Ikea chief: Business and governments must go all in for a carbon-free 21st century

Read the full story at Edie.net.

The chief sustainability officer of the world’s biggest furniture retailer has called on global governments to galvanise the low-carbon movement, primarily through carbon pricing, to enable companies to unlock the “tremendous” business opportunities that lie ahead.

Can Walmart’s food labels make a dent in America’s $29bn food waste problem?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The retail giant will now require its suppliers to use a new date label designed to ease safety worries and prevent food from being tossed away too early.

Volkswagen’s $15 billion lesson on the stakes of sustainability

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The public backlash has already been swift, but the concrete financial toll of European automotive giant Volkswagen’s deliberate manipulation of diesel emission testing revealed last fall is starting to crystallize.

A $14.7 billion settlement announced yesterday for the owners of some 475,000 impacted U.S. cars. The company, once lauded for its sustainability efforts on corporate rankings like the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, is now No. 2 on the dubious list of the costliest corporate environmental misdeeds in history behind BP’s $20 billion Gulf Oil Spill payout finalized last year.

In addition to the very visible green marketing fall from grace for allegedly “clean” diesel cars, the 11-figure financial penalty reflects a new precedent for regulatory crackdowns — and this is all in the U.S. alone, to say nothing of what regulators elsewhere may do about the 10 million-plus other vehicles impacted worldwide.

The verdict, which came after California regulators earlier this spring rebuffed a less costly Volkswagen plan to recall vehicles impacted by the emissions scandal, illustrates how much higher the stakes of reining in pollution have become for corporate America.

For those already immersed in corporate sustainability, however, the entire situation raises a counter-intuitive question: could the regulatory hammer dropped on VW actually be a good thing for environmentalists?

Minn. companies embrace a ‘circular economy’ to boost recycling, reduce waste

Read the full story from Minnesota Public Radio.

Imagine yourself in a native prairie. Birds and insects feed on plants. When they die, they decompose and nourish the soil. The prairie lifecycle forms a circle, where waste from one species is used by another, year after year.

Now, take a walk on a busy city street. Cars and trucks spit out pollution from their tailpipes. Disposable cups, plastic bags and the occasional broken umbrella fill up garbage cans. In the distance, a coal-fired power plant spews carbon pollution while sending out electrons to keep the economy humming. A sprinkler system keeps grass and petunia plantings hydrated — with drinking water, and any overflow trickles through storm sewers and down the Mississippi.

“Most of the industrial revolution we have essentially extracted raw materials, used them, sold what we can and got rid of what we couldn’t sell,” said Raj Rajan, the technical lead for sustainability efforts at Ecolab, one of the companies involved in the new Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition. He says the idea behind the coalition is to identify solutions that no individual company could pursue on its own.

“It’s quite exciting, because we’re seeing a lot of opportunities to actually move the needle as opposed to do one-off things that might look good on paper but really aren’t having as much of an impact,” he said.

Besides Ecolab, the coalition includes some of Minnesota’s biggest names: 3M, Best Buy, Cargill, General Mills, Medtronic and Target. Several nonprofits, government agencies and a University of Minnesota institute are also involved.

They’re looking to embrace a concept called the circular economy, which is inspired by nature.

EPA Implementation Plan for the Launtenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

EPA is today posting an Implementation Plan that outlines the Agency’s first-year plans to implement recent legislative amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) made by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The Implementation Plan along with additional information on the new Act can be found at:  https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/frank-r-lautenberg-chemical-safety-21st-century-act.

As a reminder, EPA will host a webinar on June 30, 2016, from 2:00 to 3:00 EST to provide an informational overview of the new amendments, tailored to those unfamiliar with the new provisions. Additional opportunities for stakeholder engagement are also planned in the coming weeks. To log in to the webinar, go to http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/overviewreform/ and sign in as a guest. For audio, please call 866-299-3188, and enter code 2025648098#.