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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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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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November 15, 2015, to December 01, 2015

Unilever Brings VR Rainforest To London To Promote Campaign Against Deforestation

Unilever created a virtual reality forest on the South Bank in London, as part of the company’s campaign against the destruction of the rainforest areas in Brazil and Indonesia. Part of the company’s partnership with WWF to protect 1 million trees in those forest areas, the exhibit gave more than 1,200 people the chance to experience a 360-degree VR view of the rainforest. London residents who could not make it to the exhibit can show their support for the campaign by joining the People’s Climate Change March in central London on November 29, 2015.

Organic Zero-Packaging Store Opens In Paris

Retail consumer goods shops in Europe are testing the idea of zero packaging: selling products loose. Customers brings their own glass or plastic jars, recyclable cotton pouches, etc., and end up saving as much as 15 percent, London has Unpackaged, Berlin has Original Unverpackt, and now Paris has one hundred percent organic Biocoop 21. The shop is testing ways to sell 250 products without packaging, including yogurt, honey, olive oil, wine, body wash and health products. The idea not only saves shoppers money, it is good for the environment, helping to eliminate waste.

SC Johnson Gains EPA Recognition For Use Of Earth-Friendly Power

SC Johnson said it was ranked number 71 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 National Top 100 list of the largest users of green power. In 2015, the company used more than 73 million kilowatt-hours of sustainably soured electricity, enough to satisfy 43 percent of the company’s electricity requirement in the country. Also, the company was ranked number 10 on the EPA’s Top 30 On-Site Generation list of companies that generate and consume environment-friendly power on-site within the Green Power Partnership.

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November 01, 2015, to November 15, 2015

Kroger Receives Higher Sustainability Rating From CDP

Kroger Co. said its climate disclosure score rose 48 percent, or an increase of 29 points, to 89 points out of 100, as measured by the Carbon Disclosure Project, compared with the previous year. Also, Kroger revealed it was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index-North America for the third consecutive year.

Lidl Launches MSC-Certified Whole Lobster In UK

Lidl began selling wild-caught whole lobsters certified by the MSC. Launched in Lidl stores across the UK, the lobsters are sourced from a fisher in New Brunswick, Canada. Lidl has cooperated with the MSC for the past year to expand its range of certified sustainable seafood products. Forty-one percent of its wild seafood products are certified by the MSC, a 24 percent increase from 2014 level, with 100 percent of its fresh wild-caught fish MSC-certified.

Unilever Gains Recognition For Its Sustainability Efforts In Ghana

Unilever Ghana won the CSR Manufacturing Company of the Year award at the CSR Excellence Awards held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel. Inspired by the European CSR Excellence awards, the Ghana CSR Excellence Awards seeks to highlight companies’ socially responsible activities in Ghana. Unilever’s achievement of zero non-hazardous waste to landfill helped the company earn the award.

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October 15, 2015, to November 01, 2015

Kimberly-Clark Wins 6th SmartWay Excellence Award From U.S. EPA

Kimberly-Clark Corporation received its sixth SmartWay Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for collaborating with transportation companies to improve the sustainability of its supply chain operations. After joining the SmartWay program in 2006, Kimberly-Clark has more than doubled its use of intermodal transport, which helped reduce fuel consumption by about 72 million gallons of diesel and cutting down greenhouse gas emission by about 734,000 metric tons. Also, the adoption of more efficient transport has helped the company save an estimated $415 million.

L'Oreal Works To Promote Sustainability And Sustainable Consumption

L’Oreal aims to promote sustainable consumption and raise awareness about sustainability by expanding sustainable innovation and operations within its business, according to the company’s head of external affairs for the UK and Ireland, Katy Gandon. She said, the company’s sustainability initiatives serve to highlight the company’s scientific heritage, being founded by a scientist more than 100 years ago. L’Oreal launched the #changethenumbers campaign to highlight perceptions of women in science, which at the same time aims to challenge the public’s misconceptions about what or who makes a successful scientist.

Unilever Calls For Innovations Aimed At Reducing Laundry Water Use

Unilever announced an innovation challenge through its Foundry IDEAS online platform which aims to reduce laundry water consumption. With laundry accounting for 19 percent of water consumption in Nigeria and with 4 billion people forecast to be affected by water shortage by 2025, the need to reduce water use when doing the laundry is quite urgent, the company said. According to Unilever, consumers who wish to participate in the challenge are encouraged to develop ideas for “new products, devices, services, communication tools or experiences.”

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October 01, 2015, to October 15, 2015

Whole Foods Struggle To Meet Growing Demand For Sustainably Sourced And Humanely Raised Meat

Demand for sustainable, organic, natural, and humanely raised meat and other foods is growing faster than the production capacity of farmers. Whole Foods meat supplier Sweet Stem Farm’s dispute with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals highlighted the problems posed by this trend for retailers and their customers. Data from the Organic Trade Association revealed sales of organic products in the United States grew 11 percent in 2014. For its part, sustainable-food restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill dealt with a shortage of sustainably raised pork by pulling off its “carnitas” burrito filling from the menu.

Bogobrush Toothbrush Offers Consumers Affordable Earth-Friendly Electric Toothbrush

John McDougall and his sister Heather McDougal launched the Bogobrush in 2012 to provide consumers with an affordable and sustainably manufactured electric toothbrush. Bogobrush is made of biodegradable materials and comes in a streamlined design. For every toothbrush sold, the company promises to donate one Bogobrush to a charitable organization. By paying $5 more, consumers can avail themselves of a simple stand designed to highlight the beauty of the $10 Bogobrush electric toothbrush.

Earth-Friendly Diapers Offer Manufacturers Way To Grow Revenue

Makers of diapers can grow their revenue in the U.S. market, which remained flat in constant retail value at $5.9 billion and grew at a rate lower than 1 percent in 2014, by offering environment-friendly and sustainably made products. Growing demand for “green” diapers is highlighted by the growth in revenue performance of The Honest Company, currently valued at $1.7 billion and mainstream manufacturer Kimberly Clark’s launch of Huggies Pure & Natural in 2009. Manufacturers looking at the natural diapers segment, however, should keep in mind that their target customers are likely well informed about sustainability-related issues and that millennial parents put much emphasis on value for money when buying.

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September 15, 2015, to October 01, 2015

Target Adds More Chemicals To Its List Of Banned Ingredients

Target Corp. released an expanded list of chemicals it wants suppliers to remove from their products. Part of the retailer’s efforts to respond to consumer health concerns, the list includes almost 600 ingredients on Health Canada’s lineup of banned cosmetic ingredients. Also on the list is triclosan, an antibacterial agent being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a similar program aimed at encouraging suppliers to remove harmful chemicals from their products.

Method Opens Environment-Friendly Factory In Chicago

Method, a manufacturer of environment-friendly cleaning products, opened its first factory in Chicago. According to company co-founder Adam Lowry, Method wants to become “the most sustainable and the most socially beneficial company in the world.” Guided by this view, Method’s Chicago facility is designed to be eco-friendly, including features, such as the world’s largest rooftop farm. Also, the building is partly powered by its own wind turbine and solar panels. Chicago offered the company $8.1 million in tax breaks to encourage Method to locate the factory within the city limits. Method manufactures detergents and soaps that it claims do not harm consumers and the environment.

German Retailer Takes Top Honors For Sustainability Efforts

German retailer Metro Group was ranked first in the retail category of the 2015 international Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The Dow sustainability analysts cited Metro Group’s activities in the ecological and economic field, including a “positive trend” in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, power and water consumption, and waste volumes. The Sustainability Indices list the companies with the best ecological, social and economic performance in their respective industry. The world rankings include about 10 percent of the companies from each industry among the top 2,500 companies listed in the S&P Global Broad Market Index.

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September 01, 2015, to September 15, 2015

Unilever Scores High In Sustainability Ratings

An independent system of rating a company's  sustainability record has named Unilever an industry leader in food, beverages and tobacco. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) industry group leader report, compiled by RobecoSAM and Dow Jones, measures company performance across economic, environmental and social criteria. Unilever is one of only 24 companies to be named an industry group leader. It achieved a score of 92 out of 100.

L'Oreal Announces Carbon Balanced Plans For 2020

L'Oreal announced its goal of becoming carbon balanced by 2020. Made in the presence of the French president's special envoy for the protection of the planet, Nicolas Hulot, the announcement highlights the company's sustainable sourcing projects. As part of the campaign, the company aims to produce carbon gains that would offset the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from its operations. According to L'Oreal, since 2005, it has managed to lower its CO2 emissions by 50 percent in absolute terms, while increasing its production by 22 percent, during the same period.

EPA Partners With Unilever To Assess Risks Of Chemicals Used In Consumer Goods

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Unilever are working together to find a way to test the safety of thousands of chemicals used in consumer goods without using animals. According to the EPA, the new testing methods represent a “paradigm shift” in chemical safety testing and risk assessment because they will be faster, safer and “more relevant to humans.” The EPA will provide data gathered from automated chemical screening technologies. Unilever will estimate exposures from these chemicals based on its experiences using chemicals in consumer products. The combined information will be used to create a risk assessment. An EPA spokesman said the research will lead to better ways to “evaluate the potential human health effects of new ingredients and chemicals we currently know little about.”

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July 01, 2015, to September 01, 2015

SodaStream Takes A New Marketing Tack In The U.S.

SodaStream may have succeeded in Sweden – its carbonation machines are in 20 percent of Swedish homes – but the going has been tougher in the U.S. The company has abandoned the mass market and mid-market (i.e., Walmart, Kmart, Macy’s and Sears) in favor of higher-end grocery, health and wellness retailers like Whole Foods Market. It bases its U.S. marketing to some extent on environmental sustainability, but no longer pitches its flavorings as alternatives to Coke or Pepsi. A new sparkling water strategy is focused on SodaStream Waters liquid concentrates that feature full fruit flavors and hints of flavor, are calorie-free, and are sweetened with stevia to appeal to health-conscious consumers who want to avoid artificial sweeteners.

Ethical Behavior By Food Companies Is Important To U.K. Consumers

The main factor that separates ethical food companies from unethical ones in the eyes of British consumers is humane care of animals, according to research from Mintel. Humane husbandry is more important – 74 percent of 1,500 surveyed cited the factor -- than environmental or tax avoidance issues. Other top ethical issues cited by U.K. consumers were responsible sourcing (60 percent) and employee welfare (57 percent). Fifty-two percent said they wouldn’t buy products from companies if it was found that they acted unethically. Mintel said food and drink companies need to ensure that operating standards are not just legal, but also ethical, or they “risk boycotts and reputational damage.”

Whole Foods Ranked Among Fortune’s “World Changers”

Fortune magazine has named Whole Foods Market one of the top 50 companies that “Change the World.” According to the magazine, Whole Foods “prompted Walmart and Kroger to up their organic game,” whole implementing animal welfare standards, refusing to sell overfished seafood and requiring GMO labeling by 2018. Whole Foods, which is ranked No. 30 on the Fortune list, was also cited recently by Greenpeace as the top retailer for seafood sustainability in its annual ranking of U.S. supermarkets.

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June 01, 2015, to July 01, 2015

Coca-Cola Extends Commitment To Reducing Carbon Emissions From Packaging

With packaging accounting for about half of its corporate carbon emissions, Coca-Cola Enterprises says it is committing to a major reduction in materials across all of its packaging formats. It also says it will support the “circular economy” that uses recycled and renewable materials and recycles more packaging. Specifically, CCE will use 25 percent less aluminum, glass and steel; ensure that 40 percent of the petroleum-based plastic it uses is recycled or made from renewable materials; and ensure that all of its cans and bottles are fully recyclable.

RB Is Fourth Most Environment Friendly Firm, According To 2015 Newsweek List

RB is the world's fourth most environmentally responsible company, according to the 2015 Newsweek Green Ranking list. In 2014, the company was ranked number 202. Its 198-rung jump in one year highlights the company's success in improving and reducing its “overall carbon footprint.” According to the company, 74 percent of its factories are sending zero waste to landfills and it has reduced its water use by 24 percent and energy use by 13 percent, compared with 2012 levels.

The Body Shop Says To Use Newlight's AirCarbon As Packaging Material

The Body Shop partnered with Newlight Technologies for a research and development project aimed at integrating AirCarbon materials into packaging of products sold by the beauty retailer. Unlike today's plastics, AirCarbon are not made from fossil fuels. AirCarbon is a thermoplastic material developed by Newlight over 10 years of R&D and is made by “combining air with carbon.” According to The Body Shop, its R&D partnership with Newlight Technologies continues a tradition of leadership in sustainability in the beauty industry.

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May 15, 2015, to June 01, 2015

Method Launches New Laundry Detergent With 100-Percent Recycled Bottle Packaging

Method Products expanded its laundry care product line by launching the new 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent. Coming in a 53-oz PET bottle made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET resin from Amcor Rigid Plastics, the product reinforces Method Products' lineup of 8X Laundry Detergent. Amcor Rigid Plastics design engineers collaborated with Method's product designers to develop the PET bottle featuring Method's distinctive design.

Sustainability Initiative Helping Business Grow, Unilever Says

Unilever said its Sustainability Living Plan initiative has helped the company grow its business, as well as improve its cost efficiency and resilience for the future. Described by the company as “sustainable living brands,” these brands, such as Dove and Ben & Jerry's, are recording above-average growth, as highlighted by their high single- and double-digit sales expansion rates during the past three years. In 2014, Unilever focused on three key sustainability areas in the United States: Brands with Purpose, Sustainable Agriculture, and Transformational Partnerships.

Unilever CEO Says Global Warming Costing Company €400 Million Annually

Global warming is costing Unilever €400 million each year, according to company CEO Paul Polman. During an interview with broadcaster RTL Z in Paris, Polman said “companies are first to see the cost of climate change, such as the drought in California and Brazil at the moment.” Polman also said 80 percent of the world's population in 20 to 30 years will be from developing countries outside of America and Europe.
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