grocery stores can upload the details of their donation on the Foodcloud.net app, which then sends a text message to organizations telling them where to pick up the food. Foodcloud has distributed almost 1.5 million meals since it was created, and is now facilitating distribution of a ton of food daily. In 2014, the FoodCloud partnered with Tesco to give all surplus food from its 146 stores to charities across Ireland.

French Food Waste Law Would Probably Not Work In The U.S.

The French annually discard 7.1 million tons of food. Two-thirds of that is from consumers, the rest from restaurants and grocery stores. A new law tackles part of the problem, at least, requiring grocery stores to donate unsold food to charitable organizations for redistribution. The U.S. has a similar food waste problem, though on a much larger scale: 21.5 million tons of food go uneaten while 14 percent of Americans “lack reliable access to food.” Though there are laws on the books to encourage food donation, there is nothing comparable to the new French law, and there may never be. A USDA official said such a law in the U.S. would create “a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food,” and “that’s not good for anybody.”

Salvage Food Store Has Had Its Share Of Hurdles To Overcome

A Kansas grocery store that sells only salvage foods and beverages at discount has proved beneficial to the local community, but has had some unique problems to overcome. The Bargain Barn’s shelves are filled with overstock items and products close to or a little past their expiration date that might otherwise end up in a landfill. So to keep its certification, the store must be inspected regularly by the state to make sure the food is safe. But that eases the concerns of some shoppers who worry that salvage food means spoiled food. In addition to inspections, the store faces the challenge of obtaining its food supply through bidding or contracting. State regulations prohibit buying locally produced goods, like eggs. But otherwise a full range of items is available, including gluten-free and international foods.

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March 01, 2016, to March 15, 2016

Hilton Hotels Announces Animal Welfare Policy In Its Supply Chain

In a joint statement with the Humane Society of the U.S., hotel chain Hilton Worldwide announced it would eliminate caged egg-laying chickens and gestation crates for breeding pigs from its supply chain within two years. Affected by the announcement are 19 countries and all hotels in the Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Canopy and DoubleTree. They will have to switch all egg usage to cage-free by December 31, 2017. All pork products must be purchased from suppliers that house breeding pigs in groups rather than gestation crates by the end of 2018. A Humane Society spokesman said the Hilton commitment “will substantially improve countless animals’ lives.”

Subway Says No More Fake Caramel Color In Its Roast Beef

Subway promises to remove artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its sandwiches in North America by 2017. The company says the process of “ingredient improvement” has been ongoing for several years. An example is the removal of caramel color from roast beef and ham. It will remove the preservative proprionic acid and replace it with vinegar by 2016. Last year, the company acknowledged it was removing azodicarbonamide from its bread after an online petition noted the chemical was used to make yoga mats. The company’s chief marketing officer says use of simple ingredients is becoming a "necessary condition" to satisfy customers.

Dunkin’ Donuts Promises 100% Cage-Free Eggs Within Nine Years

Dunkin’ Donuts has clarified and strengthened its commitment to using only cage-free eggs in its U.S. menu. Earlier this year it said it would source ten percent of the eggs used in its breakfast sandwiches from cage-free sources by the end of 2016. In December, the donut chain and the Humane Society of the U.S. announced that the company would serve only cage-free eggs by 2025. The company also promised to “map” its worldwide egg supply chain to see whether it is feasible to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs globally.

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February 15, 2016, to March 01, 2016

Unilever Uses “R” Approach To Keep Its Non-Hazardous Waste Out Of Landfills

Unilever says it has identified the sources of all non-hazardous waste it generates and has devised ways to direct it away from landfills. A year ago, Unilever said 240 of its factories had figured out ways to dispose of non-hazardous waste without using landfills. Another 400 sites – factories, warehouses, distribution centers and offices –in 70 countries have now been added to the list. The company applies a four-pronged “R” approach to waste disposal: reduce, reuse, recover or recycle. The achievement proves that “waste can be seen as a resource with many alternative uses.”

A Steadily Changing World Reflected In Consumer Survey Results

A preview of Euromonitor’s 2015 global consumer survey results reveals that Millennials and Gen Z – consumers under 30 – are leading the shift from computers to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This shift includes young people of the growing middle classes in emerging markets. Among other insights: Paid advertising, while still influential and important, is losing ground to product endorsements and opinions shared by family and friends on social media. Fifty-nine percent consider these recommendations to be very or extremely influential. Despite the upsurge in home food preparation, time-strapped consumers still buy packaged food and ready meals, especially “all natural” products. Lastly, consumers struggle to link health priorities with everyday habits, and try to find time for “what matters:” family, friends, and themselves.

Calif. Restaurant Makes Bread From Promising Grass Alternative To Wheat

A San Francisco “post agrarian” restaurant's goal is to rethink the restaurant business to focus on helping the environment through sustainable design. The Perennial's menu includes, for example, plant-centric starters such as sunflower Caesar salads made with aquaponic lettuces and entrees like pastured beef (four-ounce portions) with blistered broccoli leaves. Also featured is a house bread made with kernza, a perennial grass developed by the Land Institute in Kansas as an alternative to wheat. Kernza grows deep roots so it more effectively stores carbon, wards off pests, prevents soil erosion and fights other problems associated with “annual monoculture.”

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January 15, 2016, to February 15, 2016

Food Waste Becoming A Major Concern Of Americans

Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of food they waste, either in the home or at grocery stores, because they are also aware of the environmental impact of food production. Data from 2010 released by the USDA and EPA indicate that 31 percent (60 million tons) of the food in grocery stores was never eaten. About two-thirds occurred in the home, the rest in stores. A UN agency says that ratio reflects the global situation as well. Last September, the USDA and EPA jointly announced the first food waste reduction goal: 50 percent by 2030. At the grassroots level, restaurants and consumers are already taking action: “freeganism” (eating discarded grocery store foods); the “ugly food movement” (accepting less-than-aesthetic produce); and the “root-to-stem” movement (consuming all parts of a vegetable).

Unilever CEO’s New Commission Encourages Business To Develop Sustainably

The head of Unilever has joined a former U.N. deputy secretary general to launch a commission whose goal is to inspire businesses to “take the lead in poverty reduction and sustainable development.” The Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development will comprise business, labor and civil society leaders, according to co-founders Unilever CEO Paul Polman and Mark Malloch-Brown. The Commission will try to convince businesses of the economic value of achieving global sustainable development goals (SDGs). Benefits include new markets, investment opportunities and innovations; a reduced risk of instability, fragmentation and fragility; encouragement of a future where businesses can perform with inclusive, sustainable growth and widespread job creation.

Henkel Gains Recognition For Company's Sustainability Efforts

Henkel said it has received recognition for its sustainability efforts from three organizations. According to the company, it is again included in the list of Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World Index. It also received a Gold rating from EcoVadis, while RobecoSAM gave the company its Silver Class award. International rating agency EcoVadis recognized Henkel’s push for a more sustainable supply chain as a member of the Together for Sustainability initiative.

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December 15, 2015, to January 15, 2016

The Goodwell Company Offers Consumers A Toothbrush That Lasts Forever

E-commerce startup The Goodwell Company is selling a $29.99 sustainable toothbrush that company founder Patrick Triato says is designed to last forever. Designed to be compostable, several accessories for the toothbrush include head replacements, floss, and tongue scrapers. These can be bought as a one-time purchase or through a subscription service offered by the company. Oral care sales are forecast to expand at 3.1 percent per year in the next five years, according to market research firm IBISWorld; however, the company faces serious competition in the market from major brands, including Procter & Gamble’s Oral-B.

Gwyneth Paltrow Partners With Juice Beauty Line Executive To Launch Line Of Organic Cosmetics

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow partnered with Karen Behnke, founding partner of Juice Beauty Brand, to launch a line of cosmetics made from certified organic ingredients. Citing her long-held worries about the effects of frequent makeup use as her main reason for launching the product line, Paltrow said she had wrongly believed that the cosmetics industry would regulate the ingredients in their products. According to the company, the brand aims to offer consumers with the luxury usually associated with high-end brands Chanel and Giorgio Armani at more affordable prices.

Aldi Australia Bans Microbeads From Its Personal Care Products

Supermarket chain Aldi Australia said it will remove plastic microbeads from its own-brand personal care products by 2017. Joining other retailers Coles and Woolworths, Aldi said it will replace microbeads with natural ingredients. Environmentalist Jon Dee, one of the leading campaigners for a ban on microbeads, commended Aldi for its decision.

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December 01, 2015, to December 15, 2015

Unilever Uses Company’s Crowdsourcing Engine To Power Sustainability Foundry

Crowdsourcing software vendor Spigit says it is working with Unilever Foundry to help the company attract and connect innovators in sustainability. California-based Spigit is the Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) platform that provides a single entry-point and connection mechanism for individuals, start-up companies and corporations who want to partner with Unilever Foundry and tackle its “challenges.” Applicants submit ideas to: improve global nutrition, imagine the “shower of the future,” boost access to toilet and sanitation solutions, and reinvent the laundry process to use less water. Since its founding in June 2015, Unilever Foundry IDEAS has received 300 proposals from entrepreneurs around the world.

Unilever CEO Says Concerned With Planned Cuts In UK Government Subsidies For Renewable Energy

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said he shares the solar power industry’s concern regarding the UK government’s plan to reduce subsidies to solar and wind power generation. Polman also said businesses must act to help promote sustainability and reduce greenhouse gases emissions; however, he also stressed that governments need to act to ensure environmental goals are achieved. According to the UK government, the renewable energy sector is on track to exceed its target of accounting for 5.4 percent of all annual energy provision by 2013–2014.

Swiss Chocolate Maker Improves Sustainability Record

Barry Callebaut reports that it continues to make progress in the area of sustainable cocoa production. The company sourced 159,000 tons of sustainable cocoa in 2015, an increase of 21 percent over 2014, and trained 70,000 farmers in better farming practices. The company created the independent, non-profit Cocoa Horizons Foundation to “drive change in cocoa sustainability.” It developed a new range of sustainable cocoa and chocolate products, Horizons, to support farm productivity and community development programs. Products are traceable from farm to warehouse. The company also distributed sustainability premiums of $20 million to farmers and farmer groups.
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