Green business

Climate Change & Manufacturing

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

“When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

The subtitle to this article, the so-called “first law of holes,” is attributed to various sources (earliest going back to 1911 in the Washington Post) and is usually interpreted as “if you find yourself in an untenable position, you should stop and change, rather than carry on exacerbating it.” (fromWikipedia)

China became the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter in 2006, overtaking the US due primarily to electricity generation and industrial processes. However the per capita carbon footprint of a Chinese person is still much lower than the average US person. This is not good. Increasing industrialization and the slippery slope to more consumption.So, what’s the “hole” and how do we stop digging?

How Walmart’s green label aims to drive supplier ‘race to the top’

Read the full post in GreenBiz.

What do Tide laundry detergent, a poster covered in adorable puppies wearing headphones and a baseball hat emblazoned with the cast of Duck Dynasty have in common?

One, they’re all sold at Walmart. Two, the grab bag of products are all made by Walmart suppliers included in an initial batch of 150 companies that earned the right to be included in a new “sustainability leader” section of the mega-retailer’s growing e-commerce operation. Those suppliers range from consumer products giants like Procter & Gamble and Unilever to smaller businesses like California-based Musco Family Olive Co.

The new online badging program, announced on Tuesday at a company Milestone Meeting held just south of San Francisco, is an outgrowth of the company’s efforts to index supply chain sustainability standards across product categories. About 1,300 suppliers participated in Walmart supplier sustainability surveys last year, and about 12 percent of those companies have received the new sustainability leaders designation, Walmart Director of Product Sustainability Robert Kaplan told GreenBiz.

Making sustainability easy for the retail customer

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

How many Americans does it take to screw in an LED light bulb? Unless we’re talking about an informed early adopter, it takes two: the consumer and the salesperson who guides the buying decision. Without the latter, the former can walk away empty-handed or at least very frustrated.

I know because I was one of them. My sustainability consulting knowledge turned out to be non-transferable when purchasing my first LED. After staring at the aisle for 20 minutes, I picked the one I hoped would be right, but still got it wrong. Two trips to Home Depot and two hours later, I was finally the proud owner of a single LED light bulb.

That experience encapsulates the behavioral and market barriers inherent in transitioning to sustainable technologies — or what the World Bank calls transaction cost. Not only do transaction costs prevent individuals from purchasing energy-efficient and renewable energy applications, they also prevent suppliers from commercializing them. By helping consumers overcome transaction costs, retailers can play a pivotal role in advancing low-carbon economic growth.

EPA Delves Deeper into Corporate Sustainability Data

Read the full post on the ACS Nexus Blog.

For more than two decades, EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program has required industrial facilities to disclose both their environmental releases and the measures they’ve taken to keep toxic chemicals out of our air, water, and land.  It was only recently, however, that the TRI Program began promoting this treasure trove of pollution prevention (P2) data as a resource for identifying demonstrably-effective green practices.

More than 10,000 source reduction activities are reported to TRI each year, but can we tell which ones actually reduce releases? A rigorous statistical analysis of all TRI data shows that the average effect is highest for the reporting categories that include raw material (e.g., feedstock chemical) substitution and switches to aqueous cleaners from solvents. And a separate analysis of the pharmaceutical sector indicates that green chemistry practices contributed to dramatic reductions in the early-to-mid 2000s.

But more meaningful insights lie ahead. Beginning with reports due July 1 of this year, facilities will have the opportunity to report the estimated annual reduction associated with each newly implemented P2 activity. This information will shed new light on which types of practices (including six new green chemistry categories added in 2012) are having the biggest impact on companies’ environmental footprints. As always, facilities that implemented green chemistry will also be encouraged to highlight their successes by submitting a more detailed narrative in the optional P2 section of the form (see video).

Simplifying Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) has completed its Simplifying Environmentally Preferable Purchasing project, which was funded by the Roy A. Hunt Foundation. As part of the project, NERC developed Model Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Specifications and Purchasing Guidelines for paper, toner cartridges, and office supplies. NERC also created fact sheets on each of the EPP Model documents, and a press release about the newly developed resources. In addition, NERC presented a webinar on the importance of EPP and the EPP model documents.

Model EPP Specifications and Purchasing Guidelines

Fact Sheets on Model EPP Specifications and Purchasing Guidelines

Simplifying EPP Webinar, July 24, 2014

Press Releases

List of Other EPP Specs

CVS Health and WBA race to Rx for safer chemicals

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Environmental health advocates and investors have been prodding CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance to adopt comprehensive safer chemicals policies for products to reduce customers’ exposures to worrisome chemicals.

Both companies’ products comply with federal safety standards. But because federal regulations badly lag growing scientific understanding of chemicals’ toxic impacts, CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and other merchants are increasingly being called upon to serve as “retail regulators.” Growing numbers are implementing tougher standards than those established by government regulations.