P2U Webinar: The Nexus Between Green Business Programs and Pollution Prevention

Jun 28, 2022, 1-2:30 pm CDT
Cost: NPPR members – Free; Non-members – $20
Register here.

Green business programs can help companies achieve pollution prevention goals and increase sustainability initiatives. Learn how green business programs use environmental impact tracking and measurement methods to report P2 improvements. We’ll feature three green business programs and the Green Business Engagement National Network (GBENN). The session will highlight lessons learned and best practices to prevent and minimize hazardous waste, air, and water pollution as well as conservation of energy, materials, and water. The webinar is designed for those that facilitate a green business program, are thinking of starting one, or want more information on how green business programs can help their members meet P2 goals.

Featured speakers

Brittney Wendell is Associate Director of the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center where she runs and manages the EcoBiz Green Business Program in the State of Oregon. EcoBiz is a free and voluntary certification that uses industry best practices to protect the environment. Brittney has several years of experience working with businesses and industries on pollution prevention, environmental compliance, and sustainability. She also leads pollution prevention outreach programs to assist industrial and commercial facilities in the reduction of toxics, waste, and resource consumption.

Cassie Carroll is Outreach and Marketing Director with the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Cassie also serves as an advisor to the Illinois Green Business Association (IGBA) bringing her knowledge and expertise to drive IGBA’s strategic goals, develop key partnerships and relationships, and advise on the growth of the organization. She previously served as the Executive Director of IGBA and was its co-founder in 2008. In addition, Cassie also serves as the IGBA representative and leadership coordinator of the Green Business Engagement National Network (GBENN) Leadership Team. She joined the GBENN Leadership Committee after the 1st National Summit for Green Business Programs in May of 2013. She brings a passion for growing sustainable business and uncovering opportunities and promoting the value green business programs bring to communities across the nation.

Derek Boer is a Pollution Prevention (P2) Specialist in the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment which administers the Colorado Green Business Network (CGBN). The CGBN is a voluntary program that encourages, supports, and rewards superior environmental performers that go beyond the requirements of environmental regulations and move toward the goal of true, operational sustainability. Derek provides technical assistance to businesses, outreach and training to industry, and promotes sustainability through regional and statewide networks.

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50 years of UN environmental diplomacy: What’s worked and the trends ahead

Negotiations over the years have aimed to protect forests, biodiversity and the climate. Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images

by Mihaela Papa, Tufts University

In 1972, acid rain was destroying trees. Birds were dying from DDT poisoning, and countries were contending with oil spills, contamination from nuclear weapons testing and the environmental harm of the Vietnam War. Air pollution was crossing borders and harming neighboring countries.

At Sweden’s urging, the United Nations brought together representatives from countries around the world to find solutions. That summit – the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm 50 years ago on June 5-16, 1972 – marked the first global effort to treat the environment as a worldwide policy issue and define the core principles for its management.

The Stockholm Conference was a turning point in how countries thought about the natural world and the resources that all nations share, like the air.

It led to the creation of the U.N. Environment Program to monitor the state of the environment and coordinate responses to the major environmental problems. It also raised questions that continue to challenge international negotiations to this day, such as who is responsible for cleaning up environmental damage, and how much poorer countries can be expected to do.

A conference hall filled with seated people and a person at the podium in the front.
The Stockholm Conference began on June 5, 1972. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata

On the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference, let’s look at where half a century of environmental diplomacy has led and the issues emerging for the coming decades.

The Stockholm Conference, 1972

From a diplomacy perspective, the Stockholm Conference was a major accomplishment.

It pushed the boundaries for a U.N. system that relied on the concept of state sovereignty and emphasized the importance of joint action for the common good. The conference gathered representatives from 113 countries, as well as from U.N. agencies, and created a tradition of including nonstate actors, such as environmental advocacy groups. It produced a declaration that included principles to guide global environmental management going forward.

A U.N. video captured scenes in and around the Stockholm Conference, including young protesters and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s speech.

The declaration explicitly acknowledged states’ “sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.” An action plan strengthened the U.N.’s role in protecting the environment and established UNEP as the global authority for the environment.

The Stockholm Conference also put global inequality in the spotlight. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi questioned the urgency of prioritizing environmental protection when so many people lived in poverty. Other developing countries shared India’s concerns: Would this new environmental movement prevent impoverished people from using the environment and reinforce their deprivation? And would rich countries that contributed to the environmental damage provide funding and technical assistance?

The Earth Summit, 1992

Twenty years later, the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – in Rio de Janeiro provided an answer. It embraced sustainable development – development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. That paved the way for political consensus in several ways.

A person in a costume of the Earth holds a child's hand on a beach in Rio. The photo is from 1992
U.N. conferences like the Earth Summit, held June 3-14, 1992, draw global attention to environmental problems. Antonio Ribeiro/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images, 1992

First, climate change was making it clear that human activities can permanently alter the planet, so the stakes were high for everyone. The imperative was to establish a new global partnership mobilizing states, key sectors of societies and people to protect and restore the health of the Earth’s ecosystems.

Second, economic development, environmental protection and social development were treated as interdependent.

Finally, while all countries were expected to pursue sustainable development, it was acknowledged that developed countries had more capacity to do so and that their societies placed greater pressures on the environment.

A young person a nuclear symbol on a contamination suit hugs another person wearing a gas mask in front of a dark illustration of Earth.
Young people at the Earth Summit in 1992 protested against nuclear power. Antonio Ribeiro/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images, 1992

The Earth Summit produced the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, laying the foundation for global climate negotiations that continue today; the Convention on Biological Diversity; nonbinding Forest Principles; and an overarching action plan to transition to sustainability.

Progress, but major challenges ahead

The increasing awareness of environmental challenges over the past 50 years has led to the spread of national environmental agencies and the growth of global environmental law.

The world has pulled together to stop the destruction of the ozone layer, phase out leaded gasoline and curb the pollutants from burning fossil fuels that create acid rain. In 2015, U.N. member countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals with measurable targets and signed the Paris climate agreement. Countries in 2022 committed to develop a treaty to reduce pollution from plastics. Climate change and sustainable resource use have also become higher priorities in foreign policymaking, international organizations and corporate boardrooms.

But while environmental diplomacy has demonstrated that progress is possible, the challenges the world still faces are immense.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are still increasing, and rising temperatures are fueling devastating wildfires, heat waves and other disasters. More than a million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, potentially leading toward the worst loss of life on the planet since the time of dinosaurs. And 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds World Health Organization guidelines for pollutants.

The next 50 years: Trends to watch

As environmental diplomacy heads into its next 50 years, climate change, biodiversity and effects on human health are high on the agenda. Here are a few newer trends that also bear watching.

The idea of a circular economy is gaining interest. People produce, consume and throw away billions of tons of materials every year, while recycling or reusing only a small percentage. Ongoing efforts to create a more circular economy, which eliminates waste and keeps materials in use, can help mitigate climate change and restore natural systems.

Advocacy for rights of nature and animal rights is becoming more prominent in environmental diplomacy.

Outer space is another theme, as it increasingly becomes a domain of human exploration and settlement ambitions with the growth of private space travel. Space junk is accumulating and threatening Earth’s orbital space, and Mars exploration raises new questions about protecting space ecosystems.

The 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference is an important opportunity to think about development rights and responsibilities for the future while using environmental diplomacy today to preserve and regenerate the Earth.

Mihaela Papa, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Sustainable Development and Global Governance, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Climate change is blowing down houses. This could save them

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Winds are becoming more destructive, and most buildings aren’t ready for it. A recent analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that 38 states in the U.S. have a worryingly low rate of adopting hazard-resistant building codes. In the face of threats like extreme wind, hurricanes, and tornadoes, less than a quarter of cities in states like Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Massachusetts have building codes that account for the increasing risks.

Global engineering firm Arup sees this as a design problem. The company has just released a set of resilience-based design guidelines to help designers and building owners prepare homes and businesses to better withstand extreme windstorms. With a warming atmosphere and rising sea levels, buildings will be faced with major storms and hurricanes even more often.

3 actions the industry can take to decarbonize shipping

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Shipping must align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal and be run entirely on net-zero energy sources by 2050. Over 200 signatories to the industry-led Call to Action to decarbonize shipping firmly believe that urgent and equitable decarbonization of the maritime supply chain by 2050 is possible and necessary.

The private sector is leading the way and taking concrete actions to make zero-emission vessels and fuels the default choice by 2030. Decisive government action and enabling policy frameworks are needed to reach our 2030 and 2050 ambitions.

As the shipping industry navigates the transition from fossil fuels to zero-emission fuels, they are exposed to risks and uncertainties. The Getting to Zero Coalition has identified three key factors to making better-informed investment decisions: tracking the hydrogen economy; incorporating the total cost of operation; and investing in optionality and flexibility.

5 best practices for incorporating DEI into your sustainability strategy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have long been overlooked as integral to sustainability programs. That changed during the COVID-19 crisis, which has shone a brighter light on social inequities and prompted stronger calls for organizations to spearhead positive change. Sustainability started as a way to measure and mitigate risk. When you consider it through that lens, one risk that has become front and center throughout the pandemic is human capital management.

Now more than ever before, companies are being asked to act rather than simply talk about sustainability, especially after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission acted in 2020 with new requirements for human capital management data disclosures. Suffice to say, the requirements for companies regarding how they refer to and measure human capital have changed and will continue to evolve.

The manufacturing industry has a huge opportunity and responsibility to play a strong role in helping advance sustainability, including human capital management. When we think about the social agenda here at Flex, we talk about it in terms of well-being; health and safety; diversity, equity and inclusion; labor practices; talent attraction; development and retention — essentially how we care for our people. DEI is an important lever in ensuring that every team member — each with a unique background, skills, experience and perspective — is empowered to reach their full potential.

Product returns are wasteful for companies and the planet. Here’s how to change that

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Product returns are financially and environmentally costly—but they don’t have to be. Here are 3 ways companies can rethink returns to boost revenues and reduce waste.

Facilitating a Circular Economy for Textiles: Workshop Report

Download the document.

A circular economy (CE) approach aims to extend the life of textile products through reuse and repair
and keep end-of-life (EoL) materials in the economy through recycling. Transitioning to a CE is,
therefore, essential to reduce pressure on natural resources, create domestic and sustainable
growth and jobs, and thereby ensure our Nation’s security and economic prosperity. However,
several challenges face the adoption of a circular economy for textiles. In September 2021, The U.S.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) held a three-day workshop entitled
“Facilitating a Circular Economy for Textiles” aimed at identifying specific challenges and needs to
overcome those barriers. Nearly 150 stakeholders participated in the event including
brands/manufacturers, recyclers, non-profit organizations, industry associations, and researchers
who discussed the current state, bottlenecks, and opportunities for circularity.

IFIC: Lower prices prioritized over sustainability despite rising awareness of food’s environmental impact

Read the full story at Food Navigator USA.

More Americans are worried about the planet’s health and understand that their dietary choices impact the environment, yet few are willing to pay significantly more for eco-friendly products – potentially squeezing companies undertaking expensive sustainability initiatives, suggests new data from the International Food Information Council.

DOE’s manufactured home efficiency rule disappoints conservation advocates, manufacturers

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday adopted new energy efficiency standards for manufactured homes, also known as mobile homes, setting different conservation requirements for single- and multi-section structures to balance up-front affordability against long-term cost savings.

The rules, including new insulation and sealing requirements, could save residents up to $450 annually on utility bills, DOE estimated. About 17 million Americans live in manufactured homes, which are constructed off-site as opposed to traditional stick-built homes.

DOE’s new rules have been criticized by both efficiency advocates, who argue the tiered standard is too lax, and home manufacturers, who say it will drive up costs.