24
August

Carbon Trust, Credit360 Collaborate on Scope 3 Carbon Management Software

The Carbon Trust and Credit360 have joined together to create a series of software solutions designed to allow companies to manage carbon emissions across the value chain.

Typically carbon footprinting only includes direct and indirect operational emissions, known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions under the Kyoto Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Value chain footprinting also includes Scope 3 emissions, which represent the full lifecycle, from both suppliers and consumers, including all use and end of life emissions.

The first product developed and available now through the collaboration is the Value Chain Hotspotter, which has been designed to enable companies to estimate carbon-intensive areas of their value chain. The tool covers seven Scope 3 categories.

There is clear evidence that having a robust carbon-management strategy across a corporate value chain can deliver significant rewards, Credit360 said in a release. These include improved brand equity, cost reduction, revenue enhancement and risk mitigation.

In many cases a true value chain footprint involves integration of information from suppliers, which needs to happen securely. Processing and modeling this level of data can be a drain on productivity and prove costly and resource intensive. The new software helps to automate the process and provides interfaces for gathering supplier data securely.

The release of the full Value Chain Reporting software platform is planned for autumn 2012. Credit360 says it will go beyond measurement and provide in-built capability to calculate, interpret and make recommendations on carbon reduction activities.

“Many companies are already stretching the capabilities of Excel to the limit and businesses need to have a reliable intuitive solution that can deliver the right level of business insight without the need for data management specialists,” John Whybrow, General Manager of the Carbon Trust Footprinting Company said.

Article published for Sustainable Life Media, August 6, 2012 by Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.

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23
August

Sustainability in the Supply Chain

The latest study from Green Research identifies the trends, tools and best practices at the next frontier in corporate sustainability: the supply chain. The study found that a lack of data standards and concerns about data reliability have hindered supply chain sustainability progress. Sixty-two percent of executives surveyed for the study said their efforts to track supply chain sustainability performance are impaired by a lack of measurement standards. The study advises firms to support industry and cross-industry groups that are working to develop supply chain sustainability standards. An important recent development in this area is the release by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition of its “Higg Index,” a standard measure of environmental performance at the product and facility level for the apparel and footwear industries.  The Higg Index should dramatically improve communication about performance and sustainability goals throughout apparel supply chains, leading to sustainability improvements over time. The report notes efforts with similar goals in other industries.

Just a few years ago many companies avoided taking responsibility for the environmental performance of their supply chains, often on the grounds that they had little influence over this aspect of supplier performance. But attitudes are shifting: Sixty-four percent of senior sustainability executives feel their companies can have significant influence on their top suppliers’ sustainability performance, and eighty-four percent consider it likely that their companies can obtain much better environmental performance from suppliers without compromising their companies’ business goals.

Sustainability improvements sometimes depend on advances in technology — such as renewable energy systems or mechanical or electrical systems with advanced, resource-efficient designs. But often they depend on advances in management practice. The research identified ten supply chain sustainability best practices followed by one or more of the dozens of companies discussed in the report. These include educating and motivating suppliers, setting goals, using scorecards, and enlisting buyers and sourcing managers as front-line representatives of a company’s sustainability strategy.

The research revealed that effective management of sustainability data is critically important for companies aiming to drive supply chain sustainability improvements. A vibrant collection of vendors is offering software tools and web-based systems to help companies track, analyze and manage this data. The report provides capsule profiles of a dozen vendor offerings along with a vendor selection framework prospective buyers of the tools can use to help select one appropriate to their needs. For more information about the research, please visit greenresearch.com.

Other Studies Featured This Month

Towards Zero-Impact Growth

Consultancy Deloitte teamed up with sustainability visionary John Elkington to help make Elkington’s vision of a zero-impact growth economy more accessible to major corporations. The team developed a scoring system to plot companies along Elkington’s “pathway to zero,” the five stages from recognizing the opportunity of a zero-impact growth strategy to fully embracing one. Of 65 companies studied, none had yet reached the final stage but according to the analysis, six companies — Puma, Natura, Nestlé, Nike, and Ricoh and Unilever — have arrived at the fourth stage. Among a range of findings, the study identified several best practices, including taking a holistic approach to sustainability, exemplified by Unilever and its Sustainable Living Plan; acting collaboratively, exemplified by a group of competing apparel manufacturers that have jointly committed to eliminating the discharge of hazardous chemicals (and, I would add, the work of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition); and internalizing externalities, exemplified by Puma, which released the first environmental profit and loss statement.

You can find the full paper here.

Six in Ten Consumers Globally Think Green Products Cost Too Much

Market researcher GfK has released its third annual global study of consumer environmental attitudes and behaviors. The study is based on a survey of 35,000 consumers in 25 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. According to the new research, the proportion of consumers whose purchase decisions include a consideration of environmental protection grew 6 percentage points in China and 5 points in Brazil, compared to 2011. Mexico and South Africa also recorded significant increases in the past year, the study found. Sixty percent of consumers globally feel environmentally friendly products are too expensive — twice the percentage of those who see a green lifestyle as a “status indicator.” More information here.

Article written by David Shatsky, President, Green Research for Sustainable Life Media – August 22, 2012

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16
August

3 Steps to Improving your Sustainability Data Collection, Analysis

A recent report published in the MIT Sloan Management Review indicated just how far sustainability has come over the last few years. In the report, seven out of ten surveyed executives noted that sustainability has become a permanent goal on the corporate agenda. Additionally, two-thirds believed that corporate sustainability was necessary to being competitive in today’s landscape.

Being competitive requires companies to benchmark goals for sustainability that set the business to positively impact the Triple Bottom Line (people, planet and profit). However, David Schatsky of Green Research, writes that all sustainability goals aren’t created equal:

“Aggressive goals are more powerful than modest goals. Public goals have greater impact than internal goals. Quantitative goals are more credible than non-quantitative goals. And goals for the future send a signal that goals described in retrospect do not.”

Leaders should do the following to ensure that sustainability programs are aggressive and actionable:

(1) Automate data collection to improve accuracy, reduce labor hours
Taking data from enterprise software systems (e.g., ERP software, SCM software, CRM software) allows businesses to have a more accurate, real-time data stream of its activities. By doing so, they can also eliminate human error and reduce the amount of labor required to manually log the activities of individual warehouses, manufacturing facilities, sales offices, etc.

(2) Improve analysis with business intelligence applications
Businesses should also look to invest in Business Intelligence (BI) tools to improve the speed, accuracy, and breadth of analysis around sustainability projects. Analysts can use these applications to find “sustainability leaks”, or areas where efficiency is not being obtained for unforeseen reasons. In addition, these applications can package information in a visual manner that executives can digest quickly and easily.

(3) Build sustainability teams around data-minded leaders
Finally, for sustainability teams–and businesses–to become more accountable, they will have to build leadership around employees that are data-minded and can get the most “bang for the buck,” as many of these programs are underfunded (and underappreciated).
For more on this topic, you can check out the SoftwareAdvice.com (website) blog post: Data Collection + Business Intelligence = Successful Sustainability Initiatives.

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8
August

Three Reality Checks for Brands Making Headway on Sustainability

 

Supermarket shelves, the high street and online retail are burgeoning with brands making a lot of noise about one or other aspect of sustainability. Be it water conservation, reduced packaging, organic, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance ingredients, Better Cotton, recycled polyester or the latest in electric vehicle R&D – it’s hard to go shopping today and not come across at least one of the above.

Seeing so many brands considering and leveraging the complexities of sustainability has been a positive force for good in the marketing space. Recently we heard the CEO of the Marketing Society remark on the rapid spread of sustainability thinking in branding. He mentioned a manifesto they had written for marketing in 2005, which didn’t mention the word sustainable or sustainability, yet now it’s an escalating hot topic amongst their members and high up their agenda (the event we were at was all about making sustainability ‘sexy’).

During our biannual seminar on sustainability and brands last month, we spent a couple of hours with a group of brand managers, marketers and sustainability professionals, looking at 25 brands and how they are using sustainability challenges to create positive impact. With sustainability targets snapping at business’s heels (reducing CO2 emissions, for example, by 50% by 2025 in the UK and globally by 80-90% by 2050), we found an array of diverse responses across a range of brands.

We’ll be looking at the three brand initiatives that sparked the most discussion and enabled us to think through a few reality checks for what works well and less well in today’s marketing world, where brands compete on sustainability, with the winners reaping the benefits of consumer loyalty and an enhanced reputation.

First up is Whole Foods. They made an announcement in April that from Earth Day they would no longer be selling unsustainable fish. Great news. However, it begged an important question – what fish were they selling before? It turned out that those in the room had all assumed that Whole Foods would source the vast majority of its produce sustainably anyway, and we felt a bit let down that this was not the case. A very positive message had become negative due to consumers’ built-in expectations of the brand and what we believed it stood for.

Reality check #1: Understanding what your consumers assume your brand already does on sustainability is critical when thinking through the message you want to get across. Telling them something they think you already do is unlikely to have much impact.

Next up is Method’s range of cleaning products. From the start their mission was to combine unique, excellent design and functionality with ecologically sound formulations. The seminar group who looked into their story further found they had been up-cycling the plastic waste from the ‘islands of trash’ in the ocean, to create a range of packaging. Some may say that’s clever PR, which of course it is, but it’s also very cleverly using a sustainability challenge/hazard (i.e. reams and reams of plastic waste in our oceans) to drive packaging innovation – and yes, the innovation also has a lovely story to tell that’s far more interesting than ‘rPET’.

Reality check #2: If you start with sustainability as your stimulus for innovation, your brand can tell a strong, genuine story of positive impact once it’s on the shelf.

Our last example is BMWi’s two-page advert found in April’s edition of Wallpapermagazine. The text reads:

“BMWi provides intelligent applications and services that improve the way you get around town – inside and outside the car. Looking for the talk-of-the-town dining experience or the nearest wifi hotspot? No problem. Need a parking space for half a day? We can help. And if you’re a keen pedestrian but crave the occasional drive, we have the right car and we’ll share it with you. More innovative services are coming soon in a growing number of cities. Because we’ve only just begun. More: bmw-i.com/mobility.”

Some in the room mistook this advert for ‘another EV coming to a salesroom near you,’ but digging a little deeper, this advert is a teaser for something that would radically alter BMW’s traditional business model, and if done well, could be a shining example of a sustainable business model. Now that they are considering mobility, rather than the historic model of manufacturing and sales, and targeting pedestrians as well as drivers, indicates a far more radical and systemic approach to finding solutions and ways of doing business in the not-so-distant future. It highlights the sort of brand-led innovation we need to transform to sustainable behaviours and lifestyles. And of course mobility, the BMW way, is likely to be far more aspirational than a local government-led initiative promoting sustainable mobility, for example.

Reality check  #3: Generating ideas today for brand-led, sustainable business models of the (not-so-distant) future could help your brand secure a long-term competitive edge and be resilient to changing markets.

We ended the seminar on a bit of a high, uplifted by the breadth and depth of brand engagement on sustainability today, but with the realisation that it’s really tough out there. Consumers expect more and more from brands. Havas’s meaningful brands index talks about the pioneering brands being those that are ‘making commitments not promises’ and EuroRSCG’s Prosumers report reminds us that most 18-25 year olds believe “the things I consume have more power to change things than the people I vote for.”

We’re making it our business to help brands think through what they can be doing – from incremental, quick-wins to new product innovation and the exciting world of more radical, business model innovation – if you let your brand values and sustainability lead you, the win-win innovations will follow.

Article as written for Sustainable Life Media, July 9, 2012, by Fiona Bennie, Consultant at Dragon Rouge.

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