ICYMI: Who are the best of the B-Corps?
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) is a regular GreenBiz feature, recapping the highlights of corporate sustainability news every Monday.
Welcome back, readers! This week has left me hanging: One of my favorite parts of this column is digging into the Odds 'n' Sods section -- those unexpected, unlikely or unbelievable initiatives and announcements that just don't fit in with the rest of the week's news. However, there was such a surplus of other announcements -- it's sustainability reporting season, people! -- and such a lack of odds or sods that I decided to forgo the section entirely this week. Look below for some cool news about B-Corps, fungi-based packaging and VERGE.
And, just to tide you over til next week, do feel free to check out the odds-and-sods of the just-unveiled Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition.
Notable achievements and commitments
• Putting carbon-reduction tools in the hands of the people (sort of): Next10 this week release an online tool to help Californians (or anyone, really) explore the ways that the Golden State could reduce its emissions. The California Carbon Challenge walks individuals through a wide range of policy solutions, covering everything from feebates for automobile purchases to smart urban growth to a carbon tax. Each option comes with pros and cons, as well as the carbon reductions possible. It's an interesting way to take in the broad spectrum of carbon solutions on offer.
• The best of the B-Corps: B-Lab, the group behind the B-Corp certification for beneficial businesses, this week released the list of 63 companies from around the world that are "Best for the Environment." Among the biggest names in the honoree list are Method Products, New Leaf Paper, Patagonia and Seventh Generation. Included in the international ranks of "best of" B-Corps are Mas Ambiente, an Argentinian company producing handmade soap from used cooking and frying oil; Vidrios Marte, Mexico's largest insulated-glass manufacturer; and CO2 Bambu, a Nicaragua green building materials firm.
• BT to help dial down customers' emissions: On the heels of its announcement that BT achieved its emissions-reduction goal three years early, the telecom giant has committed to reducing emissions from its customers by three times as much as the reductions from its own operations. The new goal comes after the company determined that just 8 percent of its carbon footprint comes from its own operations, with as much as 28 percent emitted by its customers.
• British food retailers tackle food waste: The Co-Operative Group this week announced that it will eliminate food waste sent to landfills by July, five months ahead of schedule.
• Two new strategies for reducing packaging waste: EarthTechling has a post about how Ecovative Design is using fungi to replace disposable plastics, starting with packing materials. But the company is also building mushroom-based, "fire-resistant, vapor-permeable insulation" for homes.
On the slightly more speculative front, Earth911 has a profile of a project, called The Disappearing Package, by packaging designer Aaron Mickelson. According to the project: "Mickelson selected five different consumer products whose packaging he deemed fit for a redesign -- Tide laundry PODs, OXO POP containers, Twinings tea, GLAD trash bags and NIVEA soap -- and found methods for not only reducing the amount of packaging for each product, but actually eliminating packaging waste altogether."
• Big Apple bike-sharing kicks off: As of May 29, more than 6,000 bicycles were available at 330 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn for Citi Bike members to use for short bike trips. The bike-sharing plan is the result of years of struggle for bike advocates, who believe making more bikes available to more people with little hassle can change the New York landscape for good.
Sustainability reporting highlights
And earlier this week, a report from the AtKisson group that finds "greater corporate reporting of carbon emissions does not result in reduced emissions." In other words: Companies that report the most also emit the most carbon.
The AtKisson report urges transparency and standardization in reporting, particularly on energy use, as well as widespread adoption of integrated reporting. While that all will take some time to turn the ship, more companies continue to publish varying levels of social and environmental information. Here's what we find in the world of corporate reporting this week:
• REI's 2012 Stewardship Report: The retailer grew by 7.4 percent in 2012, but made a 7.6 percent absolute reduction in its emissions. And despite opening 31 new stores since 2008, the company's total energy consumption has grown by just 2 percent.
• FedEx 2012 Global Citizenship Report: The shipping giant announced that it had improved the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet by 20 percent -- eight years ahead of schedule. FedEx revised its goal upward, aiming for a 30 percent reduction by 2020.
• Bombardier Transportation 2012 CSR Report: Since 2009, the rail transport manufacturer has cut its emissions by 24.4 percent, reduced energy use by 15.1 percent and cut its water use by more than 12 percent. At the same time, the company has developed a five-stage product responsibility strategy to develop low-carbon, highly recyclable new trains.
• Yingli Green Energy's 2012 CSR Report: The world's largest photovoltaic panel manufacturer published its first sustainability report, setting three goals for 2015: reduce emissions intensity per megawatt of PV by 13 percent, reduce emissions intensity from transportation by 10 percent and -- perhaps most intriguingly for a solar manufacturer -- achieve 4 percent renewable energy consumption in its operations.
From the VERGE:
• Volvo is exploring the possibility of electrifying roadways in Sweden to eliminate the need for EV batteries.
• In Australia, new smart EV charging technology currently being piloted by Victoria's Department of Transport could cut EV charging costs in half.
• NRDC's Peter Lehner takes a look at how the skyscraper building boom underway in India -- and its widespread power blackouts in 2012 -- are pointing the way toward a big push for energy-efficient buildings across the country.
• And last but not least, over at The Energy Collective, Douglas Short poses an interesting question: will PG&E be the first energy utility to be taken out by solar power? Short looks at the steady decrease in solar costs, and the simultaneous, unavoidable rise in PG&E's power-generation costs, and preps the toe-tag for the utility.
That's all for this week, folks -- thanks for reading, and as always, if you have tips or feedback, post them in the comments below, or send us an email.