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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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Episode 258: Hacking climate solutions, finding 'good work' Heather Clancy Fri, 03/05/2021 - 02:00

Week in Review

Stories discussed this week (5:05).

Features

Hacking the climate crisis (21:10)

Sanjana Paul, a 23-year-old scientist, electrical engineer and environmental activist, is executive director of EarthHacks, a hackathon that encourages college students to surface solutions for combating climate change. She talks about her mission with Shana Rappaport, GreenBiz vice president and executive director of the VERGE conference series. 

Is your job meaningful? (32:40)

Career coach and long-time GreenBiz columnist Shannon Houde chats with Associate Editor Deonna Anderson about her new book, "Good Work: How to Build a Career That Makes A Difference in the World."

*Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: "As I Was Saying," "Sad Marimba Planet," "Southside" and "More On That Later"

Stay connected

To make sure you don't miss the newest episode of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes or Spotify. Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com.

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Author: Heather Clancy
Posted: March 5, 2021, 10:00 am
Q1 2021: Food waste; the secret of fat; keep it local Jim Giles Fri, 03/05/2021 - 01:00

Want more great analysis of sustainable food systems? Sign up for Food Weekly, our free email newsletter.

I wrote recently about the intense level of innovation we’re seeing in food and ag. To try to stay on top of things, I’ll run quarterly roundups that highlight startups with the potential to move the needle on sustainability. I’ll focus on early-stage companies but will drop in some larger outfits. Here’s my first-quarter selection:

Keep it local

Singapore-based Sophie’s Bionutrients uses fermentation to power a circular economy process that transforms industrial food waste from breweries, tofu manufacturers and other facilities into a protein flour that can be used as an ingredient in other food products. 

The company jumped out at me because its tech ties in with Singapore’s bid to meet 30 percent of its inhabitants’ nutritional needs using local food by 2030 — a threefold increase on current local supply. Local food supply is increasingly seen as adding resilience to food systems, and it’ll be fascinating to see what the rest of the world can learn from Singapore’s progress. Because the company is reusing what was previously seen as waste, Sophie’s is also a great example of tech that can help food systems transition from extractive to circular. 

Learn more: The Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy recently released a detailed Action Agenda for Food.

Fat lab

"Fat is the secret ingredient that defines how meat looks, cooks and tastes," said Max Jamilly, co-founder of Hoxton Farms, a startup aiming to grow animal fat in the lab.

Leading alt-protein offerings — the burgers from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, for instance — contain plant fats that lack the meaty taste of the real thing. Hoxton’s big idea is to grow animal fat from animal cells, which would avoid the need to rear and slaughter actual animals.

It’s early days for the company, which last month raised a $2.7 million seed round. But the startup is symbolic of the increasing specialization of the alt-protein sector. Incumbents such as Impossible developed much or all of their technology, but a new generation of startups is focusing on specific solutions such as bioreactor technologies, 3D printers and low-cost alternatives to the serums used to grow animal cells. 

Learn more: The Good Food Institute has a comprehensive database of companies in this sector.

Circular sugar

Sugar production drives a host of environmental problems, from biodiversity loss to water scarcity. That damage, together with the health impacts of eating too much sugar, has triggered a rush to find alternatives that are better for our bodies and our planet. One approach is to cut back on the amount we eat by making conventional sugars taste sweeter. At Supplant, engineers have another goal: figuring out how to extract sugar from fibrous material that otherwise would be treated as waste. The company recently announced a $20 million round and said it will launch its first product in collaboration with a big-name — although as yet unnamed — chef.

Learn more: The New Yorker recently ran a fascinating feature on "The race to redesign sugar."

Sticking it to waste 

There’s a hard-to-maintain balancing act at the heart of attempts to limit food waste. Consumers like to have plenty of food on hand at home and in stores. The obvious solution is to over-order, but that’s one reason why those locations account for half of all food waste in the United States.

There’s no silver bullet here, but extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables could help. Apeel is a well-known market leader in this area: Its freshness-extending coating is used on avocados in Kroger stores and other outlets. StixFresh is a newer entrant with a rival solution: Its stickers contain compounds that delay the ripening of apples, pears, avocados, dragon fruits, kiwis, mangoes, oranges and other citrus fruits.

One interesting differentiation between StixFresh and other solutions is that the stickers can be easily applied at home. The company was one of 17 named last month to the inaugural cohort of the Circulars Accelerator, a circular economy incubator run by Accenture in partnership with the World Economic Forum and others.

Learn more: ReFED’s Insights Engine contains a wealth of information on the causes of and cures for food waste.

Pick of the bunch

As costs come down, next-gen greenhouses and vertical farms may be able to expand beyond their existing niche, which is mainly in leafy greens. And as these operations plug into an electricity grid that’s steadily decarbonizing, they may be able to deliver on the full sustainability potential of indoor ag.

To further drive down costs, a handful of startups are competing to replace human pickers with robots. One — Root AI — caught my eye because it’s on a hiring spree; the result, presumably, of having closed a $7 million round last year

It will be interesting to see how this technology changes the economics of indoor ag and which commercial crops migrate into greenhouses and vertical farms as a result. We also need a better understanding of the impact of these advances on the groups, particularly immigrants, that rely on income from farm labor.

Learn more: The World Wildlife Fund is investigating how to build an indoor farming industry that meets the needs of local people and the environment

That’s it for my Q1 roundup. If you work for or know of a startup that should get a mention in Q2, shoot me an email at jg@greenbiz.com.

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5 opportunities of a circular economy David McGinty Fri, 03/05/2021 - 00:12

More than 100 billion tons of resources enter the economy every year — everything from metals, minerals and fossil fuels to organic materials from plants and animals. Just 8.6 percent gets recycled and used again. Use of resources has tripled (automatic PDF download) since 1970 and could double again by 2050 if business continues as usual. We would need 1.5 Earths to sustainably support our current resource use.

This rampant consumption has devastating effects for humans, wildlife and the planet. It is more urgent than ever to shift from linear, use-it-up-and-throw-it-away models to a circular economy: where waste and pollution are designed out, products and materials are kept in use for longer, and natural systems can regenerate.

A circular economy isn’t just about fixing environmental wrongs, though: Evidence shows it can bring big opportunities and positive impacts across industries, sectors and lives.

A growing number of businesses, governments and civil society organizations are coming together to drive the change through the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE). More than 200 experts from 100 organizations helped develop the Circular Economy Action Agenda, a set of publications that analyze the potential impact and call for action across five key sectors: plastics, textiles, electronics, food and capital equipment (machinery and large tools such as medical scanners, agricultural equipment and manufacturing infrastructure). The Action Agenda demonstrates five opportunities associated with the shift to a circular economy:

1. Make better use of finite resources

The circular economy concept is all about making better use of natural resources such as forests, soil, water, air, metals and minerals.

Take the textiles industry. Each year, huge quantities of fossil fuels are used to produce clothes from synthetic fibers each year. Textile production (including cotton farming) uses almost 100 billion cubic meters of water per year, about 4 percent of global freshwater withdrawal. At the same time, people throw away still-wearable clothes worth an estimated $460 billion each year.

Creating a circular economy for textiles means shifting to recycled and recyclable materials in order to reduce the amount of land, water and fossil fuels used to produce new clothes. It means changing consumption patterns to reduce new purchases and keep clothes in use for longer, for instance by developing the second-hand and rental markets as well as changing the culture of fast fashion. Research suggests that the purchase of 100 second-hand garments can displace the production of 85 new garments. And finally, it means ensuring that clothes at the end of their life are collected and recycled or repurposed into new clothes, further reducing resource use.

2. Reduce emissions

About 45 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from product use and manufacturing, as well as food production. Circular economy strategies that reduce our use of resources can cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent (22.8 billion tons) and play a crucial role in averting the dangerous impacts of climate change.

For example, shifting towards recycled materials would alleviate the need to produce virgin plastics and synthetic fibers, which would significantly reduce fossil fuel use and associated emissions. Changing consumption patterns is also crucial: For example, if the average number of times a garment is worn were doubled, greenhouse gas emissions from the textiles industry would be 44 percent lower.

The world produces around 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

Creating a circular economy for food by reducing loss and waste is particularly crucial to lowering emissions: If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after the United States and China.

3. Protect human health and biodiversity

Every year, more than 9 million deaths occur due to air, water and soil pollution. This pollution also threatens biodiversity.

Working towards a circular economy helps protect human health and biodiversity in many ways, including by making better use of natural resources (protecting water and land), and by mitigating the climate crisis. One of the clearest and most direct impacts of the shift to a circular economy will come from how we deal with products at the end of their life.

The world produces around 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. This is on top of 54 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste), of which just 17.4 percent gets collected and recycled. This waste becomes hazardous for human health and for biodiversity when it is mismanaged, either leaking into the natural environment or disposed of through open burning, landfills or substandard recycling.

Designing products to be kept in use for longer reduces the amount of waste produced. Creating proper collection and processing systems protects workers and the environment from hazardous materials. For instance, using existing solutions such as replacing plastic other materials, designing plastics so that they can be more easily recycled and scaling up collection and recycling could reduce the flow of plastic waste into the ocean by 80 percent in 20 years — a shift that would be enormously beneficial for human health and biodiversity.

4. Boost economies

Research shows that the circular economy offers a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity by reducing waste, stimulating innovation and creating employment. New business models focused on reuse, repair, remanufacturing and sharing models offer significant innovation opportunities.

For example, a circular economy for plastics offers considerable economic benefits. Less plastic waste in the ocean would benefit industries such as fishing and tourism, as plastic pollution leads to $13 billion in costs and economic losses per year. Reducing the pollution and toxic emissions that come from the open burning of plastic waste would lower healthcare costs, while reducing fossil fuel use for plastic production would help mitigate climate change and its associated costs.

Many of these economic benefits and opportunities are long-term, indirect and require significant investment; a long-term view is key, as are short-term incentives to drive the change. This can include policies that create more immediate financial incentives for businesses to develop innovative new business models and enable the efficient flow of reused and recycled materials across global value chains.

5. Create more and better jobs

Transitioning to a circular economy could create a net increase of 6 million jobs by 2030. Making the most of this opportunity will require a clear focus on social and environmental justice.

Jobs may be lost in more linear businesses; however, new jobs will be created in fields such as recycling, services such as repair and rental, or in new enterprises that spring up to make innovative use of secondary materials. These new jobs cannot be considered direct replacements, as they may be in different locations and require different skills. For instance, we must consider the millions of garment workers — mostly women — whose employment depends on the continuation of the fast fashion industry. Investing in a just transition via social dialogue, social protection and reskilling programs is key.

While a net increase in jobs is important, another value-add of circularity is the opportunity to provide formal work and improved working conditions for informal laborers. Around 15 million people worldwide work as "waste pickers," salvaging reusable or recyclable materials from garbage. Bringing these informal waste pickers into formal work in collection or recycling is a major opportunity to offer safer, more secure employment.

Maximizing the impact of the circular economy

Of course, there are always trade-offs to be considered and managed when working towards large-scale, systemic change. For example, shifting to bio-based plastics and natural, recyclable textiles such as cotton will use less fossil fuels than traditional plastics or synthetic fibers, but may increase demands for land and water to grow such materials. Shifting to natural materials is a crucial part of the solution, but only if those materials are produced in a sustainable way — and only if consumption habits change, too.

A long-term view is key, as are short-term incentives to drive the change.

It’s also important to recognize the interconnected nature of the global economy. Many minerals and metals used in electronics are byproducts from the mining of aluminum, copper, lead and zinc, which are used across industries. Going circular in the electronics industry alone would not do much to reduce dependence on these resources. Multiple industries must shift to create systemic change.

Finally, it will be crucial to keep social well-being and equity top-of-mind. For example, moving to a circular economy can shift investment and employment away from production and manufacturing (which tends to happen in lower-income countries) and towards later stages of the value chain, such as repair, resale, sorting and recycling (often concentrated in wealthier countries). We’ll need to ensure that economic benefits are equitably distributed to maximize the opportunity of a circular economy.

A role for everyone

The above five impact areas exhibit some of the social, environmental and economic benefits of a circular economy, but realizing these benefits will require ambitious action. Governments, businesses, civil society, finance institutions, research organizations — everyone has a role to play. The new Circular Economy Action Agenda is a good place to start.

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The world produces around 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
A long-term view is key, as are short-term incentives to drive the change.
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Treating finite resources wisely is part of the picture.

Treating finite resources wisely is part of the picture.

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Author: David McGinty
Posted: March 5, 2021, 8:12 am
Alpa Sutaria on how Coca-Cola is addressing issues associated with plastic waste

This video is sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Pete May, President and Co-Founder, GreenBiz Group interviewed Alpa Sutaria, Vice President and General Manager, Sustainability, Coca-Cola during GreenBiz 21 on February 9-11th. View archived videos from the conference here: https://www.greenbiz.com/topics/greenbiz-21-archive.

YanniGuo Thu, 03/04/2021 - 13:28
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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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