2013 was the year that …

Two Steps Forward

2013 was the year that …

It was, like most years, a very good year — at least when it comes to green business news. It certainly wasn’t all doom and gloom. Every 12 months we step back and survey the landscape in the rearview mirror, recalling the sign posts we’ve passed. And there are many, from some of the world’s biggest companies and brands.

In memory of the year just passed, and as encouragement for the one just dawning, here, in no particular order, are 13 encouraging developments we reported in 2013. What would you add to the list?

Target, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods lead retail race to safer chemicals — their ambitious initiatives look beyond standard regulations to make consumer products safer and more sustainable.

Silicon Valley dives in to support sustainable seafood — the Fish 2.0 competition matches social entrepreneurs with investors in an effort to improve ocean sustainability.

Farmers embrace Big Data to reduce pollution — creating opportunities to improve efficiency and generate sustainability benefits.

McDonald's will ditch polystyrene for paper coffee cups — true, it took some activist pressure, but the planet is just as happy.

Sprint collects and resells millions of cell phones — the wireless company buys back millions of phones a year with the help of up-to-the-minute values from eRecyclingCorps.

Richard Branson, Puma's Zeitz kick off 'Plan B' for business — famous billionaires and social leaders join forces in a call to advance sustainability in business.

Bill McDonough and Waste Management form innovation collaborative —the famed sustainable designer and America's largest waste hauler aim to help customers close the loop.

Asia Pulp & Paper commits to end Indonesian rainforest destruction — the company at the center of a decades-long campaign against its logging activities committed to end all deforestation of natural forests.

Target and GoodGuide team up to rate sustainable products — a Sustainability Product Standard establishes criteria for what defines a more “sustainable product” at the retailer.

EPEAT adds green ratings to mobile phones — the Green Electronics Council is teaming up with UL to add a mobile device category to the green electronics registry.

Puma steps up game with Cradle to Cradle certification — the shoe company takes a major stride forward by designing a product line that earned it closed-loop bragging rights.  

Apple touts lightweight, greener iPad Air — it hailed the device as a major milestone in its drive to produce more resource and energy-efficient products.

Wal-Mart, Disney, Microsoft hedge bets on carbon pricing — along with other big companies that have gone public with strategies to set an internal price on their carbon pollution.