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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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May 01, 2015, to May 15, 2015

Unilever Awards Itself Gold Stars For Advances In Sustainable Living

Unilever has given itself a stellar report card in meeting the long-term goal of integrating sustainability into its businesses, product lines and supply lines. The strategy is driving growth in brands with cost efficiency and “resilience for the future,” according to the company. The 10-year ”Sustainable Living Plan,” a growth strategy launched in November 2010, is on track to meet most of the goals, including: helping a billion people improve their health and well-being; cutting its environmental footprint in half; and sourcing all agricultural raw materials sustainably. High-growth brands advancing sustainable living include Dove, Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s and Comfort, all of which are achieving high single and double digit sales since 2012.

L'Oreal USA Cuts Carbon Emissions By Half In 2014

L'Oreal USA said it reduced its CO2 emissions by 50 percent in absolute terms by the end of 2014, compared with a 2005 baseline. As part of the company's Sharing Beauty With All global sustainability initiative, the company intends to have 100 percent of its product with an environmental or social benefit and 100 percent of strategic suppliers evaluated in terms of their social and environmental performance. Also, the program seeks to reduce carbon emissions, water consumption, and waste per finished product by 60 percent. Also, to support the program, the company invested more than $35 million to expand its use of renewable energy, including the installation of solar energy system across many of its facilities.

Unilever Launches Bathroom Packaging Recycling Campaign

Unilever launched the “Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” campaign aimed at encouraging US consumers to recycle the packaging of their bathroom and beauty products. Developed in partnership with Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council's “I Want to Be Recycled” campaign, Unilever's initiative will feature content aimed at encouraging Americans to support recycling empty packaging into new products or recycled packaging for new bathroom products. Results of an online survey commissioned by Unilever revealed 42 percent of Americans said they do not recycle because they are unsure whether an item is “eligible for recycling.” Also, 22 percent of respondents said they do not want to walk their recyclable bath packaging to the recycling bin.

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February 15, 2015, to May 01, 2015

Belgian Brewery Tries Making Beer From Unsold Bread

Concerns about the huge amount of food wasted in Europe (and elsewhere) led a brewer in Brussels to launch a project to make beer with unsold bread that would otherwise be tossed in the trash bins. According to Sebastien Morvan, about 12 percent of food waste in Belgium comprises unsold bread discarded by supermarkets. His Brussels Beer Project hopes to revive the ancient practice of brewing beer from bread. The oldest known beer recipe (4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia) mixed multigrain bread loaves with honey. Morvan says he can replace 30 percent of the barley used to make beer with one and a half slices of bread per bottle. About 1,100 pounds of discarded bread makes1,057 gallons of beer.

Pa. Meat Processor Finds Ways To Recycle Or Re-Use All Waste Matter

A Cargill meat processing plant in Hazleton, Pa., has completed a program to recycle plastic, burn unrecyclable plastic to produce energy, and render food waste into other food products, completely avoiding landfills. The 225,000-square-foot plant with 600 employees produces 10 million pounds of beef, pork and ground meat products monthly. In 2012, the plant sent 1,500 tons of waste to local landfills, including plastic, bio-solids, paper and other materials. But after a stepped-up recycling program, a third-party certification company verified the facility's landfill-free status in late March after reviewing documentation and performing a three-day on-site audit.

Membership Model Of Grocery Delivery Could Be A Game-Changer For Industry

A report from BI Intelligence says that the trick to succeeding as an online grocery delivery service is to make it membership-based. The membership strategy, based on Costco’s model, is being applied successfully by several companies, not the least of which is Amazon, and could prove a disruptive force in the $600 billion retail grocery industry. The main benefits of the membership model include (for the business): repeat customers and lower per-order delivery fees; and (for the consumer):  guaranteed fresh food from the local supermarket and less time spent in-store. The report looks at the grocery delivery services of Amazon, Instacart, Shipt and Thrive Market.

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January 01, 2015, to February 15, 2015

Oregon Milling Company Focuses On Crickets, Rather Than Grain

A Portland, Ore.,-based company is betting its future on bug-derived protein – specifically, high-protein flours made from crickets. After euthanizing the farm-grown (and highly sustainable and enviro-friendly) crickets, they are sorted, cleaned, then baked, dehydrated, or freeze-dried to remove moisture. They are milled into fine grain flours that can be mixed into smoothies, cookies, bread, protein bars, etc. Cricketflours.com offers an array of products – starting at $15 -- including Peruvian chocolate cricket flour, chocolate peanut butter cricket flour, and an all-purpose flour for traditional baking. The target markets are athletes, people with wheat allergies, and people concerned about the environment.

Procter & Gamble Partners With Constellation To Build Biomass Plant In Georgia

Procter & Gamble Co. partnered with Exelon Corp.'s subsidiary Constellation to develop a 50-megawatt biomass plant that will supply steam to P&G's paper manufacturing facility in Albany, Ga. Expected to increase P&G's use of renewable energy, the proposed biomass plant will help the consumer goods company achieve its goal of sourcing 30 percent of its power requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In addition to providing P&G with steam, the biomass plant will also generate electricity for local utility Georgia Power.

Companies Can Benefit From Keen Consumer Awareness Of Sustainability Issues

A study by researcher NMI finds that consumer awareness and attitudes toward sustainability and green brands are at an all-time high. According to NMI, companies can benefit from this increased awareness, though calculating the benefit may be difficult. Nevertheless, consumers who know a company is conscientious in health and sustainability are: more likely to try its products or services (58 percent); more likely to buy repeatedly (53 percent); more likely to tell friends and family about the company (45 percent); and are less concerned about price (30 percent). What’s tricky, NMI says, is measuring the actual impact of these attitudes on a company’s bottom line.

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December 01, 2014, to January 01, 2015

Unilever Receives Sustainability Honors From South Africa And United Nations

Unilever South Africa received the Investment Promotion Award from the country's Department of Trade and Industry. Given on behalf of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the award recognizes the company's contribution to sustainability with its “sustainable and water neutral investment” at its Durban factory. One of the company's factories in KwaZulu-Natal region, the Indonsa factory manufactures a number of brands, including Aromat, Knorr, and Rajah.

Procter & Gamble Receives Green Light For Proposed Biomass Plant In Albany

Procter & Gamble's proposed biomass energy plant at its facilities in Albany, New York, became a step closer to reality after the Albany-Dougherty Payroll Development Authority approved a $250 million bond issue for the project. Valued at $230 million, the planned energy plant will create steam energy to be used by P&G's local facilities, enabling the company to achieve sustainable goals for its manufacturing plants worldwide. Part of the plan involves allowing a local U.S. Marine base to also use the plant for energy, PDA officials said.

U.K. Confectionery Makers Need To Tie Sustainable Claim To Chocolate Products

Market researcher Canadean says British candy makers need to take into account growing consumer interest in natural and sustainable ingredients when marketing chocolate products. A large majority of U.K. consumers already feel chocolate is a natural product, but marketers would benefit if they were to add a sustainable angle to product advertising. The U.K. confectionery market was valued at £5.3 billion in 2013, and the chocolate segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.7 percent through 2018, a rate that is higher than sugar candy and chewing gum.

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November 01, 2014, to December 01, 2014

Unilever Launches First TV Branding Campaign In United States, Works Against Child Hunger

Unilever launched its first TV branding campaign in the United States. Featuring TV ads created by WPP's Ogilvy & Mather agency, the campaign highlights speeches by Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and young people campaigning against hunger. Unilever, through its Project Sunlight sustainability initiative, aims to eliminate child hunger in partnership with Feeding America. At the same time, the campaign aims to raise consumers' awareness about the company, its sustainability efforts, and its various brands.

Goodwell Seeks Crowd-Sourced Funds For Proposed Sustainable Toothbrush

Goodwell is raising funds through crowd funding site CrowdSupply to finance the development of its sustainable toothbrush. Expected to be priced at $69, the toothbrush kit is made from natural materials and will be guaranteed for life. Buyers will have the option to purchase a yearly subscription plan that comes with a new attachment every month. It also comes with an optional Hacker/Tracker data tracker that will help monitor consumers' toothbrushing activities.

Unilever Asia Receives Honors For Sustainability Efforts In Singapore

Unilever Asia was recognized as one of the 10 most sustainable companies in Singapore during the city-state's first Sustainable Business Awards. Presented by events company Global Initiatives and consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the SBA seeks to highlight sustainable business practices that help the environment and all stakeholders. SBA emphasizes companies' integration of sustainability into their long-term strategies.

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October 15, 2014, to November 01, 2014

Irma Stops Selling Fabric Conditioner In Denmark

Denmark-based supermarket chain Irma said it will stop selling fabric softener at all of its 81 stores across the country. Part of the company's clean water initiative, the decision was made following the decline of sales of softener products in recent years. Irma's parent company Coop, however, said its other retail chains will continue selling the product.

Kimberly-Clark Receives Honors From Forest Stewardship Council For Conservation Efforts

Kimberly-Clark Corporation was recognized by the Forest Stewardship Council for the company's efforts to promote sustainability and environment-friendliness in the marketplace. Conferred at the Annual Design & Build with FSC Awards during the Greenbuild 2014 event, the award acknowledges Kimberly-Clark's actions promoting forest conservation and leveraging markets to promote forest stewardship. Starting in 2009, Kimberly-Clark has expanded by 111 percent its use of FSC-certified fiber in tissue products it manufactures worldwide.

Shiseido Gets CDP's Nod For Sustainability Efforts

Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido Co., Ltd., was recognized by the nonprofit group Carbon Disclosure Project for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change risks. The commendation also highlights the company's inclusion in the Climate Performance Leadership Index. CDP announced the honors during the CDP Japan 500 Climate Change Report 2014 event held in Tokyo on October 15, 2014.

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October 01, 2014, to October 15, 2014

Climate Change Is Intensifying Destructive Impact Of Coffee Rust

Scientists worry that climate change could be intensifying and accelerating the cycle of wet years and drought in coffee-growing countries that spurs the spread of coffee rust. Especially affected is Brazil’s Arabica coffee tree, responsible for 70 percent of the two billion cups consumed globally every day. Coffee growers have battled coffee rust – a devastating  fungus that has caused $1 billion in economic damage in Latin America since 2012 – for centuries. But climate change is making it worse, and could drive the price of coffee up, and push growers to switch to the climate resistant, but bitter, Robusta coffee bean. “If things continue like this, maybe 50 years from now, we’ll all be tea drinkers,” one industry observer says.

Unilever Calls For Bolder Sustainability And Climate Change Targets In Europe

Unilever called on the European Member States to adopt a stronger position on sustainability and climate change. Joining 10 other companies, Unilever proposed a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal higher than 40 percent and called on the European countries, which will meet on October 23 and 24, 2014, to adopt a 40 percent renewable energy objective by 2030. Energy efficiency target should be set at 40 percent, the company also said.

P&G Adds Water Conservation And Packaging To Its Sustainability Goals

Procter & Gamble Company said it has expanded its sustainability goals in order to conserve resources, protect the environment, and improve the social conditions of low-income people while offering consumers value with their favorite brands and products.  P&G is constantly seeking to “improve the environmental sustainability of its products across the manufacturing, packaging, and delivery stages, according to Martin Riant, the company's executive sponsor of sustainability and group president of its Global Baby and Feminine & Family Care unit. In addition to the company's 12 sustainability goals, P&G said it will put emphasis on water conservation and product packaging.

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September 15, 2014, to October 01, 2014

Nestle Partners With Bill Gates Charity To Improve Milk Production In East Africa

Nestlé has partnered with a Bill Gates charitable organization to boost productivity and quality of life among East African dairy farmers, including those in Ethiopia and Kenya. Small rural farmers in the region rely on milk as a key source of income, calories and nutrients. Collection and transportation of the milk to chilling stations, however, is inefficient and often leads to spilling or spoilage. Under the two-year partnership, Nestlé and Global Good will apply technology and innovation to improve production. They will also provide 3,000 specially designed milk containers known as “Mazzi” to help small farmers maximize the quantity of the milk they sell.

L'Oreal Opens Biomass Plant At Burgos Manufacturing Plant In Spain

L'Oreal inaugurated its new biomass plant at its Burgos manufacturing site at the Villalonquejar industrial estate in Spain. Considered a pioneering effort in the country in the field of integrating the use of biomass, solar energy technology, and trigeneration energy, the facility will supply the factory with steam, hot water, cold water, and electricity. Moreover, the biomass plant will provide 100 percent of the factory's energy requirements. Opened in 1971, the Burgos manufacturing facility produces all kinds of hair care products, including shampoos, treatments, and lotions.

Clorox Strengthens Ingredient Transparency, Sustainability Initiatives

Catharine de Lacy, who heads Clorox’s global product safety and environmental activities, said that the company’s adoption of the Preferred Ingredient Calculator and expansion of its Ingredients Inside program to include specific fragrance components supports its ingredient transparency and sustainability goals. The action was meant to help developers consider the sustainability profiles of different raw materials and ingredient formulations. It took awhile to add fragrances to the program, she said, because they “are both a science and art” and fragrance recipes are protected for competitive reasons.

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August 15, 2014, to September 15, 2014

Häagen-Dazs Makers Will Not Use Synthetic Vanilla Flavoring

The makers of Häagen-Dazs ice cream say they will not use vanilla flavoring produced synthetically, though the FDA is expected to approve its safe use in food production. Synthetic biology (“synbio”) vanilla flavoring is made with artificial DNA and genetically engineered yeast. Use of lab-produced synbio vanilla would reduce farm land devoted to vanilla bean production. But advocacy groups say synbio yeast and algae feed on sugar, which would lead to increased sugarcane production. In addition, synbio organisms, which can reproduce, would be impossible to recall if released into the environment. Nestlé makes Häagen-Dazs ice cream in Canada and the U.S., and General mills makes it outside North America.

Nestle Says Nespresso Brand Will Be Carbon Neutral Within Six Years

As part of a half-billion dollar sustainability initiative comprising several commitments, Nestle’s Nespresso coffee brand has promised complete carbon neutrality within six years. Other “Positive Cup” commitments include: a pledge to source all Grand Cru coffees sustainably in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan; a pledge to help coffee farmers achieve high certification standards in water management, biodiversity and fair treatment of workers; a plan to expand the capacity to collect and recycle used aluminum coffee capsules; and a promise to further reduce the carbon footprint of the company by 10 percent.

Chinese Shoppers See California As An Exporter Of High-Quality Foods

Food shoppers in China and Hong Kong are paying closer attention to nutrition, sustainability, safety and – logically enough – country of origin, a fact that is driving demand for better quality food products. That’s good news for California food exporters, who are perceived by the Chinese as high quality producers. California has exported about $4 billion worth of food products – fresh produce, health foods, organic foods and premium wines – to Hong Kong and China so far in 2014, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2012. Forecasters see a similar double-digit increase by the end of the year.

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April 15, 2014, to August 15, 2014

Proposal To Export Coffee Beans Whole Raises Serious Sustainability Questions

A report of a suggestion by a former Starbucks engineer that billions of pounds of waste coffee pulp be processed from whole coffee cherries into flour in the U.S. has raised some serious eco-issues. Dan Beliveau had recommended that coffee cherries be exported whole, without initial processing on the farms. The waste pulp could then be turned into a gluten-free, fiber- and protein-rich flour. Environmental experts and coffee farmers at the source – one in El Salvador – noted in response to the report that almost none of the nitrogen-rich cherry pulp goes to waste. It is treated and hauled back to the coffee groves, then spread around the trees as fertilizer, furthering sustainability goals. “If well managed, there is no waste in the coffee fields,” said a representative of Cooperative Coffees.

New Dishwashing Liquid Helps Advance Henkel’s Sustainability Strategy

Henkel says that for the first time its researchers have combined surfactants and enzymes to create a liquid hand-dishwashing product (Pril against Grease and Crust) that can split starch molecules. The achievement, which reduces CO2 emissions as well as the amount of resources and raw materials used, also means that the starch remains of dried rice and noodles can be quickly removed. The company says the concept of “achieving more with less” is the basis of its sustainability strategy: creating value for itself, customers, and communities at a reduced environmental footprint.

Palm Oil Producers In Indonesia Guilty Of “Greenwashing” Their Deforestation Efforts

Greenpeace warns that an initiative by major palm oil producers ostensibly to stop deforestation in Indonesia will actually lead to further forest destruction to create more palm oil plantations. The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM) sets tougher deforestation standards than those established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), according to the producers. But Greenpeace says the initiative gives the producers time to determine which Indonesian forests to protect while actually allowing them to clear forests. “Allowing clearance in the name of 'sustainability' is nothing less than greenwashing,” a Greenpeace representative said.
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