Posted tagged ‘sustainability’

The first food product with a water footprint label

September 15, 2009

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Raisio CEO Matti Rihko  is speaking at our Corporate Water Footprinting conference in December. In this 60-second interview he outlines the details of what is thought to be the first water-footprint label on a food product.

What prompted you undertake the water footprint and label product?

As a pioneer in plant-based, ecological food, and as one of Europe’s most innovative grain companies, Raisio Group is in an extremely good position to answer the new challenges facing the food industry.

During the past years we in Raisio have thought about the motives that are becoming increasingly important to consumers and how to take these factors into consideration when meeting consumer demand. Such key factors include ecology and ethics. Raisio is strongly investing in developing products that comply with consumer needs. Climate change and increasing consumers’ environmental awareness made us realise that it is the time to offer information about our products’ greenhouse gas emissions that the company already had. 

 We have received very positive feedback on adding the CO2 label on consumer products. This feedback encouraged us to expand the labelling and further convinced us that we are on the right track. The H2O label was the natural follow-up step to the CO2 label as we had the information and skills needed to calculate the product’s water footprint.

What did you hope to achieve my determining and publicising the footprint?

We believe that carbon footprint labels will become standard on consumer products. The label will form an integral part of product data in a package to complement the price and nutrition information.

 When launching the CO2 label Raisio wanted to see how consumers react and to get feedback. It was also a kind of risk to add CO2 label to an icon brand that Elovena is in Finland because the single figure looks high without any comparison.

The CO2 label that Raisio introduced has been very well received. Raisio’s actions come as an answer to the quickly strengthening changes in living habits. We firmly believe that people are moving from words to action in order to curb climate change, and the CO2 and H2O labels give them important information in this respect.

Where is the greatest uncertainty in the usage quantity you derived?

Most of the water consumption of Elovena oat flakes, that are H2O labelled, consists of the water that oats use during the growth period and originates from rain water, as a part of the natural water cycle. Since the oat grown in Finland is not irrigated, it does not compete for clean, drinkable water. We wanted to include green water to be able to calculate the total water consumption.

We have asked for feedback to be able to discuss about the water footprint in order to further develop the calculation and labelling. We believe that the water footprint, as a concept, will gain global significance, but it will take years before the related consumer product labelling becomes more common. If consumers find that the H2O label gives them additional information they need for consumption choices, Raisio will enlarge the labelling to other products as well.

What has been the response to the labels from consumers and the industry?

We have received very positive feedback on the labels from experts, consumer organisations and other such sources. The labels have aroused a lot of interest in Finland, and they have also been widely noticed abroad. Footprint labelling is a very young concept in the food industry but awakened consumers awareness about climate change will make footprint label as a standard.

The food industry is more and more aware about environmental impacts caused by food production. Changing consumer demand is encouraging food processors to develop products that are also environmentally friendly.

Sustainability 2.0 Award

May 25, 2009

Sustainability 2.0 Award – highlighting innovation in the use of social media for stakeholder sustainability engagement

Is your company using social media to engage with stakeholders on sustainability issues? Are you using facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, blogging or other social tools to engage with stakeholders? Tell us your story and your company may be eligible for the Sustainability 2.0 Award, honouring the most innovative use of social media for corporate sustainability stakeholder engagement. The winner will be selected by a prestigious group of social media and sustainability experts participating in our Stakeholder Sustainability Engagement event on July 15-16 in NYC. The award will be presented at the event’s drinks’ reception on July 15 and our three finalists will be invited to present their stories at this exciting event examining best practice in corporate sustainability engagement. Enter now by contacting Adrienne Baker at adrienne.baker@greenpowerconferences.com or 604-569-1752

How to convince the board

April 1, 2009

Green Power Conferences has been organizing events for companies wanting to respond to climate change related issues since 2003. Our first conference, Corporate Climate Response took place in London and featured case studies from companies that at the time were very early adopters of climate mitigation strategies such as offsetting, GHG reporting, and carbon footprint analysis. Since 2003, and with annual conferences in New York, Chicago, Brussels, our series of events has evolved in to  Action for a Sustainable America.

The series takes a step-back from focusing on the piecemeal approach of individual efficiency projects, reporting or environmental philanthropy. As corporates with 5-10+ years experience now realise, patchwork does not work. Just taking climate change, or carbon, or efficiency as  the issue to respond to will not create the corporate environment to enable innovation and adequately prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future.  One of the first organisations to speak and support our events was the Carbon Trust.

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They provide really useful (and free) resources for companies wanting to alter corporate strategies – though  mostly focusing on climate change.  Anyway, this week they launched a very useful tool on preparing the business case for carbon management with particular focus on convincing the board.  Anyone who has spent any length of time working as a sustainability executive knows that if a project is going to die a death it is most likely to do so on the altar of board resistance.

10 Marketing Sustainability Strategies in an Uncertain Economy

March 26, 2009

 

This week, amongst the three new speakers confirmed for the Action for a Sustainable America – Seattle is Marty MacDonald, the creative director  from brand communications agency Egg. We are always pleased to find speakers that blog and on the Egg blog  Marty’s team just posted number seven in a really excellent series of posts based from a discussion paper of the same name  – 10 Marketing Sustainability Strategies in an Uncertain Economy.

 

Also confirmed this week is another CEO to add to the growing list. Dave Williams, the CEO of ShoreBank Pacific – a commecial bank committed to environmental sustainable community development. Dave will be speaking about the capital issues involved with sutainability strategies.

 

Tony Kingsbury, the executive in residence at the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, has also joined the speaker line-up for ASA-Seattle.  With 24 years experience with Dow Chemical Tony is a recognized expert on global sustainability, environmentally preferred purchasing, life cycle thinking, plastics and chemical environmental issues and public policy. 

Defining sustainability

March 23, 2009

An interesting blog on the definition of sustainability in GreenBiz.com. From our experience, when people present on sustainability they tend to go for the very broad definition as outlined in the Brundtland Commission . But I guess it all depends on who your audience is. In Seattle in June William Blackburn is going to present some research on this very subject. What do various stakeholders expect from your company when it comes to sustainability?

Do ants play Xbox? (and other sustainability marketing issues)

March 19, 2009

The more I hear it, the more I hate the phrase “green wash”. While it is a tremendously important issue it is too often used glibly as a catch-all put-down against corporate environmental responses.  I am sure that often the term is merited  but the phrase unhelpfuly hides and detracts from the complexity of what it means to become sustainable. Even the term “becoming sustainable” misses the point. Anyone looking at this seriously from a corporate perspective knows  you can never actually become fully sustainable. 

In the inspiring Cradle to Cradle  the lives of ants are frequently held up as an example of the sustainable ideal. The argument goes something like this: there are loads of ants, in fact more biomass in the form of ants than there is human biomass, but they carry on doing their ant thing without harming the planet.  We need to be more ant-like in our outlook.

The trouble is, and I am no biologist,  ants dont drink lattes, play Xbox or take vacations. With issues surrounding sustainability no company or even individual can be 100% sustainable (unless you’re an ant). At some level any organisation that promotes their environmental activities with wholly good intentions, can be lazily accused of green wash.   

Like it or not, the phrase green wash is here to stay which gets me to the purpose of this post. At what point do you get the marketing involved in developing your sustainability strategy? I had a conversation with a Seattle conference speaker today who suggested the Action for a Sustainable America – Seattle program was missing a solid discussion on marketing within strategy?

It’s not a simple answer and therefore might make for a good discussion.  If marketing is involved in strategy from the start isn’t that putting the emphasis on doing something that sells and promotes rather than doing something that is sustainable? If you leave marketing to the end – simply labelling and promoting a product as green or sustainable then that really is shallow and green wash.   Smart companies realize that sustainability and marketing are about continuous engagement, dialogue and input  – which is not a business as usual approach and would be good to hear about. Any thoughts?

Microsoft’s Rob Bernard is opening Action for a Sustainable America in Seattle

March 12, 2009

We are very excited to have Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, Rob Bernard, opening our first Action for a Sustainable America event. Rob and Microsoft epitomise what underlines this series of events. As issues surrounding sustainability and climate change are increasingly becoming mainstream for polititicians, consumers and investors, simply responding to issues with good intentions as and when they occur is totally inadequate.  Smart companies have realised that it is only when you decide to use sustainability to drive strategy within an organisation can you start to reap the potential rewards through better management, more efficient use of resources and sustainability driven innovation.