The Sustainability Consortium has named Kara Hartnett Hurst, until recently a vice president at BSR, as its new executive director to oversee the global organization's efforts to create sustainability standards for consumer products. Hurst will be the consortium's second executive director.
Hurst will start on September 17 and be “formally introduced” during the consortium’s Inaugural Member Summit meeting in October at Arizona State University, which jointly administers the consortium with the University of Arkansas. She succeeds Bonnie Nixon, who stepped down from the executive director job in February after only 10 months.
Hurst brings a depth of experience to her new job, having co-founded and facilitated several industry initiatives, including the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative. At BSR, she ran the organization's East Coast offices, in New York and Washington, D.C., and worked with such companies as American Express, Dell, Disney, GE, and Time Warner. Prior to joining BSR, Hurst headed Open Voice, a nonprofit in East Palo Alto, and worked in the offices of former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown and the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
She will have her work cut out for her. The consortium -- which boasts more than 80 corporate members with combined revenues more than $1.5 trillion, plus a small number of government and nonprofit members -- has taken on an ambitious agenda to develop sustainability standards for more than 150 categories of consumer products across nine sectors. Toward that end, it has launched an impressive -- almost overwhelming -- number of initiatives, including:
- SMRS, a standardized framework for the communication of sustainability-related information throughout the product value chain;
- a “fully accessible, transparent” economic input-output life cycle assessment database;
- a Consumer Science working group “to examine the perceptions of end consumers and professional buyers on the topic of sustainability;”
- working groups covering electronics; food, beverage and agriculture; home and personal care products; packaging, and paper;
- a retail working group to “explore ways to improve business-to-business communications, education, and decision making across the supply chain”; and
- a “retail interactive experience” that allows users to explore what more sustainable shopping might look like across three degrees of imagination and risk, from “mild” to "wild.”
That’s a full plate for a staff of just 20 or so full-timers, along with a dozen or so contractors and a handful of academic researchers; the group’s website shows five staffers at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. The consortium’s $5.5 million annual budget is “leveraged with a heavy focus on research and delivering SMRS,” says Mike Faupel, the consortium’s director of operations.
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