Using Competitors’ Data to Boost Your Firm’s EHS Performance

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Big data is changing how environment, health and safety managers do their jobs, from complying with environmental laws to managing risk and ensuring worker safety on the production floor.

Here’s another way big data can boost EHS performance and businesses: you can access other companies’ data to gain a competitive advantage.

In a P2 (pollution prevention) Impact blog, the EPA’s Kara Koehrn and Dave Turk write about competitors’ pollution prevention activities — publicly available through the agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program — can improve your company’s EHS performance.

EPA Administrator McCarthy Announces 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing 24 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners across 12 states, the District of Columbia and Canada for outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, promotion and use of a range of cleaning and other household products that carry the Safer Choice label. Administrator McCarthy announced the winners at an event at a local hardware store in San Francisco today.

“Everyone wants products with ingredients that are safer for their kids, pets, communities and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Using technology and innovation to turn challenges into profitable opportunities makes our businesses stronger and more competitive, our families and workers healthier, and our environment cleaner.”

The Safer Choice standards were developed through a multi-stakeholder process, with a range of businesses and public interest groups, including environmental and health advocacy organizations. EPA assesses ingredients for the Safer Choice program based on a full chemical identification. Where necessary, EPA requires studies to prove safety of the chemicals used, and applies the expertise of chemists and toxicologists who have assessed thousands of chemicals.

These stringent human and environmental health safety standards mean that consumers can know with certainty that a product’s safety claims are backed by science. Safer Choice currently has around 500 formulator-manufacturer partners who make more than 2,000 products for retail and institutional customers.

The 2016 Partner of the Year award winners represent a wide variety of leadership organizations. Participants include Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, and non-governmental organizations. The 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards will be presented at 2:00 p.m. on May 9, 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The winners fall under the following categories:

Safer Formulator-Manufacturer: Boulder Clean (Boulder, Colo.), BISSELL (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Case Medical, Inc. (South Hackensack, N.J.), Clean Control Corporation (Warner Robins, Ga.), The Clorox Company (Pleasanton, Calif.), Futurescape Inc. (Port Orange, Fla.), Jelmar, LLC (Skokie, Ill.), Osprey Biotechnics Inc. (Sarasota, Fla.), RB (Parsippany, N.J.) and Seventh Generation Inc. (Burlington, Vt.)

Safer Chemical Innovator: BASF Corporation (Florham Park, N.J.), Ecolab (Eagan, Minn.), Osprey Biotechnics (Sarasota, Fla.) and Virox Technologies Inc. (Oakville, Ontario, Canada)

Purchaser/Distributor: Solutex, Inc. (Sterling, Va.)

Retailer: Albertsons Companies (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. (Rochester, N.Y.)

Program Supporter: American Sustainable Business Council (Alexandria, Va.), The Ashkin Group (Los Angeles), Consumer Specialty Products Association (Washington, D.C.), Environmental Defense Fund (New York, N.Y.), Federal Sustainable Acquisitions and Materials Management Practices (SAMM) Working Group (Washington, D.C.), Healthy Schools Campaign (Chicago), ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (Northbrook, Ill.), Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (New York, N.Y.)

When companies demonstrate a commitment to the health of their customers and the planet, consumers respond. Not only does the Safer Choice program put the power of choice into the hands of consumers, it actually incentivizes manufacturers to change the ingredients in their products – so they can meet the strict safety criteria the Safer Choice label demands.

More on the 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners, and registration for the Awards Ceremony, can be found at

More St. Louis area businesses look to compost food waste

Read the full story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis is no Seattle, so it probably won’t be requiring food waste be kept out of landfills anytime soon.

But that hasn’t stopped local groceries and some restaurants from putting in a little extra effort to get their organic waste into composting facilities rather than taking it out with the trash.

5 ways that NGOs stunt sustainability

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one here.

Before I blast the NGO community, let me say I consider them as a good friend. Friends tell each other when their collar is twisted, when kale is stuck in their front teeth. This is the spirit of this column.

Last week I wrote about my favorite sustainability experience: the Amazon soy moratorium. Now, I write about my least favorite and most frustrating endeavor: the quest for sustainable palm oil. It’s a case study of how NOT to create transformational change.

This is not about finger-pointing and blaming. I believe the NGOs involved with this are very well intended. However, they need a wake-up call because they are unwittingly suffering four common sins that stymie sustainability progress.

How Corporate America Can Support the Paris Climate Deal

Read the full story in Fortune.

Industry, as well as investors, must move beyond a shareholder model focused on managing for a short-term share price to a stakeholder model with sustainability embedded in corporate strategy. Only then will we adequately manage risk and create value for the company and for society—and tackle challenges like climate change. Firms that place sustainability at the core of their business strategy will drive positive climate performance, create wealth while creating competitive advantage, reduce risk and create stable ecosystems that drive both ecological and corporate value.

Corporate Sustainability Should Be Core Business Strategy, Requires Paths Unique to Individual Businesses

Read the full story from the University of Missouri.

Prior to the 1990s, there was little concept of corporate sustainability within the textile and apparel industry. However, beginning in the mid-1990s, clothing and apparel corporations began receiving pushback from consumers regarding social, environmental and economic sustainability. In an effort to qualify the process of investing in corporate sustainability, University of Missouri researchers examined two major international apparel brands, Nike and Adidas, to determine the paths taken to reach corporate sustainability. Saheli Goswami, a doctoral student in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, says that while both companies are currently models of corporate sustainability, they took very different paths to reach the end goal.

The 5 biggest shifts since the Paris climate talks

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Gauging the trickle-down effects of high-level international policy is never easy. That’s especially true with a hulking global issue such as climate change, which consistently has been pushed down the laundry list of challenges facing the planet.

This week, however, is poised to provide a notable bookend on the COP21 United Nations climate talks held in Paris in December, which saw delegates from 196 countries agree to work toward limiting global average temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Representatives from 155 of those countries are expected to sign the agreement in New York City and make it official Friday, which also happens to be Earth Day.

But what about the five months that have passed since the closing gavel?

The real work of determining how to get anywhere near the 2-degree target — with 1.5 C being the threshold many advocates say will unleash devastation in vulnerable island and low-lying nations — ultimately will come down to individual national governments, businesses and members of civil society.

While much of the heavy lifting remains to be done, several significant indicators suggest that expediting clean energy deployment, bringing the private sector on board with climate action and hashing out who pays for climate adaptation (finally) are starring on the global stage.