A blog focused on sustainable business issues and challenges

Archive for December, 2010

Food Industry Challenged to Procure Raw Materials from Sustainable Sources

December 31, 2010 | Comment (1)

Danone, Unilever, Heinz and Nestlé are the most sustainable large food producers in the world, according to new research released earlier this month by Bank Sarasin.

The study, Food and sustainability: Will the seed bear fruit? highlights three central sustainability themes that affect food producers:

  • health and nutrition
  • sourcing more raw materials from sustainable agriculture
  • committing to fair working conditions.

And although the report found that many large food producers are developing sustainability strategies, Bank Sarasin concluded that most companies still have plenty of ground to cover on the path towards sustainability.

For example, the food industry as a whole faces significant challenges regarding the procurement of raw materials from sustainable sources. The world’s largest food producers purchase a significant share of global harvests –up to 20 percent of the world’s coffee, more than 10 percent of its tea, tomatoes and peas, and about 5 percent of its palm oil. Companies that have worked to secure large volumes of their raw materials from sustainable sources ranked high on Bank Sarasin’s matrix of sustainability criteria.

Mars Receives ACE for Its Commitment to Cocoa Sustainability

December 29, 2010 | No Comments →

Every year since 1999, the US State Department has recognized US businesses that demonstrate good corporate citizenship abroad. As good global citizens, these corporations have a  positive impact  on American foreign relations.

This year, the annual Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) was given to Mars, Incorporated for its work in cocoa sustainability and its various efforts to improve economic development in the cocoa-growing region of the Republic of Ghana.

Mars was chosen from a record number of 78 nominations submitted by American ambassadors around the world, and according to Mars, the ACE award reflects the company’s evolving commitment to cocoa sustainability.  To illustrate this commitment, Mars points out that it has pledged to use 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa in all of its products worldwide by 2020. In addition, Mars, IBM and the US Department of Agriculture unveiled the preliminary cacao genome sequence in September 2010 – three years ahead of schedule – and made it public to help improve traditional breeding programs and ultimately bolster production to benefit millions of farmers worldwide.

Cocoa, one of the top ten global agricultural commodities, is a crucial crop for the economies of many developing nations and often accounts for a major portion of their GDPs.  Globally, approximately 6.5 million farmers –most on small, family-run farms –depend on cocoa for their livelihoods, but unfortunately, cocoa is hundreds of years behind most modern crops in terms of breeding selection cycles. As a result, plants are vulnerable to pests and diseases, leading to serious losses for farmers –and significant disruptions to global supply chains.

Plastic Bottle Recycling by Consumers Reaches Record High

December 27, 2010 | No Comments →

Plastic bottle recycling by consumers reached a record high in 2009, increasing two percent to nearly 2.5 billion pounds for the year.

The 20th annual National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report, released last month by the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) and American Chemistry Council (ACC), also showed that the recycling rate for plastic bottles rose, too, inching up another one percent to reach 28 percent in 2009. Over the past 20 years, Americans have increased the pounds of plastic bottles returned for recycling each year –although that’s not at all surprising considering how plastic bottle consumption has increased annually, as well.

Fortunately, America’s plastics and recycling industries continue to invest in developing technologies and infrastructure to recycle plastics in communities across the nation. (more…)

New Federal Study Identifies Public Lands for Solar Development

December 24, 2010 | No Comments →

Last week, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced a detailed draft environmental analysis that identifies public lands best-suited for solar development in six western states.

The study, called the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), was compiled over the past two years as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to create a framework for developing renewable energy on America’s public lands. More specifically, the Draft Solar PEIS assessed the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with solar energy development on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.


Survey Finds 79 Percent of Larger Companies Have Formal Sustainability Strategy

December 22, 2010 | No Comments →

Reinforcing results reported in earlier studies, new research from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants shows that most companies fully appreciate the relationship between social and environmental stewardship and business performance.

CIMA, AICPA, and CICA surveyed organizational leaders from their respective memberships and found that more than three-fourths (79 percent) of larger companies currently have a formal sustainability strategy. One-third (33 percent) of smaller companies do, too, and an additional 23 percent of smaller companies have plans to formulate a sustainability strategy within the next 2 years.

In addition, the study also found that: (more…)