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

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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

Each year we at Wendel Rosen look forward to the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum in San Francisco.  This year’s theme “The Access Economy” will take a closer look at the relationships between brands and consumers.  The San Francisco event takes place on October 20, 2011 and is sure to inspire, as well as provide great opportunities for networking.

Event program:  

Alex Bogusky, iconoclastic ad man, who made Crispin Porter + Bogusky the world’s most awarded agency, then turned heads with the launch of the FearLess Revolution, shares his inspiring story and introduces Common, a collaborative brand for social entrepreneurs. 

Bonnie Nixon of The Sustainability Consortium

Bonnie Nixon, who redefined supply chain ethics and stakeholder engagement as Director of Environmental Sustainability at HP, talks about scaling sustainability in the world’s most impactful corporations from her new role as Executive Director of The Sustainability Consortium.

BBMG unveils a new branding campaign and the lessons learned from a case study with the founders of Getaround, a fast-growing, San Francisco-based Access Economy icon, winner of the 2010 BBMG Collective Prize presented by Sustainable Industries.

The featured presentations will be followed by interactive Q&A with the experts moderated by Triple Pundit founder Nick Aster (a prior Wendel Forum guest).

In preparation for the event, show host Bill Acevedo managed to get a few minutes with Bonnie and Alex for Episode 35 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on October 8, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio).  These interviews give a brief preview of some of the themes to be explored on the 20th. 

In the first segment, Bill talks with Bonnie about The Sustainability Consortium, a diverse group of stakeholders who have come together to drive a new generation of sustainable products and services.  A number of private retail and consumer product companies are engaged in the Consortium, along with representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academics.  All of these stakeholders are exploring ways to advance science to drive a new generation of innovative products and supply networks that tackle the environmental, social and economic imperatives we face today.

Bonnie explains how the future of The Sustainability Consortium is working to enhance science to better inform decision makers on the sustainability of products.  This research will generate new indicators and methodologies for understanding and evaluating the environmental attributes and impacts of products.  This transparency could empower companies, investors, consumers and other stakeholders to match business initiatives, investment decisions and purchasing choices related to specific companies and products to their own set of values and priorities. Imagine a world where you could use your phone app to scan a product and get a window into its entire lifecycle through the bar code!

In the second half of the show, Bill talks with FearLess Cottage’s Chief Creative Insurgent Alex Bogusky, who spent the first part of his career building great brands for companies.  At some point he became disillusioned with what he calls the one-sidedness of the brand/consumer relationship.  He took that frustration and founded The FearLess Cottage, described on its website as “an informal clubhouse for insurgents in a new consumer revolution.”

Alex explains that there is a current window of power in the hands of consumers to help shape companies and

Photo of Alex Bogusky

Alex Bogusky of FearLess Cottage

products to better match their values through consumption and buying habits. By asserting this “voting choice” the consumer/citizen can influence even the large corporations, which have considerable sway over government — and, in turn, over us.  He suggests that, while there is a potential for more transparency, consumers don’t always choose to look as closely as we should, saying that “democracy hasn’t permeated capitalism yet.” He challenges the listener to use resources like Good Guide and to vote with purchasing dollars as a way to combat corporate special interests. It is a challenge we should all take.

For those who are in the Bay Area and have an interest in a deeper discussion of these topics, we’ll see you on the 20th at The St. Regis for the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum.  
Post Links:

Listen to the interviews with Bonnie and Alex: Episode 35 of The Wendel Forum

The Sustainability Consortium website: http://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/

The Good Guide website: www.goodguide.com

The FearLess Cottage website: http://fearlessrevolution.com/

Sustainable Industries Economic Forum event registration: http://sustainableindustries.com/events/economic-forums/sustainable-industries-economic-forum 

BBMG website: http://bbmg.com/

Triple Pundit website: http://www.triplepundit.com/ 

Bill Acevedo online bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 34 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on October 1, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Dick Lyons speaks with Flory Wilson, Director of International Standards at B Lab.  Flory has been instrumental in helping to develop a new rating system for impact investing in North America and around the world – GIIRS.

In their discussion, Flory and Dick discuss the origin of “impact investing,” a term that really only came into popularity about three years ago. Impact investing refers to investors placing capital in companies and funds that deliver positive financial returns while delivering positive social and environmental impacts on their communities.  The concept is relatively simple, but achieving a reliable way to measure, verify and report on a company or fund’s impact has been a challenge, leaving investors with no real way to gauge their impact investments.

Investors knew how to judge returns on their money – profits (just look at the bottom line).  But what has been lacking is a way to analyze and report the other two contributors to the triple bottom line (referring to people, planet and profits). 

The GIIRS crew has spent the last couple of years setting up a framework for reporting and verifying the results of entities that might be desirable vehicles for impact investors.  The audit process takes into account such aspects of a company as governance structure, entity ownership structure, workforce engagement, community support, and environmental footprint.  They look at how the company manages the supply chain and distribution structure and the actual environmental impact of the company’s products and services. 

When assessing a fund, the rating system takes into account the fund manager’s track record, how they screen investors and portfolio companies, how rigorous their standards are, how they manage the investment over time, and their investment exit strategies.

Flory explains some of the reporting features and the review process, as well as the types of businesses and funds that are currently participating in the program.

GIIRS recently had a “coming out” party of sorts at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.  During this event held September 20-22, 2011, fifteen pioneer investors with $1.50 billion in impact assets, declared their preference for GIIRS-rated funds and companies. They included JP Morgan, Prudential, the Rockefeller Foundation, private equity funds, family foundations and philanthropic organizations, as well as international public sector financial institutions.

Listen in to the episode and let us know your thoughts.  Will these types of metrics have a significant impact on the future of investing?  What might be the next steps in this evolution?

SHOW NOTE:
Tune in on Saturday, October 8, 2011, to get a sneak peak preview of Sustainable Industries Economic Forum featured speakers Bonnie Nixon, executive director of  The Sustainability Consortium, and Alex Bogusky, founder of the FearLess Revolution.  The Forum will be held on October 20 in San Francisco and there is still time to get your ticket by visiting the Sustainable Industries website.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Flory Wilson: Episode 34 of The Wendel Forum(27:45 min, mp3)

GIIRS website:  www.giirs.org

Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting website info: http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/ourmeetings/2011/default.asp?Section=OurMeetings&PageTitle=CGI

Sustainable Industries Economic Forum website: http://sustainableindustries.com/events/economic-forums/sustainable-industries-economic-forum

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

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 30 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on September 3, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Dick Lyons sits down to chat with Rory Bakke, President of Sustainable Concepts Studio and Director of Sustainability for GreenBiz

In addition, Rory is a key author of the newly developed environmental standards for enterprises through Underwriters Labs (UL) to develop the environmental standards for enterprises.  UL Environment (or ULE) is currently working on releasing ULE 880 (for manufacturing organizations) and ULE 881 (for service providers).

Photo of Rory Bakke in studio

Rory Bakke in studio with The Wendel Forum

During her conversation with Dick, she explains the process that UL has used to develop the standards and gives an overview of the program.  These standards have been developed with global input and an emphasis on being able to audit each individual aspect.  To participate, a company will first need to meet a baseline set of prerequisites. 

Beyond that, there is a point system for core requirements and leadership indicators in five major domains:

  •  Environment (including aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy efficiency, compliance with regulations, product stewardship, etc.)
  • Governance (obligations to shareholders, board actions and  corporate practices)
  • Labor and workforce 
  • Community engagement and human rights
  • Customers & Supply Chain (resolving issues with customers, dealing with supply chains huge factor)

While there are already many forms of product certification, this comprehensive set of standards is meant for the enterprise or organizational level.  Listen to the interview and let us know what you think about the program.  Is this certification something that your enterprise would value?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Rory Bakke: Episode 30 of The Wendel Forum (mp3)

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

You’ve got to love a sustainable business whose slogan is “Change Starts With Your Underwear.” 

PACT is a Berkeley, California-based company that makes organic underwear with a social mission.  Listen to PACT co-founder and CEO Jason Kibbey in a discussion that traces this company’s path from a business school idea to a thriving company with a national distribution on the internet and in boutique retail outlets. 

In Episode 26 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 6, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), Jason shares with show host Dick Lyons  how the company’s values for sustainability and social impact affect all aspects of the supply chain, including sourcing the organic cotton, product manufacturing, distribution and packaging. 

The company initially launched as an e-commerce product and is now found in about 50 stores, including boutiques and Nordstrom’s.  Not only do they make a sustainable product (even the shipping bags are 100% compostable), in addition their social impact mission includes incorporating business solutions such as working with a third-party logistics service that offers employment training and paid work opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. 

Other discussion topics include the PACT model for impact giving, what the company did as a start up to tap into early funding sources, and the desire to add fun to environmental activism.

Want to know what the name PACT represents?  You’ll have to listen to the show to find out.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Kibbey:  Episode 26 of The Wendel Forum  (27 min 36 sec)

PACT company website: http://www.wearpact.com/

About show host Dick Lyons: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

 

We can bring our reusable tote bags to the grocery store and shop farmer’s markets for loose produce; but as consumers, we generally don’t have any control over how most of the products we purchase are packaged.  That’s left in the hands of the manufacturers.  From milk to electronics, the packaging options are largely out of our control.  Even so, some forward-th

Ecologic Brands New Laundry Bottle

Ecologic Brands New Laundry Bottle for Seventh Generation

inking and green-minded companies are beginning to address the problem of waste in this important part of the supply and distribution chain. 

Seventh Generation is a company that’s taking a leadership role on this issue with the release of a new cardboard laundry detergent bottle. We’d like to introduce you to Ecologic Brands, the company-behind-the-company that is allowing Seventh Generation to make this shift. 

Listen to show host Bill Acevedo discuss the issue of product packaging with Ecologic Brands Founder and CEO Julie Corbett in the download of Episode 17 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on May 28, 2011). 

They discuss the challenges of packaging, including sourcing of raw materials and opportunities for recycling post consumer use.  The conversation turns to all aspects of packaging life cycle and who is really driving changes to this part of product manufacturing – consumers or companies?

Be sure to listen all the way to the end to hear about the contest that Ecologic Brands is currently running!

What are some of the best (or worst) examples of product packaging you’ve seen lately? 

 

 

Post Links:

Discussion with Ecological Brands CEO Julie Corbett: Episode 17 of The Wendel Forum(27.50 minutes)

Ecologic Brands website: www.ecologicbrands.com

Seventh Generation: http://www.seventhgeneration.com/4X-Laundry-Detergent

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

About show host William Acevedo: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Bill Acevedo

Usually, the most revolutionary ideas are those that address the most “simple” problems.  One aspect of sustainability that is seriously overlooked, but often complained about, is packaging.  Boxes, bags, wrappers, bags in boxes – you name it.  Excessive packaging is everywhere from food to toys to everyday household goods.

Some companies, like Ecologic Brands, Clif Bar, and Walmart are changing the way the goods that we buy are packaged.  In 2006, Walmart introduced a packaging scorecard with the intention of improving packaging design, conserving resources, and reducing packaging along its global supply chain by 5% by 2013.  The results have been impressive with packaging design breakthroughs from many Walmart suppliers.

Clif Bar, for its part, recently introduced The Climber wine pouch.  Clif Bar boasts that it has an 80% lower carbon footprint than two glass bottles, it is 90% less waste than said bottles, and best of all  it reseals and keeps your wine fresh for up to one month after opening.  That is a breakthrough!

And, this week’s guest on The Wendel Forum radio show, Ecologic Brands (http://www.ecologicbrands.com/)  is re-thinking the way that common household supplies such as milk and laundry detergent are packaged.  Using recycled and recyclable (i.e., you can recycle it again) cardboard, Ecologic Brands is swapping out the plastic that clogs landfills and our oceans.  The bottle is composed of an outer cardboard paper shell and a recyclable plastic liner.  The liners are made of 70% less plastic than your average jug.  If you have kids, or if you play as a hard as you work, you know how much of an environmental benefit it is to have laundry detergent bottles like these.

But don’t take my word for it.  Tune your radio (or computer) to Green 960 AM at 11:30 this Saturday morning to hear Ecologic Brand’s CEO, Julie Corbett, tell you all about her revolutionary idea to address the way we package everyday household goods.

In Episode 3 of The Wendel Forum on Green 960 AM, which originally aired on Saturday, February 19, Dick Lyons contemplates how green initiatives at Walmart can serve as a model for businesses large and small. What lessons can smaller businesses learn by looking at the initiatives of the first major U.S. retailer to actively and purposefully address environmental impacts in its supply chain?  Can Walmart’s initiatives with its massive supply chain be scaled down to “green” your own more limited supply chain?

At Wendel Rosen, a part of our journey to become a green law firm meant that we pushed on our own suppliers to carry more environmentally-friendly products and at more favorable prices (something that became easier over the years as more customers desired these types of products and more suppliers entered the marketplace — supply and demand). We also spent a lot of time educating partners, including our office building landlord, to help them understand our goals and to encourage them to implement changes in energy use, facilities maintenance, and waste stream management that would benefit the landlord, as well as the firm. By taking the time to form these partnerships, the impact of our decision to run a more environmentally friendly practice has had a ripple effect beyond our business. Now many of our suppliers, service providers, clients and even competitors have taken steps toward sustainability that might not have happened without the firm’s leadership. We have been one of many businesses moving in this direction, but we’ve seen with our own eyes how  the efforts of a single firm can create a ripple effect in a local economy.  The take away is that you may not be Walmart, but don’t underestimate what you can do with your own network of business relationships.

What advice or best practices would you share with a business looking to make its supply chain more environmentally sustainable?