A blog focused on sustainable business issues and challenges

Archive for September, 2011

Walmart Expands Solar Power Initiative to More Than 75 Percent of Its Stores in California

September 30, 2011 | No Comments →

Walmart plans to install solar panels on up to 60 more stores in California –which means the company will be generating solar energy at more than 75 percent of its stores in the state.

When complete, Walmart’s total solar commitment in California is expected to:

  • Generate up to 70 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy per year, which is the equivalent of powering more than 5,400 homes (using the EPA calculator).
  • Avoid producing more than 21,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 4,100 cars off the road (using the EPA calculator).
  • Provide 20 to 30 percent of each facility’s total electric needs.
  • Total more than 130 stores by the end of 2013.
  • Make California the first state in the US where Walmart has devoted this level of commitment to renewable energy. (more…)

First-ever Life Cycle Inventory and Life Cycle Analysis for Cotton

September 28, 2011 | Comment (1)

Last week, Cotton Incorporated released a first-ever comprehensive life cycle inventory and life cycle analysis of cotton products.

The study, which took two years to complete, takes a holistic and comprehensive view, focusing solely on cotton (and not competitive fibers).

More specifically, the life cycle inventory (LCI) is a quantification of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental release data associated with the production of cotton from cradle-to-gate (fiber) and manufacturing from gate-to-gate (fabric).

The associated life cycle assessment (LCA) models the environmental impact of representative cotton apparel (a knit golf shirt and woven cotton trousers) from the field through to consumer care, use and disposal (cradle-to-grave).

Cotton Incorporated says the peer-reviewed data and assessment methodology will help direct sustainability research efforts for the cotton industry, as well as to aid textile decision-makers in achieving their own sustainability goals.

Data for the cradle-to-gate segment was collected from the three largest cotton producing countries (China, India, and the United States) and reported as a global average. Similarly, the data for the textile processing phase was culled from surveys among representative mills in the four largest textile processing areas (Turkey, India, China, and Latin America) and are also presented as a global average. Data for the cut-and-sew and consumer use phase were supplemented by a range of credible secondary sources.


Green Mindset of Consumers Continues to Evolve

September 26, 2011 | No Comments →

Earlier this month, I wrote about recent research from Nielsen which showed that today’s consumers are more concerned about environmental issues such as pollution, water shortages, packaging waste and the use of pesticides than they are about climate change.

Now, a new report adds even more perspective, concluding that Americans now place a higher value on their own financial stability than on environmental responsibility.

For example, the 2011 Green Gauge US Report from GfK Roper Consulting found that: (more…)

AT&T Will Use Sustainable Packaging Made from Sugarcane

September 23, 2011 | No Comments →

In March of 2010, AT&T launched an initiative to slim down its accessory packaging, and since then, the company has succeeded in eliminating more than 500 tons of paper and plastic used for packaging device chargers, cases, batteries and data cables.

Now, AT&T is ratcheting up its commitment to sustainable packaging one more notch. Last week, AT&T announced that it will become the first US telecom company to use new plant-based plastic in its accessory packaging.

The new plastic is composed of up to 30 percent plant-based materials sourced from natural sugarcane. According to AT&T, the sugarcane used is a rapidly renewable agricultural crop and replaces nearly a third of the fossil fuels traditionally used in this particular packaging. (more…)

2011 CDP Global 500 Report Shows Most Companies Have Embedded Climate Change Action in Business Strategies

September 21, 2011 | No Comments →

Each year for the past decade, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has published a report examining carbon reduction activities at the world’s largest public corporations.

For the first time ever in this ten-year history, the 2011 edition of the annual Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Global 500 report revealed that the majority of the companies have climate change actions embedded as part of their business strategy.

The report, titled Accelerating Low Carbon Growth, analyzed disclosures from 396 of the world’s largest companies and found that:

  • 68 percent have climate change at the heart of business strategies, compared with 48 percent in 2010.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) reported reduced greenhouse gas emissions as a result of emissions reduction activities –up significantly from 19 percent in 2010.
  • 74 percent of Global 500 respondents reported emissions reduction targets, up from 65 percent in 2010
  • The majority of respondents (93 percent) reported board or senior executive oversight for climate change (up from 85 percent in 2010), demonstrating the importance of climate change as a management issue.

It’s also most interesting to note that the report also identified a correlation between higher stock market performance over time, and representation on CDP’s Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI) and the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI). More specifically:

  • Companies with a strategic focus on climate change provided investors with approximately double the average total return of the Global 500 from January 2005 to May 2011.

As Paul Simpson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project, points out this linkage puts companies that manage and reduce carbon emissions at a clear competitive advantage.

“The improved financial performance of companies with high carbon performance is a clear indicator that it makes good business sense to manage and reduce carbon emissions,” he said. “This is a win win for business – the short ROIs many emissions reducing activities have, can help increase profitability. Companies yet to take action on climate change will have to work hard to remain competitive as we head towards an increasingly resourced constrained, low carbon economy.”

The Carbon Performance Leadership Index and Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index are revised annually based on company submissions and present the leaders of the Global 500 in carbon performance and disclosure respectively. The top 10 best performing companies on both measures this year are: (more…)