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Purposely Profitable

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Embedding Sustainability into the DNA of Food Processing and other Businesses.

Competing and winning in today’s competitive marketplace requires a strategy that includes sustainability. Business leaders who embrace it and convey a strong sense of purpose behind their strategy are propelling their organizations into revenue-increasing, cost-reducing outcomes.

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Sustainable Business

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Based on the fundamental concept of continuously improving and balancing social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain, Sustainability is simply, a better way to make a bigger profit.

While organizations have attended to Social, Environmental and Economic performance for decades, it is traditionally economic performance that receives attention.  Sustainability is a revolutionary business model in that it elevates social and environmental performance to the same level of economic performance, unlocking a vault of hidden opportunities.

In other words, instead of simply focusing on a single bottom line of economic performance, with token social and environmental initiatives, the sustainable business model focuses on the triple bottom line to enhance overall performance.

 

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Arguably the greatest movement in the history of human-kind, Sustainability incorporates traditional tools, techniques, thinking and strategies with new and innovative ones such as biomimicry, cradle-to-cradle, value based Philanthropy and more to develop innovative solutions for today’s business challenges.

The result is reduced costs, increased revenue, talent retention, increased shareholder value and enhanced risk mitigation. GEM is here to assist and accelerate your organization on the journey towards becoming an increasingly sustainability organization. Have a look around our site and feel free to contact us to learn more.

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GreenBiz

Sustainable business news, insights, and events.

It’s time to collaborate on climate and economic justice solutions Davida Herzl Mon, 04/19/2021 - 01:15

Air pollution has grave consequences — the World Health Organization estimates it kills 7 million people a year. Indeed, recent research suggests closer to 9 million people died from exposure to air pollution caused by burning fossil fuel each year from 2012 to 2018. The economic impacts on health and productivity from exposure to air pollution add up to trillions of dollars. On top of that is the profound, existential threat of climate change. 

These consequences are not evenly distributed. In the United States, Black Americans are three times more likely to die from air pollution. In California, about 44 percent of Latinos live with poor air quality, compared to 25 percent of non-Latinos. Climate change impacts including extreme heat and flooding also disproportionately affect people of color. 

It’s U.S. Climate Action Week, and statistics such as these underscore the lived experiences of millions of people, and the urgent need for immediate, collective action.

Governments are mobilizing to address equity and the environment

Thanks to the groundbreaking work of environmental justice leaders across the country, governments are taking bold climate action that addresses these disproportionate impacts. New legislation in states such as California, New York and New Jersey is focused on addressing environmental injustices through data-driven planning and targeted interventions. 

And now, the Biden administration has set the goal that 40 percent of federal climate investments benefit disadvantaged communities. Justice40 is an opportunity to systemically address environmental justice and unlock a new wave of economy-growing innovation in historically underinvested communities across the nation. 

Businesses can be growth engines for economic and climate justice

With all levels of government mobilizing to invest in environmental justice, it’s time for the private sector to step up, too. Businesses play a critical role in addressing the converging crises of climate change, public health and widening economic disparities. 

It’s not just about reducing or even reversing individual corporate carbon footprints. It’s about redesigning the way we do business to solve for public good and economic growth at the same time. Products and services should be designed for and with communities. Business models can serve shareholders and stakeholders simultaneously. 

Too much of the technological innovation in recent decades has been designed in a Silicon Valley bubble and centered on convenience, comfort and status.

Already, environmental and climate justice entrepreneurs are paving the way. For example:

  • Donnel Baird, founder of BlocPower, partners with governments, utilities, building owners and community members to generate energy bill savings and reduced carbon emissions. BlocPower’s smart buildings platform markets, engineers and finances renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies to buildings in underserved market segments, generating financial returns, reducing emissions and improving public health. 
  • Elango Thevar, founder and CEO of NEER.ai, is bringing a next-generation intelligent platform for water infrastructure to smaller communities to ensure access to clean water for all.
  • Dana Clare Redden, founder and CEO of Solar Stewards, is building a more inclusive clean energy economy through on-site solar development with community organizations such as affordable housing, schools and nonprofits.

A common thread for each company is that they are designing solutions for and with communities underserved by the technology industry.

Building climate solutions and economic growth for and with communities

Environmental justice organizations have been tapping into their own ingenuity to create innovative climate solutions for decades. Yet, the technology industry has, by and large, ignored the incredible opportunity to partner with them to innovate scalable solutions that serve climate and economic justice at the same time. 

Too much of the technological innovation in recent decades has been designed in a Silicon Valley bubble and centered on convenience, comfort and status. But incredible advancements such as cloud computing, broadband mobile connectivity, machine learning and advanced sensing technology also have been combined to treat disease, fight wildfires, grow drought-tolerant crops and support data-driven climate action. We’ve barely scratched the surface of technology’s potential to serve people and the planet. At this defining moment, it’s time to expand the innovation economy to all communities.

By building community-centric innovation through direct partnership with and employment of people affected by environmental injustice, companies can prime their products and services to catalyze local climate action and economic growth at the same time.

For example, Aclima designed its environmental intelligence platform with and for communities to help target investments in community-led emissions reductions. And our company’s sensor network is operated by full-time employees with benefits hired from the communities it serves. To further deepen the company’s alignment and collaboration with climate and environmental justice leaders, Aclima recently expanded the Aclima Advisory Board to ensure the science and technology it develops is continuously attuned to the needs of the communities and customers it serves. 

Climate entrepreneurs and the technology industry as a whole constantly must evolve their approaches and iterate their solutions based on feedback from trusted relationships with community partners and stakeholders. We can go further by designing business models to support public good and drive economic opportunity for people who have been left out of the innovation economy that has created unprecedented levels of wealth. Communities affected by environmental injustice have been ignored for far too long, but they have the power to propel all of us forward.

It’s time for the private sector to transform into a growth engine for both economic and climate justice. To ensure equal access to self-determination and to economic opportunity, we must secure everyone’s right to a healthy environment.

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Too much of the technological innovation in recent decades has been designed in a Silicon Valley bubble and centered on convenience, comfort and status.
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Author: Davida Herzl
Posted: April 19, 2021, 8:15 am
On the Road to Net-Zero? Start With Your Buildings

Date/Time: May 18, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT)

For companies on a journey to net-zero, examining the carbon footprint of buildings is a relatively easy first step. In fact, organizations can make real, actualized progress towards zero simply by reducing the carbon associated with the design and construction of their buildings.

In this webcast, Interface VP of Sustainability Lisa Conway will discuss the carbon opportunity presented by buildings; plus, you’ll hear from sustainability and real estate leaders at top-tier corporations who are actively reducing their buildings’ carbon footprints. You will learn:

  • How buildings and material supply chains can contribute to achieving net-zero
  • New tools and strategies that make reducing carbon in the built environment easier
  • Best practices for navigating multiple stakeholders to get buildings to net-zero

You are encouraged to invite your real estate and procurement colleagues to gain a shared experience on a key pathway to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

Moderator:

  • Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Speakers:

  • Lisa Conway, Vice President, Sustainability, Americas, Interface

If you can't tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast.

taylor flores Fri, 04/16/2021 - 09:59

Lisa Conway

Vice President, Sustainability, Americas
Interface
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Author: taylor flores
Posted: April 16, 2021, 4:59 pm
All hail the corporate reporting singularity? Elsa Wenzel Fri, 04/16/2021 - 02:00

As corporate sustainability goes mainstream, ESG reporting is being embraced beyond early adopters exuding good citizenship. Investors, markets and regulators are picking up on the value of environmental, social and governance data, which is being integrated more often into financial disclosures.

"People have realized that sustainability disclosure and sustainability information has significant value," said Janine Guillot, CEO of the standards-setter SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board).

Soon, more companies will be forced to divulge environmental and social data, whether due to new laws and regulations, investor demands or simply to remain relevant and competitive, experts shared at the GreenFin 21 virtual event Tuesday.

What's more, the momentum behind harmonized visions of corporate reporting is offering hopes of streamlining workflows for sustainability professionals, while improving the quality of data available to the public.

1. One singular sensation?

Those whose jobs involve toiling over the clichéd "alphabet soup" of reporting frameworks — from CDP to CDSB and beyond — probably would like to see a reporting "singularity" realized. However, consolidating the various standards down to one uber-acronym isn’t realistic. 

What’s happening instead, Guillot noted, is a rapid move toward a more coherent way to describe an end-to-end process that includes management and board decision-making; external reporting; investor and multi-stakeholder use and policymakers.

The takeaway for companies? Allocate resources toward participating in disclosure standards, she said, similar to the way that setting financial accounting standards works among companies, accountants and investors involved with the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS). Because corporate managers understand the standard bearers, credit agencies and external reporting requirements in financial accounting, she presented that as an analogy to follow.

"I think that's what we need to aim to achieve about sustainability disclosure," she said.

It’s not a tick the box sort of beauty contest anymore.

Rather than getting sucked into confusion around all the sustainability reporting acronyms, focus on what financial standard-setters are trying to do in terms of offering material information to investors, advised Tim Mohin. He's the CSO and executive vice president of Persefoni, which makes carbon reporting software, and a former chief executive of reporting giant GRI.

"The trend line is clear that we will see financial standards for climate disclosure in the very near future, and regulations to require that information," Mohin said, and that should coexist with longtime standard-bearers such as GRI. "Because after all, if we hadn't had the previous 20 years of ESG disclosure, voluntarily, we wouldn't be at this place."

2. The mandates are coming

Watch for mandates emerging from the European Union, followed by the United States. Europe is updating its non-financial reporting directive, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is starting to take action to require companies to disclose material ESG information. 

"These are just the tip of the iceberg," Mohin added. "There is just a lot happening in this space."

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has assembled a "dream team" elevating climate diplomacy, with John Kerry as special presidential climate envoy and Gina McCarthy as White House national climate advisor. So sustainability professionals and investors alike should expect more action around the "G" for governance in ESG.

3. If not unification, collaboration?

Even if one framework to rule them all is unrealistic, there is momentum toward collaboration among the standards bodies. Five of the leading reporting groups — CDP, CDSB, GRI, IIRC and SASB — in September issued a "statement of intent to work together towards comprehensive corporate reporting."

Control your story, control your story, control your story.

As for big business, in January, 60 leaders from Accenture to Zurich Insurance Group signed on to the notion of "Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation," as advocated by the World Economic Forum's International Business Council.

Also at the start of 2021, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink urged in his closely watched annual public letter for businesses to disclose climate risks in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures' (TCFD) recommendations. Weeks later, the Goliath asset manager warned of voting against companies that resist disclosing their climate risks or decarbonization plans.

Meanwhile, big banks have been launching voluntary climate disclosure initiatives.

4. High stakes, high finance

"When you're talking about setting standards for global capital markets that are endorsed by regulators, it's an entirely different ballgame," Guillot said.

Massive strides in that direction over the past year include the nonprofit IFRS moving to establish a sustainability standards board that would sit alongside the International Accounting Standards Board. And an IFRS working group involves many members of the "alphabet soup" and is supported by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

"There's a path towards convergence around what we call foundational disclosure, external disclosure from companies to providers of financial capital," she added.

At the same time, even more acronyms are cropping up. "There's a new kid in town, if we didn't have enough confusion with the alphabet soup," Mohin said, referring to the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF). It offers financial services companies a way to allocate their investments against the amount of carbon that investment produces. "So you can basically keep track of your 'financed carbon', which is rapidly becoming a very big issue in the investment community."

5. Embrace your story

When ESG standards become mandatory and ubiquitous, how should companies merge the hard data with storytelling?

"I say to companies all the time, 'Control your story, control your story, control your story.'" Guillot said. "That's why you should disclose and not let other people define you."

When you're talking about setting standards for global capital markets that are endorsed by regulators, it's an entirely different ballgame.

Know your target audience and work backward from there, she advised: Investors, for example, want to hear about strategy, governance, risk management and performance, which makes the TCFD framework useful for broader sustainability disclosures.

Although some audiences are more story-oriented, in some cases you should assume it’s a technology and not a human reading your information, Guillot added.

6. Beyond checking the boxes

Mark Gough, CEO of the Capitals Coalition, said the digitization of ESG data is exciting because it moves away from the old rhythms of pushing out reports once a year, which he compared to water flowing through a pipe with holes in it.

"Actually, we're moving more to a lake where you'd go and dip in, and you get it out … That's something where we're going to see a significant step forward, when we start getting the technical companies and others involved in this process."

Along those lines, Mohin described a need for tools offering real-time, forecastable information for company leaders. "It’s not a tick-the-box sort of beauty contest anymore," he said.

7. The social factor

It’s critical to look at an organization’s direct and indirect environmental impacts on the well-being of stakeholders, Gough said. (Paying attention to people is one reason the Capitals Coalition renamed itself from the Natural Capital Coalition.)

"This is the key thing here — who is actually being impacted by it, and are they involved in the process of understanding it?" he said.

In addition, interest in corporate disclosures via frameworks such as GRI and SASB appears to be spreading internationally, especially beyond developed nations.

"Something around the COVID outbreak has actually inspired a lot of people to start thinking about this in a slightly different way, particularly in emerging markets," said Gough, who described a massive interest by African nations, including Madagascar and Uganda, which have often previously been left out of the picture.

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It’s not a tick the box sort of beauty contest anymore.
Control your story, control your story, control your story.
When you're talking about setting standards for global capital markets that are endorsed by regulators, it's an entirely different ballgame.
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There are many threads to tie together.

There are many threads to tie together.

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Posted: April 16, 2021, 9:00 am
Strategies for the war on waste Jim Giles Fri, 04/16/2021 - 01:00

What would happen if the United States enacted a comprehensive plan to combat food loss and waste? Now is the moment to ask, because the new U.S. administration is proving itself open to genuinely ambitious change. The answer? A cascade of benefits would follow, from economic savings to reduced hunger to cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

A new action plan that’s just eight pages long but packed with game-changing proposals is the best blueprint I’ve seen for how to achieve these gains. It’s the work of some leading players in this area: ReFED, a nonprofit that works on food waste; WWF; Natural Resources Defense Council; and Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. Here are just a few highlights — and ideas on how your organization can get involved.

Keep organic waste out of landfills and incinerators 

Why? The current situation is insane: Organic waste is the single biggest input in landfills, where it produces the potent greenhouse gas methane as it decomposes. Some of this waste is perfectly good food. The rest could be used to make compost.

How? Cities and states can incentivize food donation and disincentivize disposal, the latter either by raising landfill prices or banning organic waste altogether, as Vermont and Massachusetts have done.

What’s the impact? Take your pick: According to ReFED and partners, expanding infrastructure to prevent food loss and waste would generate 18,000 jobs annually through 2030, avoid close to 6 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions and boost soil fertility and profitability of U.S. farms and ranches.

Expand food donation infrastructure and incentives

Why? Another thing that’s insane: Less than 10 percent of surplus food is donated rather than wasted, while one in 10 U.S. households reported lacking the resources needed to feed all members during 2019. (That, of course, was before the pandemic.)

How? A quirk of the current situation is that donors only get tax deductions when they gift food to organizations that give it away. The action plan recommends expanding the tax credit to include a broader range of organizations, including "socal supermarkets," which sell food at heavily discounted prices. Another solution involves expanding the pandemic programs that have created new supply chains between farmers and consumers.

What’s the impact? Fewer hungry families and new revenue streams for farmers.

Organic waste is the single biggest input in landfills.

End the confusion over date labels 

Why? Nearly 85 percent of Americans throw away food that’s good to eat because they don’t understand date labels.

How? The Food Industry Association, a leading trade body, wants to end the confusion by using just two labels. After the "Best by" date, the product is safe but may not be as tasty or nutritious. If the "Use by" date has passed, the product should be disposed of for safety reasons. Bills to mandate the use of these labels already have been introduced into the House and the Senate. 

What’s the impact? More than half a million tons of waste would be diverted, leading to $2 billion in annual savings.

The action plan is framed as being "for Congress and the Administration," so I called up Dana Gunders, ReFED’s executive director, to ask how the organizations behind it would get politicians to act. 

She told me she’s hopeful of an attentive reception, in part because Tom Vilsack, the new agriculture secretary, championed food waste issues when he held the same position in President Barack Obama’s administration. Gunders added that the action plan, like the infrastructure bill that Congress is working on, features multiple "win-win solutions" — a point that the plan’s backers will be making in meetings with Senate staff over the next few weeks, she added.

There are two things you can do if you’re interested in your organization getting involved. First, read the whole action plan — it’s packed with ideas that I didn’t have space for here. Next, consider signing up here to join Unilever, Kroger and others as a supporter of the plan. 

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Food waste is a global problem that needs a global strategy. 

Author: Jim Giles
Posted: April 16, 2021, 8:00 am
Collaborating with the ocean is essential to addressing climate change and environmental justice

"The potential for the “blue economy” — one that combines more thoughtful stewardship of the ocean’s resources and economic opportunity with a more pragmatic, respectful approach to protecting coastal ecosystems — is vast. But with more than $1.5 trillion in annual economic value linked to ocean-based activities, the time is right to place the world’s seas at the center of a climate-centric post-pandemic recovery. This discussion will center on the role ocean solutions can play in addressing both climate change and systemic environmental justice issues.

This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE 20, October 26-30, 2020. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/ve...

 

Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3...

 

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