A blog focused on sustainable business issues and challenges

Archive for April, 2011

KPMG Study Finds Most Larger Firms Have Sustainability Plans, Smaller Firms Lag

April 29, 2011 | Comments (3)

Corporate sustainability programs are now standard fare for most large, publicly-listed corporations, but a new survey from KPMG found that nearly one-third of smaller businesses still don’t have a sustainability strategy in place.

The study, Corporate Sustainability: A Progress Report, polled 378 senior executives from around the world. It found that:

  • Overall, 62 percent of companies participating in the survey have a corporate sustainability plan –up from just over half polled in a similar survey in 2008.
  • However, larger publicly-listed companies are clearly leading the charge. Nearly eight out of 10 of the large companies polled have a strategy, compared with less than  half of smaller businesses.
  • US companies are lagging companies elsewhere around the globe. Of the 86 American firms included in the survey, about half (55 percent) said their organization has a formal sustainability strategy in place. More than four out of 10 of the US respondents reported that it was difficult to overcome organizational focus on other programs that provide more readily measureable short-term financial benefits.
  • Fortunately, businesses are beginning to connect the dots between sustainability and profitability.  Almost half the executives surveyed said they believe that implementing sustainability programs will contribute to the bottom line, either through cost reduction or increased profitability. What’s more, among those that do not have a strategy currently in place, seven out of 10 expect to do so within one to five years. One-quarter said they had no specific timeframe.

What are the biggest obstacles companies face when trying to implement a sustainability program? According to the executives polled, the short list of hurdles includes: (more…)

Closing Green Gap Imperative to Making Business Case for Sustainability

April 27, 2011 | No Comments →

Will sustainability become a major driver of consumer purchasing behavior?

Many leading corporations are betting that it will. But, new research from OgilvyEarth suggests that, at least for now, consumers just aren’t buying it.

The study, Mainstream Green: Moving sustainability from niche to normal, provides new insight on how to close what OgilvyEarth calls “the Green Gap,” a division that persists between what consumers say and what they actually do around sustainable living.

According to the study:

  • The vast majority of Americans (82 percent) have good green intention. But, only 16 percent are dedicated to fulfilling these intentions. That leaves 66 percent in the category that OgilvyEarth calls the “Middle Green.”
  • The Middle Green is difficult to motivate. Typically, most of the dialogue and marketing has focused on the extremes of consumer behavior – what the study refers to as the Super Greens or the Green Rejecters.
  • Economics, guilt and perceptions all play roles in motivating green purchasing behavior. For example, the top barrier Americans claimed was holding them back from more sustainable behaviors was money. Guilt plays a role, too, and so does gender — 82 percent of survey respondents said going green is “more feminine than masculine.”
  • Interestingly, when given a choice between purchasing an eco-friendly product from a known brand or a company that specializes in being green, 73 percent of those polled opted for the known, mainstream brand.

OgilvyEarth offers sound guidance for companies looking to normalize sustainable behaviors. In broad terms, the recommendations include: (more…)

London 2012 Issues First Sustainability Report

April 25, 2011 | Comment (1)

Although the news was completely overshadowed by non-stop updates about the Royal Wedding, London 2012 issued its first full sustainability report last week.

The report, A Blueprint for change, details how London 2012 plans to deliver a low-carbon Olympic Games by adopting what it calls a “groundbreaking” carbon footprint methodology. Already, the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) says it has avoided more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, while making significant progress toward sustainable sourcing, as well.

As outlined in the report, London 2012 sustainability highlights include: (more…)

Kroger to Source 100% MSC-Certified Fish by 2015

April 22, 2011 | No Comments →

Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer, has announced significant improvements to its seafood buying practices and standards.

Working in partnership with WWF, Kroger says by 2015, it wants to source 100 percent of its top 20 wild-caught species from sources that are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), in full assessment, or involved in a Fishery Improvement Project with WWF.

In addition, Kroger will:


Americans Remain Confused About Environmental Marketing and Greenwashing

April 20, 2011 | No Comments →

Even though the Federal Trade Commission’s has stepped up efforts to curb greenwashing, new results from the 2011 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker show that most Americans continue to be both skeptical of companies environmental claims (57 percent) and overwhelmed by the barrage of (often misleading) environmental messages in the marketplace (51 percent).

What’s more, there appears to be a considerable knowledge gap regarding what actually constitutes a legitimate green claim. This year, 97 percent of those surveyed said they know what common environmental marketing claims such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean, yet Cone found that these interpretations are often inaccurate. More than two-in-five Americans (41 percent) erroneously believe that claims such as “green” or “environmentally friendly”  mean a product has a positive (i.e., beneficial) impact on the environment. Only 29 percent understand that these terms more accurately describe products with less environmental impact than previous versions or competing products.

In addition, the 2011 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker showed that: (more…)