In Episode 55 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 24, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Gil Friend to the show.  Gil is Founder, President and CEO of Natural Logic, a company that provides strategic advice to support the sustainable economy.  He’s been consulting in this area for more than 40 years and has some great perspectives on the past, present and future of sustainability in business.  His company serves a wide variety of organizations ranging from municipalities to some of the best known consumer brands in the world (Levi Strauss and CocaCola, to name two).  He was recently inducted as a founding member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.  This is a guy with, as they say, gravitas in the industry.

Gil Friend of Natural Logic

Gil Friend of Natural Logic visits The Wendel Forum studio

Gil points out that, classically, people have defined sustainability as development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs – or to put it more succinctly, by doing less bad.  

He prefers to take a more positive approach.  In his view, a sustainable business is a business that operates in harmony with the laws of nature – a little more inspiring.

When asked what major trends he’s seen, Gil shares that he believes there has been a major sea change in the last five years, with a large number of mainstream businesses considering the environment as a part of their core business operations.   Most of us are familiar with at least some of the ways in which Walmart has led the pack in this area.  When they started, a few years ago, they set goals without knowing exactly what the metrics would be or how they would meet them.  But they didn’t let that stop them, and as a result they have had a big impact on a large sector of the economy.

Gil believes that sustainability has moved from the periphery of business operations to become a central driver of business value for many companies.  Early efforts tended to focus on energy, waste stream, water usage and similar factors.  What’s the latest?  Carbon emissions.  Companies are developing metrics for things like carbon emissions per dollar of revenue as a way to think about investment strategies.  One resource in this area is the Carbon Disclosure Project

Common sustainable business themes include companies looking more closely at the full length of the supply chain and adding transparency.  Consumers want to know the materials that make up the products they buy, as well as the labor practices employed and environmental impact of their production. 

What’s in Gil’s crystal ball for green business?  He sees more companies taking sustainability further and more deeply into their operations.  Companies are asking more systemic questions – embedding sustainability deeper into their DNA and developing better processes along the way.

For more of Gil’s insights, you might want to check out his book, The Truth About Green Business.  It gives business leaders a framework, as well as practical nuts-and-bolts ideas, in easily digestible pieces. 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Gil Friend:  Episode 55 of The Wendel Forum (27:38 mins; mp3)

Natural Logic website: www.natlogic.com 

The Truth About Green Business webpage: http://www.natlogic.com/resources/publications/the-truth-about-green-business/

Carbon Disclosure Project: https://www.cdproject.net/en-US/Pages/HomePage.aspx

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Advertisements

In Episode 53 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 10, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons visits Natural Products Expo West 2012 in Anaheim.  The show sees 60,000 attendees and more than 2,000 exhibitors showcasing their products including a wide range of natural living products, specialty foods, natural ingredients, supplements, and health and beauty aids.  In addition there are numerous seminars and presentation, as well as informal discussions on topics from fair trade and supply chain issues to organic labeling and greenwashing. 

While attending the Expo, Dick had the opportunity to speak with Sarah Roquemore, Outreach Coordinator with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), on the topic of palm oil, a product that appears in nearly 50% of the food on your grocer’s shelves and in products as diverse as toothpaste and laundry detergent.

Although palm oil is a widely-used product, most people have no idea how prevalent it is in our food stream. Nor do they realize the environmental impact its cultivation has on our planet.  In recent years, the high demand for palm oil has contributed to the deforestation of many tropical regions.  UCS claims that 15% of emissions that cause global warming come from tropical deforestation (more than all cars, planes, trucks and ships combined).  The connection between deforestation and emissions is not obvious. However, trees can be viewed as big carbon storage devices.  They absorb carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow.  When trees are cut down and burned or left to rot, the carbon they have stored is released back into the atmosphere.  In addition, deforestation has destroyed habitat for numerous animals and leads to loss of biodiversity.

Of course balancing the needs of the supply chain, the environment and local economies in (often) poor regions of the world is a challenging proposition.  But there are some bright spots.  Sarah suggests that there is movement on multiple fronts to address this problem, including promoting changes to the way we grow and produce vegetable oil, local jurisdictional controls on farming practices, and consumer campaigns that have changed the practices of companies who use the oil.

A relatively recent example of a successful consumer-driven corporate shift on palm oil sourcing happened in 2010 with Nestlé.  After being targeted for their use of palm oil from sources of deforestation in a public campaign, led largely by Greenpeace, Nestle has adopted Responsible Sourcing Guidelines. The company has committed to “ensuring that its products do not have a deforestation footprint,” according to its website.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is another growing resource in the fight to produce palm oil in a more responsible way. This group actively looks to improve the sourcing options, simplify the distribution channels and verify the supply chain for palm oil.  But it’s a complex problem, and some feel that the group has not gone far enough in establishing guidelines and certifications. 

In the meantime, the Union of Concerned Scientists will continue their program to publicize the issue, taking knowledge to product manufacturers and the public. 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Sarah Roquemore:  Episode 53 of The Wendel Forum(27:53 mins; mp3)

UCS Report “Recipes for Success: Solutions for Deforestation-Free Vegetable Oils”: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/forest_solutions/deforestation-free-vegetable-oils.html

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil website: http://www.rspo.org/

Greenpeace follow up story on Nestle campaign (dated 5/23/2011): http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/One-year-after-Nestle-committed-to-giving-rainforests-a-break–what-has-been-achieved/

Nestlé Responsible Souring Guidelines: http://www.nestle.com/Common/NestleDocuments/Documents/Media/Statements/2011-Nestle_Responsible_Sourcing_Guidelines.pdf 

Natural Products Expo West 2012 website: http://www.expowest.com/ew12/public/enter.aspx

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

What does the Iberian Lynx have to do with a bottle of wine?  The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance. 

In Episode 48 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on January 28, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo welcomes Patrick Spencer, Executive Director of Cork Forest Conservation Alliance (CFCA).

Originally founded in 2008 as Cork ReHarvest, the Oregon-based CFCA is a nonprofit that campaigns globally for the protection and preservation of the Mediterranean cork forests, its inhabitants (including the Iberian Lynx) and biodiversity, through education, direct action, and partnerships with communities, businesses and governments. In addition to the group’s educational campaigns, a major piece of their work is to collect and recycle cork before it reaches a landfill. Bill and Patrick discuss the group’s four main areas of focus, and the new “Real Cork Inside” program.

Recycling

CFCA has developed a distribution network to collect used wine natural corks and recycle them close to where they are collected, thereby reducing the carbon footprint in the recycling circle.  Whole Foods Markets, with drop off locations in their 300 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., is by far their largest partner.  There are many other locations in the network with drop-off locations from Surry, British Columbia to Austin, Texas.  Once collected, the cork is recycled into products including cork floor tiles and numerous industrial and consumer products.

Education

A primary mission of the organization is to educate the wine community, various manufacturers and consumers regarding the sustainability of cork.  The group frequently participates in outreach, sustainability seminars and conferences, and hospitality industry programs to correct some common misperceptions about the harvesting of cork. Cork is actually the bark of certain oak trees.  Patrick explains that, contrary to popular belief, the trees are not cut down in order to harvest the cork. It is harvested by hand by individual family farmers working the 6.6 million acres in the Mediterranean cork forest region. The bark re-grows and is harvested about every 9 years from trees that can live up to 300 years.

Stewardship

CFCA works with local governments and with other nonprofit organizations throughout the world to become a central hub for information, education and advocacy related the harvest of cork.

Environmental business development

To further the mission of the organization, CFCA actively works with companies looking to up-cycling spent wine cork. Using natural cork in other products diverts large quantities of waste from landfills and offers many businesses a more sustainable alternative in the production of goods and products. By working with business leaders in a variety of industries, the group is able to identify new opportunities to create all kinds of environmentally favorable applications – from flooring in schoolyard playgrounds to bobbers for fishing.

The “Real Cork Inside” programLook for the Acorn - Real Cork Inside logo

The “Real Cork Inside” ™ certification program was developed to help wineries let consumers know that they have committed to using natural cork in bottling their wines. Because most wineries put foil or plastic capsule over the top of the bottle, a consumer often can’t see if the bottle uses natural or synthetic cork. Now consumers can look for an acorn symbol on the bottle that indicates the winery is committed to using natural cork closures. This trademark logo is licensed by CFCA to certified wineries in the program and gives the consumer the power of choice.

 

Post Links:

Listen to the interviews with Patrick Spencer:  Episode 48 of The Wendel Forum (27:41 mins; mp3)

Cork Forest Conservation Alliance website: www.corkforest.org

Whole Foods Market cork program press release: http://wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroom/blog/2010/04/06/whole-foods-market%c2%ae-partners-with-cork-reharvest-to-recycle-wine-corks-help-save-mediterranean-cork-forests/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Photo of Bill Acevedo surfing

Show host Bill Acevedo surfing Hollister Ranch New Year's 2012

In Episode 47 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 21, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), passionate surfer and show host Bill Acevedo brings together a diverse set of people, all with a passion for improving the environmental impact caused by the surfing industry.  Their interests span from the core material used to make blanks that are ultimately shaped into the ideal board to filmmakers attempting to capture the stories that will hopefully inspire a new generation of surf product innovation; the conversation explores how each of our guests is making waves.

First up is Clay Peterson of Marko Foam Products, a company on the cutting edge of sustainable surfboards. Bill and Clay discuss the more environmentally friendly materials now being used in the production of surfboard blanks, as well as Marko Foam’s significant efforts to use recycled styrofoam as feeder product to create its supply of blanks.  Clay provides context and history on the challenges board manufacturers and shapers faced until recently, including an explanation of the lawsuit that ultimately put Clark Foam, one of the original titans of surfboard manufacturing, out of business. He describes how the manufacturing process has evolved into a cleaner, healthier process.

Later, the conversation turns to Desi Banatao of Entropy Resins, maker of the first USDA BioPreferred Certified Epoxy System. These bioderived epoxy solutions allow manufacturers to lower the petroleum and VOC content of their products.  The resins are derived from materials like pine oils and non-food grade vegetable oils. Desi (the engineer in the family) works with his brother Rey Banatao (who has a background in polymer chemistry) to develop these innovative renewable products that can be used in multiple applications, ranging from green building materials to snow and sea sporting equipment. 

Joining the fun, Andrew Rice and David Whitney of Kenai Productions describe their new documentary project, Every Board Has a Story, which will serve as a vehicle for educating the public about the alternatives to traditional surfboard manufacturing.  The story will explore the relationship between the surfer and his or her board, and will track various efforts to design, create and test the performance aspects of sustainable surfboards.

These are great stories showcasing how people with a passion for the environment are transforming an industry.  

Post Links:

Listen to the interviews with Clay, Desi, Andrew and David:  Episode 47 of The Wendel Forum (27:33 mins; mp3)

Every Board Has a Story trailer: http://kenaiproductions.com/every-board-has-a-story–green-surf-board-documentary.html 

Marko Foam Products website: http://www.markofoam.com/

Entropy Resins website: http://www.entropyresins.com/

Kenai Productions website: http://kenaiproductions.com/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 43 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on December 3, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo talks fiber with Lewis Fix of Domtar Paper.  That’s tree fiber, not cereal.

The company, which was actually founded in 1848 in England, is one of the leaders in sustainability in the paper industry. In 2002, Domtar became the first North American paper company to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification from the forest to the marketplace. 

According to Lewis, Domtar sees itself as more than just a paper company.  They are in the business of moving fiber.  What does that mean?  Usually when you think of paper products, you think of copy paper, annual reports and marketing brochures.  But their products are much more diverse than that.  They are used in such diverse places as sticks for lollipops and medical products. And like many companies looking to be more efficient with their production while creating less waste, Domtar is exploring ways to use the papermaking byproduct lignin as a bio-fuel.

In addition, the company values being a good corporate citizen regarding its environmental impact and its impact in the communities in which it operates.  With 13 pulp and paper facilities throughout North America, the company recognizes the importance of being engaged locally.

Lewis discusses the responsibility that Domtar embraces to have an open dialogue regarding how they are managing forests, watersheds, and other resources.  They hold themselves to a high standard of transparency (third party and multi-stakeholder).  Lewis and Bill discuss the debate regarding whether it’s better to use virgin or recycled paper, as well as a few of Domtar’s partnerships with organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance and World Wildlife Fund.

They also have some exciting new initiatives to promote, including The Paper Trail, a web transparency tool inspired by Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles to help track the chain of custody in the supply chain all the way to store shelves.

From a Domtar press release:

The Paper Trail (http://www.domtarpapertrail.com) develops personalized reports that measure Domtar products across five categories: water usage, the distance fiber travels to a paper mill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste sent to landfills and renewable energy usage. The data is displayed in real-world equivalents, with comparisons to issues such as the amount of water the average household uses or the amount of waste it generates. The Paper Trail will also illustrate how Domtar compares to the rest of the industry in these particular categories.

We think you might think differently about fiber after listening to this interview.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Lewis Fix: Episode 43 of The Wendel Forum (mp3)

Domtar Paper website: http://www.domtar.com

Forest Stewardship Council website:  http://www.fsc.org/

The Paper Trail: http://www.domtarpapertrail.com

Green 960 AM Radio website: http://www.green960.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 40 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on November 12, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz.com, joins show host Dick Lyons to discuss sustainability standards for organizations.

Joel explains that while there is a lot of activity for the greening of companies of all types, it has been challenging to identify shared definitions that allow for meaningful standards in the marketplace.   What does it mean to be good enough?  So Joel, along with the team of like-minded folks have been working on a strategy to build a comprehensive, company level (not just product level), global, third party standard for organizations to follow. The outcome of this work has resulted in the Underwriters Laboratories Environment (UL Environment or ULE) 880 for manufacturing and 881 for service providers (pending).  UL is a 117 year old organization historically known for their work developing product safety standards.

Forum listeners may also remember the interview Dick did with Rory Bakke in Episode 30 of The Wendel Forum on September 3, in which we discussed the development of these standards.

ULE 880 Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations has been released, and the working group is now turning its attention to the matter of finishing ULE 881, which will cover service providers. Joel says that 881 should be expected to emerge in about a year.

So, how do companies get rated? You can find more information at www.ULEnviornment.com.  There are some costs associated with obtaining third party verification of the data companies provide.
 
What’s interesting is that this is not designed as one more consumer facing label.  This has been developed as a business to business or business to government standard.  The group imagines that companies with long supply chains will begin to use this standard, much as ISO-14000 or ISO-9000 standards are used in some industries to verify standards between business partners.  A registry and verification logo will be available to companies achieving the standards.

Here is one more tool to help sustainably-minded companies get that much closer to meaningful transparency and accountability.

 

Show Posts:

Listen to the interview with Joel Makower: Episode 40 of The Wendel Forum (27+ min, mp3)

GreenBiz website: www.Greenbizgroup.com

Underwriters Lab Environment website:  http://www.ulenvironment.com/ulenvironment/eng/pages/

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

Rip Curl Pro Search is going on in San Francisco for a few more days (Nov. 1 – 12), so it seems the perfect time to talk about what’s happening to green the surfing industry.  Yes, blue is the new green.

In Episode 38 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on October 29, 2011), show host Bill Acevedo talks with Michael Stewart, one of the founders of Sustainable Surf, which is a 501(c)3 that works to improve the adoption of sustainability in the surfing industry.

From their website:
Sustainable Surf works with key players within the surfing industry to dramatically improve the environmental performance of their products and services. In parallel, Sustainable Surf engages surfing consumers with innovative campaigns around sustainable surfing products, and educates surfers about the lifestyle choices that can further lower their impacts on the ocean environment.

You might think that the impact on the environment caused by surfing is just a drop in the ocean, but surfing represents a $7 billion dollar industry.  Now there is a movement to reconnect with surfing’s more sustainable roots.  Surfboards are an obvious place to start. Historically they were made from wood products, but over the years petroleum based materials became the norm. Wet suits, accessories, apparel and all of the “stuff” that goes with the surfing lifestyle have an impact.  From raw materials and supply chain, to manufacturing and distribution, it’s time for the surf industry to step up and take responsibility for its environmental impact. And then there are the waste and end-of-life issues for all that gear. 

Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf

Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf visits The Wendel Forum studio

Michael and Bill discuss these issues and the major initiatives that Sustainable Surf has embraced to help the industry become more green and to reduce the impact to our coastlines caused by those who enjoy the sport.  Current projects include the Waste to Waves program, the Ecoboard Verification Program and the greening of the Rip Curl Pro Search event in San Francisco.  If you’re checking out the action at Rip Curl Pro, take a minute to notice the recycling and upcycling initiatives, the use of biodiesel, and the high waste diversion goals (90%) for the event. 

You may also want to participate in the beach clean up program going on Saturday, November 5, from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Post Links:

Interview with Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf: Episode 38 of The Wendel Forum (27.23 mins; mp3)
Rip Curl Pro website: http://live.ripcurl.com/index.php?Search2011
Sustainable Surf website: http://SustainableSurf.org/
Current Sustainable Surf projects: http://sustainablesurf.org/projects/
Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html
Bill Acevedo website bio: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo