It’s easy, amid the daily churn of downer headlines, to lose sight of the good stuff, the developments that signifies a marker for progress. They happen throughout the year, as we report each day on GreenBiz.com. But they often get lost in the shuffle, especially during the barrage of news about elections, protests, climate-science realities, economic turbulence, extreme weather, and the “new normal,” whatever that happens to be.
In memory of the year just passed, and as encouragement for the one just dawning, here, in no particular order, are 15 encouraging developments we reported in 2012. What would you add to the list?
- Marks & Spencer announced that it had sold one billion sustainable products. Over a third of the items it sells now boast some form of sustainability credential.
- Walmart announced new commitments to increase the sustainability of its supply chain in China, the U.S. and around the world. The retailer said it is placing China at the center of its plans to fund research focused on sustainable business and supply chains.
- Apple reversed a decision to abandon EPEAT as a standard for its products following an outcry from customers, including institutional buyers and activists. The computer giant's turnaround shows the clout that EPEAT has with companies, governments and educational purchasers.
- Kimberly-Clark announced that it plans to halve its use of wood fiber sourced from natural forests by 2025, an amount equivalent to the fiber used to manufacture over three and a half billion rolls of toilet paper.
- The U.K. government said it will introduce mandatory carbon reporting rules requiring around 1,800 of the country's largest listed companies to report annually on their greenhouse gas emissions.
- Whole Foods became the first major North American retailer to stop selling unsustainable, or red-listed, seafood, a determination by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute that the fish species is being overfished or that current fishing methods harm non-target marine life or habitats.
- Nike’s adopted a waterless dyeing technology that uses recycled carbon dioxide to color synthetic textiles. The process could eliminate the use of countless billions of gallons of polluted discharges into waterways near manufacturing plants in Asia.
- Burger King pledged to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2017 and to eliminate gestation crates for breeding pigs, the first time a major U.S. fast-food chain is going completely cage-free.
- Wells Fargo announced it will make $30 billion in loans and investments by 2020, a significant jump from its former target of $1 billion by 2010, which the company blasted past with investments of more than $3 billion by the end of 2008.
- Disney announced a new paper sourcing and use policy, establishing guidelines for paper used in Disney’s operations as well as its consumer products and packaging, the result of a campaign waged by activists.
- Unilever launches an online platform to crowdsource technical solutions it needs to achieve its ambition of doubling the size of its business while reducing its environmental impact.
- California adopts landmark clean car standards that, when fully implemented by 2025, will make new cars emit 75 percent less smog pollution, 50 percent less carbon, and double their fuel economy.
- Puma published a detailed environmental profit & loss statement for 2010, valuing the costs to the planet incurred by its operations across its supply chain.
- Sprint says it will require that all of its phones go through a certification process to meet stringent environmental standards set by the company and UL Environment.
- The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board launched to create and disseminate “industry-specific accounting standards for material sustainability issues for use by U.S. publicly listed corporations and their investors.
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