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January 31, 2017

Banks, UN set standards on channelling investments for sustainable development

31 January 2017 – Nearly 20 leading global banks and investors, totalling $6.6 trillion in assets, have launched a United Nations-backed global framework aimed at channelling the money they manage towards clean, low carbon and inclusive projects.

The Principles for Positive Impact Finance – a first of its kind set of criteria for investments to be considered sustainable – provide financiers and investors with a global framework applicable across their different business lines, including retail and wholesale lending, corporate and investment lending and asset management.

“Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the global action plan to end poverty, combat climate change and protect the environment - is expected to cost $5 to $7 trillion every year through 2030,” said the head of the UN Environment Finance Initiative, Eric Usher, in a press release.

The UN Environment Finance Initiative is a partnership between the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the global financial sector created in the wake of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, widely known as the Earth Summit, with a mission to promote sustainable finance. Over 200 financial institutions, including banks, insurers and fund managers, work with UN Environment to understand today’s environmental challenges, why they matter to finance, and how to actively participate in addressing them.

Read more at UN News Centre.

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category : Topics

January 31, 2017

Deforestation-free commodities represent a major investment opportunity: Report

31 January 2017 / Mike Gaworeck

It’s estimated that about 10 percent of global emissions comes from deforestation — meaning we could make considerable progress toward halting climate change simply by keeping what remains of the world’s forests standing.

Agricultural commodities — especially beef, palm oil, soy, and pulp and paper — have become an increasingly important driver of deforestation over the past couple decades, particularly in the tropics.

A December 2015 study found that the production of those four commodities in just seven countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea) led to an average deforestation area of 3.8 million hectares (9.4 million acres) and land use change emissions of 1.6 gigatonnes CO2 equivalent (GtCO2) per year between 2000 and 2011. That’s 40 percent of total tropical deforestation and 44 percent of associated carbon emissions, due to the production of just four commodities in seven countries.

The production of these commodities in the tropical forest regions of Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa is worth roughly $180 billion every year, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020). But transforming the global supply chains for beef, palm oil, soy, and pulp and paper so that they are truly sustainable “is an investment opportunity to the tune of roughly $200 billion a year,” Marco Albani, the director of TFA 2020 and a member of the executive committee at WEF, wrote in a blog post accompanying the release of the report.

This is an opportunity that the financial sector can capitalize on “by scaling up emerging models of deforestation-free finance,” Albani adds.

Since the adoption of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) in 2014, the number of deforestation-related pledges made by the private sector has continually increased. A progress report on the NYDF released last year by Climate Focus found that the number of companies making commitments to protect forests had jumped to 415, up from 307 the previous year.

Of the deforestation commitments made by companies active in the trade of the four major agricultural commodities, which can cover more than one commodity, the majority address palm oil (59 percent) and wood products like pulp and paper (53 percent). Despite representing a much larger share of global deforestation, the soy and cattle supply chains are the subject of significantly fewer commitments — 21 and 12 percent, respectively.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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category : Topics

January 31, 2017

More Affordable Devices Lead to Doubling of E-Waste in China Since 2010

January 31, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

The volume of discarded electronics in East and South-East Asia jumped almost two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast in both total volume and per capita measures, according to new research by United Nations University (UNU).

Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new gadgets and appliances, the average increase in e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analyzed — Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam — was 63 percent in the five years ending in 2015 and totaled 12.3 million tonnes, a weight 2.4 times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

China’s generation of e-waste more than doubled between 2010 and 2015 to 6.7 million tonnes, up 107 percent.

The first Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia was compiled by the UNU through its Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) program and funded by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. Using UN University’s estimation methodology, the research shows rising e-waste quantities outpacing population growth. The average e-waste generation per capita in the region was approximately 10 kg in 2015, with the highest generation found in Hong Kong (21.7 kg), followed by Singapore (19.95 kg) and Taiwan (19.13 kg). There were large differences between nations on the per capita scales, with Cambodia (1.10 kg), Vietnam (1.34 kg) and the Philippines (1.35 kg) the lowest e-waste generators per capita in 2015.

The report uniquely presents a summary of the regional e-waste statuses, and it is arranged to allow direct comparisons where possible that can help further the development of e-waste management systems and policies based on other countries’ experiences.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

January 31, 2017

P&G launches world's first recyclable shampoo bottle made with beach plastic

By Vaidehi Shah
Tuesday 31 January 2017

Consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble (P&G) has announced that it will produce a limited-edition series of recyclable Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles that use plastic waste from beach litter.

The initiative, which according to P&G is the world’s first municipally recyclable shampoo bottle made using up to 25 per cent recycled beach plastic—previous containers made with beach plastic were not recyclable after use—was announced on January 19 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

It is the latest in a series of high-profile moves by global manufacturers to use plastic in a more sustainable way, such as Unilever’s recent promise that all its plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025; and sportswear giant Adidas’s 2016 line of sneakers made from ocean waste.

P&G has partnered with United States-based recycling company TerraCycle and French waste and water treatment services firm Suez to develop the bottles, which it says will be available to consumers in Carrefour supermarkets this summer. The company did not share now many bottles it will produce by publication time.

TerraCycle, which is already working with non-profit groups and organisations that carry out beach cleanups, will pay for the beach trash to be delivered to a TerraCycle facility. There, the waste will be sorted to remove non-plastic materials. The remaining plastic is sent on to Suez facilities for processing.

P&G also said that by the end of 2018, more than 90 per cent of the hair product bottles it sells in Europe—more than half a billion bottles per year—will contain as much as 25 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic. This will require a supply of 2,600 tonnes of recycled plastic every year, or as much as eight fully loaded Boeing 747 aircraft.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

January 30, 2017

Trending: AzkoNobel, Startups Sustainably Solving Chemical, Packaging Challenges

January 30, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Finding new post-consumer uses and solutions for products is critical for making the shift towards a more circular economy, but more and more companies are turning their focus to the early stages of product production and development, effectively addressing the sustainability question before it becomes a problem.

Global paints, coatings and specialty chemicals company AkzoNobel is launching Imagine Chemistry, an opportunity to partner with startup firms, students, research groups and career scientists from across the world to jointly exploit their knowledge of chemistry and solve several real-life chemistry-related challenges.

The challenge is part of an integrated approach to further deploy AkzoNobel’s innovation capability in support of its growth ambitions. The company believes that there is tremendous potential even in mature chemistries, and the challenge aims to tap into that as well as uncover new opportunities.

Imagine Chemistry, launched in conjunction with KPMG, aims to address a number of specific societal challenges as well as finding new sustainable opportunities for AkzoNobel businesses. It will focus on finding solutions within the following five areas:

- Revolutionizing plastics recycling
- Wastewater-free chemical sites
- Cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics
- Bio-based and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners
- Bio-based sources of ethylene

In addition, there are “open challenges” for broad ideas in two further areas: highly reactive chemistry and technology, and sustainable alternatives to current technologies. All challenges are business-driven and should go commercial within a three-to-five-year period.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

January 27, 2017

Auckland replace 12,500 lights with LEDs

27 January 2017

By the end of 2016, the City of Auckland (New Zealand) had replaced 12,500 streetlights with LEDs, achieving a saving of 72 percent on energy consumption. The decision was part of Auckland’s LED replacement programme, which committed the city to replace over 44,000 high pressure sodium streetlights with LEDs by 2018. The city’s decision is being hailed as a particularly good example of sustainable procurement.

Other sectors in which the city is purchasing sustainably includes waste, energy, and buildings. The city also intends to trial e-buses, increase the number of hybrid vehicles in the city fleet, and add additional electric vehicle charging points.

Auckland, who joined the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement (GLCN on SP) in 2015, has been pursuing sustainable procurement for several years. Its achievements include carrying out an ISO 14001 training with city suppliers, and retrofitting municipal buildings, resulting in 82 percent waste to landfill diversion.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

January 26, 2017

Target to Remove Harmful Chemicals from Products, Invest in Green Chemistry

anuary 26, 2017
by Libby MacCarthy

Retail giant Target has announced its commitment to reducing harmful chemicals from its products and investing in green chemistry with the release of a new chemical strategy that covers its entire value chain, operations and products. The goal is to be transparent, proactive and innovative when it comes to managing chemicals and, where necessary, developing alternatives.

The new steps build on the existing Sustainable Product Index released by the company in 2014 and updated in 2015 and 2016. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign has challenged the company and other retailers to develop comprehensive policies to eliminate and substitute chemicals.

The company plans to implement the strategy in stages, with complete adoption by 2022. It is working with its vendors and supply chain partners to provide healthy products and to take the guesswork out of shopping for its customers.

“By working with suppliers to remove toxic chemicals like phthalates, perfluorinated chemicals and flame retardants from products, Target will bring safer products into the shopping carts of millions of consumers. A growing body of scientific evidence has linked even low levels of exposure to these chemicals to chronic diseases on the rise,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign director.

The first phase, which is slated for completion by 2020, will encompass two goals: First, achieve transparency for all ingredients in categories such as fragrance, beauty and personal care, and also offer beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning products that are free of phthalates, propylparaben, butyl-paraben, formaldehyde-donors and NPEs.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

January 25, 2017

MEPs bolster EU recycling and landfill targets

By James Crisp
25 January 2017

Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday (24 January) moved to increase draft EU recycling and landfill targets that had been lowered by the European Commission in its re-tabled Circular Economy Package.

Supporters of the circular economy argue that there needs to be a shift towards sustainability, where as little of the planet’s finite resources are wasted as possible as the world population booms

The suite of six bills of rules for waste, packaging, landfill end of life vehicles, batteries and accumulators, and waste electronic equipment was put forward by the Commission in December last year.

It had previously withdrawn an earlier version of the package, prepared under the Barroso Commission, as part of its ‘better regulation’ strategy.

Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans promised that the new Circular Economy Package would be “more ambitious” than its 2014 predecessor.

But although it included new legislation to encourage easy-to-recycle design of products, it had lower targets for recycling and landfill than the first version.

MEPs in Brussels voted to restore the lowered targets to the level of the original proposal yesterday.

They backed a 2030 recycling target for municipal waste of 70%, the same as the 2014 package but 5% more than the new proposal. They also called for a new 2030 reuse target of 5%. This sub-target aims to encourage the repair and fixing of products.

The 2030 target for packaging recycling was set at 80%, the same as in 2014, but higher than the 75% backed by the executive.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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category : Topics

January 25, 2017

EU Plans to Halve Marine Litter, Food Waste by 2030

BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 25, 2017 (ENS) – The amount of marine litter polluting European waters would be halved by 2030 under new waste management proposals agreed Tuesday by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, usually called the ENVI Committee.

The Committee approved moves to curb sources of marine plastic pollution as part of a package of measures intended to reduce waste that will form the basis for Parliament’s vote later this year on the Circular Economy Package.

In a circular economy, the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible; waste and resource use are minimized and resources are kept within the economy when a product has reached the end of its life, to be used again and again to create further value.

As part of a shift in EU policy towards a circular economy, the European Commission has made four legislative proposals introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse, recycling and landfilling.

Improving waste management could deliver benefits for the environment, climate, human health and the economy, said the ENVI Committee.

The share of municipal waste to be recycled should be raised to 70 percent by 2030, from 44 percent today, while landfilling, which has a big environmental impact, should be limited to five percent, said ENVI Committee MEPs, as they amended the draft EU Waste Framework Directive legislation.

By 2030, at least 70 percent by weight of municipal waste from households and businesses should be recycled or prepared for reuse, say MEPs. The European Commission proposed 65 percent.

Other amendments also increased the ambition of recycling targets proposed by the European Commission, with 60 percent of plastic packaging to be recycled by 2025 and 80 percent of all packaging waste by 2030.

For packaging materials, such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metal and wood, the ENVI Committee MEPs propose an 80 percent target for 2030, with interim 2025 targets for each material.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

January 24, 2017

New Reporting Guidelines Aiming to Shed Further Light on Palm Oil Industry

January 24, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

With rainforest destruction and forced labor still urgent concerns in palm oil cultivation, a diverse group of NGOs and investor organizations, organized by Ceres, today released shared guidance for corporate reporting on company commitments towards responsible palm oil sourcing and production.

Collaboratively developed by over 18 organizations including Oxfam, Rainforest Alliance, CDP and Rainforest Action Network, with input from companies, the guidance document aims to inform corporate reporting and supply chain engagement. The diverse group, which encompasses a range of perspectives on the palm oil challenge, came together to develop the guidance to create consistency and clarity for companies in the palm oil value chain on reporting.

“Numerous companies are putting resources towards sustainable palm oil, yet deforestation, land conflicts, and labor issues persist,” said Noah Klein-Markman, Senior Associate for Sustainable Agriculture at Ceres. “Transparency on supply chain practices is critical for all stakeholders – investors, civil society groups, and businesses - to understand and address the implementation gap.”

Palm oil is the world’s most abundant vegetable oil and a common ingredient in many food and household products. In Indonesia, where nearly half of the world’s palm oil is produced, forests and carbon-rich peatlands are being cleared faster than in any tropical nation, accounting for as much as 79 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas footprint. Much of this impact is caused by the expansion of the palm oil industry. Forced and child labor, as well as land rights violations, are also widespread in the industry.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

January 24, 2017

Asia firms slump in sustainability rankings

By Ping Manongdo
Tuesday 24 January 2017

Just 12 Asian firms feature in a global ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations, which this year was topped by German electronics giant Siemens.

While this was a repeat of last year’s tally for the region, most Asian companies have fallen in this year’s Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World index, an annual sustainability performance ranking for global listed companies compiled by Canadian investment research firm, Corporate Knights.

Singapore property developer City Developments Limited (CDL) emerged as Asia’s most sustainable company, ranking 30th. It ranked 10th last year.

The only other Asian firms to appear in the top 50 were South Korean. Mining company POSCO ranked 35th, an improvement on 40th spot, which is now occupied by financial services giant Shinhan, itself down from 18th last year.

Two other Singapore companies feature in the ranking, telecommunications rivals Singtel (52nd) and StarHub (69th). StarHub ranked 8th in 2016, and was Asia’s most sustainable firm. Singtel didn’t feature last year.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 23, 2017

RE100 Annual Report: Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Transforming Global Energy Economy

January 23, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Corporate sourcing of renewable electricity can be a major driver of the transition to a robust, zero-emissions economy, according to the RE100 Annual Report, released last week to coincide with the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Launched in 2014, RE100 is a growing movement of some the world’s most influential companies committed to 100 percent renewable power, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP.

The annual report highlights the speed of the corporate transition to cleaner energy. Many RE100 members have set a goal for achieving 100 percent renewable electricity before 2024, and 11 members already achieved 100 percent renewable electricity prior to 2015 – sending a clear market signal to governments and investors around the world that growing demand for renewable energy must be met sooner rather than later.

Based on the latest available electricity consumption data (2015) from RE100 members, the report also found:

- Member companies (87 and growing) are now creating demand for approximately 107 TWh of renewable power annually, roughly the same amount of electricity as consumed by The Netherlands;

- Members making fastest progress towards their 100 percent renewable electricity targets include Goldman Sachs, which jumped from 14 percent renewable electricity in 2014 to 86 percent in 2015; Elopak, which went from 18 percent to 86 percent renewable during the same year; and H&M, which went from 27 percent to 78 percent;

- Roughly half of the electricity being consumed by members reporting electricity use in the U.S. is from renewables, accounting for the highest amount of renewable electricity being sourced in any country worldwide (6.8 TWh in 2015, with unbundled renewable energy attribute certificate purchases (RECs) being the most popular approach that year);

- Almost all of electricity usage reported by members in Europe is from renewables (14.4 TWh in 2015, with an even split between unbundled REC purchases and green tariffs as the most popular approaches that year);

- Nearly a quarter of the electricity usage reported by members in China is from renewables (0.4 TWh in 2015, with unbundled renewable energy attribute certificate purchases being the most popular approach that year);

- Roughly a tenth of RE100 electricity use being reported in India is from renewables (0.1 TWh in 2015, with Power Purchasing Agreements [PPAs] being the most popular approach that year, followed by on-site generation);

- Of the 34 RE100 members reporting self-generation onsite at their facilities, wind and solar PV were by far the most popular technologies.

- Within the membership, Telecommunication Services is the closest sector to reaching 100 percent renewable electricity (97 percent in 2015).

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 22, 2017

New concerns over BPA as workers exposed to levels 70 times the average

Olga Oksman
Sunday 22 January 2017 15.00 GMT

Health concerns over Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in plastic packaging and the lining of food cans, are well documented. Previous studies have linked low levels of BPA to a variety of potential health issues, including obesity, diabetes and fertility problems. A 2008 ruling by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) found that low exposure to the chemical is safe because it is generally ingested orally and thus eliminated from the body quickly, although research is ongoing to determine the chemical’s impact on human hormones.

However, a new study – the first of its kind in the US – has looked at the exposure levels of people who come into contact with high doses of BPA, and found that employees who directly handle the plasticizing chemical had urine levels of BPA around 70 times greater than that of the average US adult.

The federal study, carried out by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh), looked at BPA levels in the urine of 78 American manufacturing workers employed at six companies that either manufacture BPA or use it to make other products.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

January 20, 2017

Trending: New Breakthrough Technologies Find Solutions for Hard-to-Recycle Products

January 20, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Ambitions to reduce waste and move away from a linear economic model are driving companies across the globe to create breakthrough technologies and unique solutions to drive forward the circular economy.

On Monday, Patagonia received recognition for its significant contributions to the circular economy at the Annual Meet of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The Accenture Strategy Award for Circular Economy Multinational, which was granted by the World Economic Forum’s Community of Young Global Leaders in collaboration with Accenture Strategy, acknowledges the work being done by Patagonia to advance the circular economy, driving innovation and growth, while reducing dependence on scarce natural resources.

“We are honored to receive this meaningful, important recognition,” said Ryan Gellert, general manager, Patagonia Europe, who accepted the award on behalf of the company. “While Patagonia is proud to accept this award, we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible with a circular economy model. There is still so much work to be done to change global consumption habits and encourage reuse and repair.”

The global apparel market is currently valued at $3 trillion, but the growing trend towards fast fashion has created a very linear economic model that produces enormous waste. In contrast, Patagonia is working to counter this approach with a circular business model that focuses on making the highest quality products and helping its customers keep them in use as long as possible.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 19, 2017

Nordic countries propose post-2020 global chemicals framework

19 January 2017

A group of Nordic countries has published a report, which sets out proposals for a post-2020 global chemicals framework, to replace the UN’s current voluntary programme, the UN Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (Saicm).

Saicm, adopted in 2006, aims to achieve sound chemicals management globally by 2020. The programme will then need to be extended or replaced.

Laying out a series of options, the report says that, with a “higher level of ambition”, 2020 could signal the beginning of a comprehensive new international treaty on the lifecycle of all chemicals in present and future circulation.

A binding agreement, it says, could be complemented by international standards, voluntary guidelines or protocols for different substances or groups of chemicals. Basic elements could include a definition of a hazardous substance and principles for managing potentially hazardous materials throughout their lifecycles.

By signing on, governments would commit to strengthening their national chemicals and waste legislation according to the relevant standards, guidelines or protocols.

However, it notes that the adoption of a new global agreement on chemicals could take decades and uses the UN Minamata Convention on mercury as an example, which took 15 years. Consequently, it says, this might happen by 2030−2040.

But, it adds, because an agreement would focus on future commitments tailored to national contexts, “it would be far less detailed and prescriptive than the Minamata Convention.” It also notes that negotiations towards the Paris climate agreement were launched just four years before its conclusion last year.

“A global framework convention for chemicals that resembles the Paris agreement in its structure could similarly be negotiated in a swift timeframe of under five years, given that states feel similar pressure to take action.

Read more at ChemicalWatch.

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category : Topics

January 18, 2017

WRI Partnership Aims to Foster Supply Chain Transparency, Zero-Deforestation Strategies

January 18, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 20 of the world’s largest commodity producers, traders, manufacturers, consultants and retailers launched a new partnership with research institutions and banks to monitor deforestation and manage sustainability from farm to customer. Globally, 366 companies worth $2.9 trillion have committed to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, but they need better information to make good on their commitments.

The partnership will focus on building a global decision-support tool to increase transparency and traceability across supply chains.

Led by the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch team, partners include Bunge, Cargill, Carrefour, Conservation International, Daemeter, GIZ - Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Envol Vert, IOI Group, Mars, Mondelēz International, IDH–The Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC/IDB), FMO–Dutch Development Bank, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Alliance, Proforest, The Nature Conservancy, Transitions, Unilever and Walmart. It will also contribute to achieving the zero-deforestation goals of the World Economic Forum-convened Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, the Consumer Goods Forum, Banking Environmental Initiative, and more.

The tool will build on the technology and methods developed by WRI on the Global Forest Watch Commodities platform, which currently allows companies to evaluate supply chain risk through high-resolution maps of tree cover loss, near-real-time deforestation and fire alerts, and analysis of individual mills and farms. The new tool will not only be a source of information, but a fully operational management system.

“We already understand the need to combat deforestation in order to protect natural capital, curb climate change and sustainably feed the world. The political will is there,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO of WRI. “Now is the time to use the power of information technology to meet those goals, while also generating sustainable business opportunities. That could really change the world.”

Deforestation presents a major risk to businesses, especially those with large agricultural supply chains, and investors are increasingly aware of risks to their portfolios. Agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of tropical deforestation as forests are cleared for plantations, pastures and farmland. Deforestation can present legal and reputational risks – not to mention billions in potential financial risks – for companies if they source commodities from protected areas or land with disputed ownership. Companies that effectively protect forests while supporting local communities, however, can benefit from a more secure and sustainable supply of materials while preserving ecosystem functions that underpin productive agriculture.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

January 18, 2017

Climate change to shift global pattern of mild weather

PUBLIC RELEASE: 18-JAN-2017

As scientists work to predict how climate change may affect hurricanes, droughts, floods, blizzards and other severe weather, there's one area that's been overlooked: mild weather. But no more.

NOAA and Princeton University scientists have produced the first global analysis of how climate change may affect the frequency and location of mild weather - days that are perfect for an outdoor wedding, baseball, fishing, boating, hiking or a picnic. Scientists defined "mild" weather as temperatures between 64 and 86 degrees F, with less than a half inch of rain and dew points below 68 degrees F, indicative of low humidity.

Knowing the general pattern for mild weather over the next decades is also economically valuable to a wide range of businesses and industries. Travel, tourism, construction, transportation, agriculture, and outdoor recreation all benefit from factoring weather patterns into their plans.

Tropics to lose milder days

The new research, published in the journal Climatic Change, projects that globally the number of mild days will decrease by 10 or 13 percent by the end of the century because of climate warming from the buildup of human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The current global average of 74 mild days a year will drop by four days by 2035 and 10 days by 2081 to 2100. But this global average decrease masks more dramatic decreases in store for some areas and increases in mild days in other regions.

"Extreme weather is difficult to relate to because it may happen only once in your lifetime," said first author Karin van der Wiel, a Princeton postdoctoral researcher at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) located on the university's Forrestal Campus. "We took a different approach here and studied a positive meteorological concept, weather that occurs regularly, and that's easier to relate to."

Scientists predict the largest decreases in mild weather will happen in tropical regions because of rising heat and humidity. The hardest-hit areas are expected to be in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where some regions could see 15 to 50 fewer days of mild weather a year by the end of the century. These are also areas where NOAA and partner research shows economic damages due to climate change. The loss of mild weather days, especially during summer, when they can serve to break up extended heatwaves, also could significantly affect public health.

Read more at EurekAlert!

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category : Topics

January 17, 2017

How Does The Davos Crowd View Green Infrastructure, Sustainable Supply Chains, And Conservation Investment?

Author: Steve Zwick

17 January 2017 | While US President-Elect Donald Trump was tweeting dissatisfaction at his perception of how CNN will probably cover his daughter in an upcoming piece, Chinese President Xi Jinping was kicking off the 47th meeting of the World Economic Forum, which this year has the theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”. Xi drew applause from business leaders – many from the United States – as he urged delegates to the annual powwow in Davos, Switzerland to embrace inclusive globalization, fair trade, and coordinated action on climate change.

“Pursuing protectionism is just like locking one’s self in a dark room,” Xi said. “Wind and rain might be kept outside, but so are light and air.”

He spoke of the need to balance economy and ecology.

“It is important to protect the environment while pursuing economic and social progress – to achieve harmony between man and nature, and harmony between man society,” he said. “The Paris Climate Agreement is a hard-won achievement…all signatories should stick to it rather than walk away.”

He vowed that China would not only meet but exceed its current climate commitments – boosting its economy in the process – and he had the numbers to back it up: the country already has more than three times as many renewable jobs as the US does, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, and it plans to invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($360 billion) in renewable energy through 2020.

The meeting comes one week after the 12th Global Risks Report showed that business leaders see climate change, income inequality, and a breakdown of social cohesion as three of the greatest threats to global prosperity.

Fifteen sessions will focus on climate change, and nine will focus on clean energy, while several discussion papers were released to highlight the need to purge deforestation from corporate supply chains.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

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category : Topics

January 17, 2017

Chinese discard hundreds of cycles-for-hire in giant piles

Staff and agencies
Tuesday 17 January 2017 10.09 GMT

It has been billed as a hi-tech bike-sharing boom that entrepreneurs hope will make them rich while simultaneously transforming China’s traffic-clogged cities.

But, occasionally, dreams can turn sour.

In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, more than 500 bicycles for hire have been found dumped in huge piles on the streets, according to reports.

Pictures showed jumbled stacks of vehicles nearly three metres high, with handlebars, baskets and other parts scattered on the ground.

City streets around the country have seen an explosion of the colourful bikes that users can rent on demand with a smartphone app and then park wherever they choose.

The sharing economy is taking off in China, where ride-sharing and Airbnb are increasingly commonplace.

From Shanghai to Sichuan province, bike-sharing schemes are being rolled out in an effort to slash congestion and air pollution by putting a country once known as the “Kingdom of Bicycles” back on two wheels.

Companies such as Ofo and Mobike, with their rival fleets of bumblebee yellow and fluorescent orange bikes, have been locked in a cut-throat battle for customers.

But problems have arisen when clients have abandoned their cycles.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

January 17, 2017

Unilever commits to 100 per cent recyclable plastic by 2025

By Ping Manongdo
Tuesday 17 January 2017

Unilever, the maker of ubiquitous food, personal care and home brands such as Knorr soups, Dove soap and Domex on Saturday committed to ensuring that 100 per cent of the plastic packaging in its products is reusable, recyclable and compostable by 2025.

The company also called for the entire fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry to transition from a “take-make-dispose” consumption model towards a circular economy one, where products and manufacturing processes are designed to enable the easy recovery and reuse of resources after the end of an item’s life cycle. In a circular economy, plastic would be repeatedly recycled instead of ending up as trash or marine pollution.

Paul Polman, chief executive officer, said in a statement: “Our plastic packaging plays a critical role in making our products appealing, safe and enjoyable for our consumers.”

“Yet it is clear that if we want to continue to reap the benefits of this versatile material, we need to do much more as an industry to help ensure it is managed responsibly and efficiently post consumer-use,” he added.

Currently, just 14 per cent of plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, while 40 per cent – worth $80 to $120 billion per year - ends up in landfills.

Nearly a third of global plastics end up in fragile ocean ecosystems, and if this trend continues, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), an economic research group working with Unilever on transitioning to circular economy on its use of plastics.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 16, 2017

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals can unlock trillions in new market value

London, 16 January, 2017: The BSDC’s flagship Better Business, Better World report, recognizes that while the last few decades have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, they have also led to unequal growth, increasing job insecurity, ever more debt and greater environmental risks. This mix has fueled an anti-globalization reaction in many countries, with business and financial interests seen as central to the problem, and is undermining the long-term economic growth that the world needs.

The report positions the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a compelling new strategy to reverse this trend, highlighting their potential to unleash innovation, economic growth, and development at an unprecedented scale. However, this potential will not be realized without radical change in the business and investment community. Real leadership is needed for the private sector to become a trusted partner in working with government and civil society to address the flaws in the current economic model.

The BSDC, which is comprised of 35 CEOs and civil society leaders, has spent the last year exploring the key question: “What will it take for business to be central to building a sustainable market economy-one that can help to deliver the SDGs?” The Better Business, Better World report seeks to answer this question while also highlighting the scale of the economic prize that could be available to business if the SDGs are realized.

Read more at WBCSD.

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January 16, 2017

How DONG Energy Turned Black Into Green

January 16, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Danish energy company DONG Energy now ranks number 11 on the Carbon Clean 200 list – a ranking of 200 companies from around the world that are profiting from sustainable energy. The honour comes on the heels of a 10-year milestone, where ‘green’ energy now outpaces black in DONG’s heat and power portfolio.

Back in 2006, DONG Energy was one of the most coal-intensive utilities in Europe, with only 15 percent of the company’s heat and power coming from renewables.

By 2015, more than half of the heat and power produced by Denmark’s largest energy company (55 percent) is now renewable.

DONG Energy’s momentum has not stopped there – several environmental initiatives are either being implemented now or are in the global pipeline. With three gigawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, the company is a leader in offshore wind farm construction. This capacity corresponds to roughly one quarter of the world’s offshore wind capacity. And with the offshore industry booming, dozens of offshore wind farms are planned for construction in both the US and Northern Europe.

Leading the black-to-green transition
Over the past decade, DONG Energy has also closed down coal-fired power plants and replaced coal and gas with sustainable biomass at other plants. In total, the company has reduced its coal consumption by nearly 75 percent. Going forward, the management expects that more than 80 percent of the company’s investments will be sustainable.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 15, 2017

E-Waste in East and South-East Asia Jumps 63% in Five Years

2017•01•15 BONN
The volume of discarded electronics in East and South-East Asia jumped almost two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast in both total volume and per capita measures, new UNU research shows.

Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new gadgets and appliances, the average increase in e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analysed — Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand and Vietnam — was 63% in the five years ending in 2015 and totalled 12.3 million tonnes, a weight 2.4 times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

China alone more than doubled its generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015 to 6.7 million tonnes, up 107%.

The first Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia, was compiled by the United Nations University, through its Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) programme and funded by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.

Using UN University’s estimation methodology, the research shows rising e-waste quantities outpacing population growth.

The average e-waste generation per capita in the region was approximately 10 kg in 2015, with the highest generation found in Hong Kong (21.7 kg), followed by Singapore (19.95 kg) and Taiwan, Province of China (19.13 kg).

There were large differences between nations on the per capita scales, with Cambodia (1.10 kg), Vietnam (1.34 kg) and the Philippines (1.35 kg) the lowest e-waste generators per capita in 2015.

The report uniquely presents a summary of the regional e-waste statuses, and it is arranged to allow direct comparisons where possible that can help further the development of e-waste management systems and policies based on other countries’ experiences.

“For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern,” says co-author Ruediger Kuehr of UN University. “Increasing the burden on existing waste collection and treatment systems results in flows towards environmentally unsound recycling and disposal.”

Read more at the United Nations University website.

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January 12, 2017

Singapore Environment Council launches tougher eco-label for paper

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 12 January 2017

The Singapore Environment Council (SEC), the non-profit organisation behind the country’s most prominent eco-certification scheme, on Tuesday unveiled what it calls “some of the world’s toughest environmental standards” for sustainable pulp and paper products.

The Singapore Green Labelling Scheme’s (SGLS) enhanced pulp and paper criteria, which SEC developed in collaboration with consulting giant Deloitte, features new requirements such as peatland protection and fire management.

Peat, a waterlogged and carbon-rich soil that is found across much of Indonesia, has been at the heart of the debate about the paper sector’s environmental impact for decades.

Companies need to drain peat to plant acacia trees, but dry peat is extremely flammable. Much of the burning that occurs in Indonesia every dry season, which engulfs Southeast Asia in a toxic haze almost every year has been caused by fires on dry peat.

Isabella Loh, chairman, SEC, said in a statement that the Singapore Green Label for pulp and paper products became a “rallying point for consumer action against the haze” in 2015.

The enhanced criteria, which was developed in the aftermath of the haze crisis, is an effort by SEC to address root causes of the haze such as peat and forest fires, and “gives consumers the ability to make reliable choices and take action against companies that cause the haze”, shared Loh.

“The green label also gives consumers the ability to reward companies that do the right thing and have a supply chain that has been audited to be sustainable,” she added.

Firms have tried to address the burning through “peatland management”, which entails maintaining water tables just below the surface in concessions and setting aside conservation areas. But environmentalists stress that all peat should be restored to its fully flooded state to prevent irreversible environmental damage.

SEC’s criteria on peatland management examines issues such as biodiversity protection, water management, and rehabilitation of damaged areas.

However, Andy Tait, senior campaign advisor, Greenpeace, told Eco-Business that “this approach from SEC risks being overly simplistic and achieving little”.

“SEC appears to be badly misinformed about peatland management—the reality is that any drainage of peat to plant pulpwood makes it susceptible to fire,” said Tait. “This is not just about uncontrolled drainage.”

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 11, 2017

P&G's New Year's Resolution: Zero Waste to Landfill From All Production Sites by 2020

January 11, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Procter & Gamble announced today additional investments in recycling and beneficial reuse that will eliminate all manufacturing waste from its global network of more than 100 production sites by 2020.

Since P&G began qualifying sites as zero manufacturing waste to landfill, 56 percent of its global production sites have achieved this milestone. Plans are now in place to complete the remaining facilities over the next four years. This means eliminating or beneficially reusing roughly 650,000 metric tons of waste, equivalent to the weight of nearly 350,000 mid-sized cars that would typically go to landfills.

“We are accelerating progress toward our long term vision and pushing ourselves to do more – with less waste,” said Shailesh Jejurikar, executive sponsor for sustainability and President of Global Fabric Care. “Since 2010, we’ve been working toward a vision of sending zero manufacturing and consumer waste to landfills. This announcement marks another step on that journey.”

P&G will achieve its zero waste goals by ensuring all incoming materials are either:

- converted into finished product,
- recycled internally or externally, or
- reused in alternative ways through partnerships.

P&G has been focusing on finding unique alternatives for its waste. For example, in Lima, Ohio, liquid waste from detergents such as Tide and Gain are being converted to biogas and other alternative fuels sources to power vehicles. Non-recyclable plastic laminate materials from our plants in Mandideep and Baddi, India are shredded and pressed into low-cost building panels. Through efforts such as these around the globe, P&G is not only reusing and recycling for its own needs, it is investing in local communities by helping convert its waste into raw materials and feedstock for other companies.

Currently, more than half of P&G’s production sites have achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill status, including a broad range of product families and geographic regions. In 19 countries (Germany, UK, Poland, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Egypt, Belgium, Ireland, Vietnam, Hungary, Indonesia, Czech, Romania, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Turkey and Pakistan), all manufacturing facilities have met the zero waste qualification, and the company is approaching 100 percent of sites in other countries including China and India.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 10, 2017

Barack Obama: clean energy is here to stay

January 10, 2017, by Tim Radford

LONDON, 10 January, 2017 – Barack Obama, outgoing president of the United States, has stepped directly into the climate debate. He believes that the US is on the way to a “clean energy” world and he delivers four reasons why he thinks the shift is now irreversible.

In an article for the journal Science, President Obama says that although the understanding of the impact of climate change is increasingly and disturbingly clear, “there is still debate about the proper course for US policy – a debate that is very much on display during the current presidential transition”.

That is almost his only acknowledgment of President-elect Donald Trump’s declared belief that climate change is a hoax, invented by the Chinese.

Clean energy economy
“But putting near-term politics aside,” he writes, “the mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue and that the economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow.”

First of these is that between 2008 and 2015, the US economy grew by 10% while carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5%, an outcome that “should put to rest the argument that combating climate change requires accepting lower growth or a lower standard of living”.

Renewable energy costs fell dramatically during his years in office: 41% for wind, 54% for rooftop solar photovoltaics and 64% for big solar-power installations. Clean energy now attracts twice as much global capital as fossil fuels.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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January 10, 2017

UrbanWINS releases waste management surveys

10 January 2017

UrbanWINS, an EU-funded project aimed at developing and testing eco-innovative waste prevention and management strategies in eight pilot cities, is inviting stakeholders to take part in two questionnaires that seek to gain a better understanding of the state-of-the art of waste management and prevention actions in place in Austria, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden, as well as the knowledge and possible interests of relevant actors. Local and regional governments, companies and civil society actors are encouraged to complete the surveys.

By taking part in Survey 01, participants are contributing to detect the most relevant local, regional and national innovative waste prevention and management strategies, including policies, regulations and plans (also available in Romanian and Spanish). Survey 02 aims to find out more about the role, interests and commitments of different stakeholders concerning consumption and production patterns, waste prevention, and participatory mechanisms. Through gathering this information, the project intends to involve these stakeholders in future UrbanWINS activities. (This survey is also available in German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Swedish.)

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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January 9, 2017

As Global Demand for Electricity Grows, Geothermal Energy Heats Up

by Bianca Nogrady

January 9, 2017 — At 2:46 p.m. local time on Friday, March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by the largest earthquake ever to strike its shores. The 9.1 magnitude quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people. It also took out the back-up emergency generators that cooled the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, causing a series of catastrophic meltdowns.

But amid the chaos, the Yanaizu-Nishiyama geothermal power plant in Fukushima prefecture didn’t miss a beat. Along with two more of the nine geothermal power plants in the region, the 65-megawatt facility continued to generate power, even as many other power plants around them failed because of damaged equipment and transmission lines.

“This is big news for many geothermal people around the world,” says Kasumi Yasukawa, principal research manager at the Institute for Geo-Resources and Environment in Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

In a country as seismically active as Japan, it was a clear signal that geothermal energy was worth investing in.

Geothermal electricity generation might not have the high-tech flashiness of solar, or the romance of wind and wave, but it’s the solid, steady workhorse of the renewable energy race. The never-flagging heat lurking at various depths below the Earth’s surface is tapped to produce steam that is used to drive turbines and generate electricity. This heat can also be used more directly to warm spaces or swimming pools, but sustainable electricity generation is the goal that most have in their sights.

Read more at Ensia.

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January 6, 2017

Ralph Lauren joins fight to ensure fabrics not damaging forests and lives

by Ellen Wulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 6 January 2017 17:09 GMT

NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Fashion giant Ralph Lauren Corp, whose designs are sashayed on Hollywood's red carpets, has unveiled plans to trace wood pulp used in its clothes to avoid buying from regions destroying forests or violating human rights.

Rising cotton prices have boosted demand for wood-based fabrics such as viscose, rayon and modal, which increasingly involves clearing forests and taking land used by indigenous people, according to Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Ralph Lauren is the latest in a growing number of fashion companies to pledge to investigate its supply chain to determine if it is using products from the most destructive regions and stop using those sources by the end of 2017, said RAN.

RAN's "Out of Fashion" campaign to publicize the impacts of forest-based fabrics has called on major U.S. brands to adopt stringent, sustainable sourcing systems.

Ralph Lauren said it will publish its new sourcing guidelines as part of a broader initiative to ensure its raw materials are free of human and land rights abuses and are environmentally sustainable.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

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January 5, 2017

Indian Chemical Firm Makes Carbon Capture Breakthrough Turning CO2 into Baking Soda

January 5, 2017
by Libby MacCarthy

Whether it be turning food scraps into cold-pressed juices or transforming PET waste into raw materials or converting beer waste water into batteries — just a few of the latest examples of the circular economy at work — companies are increasingly finding unique ways to transform and repurpose their waste, byproducts and emissions.

Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals & Fertilizers (TACFL), a chemical and fertilizers company based in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has made a global breakthrough in carbon capture technology, one that promises to prevent emissions of 60,000 tons of CO2 annually. It also has the potential to push forward the circular agenda in India, which the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and United Nations Conference for Trade Development (UNCTAD) believe could put India on the path to regenerative and value-creating benefits.

According to the company, the plant is now close to achieving its zero-emissions goal, operating with almost no emissions seeping into air or water thanks to a patented carbon-stripping technology from UK-based Carbon Clean Solutions. The technology employed at the Tuticorin plant converts captured carbon into soda ash, a base chemical used in glass manufacturing, paper production and detergents.

The chemical strips CO2 emissions from boiler chimneys through the form of a fine mist. As the chemical plant’s coal-fired boiler releases flue gas, a spritz of Carbon Clean’s new patented chemical removes the CO2 molecules. To create soda ash, the captured CO2 is mixed with rock salt and ammonia. While Tuticorn appears to be motivated by the financial benefits that the technology offers, Carbon Clean has suggested that it has the potential to capture between 5% to 10% of the world’s coal emissions.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 5, 2017

Study: Effectively Marketing Sustainable Goods Could Represent $1T Market Opportunity

January 5, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

A new global consumer study from Unilever reveals fascinating insights regarding consumer interest in and commitment to sustainable products, as well as an over $1 trillion market opportunity for brands that can effectively and transparently market the sustainability of their wares.

The survey asked 20,000 adults across Brazil, India, Turkey, the UK and the US how sustainability concerns affected their shopping decisions and product use – as well as confirming the public’s high expectations of brands when it comes to having a positive social and environmental impact, the study’s findings uncover an unprecedented opportunity for companies that get it right. Among the findings: 21 percent said they would support brands that clearly conveyed the sustainability aspects of their products through their marketing and packaging. With Unilever claiming that the market for sustainable goods currently sits at $2.65 trillion (€2.5 trillion), this creates just over $1 trillion (€966 billion) in opportunities for brands who can effectively communicate their products’ sustainable attributes.

"This research confirms that sustainability isn’t a nice-to-have for businesses. In fact, it has become an imperative," said Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer. “To succeed globally, and especially in emerging economies across Asia, Africa and Latin America, brands should go beyond traditional focus areas like product performance and affordability. Instead, they must act quickly to prove their social and environmental credentials, and show consumers they can be trusted with the future of the planet and communities, as well as their own bottom lines.”

While 33 percent of those surveyed said they would purchase a product if they believe it benefits society and the environment, the level of motivation varies widely from country to country: In the UK (where price and brand have tended to outrank sustainability in driving purchase decisions), 53 percent said they felt better about buying sustainable products, far fewer than in Brazil (85 percent), India (88 percent) and Turkey (85 percent); in the US, the figure was 78 percent.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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