‘Turning a challenge into a profit’: the start-up converting CO2 into algae

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

FoodNavigator catches up with Denmark’s Algiecel, which wants to make it easy for companies to remove CO2 from industrial processes and turn it into algae-based derivative products for food production.

6th Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) Report

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CFP is a program of Clean Production Action and was co-founded by the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the consultancy Pure Strategies, and Clean Production Action.

CFP includes two major initiatives for identifying and moving away from the use of chemicals of high concern (CoHCs) towards safer solutions. One initiative is the CFP Survey, a holistic assessment of where an organization is in its efforts to move beyond regulatory compliance towards best practices in chemicals management. The other initiative is the chemical footprint metric, a quantitative measure of the production and use of CoHCs. The chemical footprint metric is embedded into the CFP Survey and provides a means for companies to set goals, quantify their use of CoHCs, and measure progress.

Highlights from the 6th CFP Report

  • Companies with over $1 trillion in annual revenue from seven business sectors participated in the 2021 CFP Survey.
    Over one year, they reported chemical footprint reductions of 83.4 million pounds/37.8 million kilograms.
  • Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, surpassed its 10% chemical footprint reduction goal in formulated
    products by achieving a 17% reduction and encouraged suppliers to set impactful chemical footprint goals.
  • Reckitt, a major consumer goods company and retailer supplier with brands including Lysol, Woolite, and Calgon,
    announced it is “aiming for a 65% reduction in our chemical footprint by 2030.”
  • CFP Signatories including investors and retailers established the CFP Survey as a leadership framework in shareholder
    resolutions and benchmarking assessments.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its new proxy voting disclosure requirements for institutional
    investment managers listed “chemical footprint” among examples for “Environment or climate” reporting requirements.

Deloitte 2023 CxOSustainability Report

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Deloitte’s survey of more than 2,000 CxOs across 24 countries finds that the majority of CxOs remain optimistic the world will take sufficient steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and feel a sense of urgency to take action.

When asked to rank the issues most pressing to their organizations, many CxOs rated climate change as a “top three issue,” ahead of seven others, including innovation, competition for talent, and supply chain challenges. In fact, only economic outlook ranked slightly higher. Many CxOs (61%) said climate change will have a high/very high impact on their organization’s strategy and operations over the next three years.

International trade and world economies exposed to multi-billion-dollar climate risk to ports – Oxford study

Read the full story from Oxford University.

Nearly nine in ten major ports globally are exposed to damaging climate hazards, resulting in escalating economic impacts on global trade, according to new research from the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

Sustainability isn’t strategy, it’s a way of doing business

Read the full story in Sustainability Magazine.

I often surprise people when I say I do not want a sustainability strategy. I believe for sustainability to succeed; a sustainability strategy must be fully intertwined into a company’s business strategy. These days, sustainability is often seen as a buzz word – a word that holds so much meaning but is often watered down by overuse creating confusion to what it truly means in the marketplace. We should move beyond seeing sustainability as a descriptor and start seeing it as an action. Sustainability is not only a useful tool to manage risk, but also on the forefront of innovation and allows us to think in new ways in serving our customers, engaging our employees, supporting our communities, and driving long-term value for our shareholders.

Register today for the Feb 23 Chicago Area Sustainability Professionals Virtual Lunch & Learn on the circular economy

Feb 23, 2023, noon CST
Register here

This month’s discussion will be on the circular economy and will feature Deborah Dull, founder of the Circular Supply Chain Network and the author of Circular Supply Chains: 17 Common Questions (How Any Supply Chain Can Take the Next Step).  She is VP at Genpact and their Global leader of sustainable supply chains. Prior to that, she was at Zero100, GE Digital, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft.  Deborah holds Supply Chain & Operations Management degrees from Western Washington University (BA) and the University of Liverpool (MSc), with a thesis focused on the digital supply chain.

EPA awards research funding to 25 small businesses to develop environmental technologies

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $2,497,134 in research funding for 25 small businesses to develop technologies that address some of our most pressing environmental problems. Projects include technologies for detecting methane emissions, methods to prolong the shelf life of foods and reduce food waste, software systems to improve recycling and materials management, and a water sampling device to detect the presence of PFAS.

These awards are part of EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program which runs an annual, two-phase competition for funding. The 25 small businesses below are receiving up to $100,000 in Phase I funding for six months for “proof of concept” of their proposed technology. Companies that complete Phase I can then apply to receive Phase II funding of up to $400,000 to further develop and commercialize their technology.

SBIR Phase I winners and their proposed technologies are:

  • Beta Analytic (Miami, Fla.) to develop a novel method to trace fugitive sources of methane in atmospheric gas mixtures.
  • Can I Recycle This, Inc. (Athens, Ga.) to develop a circular economy solution that provides real-time, geospatial materials recovery information.
  • Censys Technologies Corporation (Daytona Beach, Fla.) to develop an innovative system for remote sensing of fugitive methane.
  • City of Roses Disposal and Recycling, Inc. (Portland, Ore.) to develop a real-time recycling inventory aggregation and management software for construction and demolition waste.
  • Cleaned and Green, LLC (Indian Springs Village, Ala.) to develop an enhanced efficiency poultry litter-based fertilizer that is cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
  • Aquarius Systems (North Prairie, Wis.) to develop an in-water collection and removal device to capture floating debris.
  • EIC Laboratories, Inc. (Norwood, Mass.) to develop a novel technique for rapid, on-site analysis of water quality.
  • Forever Analytical Services, Inc. (South Bend, Ind.) to develop a rapid, field-deployable water sampling device to measure PFAS.
  • GoodGames (Freeport, Maine) to develop a social networking platform to help build community resilience to disasters, threats, and extreme weather.
  • HJ Science & Technology, Inc. (San Leandro, Calif.) to develop a portable, on-site technology to detect PFAS in complex water environments. 
  • Hydrova Inc. (San Diego, Calif.) to develop a novel process for complete resource recovery and hydrogen production from secondary aluminum processing waste.
  • Imvela Corp (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to develop a novel, natural ingredient that reduces microbial spoilage and extends shelf life of fresh fruit.
  • Iterant, Inc. (Berkeley, Calif.) to develop an online platform for regional plastic packaging reuse systems.
  • J-Tech LLC (Lakewood, Colo.) to develop a septic tank technology that enables low-cost, sustainable disinfection of wastewater for on-site non-potable reuse.
  • Kamilo, Inc. (San Francisco, Calif.) to develop a digital verification system to confirm the percentage of recycled content in products to advance plastic circularity.
  • Mesa Photonics, LLC (Santa Fe, N.M.) to develop a methane monitoring network for continuous measurement of methane emissions.
  • Optimized Thermal Systems, Inc. (Beltsville, Md.) to optimize a machine for improved recovery of a refrigerant with high global warming potential.
  • LeapFrog Design (Bend, Ore.) to develop a modular ecological water treatment system for onsite capture and non-potable reuse from single-family residences.
  • Seacoast Science, Inc. (Carlsbad, Calif.) to develop a fully automated analyzer to monitor air toxics in indoor spaces.
  • Sporian Microsystems, Inc. (Lafayette, Colo.) to develop a high-speed, low-cost imaging system for improved identification of microplastics.
  • Ourobio (Charlottesville, Va.) to produce sustainable indigoid dyes and bioplastics using byproducts of dairy processing
  • UES, Inc. (Dayton, Ohio) to develop an innovative air toxic monitoring system for neighborhood-level monitoring.
  • VISIMO, LLC (Coraopolis, Pa.) to develop a machine learning toolkit for screening research published outside of commercial or academic publishing to improve systematic reviews for chemical risk assessment.
  • Wisely, Inc. (Wilmington, N.C.) to develop a smart food storage system to reduce household food waste by allowing users to track perishables.
  • Zabble Inc. (Walnut Creek, Calif.) to develop an artificial intelligence-based tagging platform for contamination monitoring audits to improve recycling.

Learn more about the winning companies.

What does ESG mean? Two business scholars explain what environmental, social and governance standards and principles are

There are many environmental, social and governance principles worth considering. ArtemisDiana/iStock via Getty Images Plus

by Luciana Echazú, University of New Hampshire and Diego C. Nocetti, Clarkson University

Environmental, social and governance business standards and principles, often referred to as ESG, are becoming both more commonplace and controversial.

But what does “ESG” really mean?

It’s shorthand for the way that many corporations operate in accordance with the belief that their long-term survival and their ability to generate profits require accounting for the impact their decisions and actions have on the environment, society as a whole and their own workforce.

These practices grew out of long-standing efforts to make businesses more socially and environmentally responsible.

ESG investing, sometimes called sustainable investment, also takes these considerations into account.

Zeroing in on the E, S and G

ESG priorities vary widely, but there are some common themes.

These priorities usually emphasize environmental sustainability – the E in ESG – with a focus on contributing to efforts to slow the pace of climate change.

There’s also an effort to uphold high ethical standards through corporate operations. These social concerns – the S – can include, for example, ensuring that a company doesn’t buy goods and services from exploitative suppliers, or treats its employees well. Or it might entail taking care to hire and retain a diverse workforce and taking steps to reduce social injustices in the communities where a corporation operates.

Companies embracing ESG principles should also have high-quality governance – the G. Governance includes oversight, handled by a competent and qualified board of directors, regarding the hiring and firing of top corporate leaders, executive compensation and any dividends paid to shareholders.

Governance also pertains to whether a company’s leadership operates fairly and responsibly, with transparency and accountability.

Why ESG matters

By 2026, the total amount invested globally according to these principles will nearly double to US$34 trillion from $18.4 trillion in 2021, the accounting firm PwC estimates. However, increasing scrutiny of which investments really qualify as ESG could mean it takes longer to reach that volume.

This corporate concept is becoming a political touchstone in the U.S. because some states, like Florida and Kentucky, arguing that these practices divert from the focus on maximizing profits and can be detrimental to investors by making other considerations a priority, have barred their pension funds from using ESG principles as part of their investment considerations. Some very large asset managers, including BlackRock, aren’t allowed to work with those pension funds anymore.

Many of the arguments against embracing these principles hold that they reduce profits by taking other factors into account. But how do ESG practices affect financial performance?

A team of New York University scholars looked at the results of 1,000 different studies that had sought to answer this question. It found mixed results: Some of the studies found that ESG principles increased returns, others found that they weakened performance, and a third group determined that these principles made no difference at all.

It’s possible that the disparities among results could be due largely to the lack of clarity regarding what counts and does not count as ESG, which has been a long-standing discussion and makes it hard to assess how ESG investments perform.

The NYU scholars also found two consistent results regarding ESG strategies. First, they help protect investors against risks such as losses resulting from the failure of a supply chain due to environmental or geopolitical issues, and they can protect companies from volatility during periods of economic instability and downturns. Second, investors and companies benefit more from ESG strategies in the long term than in the short term.

Luciana Echazú, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education; Associate Professor of Economics, University of New Hampshire and Diego C. Nocetti, Dean, School of Business; Professor of Economics and Financial Studies, Clarkson University

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

How the product passport is set to change the supply chain industry

Read the full story at Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

Sustainability seems to be the current “name of the game” in the manufacturing industry, but several sustainability initiatives have faltered due to a lack of resources required to back them up. A new initiative led by the European Union proposes the idea of “digital product passports” (DPPs) that will revolutionize how consumers and businesses understand their supply chains and significantly aid in implementing sustainability initiatives.

ESG Boycott Legislation in States: Municipal Bond Market Impact

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In more than a dozen states across the country, state legislatures have either passed or have pending bills based on a piece of model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council known as the “Energy Discrimination Elimination Act.” These bills would essentially pull state funds from investment managers if they are deemed by government officials to be adverse to the oil and gas and coal industries in their investment strategies. Some of the same states – in addition to many others – are considering bills that would similarly punish or blacklist financial firms for including having strong Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards in their investment strategies.

The legislation has been accompanied by actions at other levels of government, including state executive actions by treasurers and governors, legal action by state attorneys general, and even the threat of federal action in the next Congress. At the tip of the spear of the state efforts to pressure financial institutions away from assessing and acting upon the financial risks of such issues as climate change, gun violence, and workers’ rights is the threat of pulling state funds from their asset managers.

Among many key unknowns associated with these legislative and executive actions are impacts to the residents and taxpayers of the states where they become law. Setting aside the implications of politics interfering in financial decisions, there is the question of how removing major, proven financial companies from the marketplace will affect competition. Restrictions on financial market participants, (and in this analysis we look at large investment banks), alter the outcomes of municipal bond market transactions and modify contractual engagements with state governments. It is therefore of tremendous importance that policymakers, business leaders, and the public have the tools to estimate and anticipate these impacts.