Friday, April 29, 2011

Everything you've always wanted to know about electricity energy storage technology options

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has published a comprehensive analysis of energy storage applications and technology options that also assesses the potential benefits and markets for energy storage in the United States .

The analysis looks at 10 energy storage applications that EPRI considers would serve the bulk of the energy storage market and includes applications to support wholesale energy services and renewable integration. The research also identified and modeled 21 benefits of energy storage, including power quality, power reliability, retail time-of-use energy charges, and retail demand charges, among others. The analysis compared the present value of benefits with the estimated costs for energy storage systems installed in various regions across the U.S.

“There are a wide range of potential benefits for energy storage applications and when aggregated, these benefits can justify the costs of installing storage in many places,” said Mark McGranaghan, vice president of Power Delivery and Utilization at EPRI. “Storage systems dedicated to a single application can be valuable, but the true value of storage appears when the same system serves multiple applications.”

Study results indicate that the total U.S. energy storage market could be as large as 14 gigawatts of capacity if energy storage systems could be installed for about $700–$750/kW-h and the energy storage owners and operators could monetize the estimated benefits.

The study provides updated capital cost and performance information for storage systems available within the next one to three years, along with longer-term trends and emerging systems. It outlines a framework and methodology that electric utilities and industry stakeholders may use as one approach to estimating the value of energy storage systems in near-term applications.

The paper, “Electricity Energy Storage Technology Options - A White Paper Primer on Applications, Costs and Benefits,” is available for download from the EPRI web site.

Click [here] to download this paper

Some results (sample):

What coffee should I buy?

Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality Scores Announced at Sustainable Coffee Breakfast

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, El Salvador, India, Mexico and Guatemala earned top marks at the Rainforest Alliance’s spring Cupping for Quality event. The results were announced this morning at the annual Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA’s) annual tradeshow in Houston, Texas.

A total of 76 samples from 10 origins were submitted to the spring cupping event, which took place at the InterContinental Exchange Grading Room in New York City in early April. A panel of expert cuppers, representing a combined 150 years of experience in the coffee industry, participated in the two-and-half-day event. The samples were prepared by Marty Curtis of Combustion Systems Sales & Service, and cuppers used a cutting-edge iPod app -- developed specifically to reduce paper use during coffee grading -- to record their scores.

The highest score -- 89 points -- went to the Aguadas group from Colombia. Located in the Andean rainforest in the north of the country, the group has over 4400 acres (1800 hectares) under certification, at an altitude of over 6800 feet (2100 meters). For the first time in the history of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping, all of the samples scored above 80, the threshold for specialty coffee. Fourteen samples achieved scores of 85 or higher -- an indication that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the production of high-quality coffee. Rainforest Alliance certification requires the implementation of strict criteria covering best social and environmental farm management practices. In an effort to link sustainable farming with cup quality, the Rainforest Alliance developed its Cupping for Quality program in 2003.

“Certification is most beneficial to coffee farming communities when it results in quality crops, and in Rainforest Alliance’s case it does,” explains Linda Smithers, a long time champion of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event and former president of the SCAA. “When we taste coffee produced through best practices, we see a more consistently high quality product.”

View full [ranking]

KGRA: Harvesting Megawatts From the Air

When you’ve got 800-degree exhaust gas at a refinery, you’ve got the opportunity to make power.
In the relatively near future, a fracking company may harvest electricity from the Marcellus Shale formation, too.

The power won't come from converting shale gas into electricity. Instead, it will be created by harvesting the 840-degree waste heat exuded by compressors onsite needed to squeeze the methane extracted from the rock into pipelines. The five compressors at the operation give off enough heat to generate nearly 2 megawatts of electricity, according to Jason Gold, CEO of waste heat developer KGRA Energy. The letter of intent has been signed and the formal deal should be announced soon, he added.

KGRA also hopes to finalize a project to produce 4 to 5 megawatts of electricity from the hot (887 degrees Fahrenheit) exhaust emanating from a cement factory. Another project will create electricity from the heat absorbed from liquid hydrocarbons in distillation towers at refineries.

This week, KGRA signed a deal to build an 800-kilowatt waste heat recovery system at Weyerhauser's Greenville, North Carolina plant.

"The amount of energy being wasted is staggering," said Gold.

The company embodies two trends in renewables. First, there's a growing interest in harvesting waste heat. The U.S. consumes 100 quads, or quadrillion BTUs, of energy a year, and 55 to 60 quads get dissipated as waste heat, according to research conducted at UC Berkeley. The heat emanating from car engines, notebook bricks and industrial ovens is really just energy purchased, but not used efficiently, by someone.

As an added bonus, power generated from waste heat tends to mimic baseline power, unlike the intermittent nature of wind or solar power. As long as the factory hums along, power is generated.

"This is utility-grade power," Gold said. "24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year."

The power figures above, Gold added, are for net power produced. KGRA deducts the power required for its own equipment from the total.

Second, it's the developer business model. KGRA, he emphasized, is a developer and not a manufacturer. The company essentially finds opportunities, tries to estimate the costs and output of a potential projects, and then signs the appropriate offtake agreements, pretty much like your typical solar developer. The company is both brand- and technology-agnostic, meaning that it will install heat recovery systems from General Electric, Ormat, Pratt & Whitney or whomever might work best in the given circumstances.

Structuring the deal so the end-user buys kilowatts instead of capital equipment, in general, helps eliminate the obstacles to acceptance. (Traditionally, industrialists bought the equipment and the vendor and contractor were often associated with the terms of the deal.) Most of the time, the end-user consumes all of the energy. If excess exists, it can be delivered to third parties via the grid. In some states, renewable credits bolster the price.

There's also an efficiency play here. Capturing waste heat and converting it to electricity reduces overall power consumption. Air conditioners can be turned down and onsite power generation reduces demand for power on the grid. At the oil refinery mentioned above, large electrical fans are employed to get rid of the heat. Because of the power conservation potential, some states and utilities will provide credits and rebates to waste heat projects, similar to how some utilities are subsidizing building retrofits and ice air conditioners under the guise of reducing peak power.

While KGRA will work with different technologies, the company primarily concentrates on organic Rankine cycle (ORC) machinery. In ORC waste heat recovery, captured heat is used to turn an organic liquid into vapor. The vapor then cranks a turbine. The key is that the vapor boils at a far lower temperature than water. ORC plants can operate with exhaust heat at 500 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Waste heat systems that rely on steam need heat in the 800-degrees-Fahrenheit-and-above range.

A total of 150 large-scale ORC plants have been erected in Europe and 25 have been launched in the U.S. "It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that it [ORC] works," Gold emphasized.

Whether a plant is appropriate for waste heat depends on a variety of factors and circumstances. How much exhaust does a plant produce and what is the temperature? Does power cost quite a bit or very little? How much will the end-user consume? Overall, though, ORC equipment in positive circumstances can generate power for a capital cost of $3.50 a watt.

Some companies, such as Phononic Devices and Alphabet Energy, are developing semiconductors that can convert heat directly into electricity, no turbine needed. The simplicity will lower the capital costs to $1 a watt, says Alphabet. But these chips, often relying on relatively new materials like silicon nanowires, tend to be in the experimental phase.

Waste heat doesn't enjoy the same level of support of subsidies as wind or solar, but that could change. For one thing, it's a competitive, rapidly growing field. Last year, the VC firm Westly Group experienced three IPOs: one was waste heat specialist China Recycling Energy Corp. Leaders in Washington also probably like the concept. Arun Majumdar, the director of ARPA-E, was the one who gave me those BTU figures noted above. He also conducted the research behind Alphabet Energy. Majumdar, of course, worked with Energy Secretary Steve Chu at Lawrence Berkeley Labs, which has been the epicenter of efficiency research for years.


International Trade May Offset Reported Carbon Emission Reductions

An increasing share of global emissions is from the production of internationally traded goods and services, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Due to current reporting practices, this has allowed some countries to increase their carbon footprints while reporting stabilized emissions.

If you buy a sweater or a refrigerator, emissions from the production processes are allocated to the producing country. In the consuming country these emissions remain invisible. In this way, some countries can increase their consumption (carbon footprint) while their officially reported emissions remain stable.

An international team of researchers has now compiled a trade-linked global database of carbon dioxide emissions running from 1990 to 2008 and for 57 economic sectors in 113 countries. This dataset allows, for the first time, a detailed analysis of the role of international trade in the development of emissions in individual countries over time.

The production of traded goods and services, the authors report, accounted for 20 percent of global emissions in 1990 and this increased to 26 percent in 2008.

"A key explanation for this finding is that increased imports to rich countries have led to increased production and emissions in developing countries," said Glen Peters at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research -- Oslo (CICERO), lead author of the study.

"The consumption-driven emissions in many developed countries, sometimes called the carbon footprint, rose faster than the officially reported territorial emissions."

"International trade has enabled much needed economic development in emerging economies, but at the same time, many rich countries have benefited as they increased consumption without increasing their reported territorial emissions," said Glen Peters. According to the authors, only by shifting emissions to the developing world industrialised countries are currently able to meet their climate protection targets with comparatively little efforts despite their growing consumption levels.

"Through their consumption most industrialised countries contributed more to emission increases in developing countries than they cut emissions at home," said Jan Minx, one of the authors based at the Departments Economics of Climate Change and Sustainable Engineering at Technical University Berlin. In 2008, emission increases in developing countries from industrialised countries' consumption exceeded the emission savings made in industrialised nations by five times.

Many developed countries have reported stable emission levels, thanks in part to the accounting rules established under the united Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that require countries to report only territorial emissions.

"In today's accounting system developed nations do not need to report emissions caused by their consumption even if this contributes to global emissions growth. Our findings suggests there is a need to additionally report and monitor emissions transfers that occur through international trade," said Glen Peters. The study questions the sufficiency of the territorial accounting principle in an international climate regime in which only some regions have emission restrictions.

"This does not mean that we should abandon regional rules for climate mitigation. Instead, the extension of these rules is necessary," explains Ottmar Edenhofer from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who also leads the Department Economics of Climate Change at Technical University Berlin, which is co-financed by the Michael-Otto-Foundation. At present the international climate regime is fragmented. "We need pathways to a global deal now," Edenhofer emphasises.

"Today, developed countries have to report their CO2 emissions, but we consume a lot of stuff that is produced in China and other developing countries. Their CO2 emissions are helping support my consumption. This study shows that consumption is increasingly depending on CO2 emissions in other countries. If we want to be able to control emissions, we need to keep tabs on emissions transfers that occur through international trade," comments Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science in the United States. Caldeira authored a study on the issue in 2010.

The study "Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008" has been conducted by researchers at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research -- Oslo (CICERO), Technical University Berlin, Science and Technology Policy Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dole Launches Rainforest Alliance Bananas

Dole Food Company, the world’s biggest fruit producer, is now selling Rainforest Alliance Certified bananas.

The bananas are grown in Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, which meet the standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of leading conservation groups. The standards include metrics on water and soil conservation and wildlife protection, along with labor and community standards.

Dole says the certified bananas will be sold at select retailers throughout the U.S.

“Being able to add the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal to our bananas is a great reminder to our customers of Dole’s commitment to environmental stewardship and the well-being of farm workers,” said Mike Cavallero, president of Dole’s North American tropical and fresh fruit division.

The Rainforest Alliance offers certifications for agriculture, forestry, tourism and forest carbon. Farms seeking the Rainforest Alliance seal must be audited by certification body Sustainable Farm Certification, which follows SAN standards.

The program operates in 25 tropical countries and covers over 100 crops. The Rainforest Alliance seal is used by companies including Kraft, Mars and McDonald’s.

In 2008 Dole announced that its operating division in Costa Rica would purchase enough carbon offsets from the Costa Rican government to equal the emissions from the inland transport of its bananas and pineapples.


Men emit on average 7 pounds of carbon dioxide more than women per day

No parity in CO2 emissions! According to a study by the Belgian firm X Factor, French women emit 32.3 kg of CO2 per day versus 39.3 kg for men. A major difference is explained mainly by transport, food, alcohol and tobacco, says Citepa (Inter-professional Technical Center for studies on air pollution).

By comparing the results of the Belgian study from those of a Swedish study published in October 2009, Citepa identified behaviors that create the gap between men and women. Conducted in four European countries, the study revealed that a man living alone consumed 8% more energy than a single woman in Germany, and up to 39% more for the Greeks.

The men eat and drive more than women

By calculating the carbon footprint of different drinks, the study primarily reflects differences in living standards between men and women: because of wage inequality, CO2 emissions differ because of purchasing power lower for women. But beyond this basic difference, men are penalized by very CO2-intensive activities. These are mainly transport, including the maintenance of their personal car (fuel, cleaning, repairs, etc.) and food (meat consumed, number of meals eaten outside the home, food industry, etc.) that have saddled the balance Carbon men.

The study points out that the calculations were made with average coefficients of conversion expenses in CO2 emissions and energy sources are in different countries. However, the estimates appear to apply to France, where men are buying more meat and use less public transportation than women according to the INSEE statistics.


ENERGY - An idea that could enable the poorest have access to electricity

Thread and needle: that is everything the dressmakers will need to provide electricity to their village. The voluntary program "Portable Light Project", launched by an architectural firm and a U.S. manufacturer of solar panels, will enable the poorest people in the world to have access to electricity in creating it themselves. With a kit, provided by the association, to sew mini-solar panels on clothes or bags, just wear them all the day to light up the evening or recharge a cell phone.

Three hours in the sun for seven hours of use

The kit, sold for $ 16 by village volunteers, consisting of a fine of two watts solar panel, battery pack, a USB port and an LED bulb. This device can be easily attached to clothing or traditional woven bags and throughout the day, the battery is charging. "Just exposing it to sunlight for three hours and then we can use it for seven hours," explains Sheila Kennedy, coordinator of the project site

The project has already been tested in nomadic populations of the Sierra Madre in Mexico and Nicaragua, with support from the NGO Paso Pacifico. There, "children can now do their homework at night and women can perform their work safely home," said Sarah Otterstrom, Director of Paso Pacifico.

Nanotechnology and micro-credit to finance the purchase of mini-panels could be a solution to bring some light to the poor. But it is not yet fully developed by Frederik Krebs, laboratory for renewable energy Riso, Denmark, which has developed a plastic solar light for Africa: "These clothes are not yet quite comfortable, "he says.

Watch the [VIDEO]

Learn more at:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carbon Ranking of Companies - by the Environmental Investment Organization

Ranking overview

The purpose of the ET (Environmental Tracking) Carbon Ranking is to provide information on a company's greenhouse gas emissions intensity as well as its level of disclosure and verification.

The aim of the ET Carbon Ranking is to encourage increasingly higher levels of disclosure and verification while incentivising corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction on a global scale.

From 2011 the ranking will be based on a greenhouse gas emissions intensity metric relative to a company’s size, with companies ranked regardless of industry or sector.

In order for this to be achieved, the Ranking must be based on externally verified emissions data of what are known as Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. When correctly applied, these three Scopes, based on the definitions provided by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) standard, cover the entire range of each company's emissions.

The GHG protocol provides a full explanation of the methods companies use to cover these different types of direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2 and 3) emissions.

A combined Scope 1, 2 and 3 total, when externally verified to an agreed international standard, is a solid basis for a Carbon Ranking.
Treatment of Scope 3 for 2011 ET Carbon Ranking

While the ET Carbon Rankings are designed to be based on companies’ GHG emissions across the whole value chain, the EIO has taken the decision not to factor Scope 3 data into its intensity calculations for 2011. Instead it will display Scope 3 data in terms of numbers of Scope 3 categories disclosed in order to allow companies time to integrate the new GHG protocol Scope 3 Accounting and Reporting Standard.

The Top 20 companies are displayed below - [Link] to the full ranking

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

EPA Demands Full Ingredients on Designed for the Environment Products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require all products using its Designed for the Environment labeling program to disclose their full ingredients to consumers.

The new requirement is being phased in to cover all 2,500 products that currently carry the DfE label. Products involved in the scheme will have to have a full list of ingredients on their label or in an easily accessible place, such as a website. Ingredients that are part of trade secrets will be exempt from the listing, the EPA says.

New DfE-approved products also will have to meet additional life-cycle requirements such as sustainable packaging and limits on volatile organic compounds. The life-cycle requirements will also be phased in for existing DfE products. The EPA has been working with product manufacturers on the new requirements and says it applauds the efforts of companies who have already moved towards these standards.

The DfE label is designed to demonstrate that products do not contain known chemicals of potential concern, such as carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins. Even minor product components, like dyes and fragrances, are screened for safety, the agency says.

“[Our] DfE Program helps empower people to choose products that are safer for their families and our planet,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The DfE program provides important information about the safety of certain products that contain chemicals and gives consumers confidence that DfE products meet rigorous [environmental] requirements.”

Before allowing the DfE logo to be used on a product label, the EPA conducts a scientific evaluation to ensure that candidate products are formulated from the safest possible ingredients. The DfE label means that the EPA has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that the product contains only ingredients that, in the agency’s scientific opinion, pose the least concern among chemicals in their class.

Products that carry the DfE label include all-purpose cleaners, laundry and dishwasher detergents, drain line maintainers, car and boat care and other products. Using DfE-labeled products significantly reduces exposures to chemicals that may be of concern to people’s or environmental health, the EPA said.

In recognition of Earth Day, the EPA announced last week that the DfE program had reached the milestone of having 2,500 products labeled as environmentally sound.

The DfE is a voluntary program that began in 1992 as a way for U.S. companies to help consumers make environmentally conscious decisions when purchasing goods.

More information at:

Source: [link]

Cheaper Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Utility of Non-Precious-Metal Catalysts Documented

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have developed a way to avoid the use of expensive platinum in hydrogen fuel cells, the environmentally friendly devices that might replace current power sources in everything from personal data devices to automobiles.

In a paper published April 21 in Science, Los Alamos researchers Gang Wu, Christina Johnston, and Piotr Zelenay, joined by researcher Karren More of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, describe the use of a platinum-free catalyst in the cathode of a hydrogen fuel cell. Eliminating platinum -- a precious metal more expensive than gold -- would solve a significant economic challenge that has thwarted widespread use of large-scale hydrogen fuel cell systems.

Polymer-electrolyte hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. The cells can be enlarged and combined in series for high-power applications, including automobiles. Under optimal conditions, the hydrogen fuel cell produces water as a "waste" product and does not emit greenhouse gasses. However, because the use of platinum in catalysts is necessary to facilitate the reactions that produce electricity within a fuel cell, widespread use of fuel cells in common applications has been cost prohibitive. An increase in the demand for platinum-based catalysts could drive up the cost of platinum even higher than its current value of nearly $1,800 an ounce.

The Los Alamos researchers developed non-precious-metal catalysts for the part of the fuel cell that reacts with oxygen. The catalysts -- which use carbon (partially derived from polyaniline in a high-temperature process), and inexpensive iron and cobalt instead of platinum -- yielded high power output, good efficiency, and promising longevity. The researchers found that fuel cells containing the carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst synthesized by Wu not only generated currents comparable to the output of precious-metal-catalyst fuel cells, but held up favorably when cycled on and off -- a condition that can damage inferior catalysts relatively quickly.

Moreover, the carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst fuel cells effectively completed the conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into water, rather than producing large amounts of undesirable hydrogen peroxide. Inefficient conversion of the fuels, which generates hydrogen peroxide, can reduce power output by up to 50 percent, and also has the potential to destroy fuel cell membranes. Fortunately, the carbon- iron-cobalt catalysts synthesized at Los Alamos create extremely small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, even when compared with state-of-the-art platinum-based oxygen-reduction catalysts.

Because of the successful performance of the new catalyst, the Los Alamos researchers have filed a patent for it.

"The encouraging point is that we have found a catalyst with a good durability and life cycle relative to platinum-based catalysts," said Zelenay, corresponding author for the paper. "For all intents and purposes, this is a zero-cost catalyst in comparison to platinum, so it directly addresses one of the main barriers to hydrogen fuel cells."

The next step in the team's research will be to better understand the mechanism underlying the carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst. Micrographic images of portions of the catalyst by researcher More have provided some insight into how it functions, but further work must be done to confirm theories by the research team. Such an understanding could lead to improvements in non-precious-metal catalysts, further increasing their efficiency and lifespan.

Project funding for the Los Alamos research came from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office as well as from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Laboratory-Directed Research and Development program. Microscopy research was done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's SHaRE user facility with support from the DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Source: [Link]

Monday, April 25, 2011

8 different ROI Aspects of Sustainability, by

Community involvement has a number of benefits for businesses implementing green marketing and corporate social responsibility programs. They include: preferential government and regulatory treatment; enhanced reputation and brand image in that community; increased profit and customer loyalty;creates new business opportunities;increased ability to attract and retain employees; increased ability to attract and retain employees; innovation in market through cooperation with local communities; and innovation in market through cooperation with local Sofia Ribeiro, Founder and co-owner of Kiwano Marketing.

For most people, green marketing is not only about marketing strategies with a smaller impact on the environment. Green marketing is also about helping a business become socially responsible as well: to provide better products, improve working conditions and contribute to the community. But exactly how can you get your company more involved with your city?

A good first step is to write a corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan. There are many reasons why companies should become socially responsible. A Marketing Blog by Marketing Journal did a great job listing all the benefits you can reap:

1. Enhanced reputation and brand image
A survey done by Cone Inc. titled “Millennial Cause Study” found that 83% of people will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The same survey also found that 66% of this group recommends products/services if the company is socially responsible. CSR initiatives generate good feelings towards a company’s products or services, compelling customers and media to talk about the organization and its positive impact on the community.

2. Increased profit and customer loyalty

Who doesn’t feel good about doing business with a company that cares for the environment and its community? As mentioned on our previous blog post, Green Marketing: A Sound Business Strategy, Generation Y is acutely aware of the threats of pollution, extinction, and global warming, and will reward companies that reach them with dollars and word of mouth (while punishing those that don’t). In fact, the Cone Inc. survey found that over two-thirds of the people surveyed consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 89% are likely to switch from one brand to another (price and quality being equal) if the second brand is associated with a good cause.

3. Creating new business opportunities

Not only will customers give preference to socially and environmentally responsible companies, but most businesses will as well. Since we started Kiwano Marketing, I have noticed an increasing number of organizations that will only do business with socially/environmentally sound companies. By implementing a corporate social responsibility plan, you will also be exposed to new contacts as fruit of your closer involvement with your community.

4. Increased ability to attract and retain employees

Socially responsible companies are known to value their employees. Not only these corporations are better able to retain high-quality staff, they are the main preference for professionals who have strong social and environmental values. A recent poll on green employment by found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment, and 92% would be more inclined to work for a company that is environmentally friendly.

5. Increased productivity and morale

Everyone likes to know they’re making a difference in the world. Studies have demonstrated that employees at socially and environmentally responsible organizations feel more motivated at work when compared to companies that do not have concrete CSR initiatives.

6. Preferential government and regulatory treatment

Did you know that most governments provide benefits to socially responsible companies? The U.S. government, for instance, has a special category for this type of organizations when getting an RFP out. This means that, if you’re offering exactly the same product or service (and under the same conditions) to the government, and your company is socially active while the other is not, chances are you’re going to land the deal.

7. Increased operational efficiency and reduced operating costs

The reality is, if you have a CSR strategy, you’re probably looking to your bottom line and making sure there are no redundant costs. Environmentally responsible organizations have reduced costs on packaging, paper and water usage; even on electricity. Common practices involve turning off computers and lights at the end of the day, reusing marketing materials, reducing the number of disposable cups and rethinking printing habits. Some companies opt to give away office supplies and computers not in use, while extending the life cycle of electronic equipment such as monitors and printers.

8. Innovation in market through cooperation with local communities

Organizations with sound CSR plans are usually much involved with their local community and tend to invite influential members to their strategic meetings. This practice not only makes it more likely that the product or service will be well received in the community, but it also provides a broader pool of ideas, leaving socially responsible organizations one-step ahead of the competition.

A solid CSR plan will provide you a framework for your green marketing initiatives and will keep your business aligned with your goals. There are many resources available to help you with this task. For instance, Abertis has its CSR plan available for download, while Amway published a two-page document making the case for its corporate social responsibility plan.

Implementing CSR initiatives in your business is a great way to maximize your marketing efforts and leverage your sales, but it is important you’re doing it for the right reasons. Before writing down your CSR plan, think of your goals for your community, for the environment and for your business. What can you do to make your community a better place? How can you align it with your business? How can you communicate your CSR plans? I’ve listed some resources below that will help you get started.

Source: Corporate Climate [link]

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Choosing the Right Electric Vehicles Batteries for the Future (thanks to Life Cycle Assessment!)

One of the most important decisions facing designers of plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles is related to battery choice. Now, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have used a life cycle analysis to examine three vehicle battery types to determine which does the best job of powering the vehicle while causing the least amount of environmental impact during its production.
Their results, published in the latest edition of the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, show that on a per-storage basis, the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery had the most environmental impact, followed by the nickel cobalt manganese lithium-ion (NCM) and iron phosphate lithium-ion (LFP) batteries for all impacts considered, except ozone depletion potential. The researchers also found higher life cycle global warming emissions than have been previously reported.

The researchers, Guillaume Majeau-Bettez, a PhD candidate in NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme; Troy R. Hawkins, a researcher in the programme; and Anders Hammer Strømman, an associate professor in the programme, conducted a life cycle analysis of the three battery types and looked at 11 different types of environmental impacts from their production. These impacts included everything from greenhouse gas emissions to freshwater ecotoxicity, freshwater eutrophication and human toxicity.

The researchers were surprised to find that except for ozone depletion potential, the NiMH battery performed significantly worse than the two Li-ion batteries for all impact categories. The researchers attributed this difference to the greater use phase efficiency of Li-ion relative to NiMH, and the fact that each kilogram of Li-ion battery is expected to store between 2 to 3 times more energy than the other battery types over the course of its lifetime.

"The NCM and LFP batteries contain at least an order of magnitude less nickel and virtually no rare earth metals," the researchers also observed. "Among Li-ion batteries, our analysis points to overall environmental benefits of LFP relative to NCM, which can be explained by a greater lifetime expectancy and the use of less environmentally intensive materials."

For all three batteries, the energy requirements for their manufacture were a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. One component of the analysis demonstrated the environmental significance of using polytetrafluoroethylene as dispersant/binder in the electrode paste. Its production was responsible for more than 97% of the ozone depletion potential of all three batteries, along with 14 -15% of the greenhouse gas production from the two Li-ion batteries, mostly due to the halogenated methane emissions. The final shipping and the production of the cell containers, module packaging, separator material, and electrolyte contribute relatively little to causing environmental damage, with collectively less than 10% of any impact category.

The researchers also point out the importance of the choice of the functional unit for the life cycle analysis. While the production of NiMH causes the least greenhouse gas emissions impact per kilogram, its lower energy density makes it score worst both relative to its nominal energy capacity and the researchers' storage-based functional unit. Similarly, the greenhouse gas impacts of LFP and NCM production are roughly equal for a given mass or nominal energy capacity, but the greater life expectancy of LFP confers a net environmental advantage to this type of battery for a per-energy-delivered functional unit.

"A shift from NiMH to Li-ion may thus be viewed positively," the researchers concluded. "Though associated with important uncertainties, our results point to a higher than expected level of environmental impacts for the production and use of traction batteries. This inventory and life cycle analysis provide a basis for further benchmarking and focused development policies for the industry."
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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Journal Reference:

1. Guillaume Majeau-Bettez, Troy R. Hawkins, Anders Hammer Strømman. Life Cycle Environmental Assessment of Lithium-Ion and Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries for Plug-In Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles. Environmental Science & Technology, 2011; : 110420102855020 DOI: 10.1021/es103607c

Friday, April 22, 2011

Aligning Environmental and Business incentives: the case of BASF's Eco-Efficiency Analysis

The aim of the eco-efficiency analysis is to compare similar products or processes. This involves carrying out an overall study of alternative solutions to include a total cost determination and the calculation of ecological impact over the entire lifecycle.
Many shoppers know the feeling: "I want to buy a decent product that's good quality, worth the money, and manufactured in an environmentally and socially compatible way." Finding a product with that kind of sustainability isn't always easy. Though a number of measurement methods and corresponding certification systems exist, most of them are focused exclusively on ecological aspects, i.e. impact on climate, soil and water. Certificates issued on that basis reflect only a small part of what sustainability is all about: balancing environment and economics.
Eco-efficiency analysis looks at environmental impact in proportion to a product's cost-effectiveness. It helps BASF, BASF’s customers, and customers’ customers to decide which products are the best choice both ecologically and economically. Eco-efficiency analysis can also be used to identify ways to make improvements in terms of environmental impact and cost

What is eco-efficiency?

The purpose of Eco-Efficiency Analysis is to harmonize economy and ecology. BASF SE in Ludwigshafen, Germany, is the first chemical company to develop this method for use in its business activities. BASF started to develop this inhouse tool in 1996. To date, more than 400 different products and manufacturing processes have been analyzed using the new method. Eco-Efficiency Analysis is applied in order to use as few materials and energy as possible in producing our products and to keep emissions as low as possible. At the same time, our products can help our customers conserve resources and save energy. Eco-efficiency analyses are offered to BASF business units and to external customers as well.

Ecological Footprint

Economic analysis

Economic and ecological data are plotted on an x/y graph. The costs are shown on the horizontal axis and the environmental impact is shown on the vertical axis. The graph reveals the eco-efficiency of a product or process compared to other products or processes. And it allows us to look into the future, since Eco-Efficiency Analysis is utilized in making strategic decisions and it also helps detect and exploit potential ecological and economic improvements.


Earth Day Facts: When It Is, How It Began, What to Do

When Is Earth Day? Today!!

Every day, the saying goes, is Earth Day. But it's popularly celebrated on April 22. Why?

One persistent rumor holds that April 22 was chosen because it's the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union.

"Lenin's goal was to destroy private property and this goal is obviously shared by environmentalists," the Capitalism Magazine Web site noted in a 2004 article perpetuating the theory.

Kathleen Rogers, president of Washington, D.C.-based Earth Day Network, which was founded by the original organizers of Earth Day, scoffs at the rumored communist connection.

She said April 22, 1970, was chosen for the first Earth Day in part because it fell on a Wednesday, the best part of the week to encourage a large turnout for the environmental rallies held across the country.

"It worked out perfectly, because everybody was at work and they all left," she said.

In fact, more than 20 million people across the U.S. are estimated to have participated in that first Earth Day.

Earth Day is now celebrated every year by more than a billion people in 180 nations around the world, according to Rogers.

Mad People and a Frustrated Politician

Earth Day's history is rooted in 1960s activism. The environment was in visible ruins and people were mad, according to Rogers.

"It wasn't uncommon in some cities during rush hour to be standing on a street corner and not be able to see across the street" because of pollution, she said.

Despite the anger, green issues were absent from the U.S. political agenda, which frustrated U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, whose campaigns for the environment through much of the 1960s had fallen flat.

First Earth Day "Took off Like Gangbusters"

In 1969 Nelson hit on the idea of an environmental protest modeled after anti-Vietnam War demonstrations called teach-ins.

"It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country," Nelson recounted in an essay shortly before he died in July 2005 at 89.

"The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air—and they did so with spectacular exuberance."

Nelson recruited activist Denis Hayes to organize the April 22, 1970, teach-in, which today is sometimes credited for launching the modern environmental movement.

By the end of 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had been born, and efforts to improve air and water quality were gaining political traction.

"It was truly amazing what happened," Rogers said. "Blocks just tumbled."

Earth Day Evolves

Amy Cassara is a senior associate at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., who analyzes global environmental trends.

She noted that, since Earth Day started, environmentalism has moved from a fringe issue to a mainstream concern. "As many as 80 percent of Americans describe themselves as environmentalists," Cassara said.

Environmental issues today, however, are less immediate than dirty air, toxic water, and a hole in the ozone layer, she added.

For example, the impacts of global climate change are largely abstract and difficult to explain "without coming off as a doomsday prognosticator," Cassara said.

"As we become more industrialized and our supply chains become less transparent, it can be more difficult to understand the environmental consequences of our actions," she noted.

Earth Day Network is pushing the Earth Day movement from single-day actions—such as park cleanups and tree-planting parties—to long-term commitments.

"Planting a tree, morally and poetically, requires taking care of it for a really long time, not just sticking it in the ground," Earth Day Network's Rogers said.

To help make the transition, the organization is aligned with a hundred thousand schools around the world, integrating projects with an environmental component into the year-round curriculum.

"They announce the results on Earth Day, so Earth Day becomes a moment in time," Rogers said.

Cassara, of the World Resources Institute, said her organization uses Earth Day to convene with leaders in the movement and assess progress in their campaigns.

"[Earth Day] doesn't raise awareness among the general public in the same way that it used to. But it still provides a benchmark for reflection among those of us in the environmental community," she said.

What to Do on Earth Day?

For those whose inner environmentalist speaks loudest on April 22, Earth Day Network's Rogers encourages them to make a public commitment to take an environmental action.

"We are headed for a billion commitments to do something green," Rogers said. "And that doesn't mean think about it—it means do something."

Commitment ideas promoted by the Earth Day Network include pledging to educate friends and family on global warming or buy green products such as energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

The commitments are part of a yearlong initiative called the Green Generation, which leads up to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010.

(See pictures of quirky Earth Day stunts.)

According to Rogers, everyone is part of this generation, which marks the transition from the industrial revolution to the green revolution.

"It is also about the green generation of energy and the generation of green jobs. ... The name [Green Generation], whenever I say it to people, they have their own idea of what it means, which is exactly what we want."

[Source] (National Geographic)

More information on what to on Earth Day can be found [here]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

But after all, what's the ROI of sustainability initiatives? ...

...or how to measure the business value of sustainability?

Working as a consultant in sustainability, I often take for granted that the business value of sustainability is clear. However, when my clients ask:
- "Is there business value in sustainability?"
- "yes, of course!"
- "Oh, do you have examples, do you have numbers?"

...well it is not that easy to find an immediate response for the following reasons:

1. Some studies have shown the correlation of a company's involvement in sustainability and its stock value. But is that causation? If a company is doing well, is it because of sustainability? Or because it is doing well, the company has enough budget to allocate some to sustainability?

A study by AT Kearney: “Green winners", showing this correlation, can be found at this [link]

2. Sustainability initiatives are often part of a larger change happening within the company, so how do you allocate the benefit of sustainability only?

Here are a few examples that I found useful to use:

1. See the AT Kearney study (mentioned previously)

2. "UPS CFO Discusses ROI and Sustainability" [VIDEO]

3. Example by Steve Yucknut (Kraft Foods, VP Sustainability) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Summary: Kraft implemented an “anaerobic waste digestion” (burning waste to produce energy) for the production of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese , and they added a “Made with Renewable Energy” label

- Increased bottom line profits by reducing cost of fuel
- Partnered with Walmart and gained visibility
- Sold 75% more products that the previous year

Drivers for sustainability, Yucknut says, were:
- Walmart increasing involvement in sustainability
- At that time, customers awareness to sustainability issues thanks to the IPCC report and Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”

Watch the [VIDEO]

Why the tech industry finds it hard to 'go green'

The environmental activist group Greenpeace is taking aim at Facebook for its reliance on coal/oil energy sources to power its vast server farms. This week on Tech 24, hosts Rebecca Bowring and Eric Olander explore the challenges facing the tech sector to reduce its 'carbon footprint.'


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Carbon Emitters ‘Are Valued Lower’

S&P 500 companies’ value declines by $202,000, on average, for every additional thousand metric tons of carbon they emit, according to new research.

The study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University found that the negative correlation between emissions and value translates into a total value penalty of $1.28 billion for firms in the third quartile of emitters, relative to firms in the first quartile.
The authors note that this economic effect is large, considering that the direct costs of carbon emissions have recently been less than $40 per metric ton. The indirect costs of emissions, such as increased regulation, litigation, remediation and reputation impacts, are likely to be significant, they said.
“Our results suggest that the market attaches an implicit cost to carbon emissions, even though there is currently no explicit cost,” the authors wrote. “This evidence is consistent with capital markets rewarding firms that reduce their carbon emissions.”
The research found that the negative association between emissions and value applies to high and low-emitting firms. It applies both to industries required to report their emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency (labeled EPA=1 on the chart) and those that are not required to do so (EPA=0).
The authors said their study corrects for self-selection bias, making up for the fact that it could only consider emissions for firms that chose to disclose them. The study also controls for a number of factors expected to affect firms’ market value, such as assets and liabiliites.
“The results have significant implications, as federal regulation requiring companies to pay for their carbon emissions continues to be debated,” University of Notre Dame accountancy professor and report co-author Sandra Vera-Muñoz said. “Although regulation has yet to be adopted, our results suggest that the markets are already anticipating the effects of the costs of emissions on firm value.”
The study also confirmed the authors’ prediction that firms with superior environmental performance are more likely to disclose their carbon emissions. Firms are also more likely to voluntarily disclose their emissions if their competitors are doing so.
But contrary to their predictions, they found no association between inferior environmental performance and the likelihood of disclosure.
In future research, the authors plan to examine managers’ decisions to request verification or assurance of their carbon emissions, as well as their choice of assurance provider.


Corporate Whitewash?: Why Do Cleaning Product-Makers Keep Most of Their Ingredients Secret?

Although some manufacturers are more transparent about their ingredients, makers are only required by the EPA to list those that are active disinfectants or potentially harmful.

Since cleaning products aren’t food, beverages or drugs meant to be ingested, they aren’t regulated, per se, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, makers are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list ingredients that are active disinfectants or potentially harmful. Otherwise, they usually keep their other ingredients secret, presumably so competitors can’t copy their formulas.

But consumer advocate Sloan Barnett, author of Green Goes with Everything, doesn’t give manufacturers the benefit of that doubt. “Call me suspicious, but I honestly don’t think it’s because the recipe is top secret,” she says. “If it was, there wouldn’t be so many competing products with identical ingredients.” Barnett thinks manufacturers don’t want to scare off consumers by disclosing how many potentially harmful chemicals are flying under the EPA’s radar in their products.

“The government only requires companies to list ‘chemicals of known concern’ on their labels. The key word here is ‘known’,” she says. “The fact is that the government has no idea whether most of the chemicals used in everyday cleaning products are safe because it doesn’t test them, and it doesn’t require manufacturers to test them either.”

She adds that the EPA, under the terms of 1976’s Toxic Substances Control Act, “can’t require chemical companies to prove the safety of their products unless the agency itself can show that the product poses a health risk—which the EPA does not have the resources to do since, according to one estimate, it receives some two thousand new applications for approval every year.” She cites a recent study by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, which found that the EPA approved most applications within three weeks even though more than half provided no information on toxicity whatsoever.

Regardless, consumers should be familiar with what warning labels are on cleaning products. “All household cleaners that contain known hazardous chemicals must carry a warning label that spells out potential risks, along with precautionary steps and first-aid instructions,” reports Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices website.

Some manufacturers are beginning to be more transparent about their ingredients. The Clorox Company, for example, one of the largest manufacturers of cleaning products, now publishes full lists of the ingredients for all of its brands on its corporate responsibility website, Many praise Clorox for doing so; others argue that, whether or not ingredients are disclosed, the company—like many others—is still in the business of making products that pose health and environmental hazards.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking for safer alternatives, browse the cleaning products sections of natural foods markets such as Whole Foods, which are populated with lesser-known but more green-friendly brands. For do-it-yourselfers, the Greener Choices website also lists recipes for eco- and health-friendly homemade household cleaners using ingredients like baking soda, borax, lemon juice and vinegar.


Collecting the Sun's Energy: Novel Electrode for Flexible Thin-Film Solar Cells

Conventional silicon-based rigid solar cells generally found on the market are not suitable for manufacturing moldable thin-film solar cells, in which a transparent, flexible and electrically conductive electrode collects the light and carries away the current. A woven polymer electrode developed by Empa has now produced first results which are very promising, indicating that the new material may be a substitute for indium tin oxide coatings.

The scarcity of raw materials and increasing usage of rare metals is making electronic components and devices more and more costly. Such rare metals are used, for example, to make the transparent electrodes found in mobile phone touchscreen displays, liquid-crystal displays, organic LEDs and thin-film solar cells. The material of choice in these cases is indium tin oxide (ITO), a largely transparent mixed oxide. Because ITO is relatively expensive, however, it is uneconomic to use in large area applications such as solar cells.

The search for alternatives

Indium-free transparent oxides do exist, but with demand for them increasing they too are tending to become scarce. In addition, the principal disadvantages such as brittleness remain. The search for alternative coatings which are both transparent and electrically conductive is therefore intense, with materials such as conductive polymers, carbon nanotubes or graphenes coming under scrutiny. Carbon-based electrodes, however, generally show excessive surface resistance values which make them poor electrical conductors. If a metallic grid is integrated into the organic layer, it reduces not just its resistance but also its mechanical stability. If a solar cell made out of this material is bent, the electrode layers break and are no longer conductive. The challenge thus consists of manufacturing flexible yet stable conductive substrates, ideally in a cost-effective industrial rolling process.

One solution: woven electrodes

One particularly promising possibility is the use of a transparent flexible woven polymer, which Empa has developed together with the company Sefar AG in a project financially supported by the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI). Sefar, which specializes in precision fabrics, is able to produce the woven polymer economically and in large quantities using a roll to roll process similar to the way newspapers are printed. Metal wires woven into the material ensure that it is electrically conductive. In a second process step the material is embedded in an inert plastic layer which does not, however, completely cover the metal filaments, thus retaining its conductivity. The electrode which results is transparent, stable and yet flexible. The Empa researchers then applied a series of coatings to this new substrate to create a novel organic solar cell whose efficiency is compatible to conventional ITO-based cells. In addition, the woven electrode is significantly more stable when deformed than commercially available flexible plastic substrates to which a thin layer of conductive ITO has been applied.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chance Discovery May Revolutionize Hydrogen Production

Producing hydrogen in a sustainable way is a challenge and production cost has so far proven to be too high. Now a team led by EPFL Professor Xile Hu has discovered that a molybdenum based catalyst is produced at room temperature, inexpensive and efficient.

The results of the research are published online in Chemical Science. An international patent based on this discovery has just been filled.

Existing in large quantities on Earth, water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. It can be broken down by applying an electrical current; this is the process known as electrolysis. To improve this particularly slow reaction, platinum is generally used as a catalyst. However, platinum is a particularly expensive material that has tripled in price over the last decade. Now EPFL scientists have shown that amorphous molybdenum sulphides, found abundantly, are efficient catalysts and hydrogen production cost can be significantly lowered.

Industrial prospects

The new catalysts exhibit many advantageous technical characteristics. They are stable and compatible with acidic, neutral or basic conditions in water. Also, the rate of the hydrogen production is faster than other catalysts of the same price. The discovery opens up some interesting possibilities for industrial applications such as in the area of solar energy storage.

It's only by chance that Daniel Merki, Stéphane Fierro, Heron Vrubel and Xile Hu made this discovery during an electrochemical experience. "It's a perfect illustration of the famous serendipity principle in fundamental research," as Xile Hu emphasizes: "Thanks to this unexpected result, we've revealed a unique phenomenon," he explains. "But we don't yet know exactly why the catalysts are so efficient."

The next stage is to create a prototype that can help to improve sunlight-driven hydrogen production. But a better understanding of the observed phenomenon is also required in order to optimize the catalysts.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Don't get caught doing greenwashing - or why quantification is important

CBS EcoAd Accused of Greenwashing in FTC Complaint

CBS is the target of a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over the broadcaster’s EcoAd program.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth, the Rainforest Action Network and Center for Environmental Health, along with news website Ecopreneurist, filed the complaint on Wednesday. They allege that EcoAd violates federal laws and the FTC’s Green Guides for environmental advertising claims.

The EcoAds, launched at the start of this year, recognize brands that sponsor environmental projects. These could include solar installations and refits of schools, affordable housing or municipal buildings. Every time an advertiser buys an EcoAd package, a portion of the price funds projects that public bodies have identified as critical yet underfunded.

The seal was developed by advertising company EcoMedia, which CBS acquired last year.

In the complaint, the environmental groups told the FTC that the ad program “may deceive viewers, provide CBS with an unfair advantage over its competitors, and create an unfair advantage for companies and products participating in the program.”

The groups say that the EcoAd program is available to any advertiser, regardless of their environmental record. They say that a number of EcoAd launch partners, including PG&E and Chevrolet, have poor environmental track records.

The complainants called on CBS to add text to EcoAds, alerting viewers “that the symbol does not specify any positive environmental attributes of companies or products advertised”.

“An Eco-label that promises advertisers a green image while telling them they don’t need to do anything to earn that image is the very definition of greenwashing,” CEH executive director Michael Green said. “We urge the FTC to work with CBS to fix this broken program, which can only serve to confuse consumers and create cynicism about these bogus corporate environmental ads.”

“We can’t buy into CBS’s fantasy — we’re just getting sold more junk ideas and products,” Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica said.

CBS countered that all EcoAd commercials direct consumers to visit the EcoAd website, which it said clearly explains the methods, motives, and benefits of the program.

The website says, “A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each EcoAd goes to projects we believe will benefit the environment. EcoAd is not a certification program nor is the EcoAd logo a seal of approval. EcoMedia does not in any way certify, endorse or make any representations about EcoAd advertisers, their products or services.”

CBS said it has also committed to airing separate EcoAd announcements explaining the program, and the role of the logo, in markets where EcoAds run.

“Obviously I respect the environmental groups that have attempted to make our efforts better,” EcoMedia president and founder Paul Polizzotto told Environmental Leader. “I’m very, very proud of our work and I think we’ve been very clear about what EcoAds are and what they’re not.

“I’ve spent my entire career in the environment. It’s astonishing to me that the actual community from which I come is not coming to me first and saying, before we’re going to do this in the press… ‘Hey Paul, let us share with you some thoughts on how you might make your efforts even better.’”

EcoMedia also said that the EcoAd program has been endorsed by environmental leaders including former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Kennedy Jr. of the Natural Resources Defense Council, members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund and Denise Sheehan of the Climate Registry.

In their letter, the groups making the FTC complaint asked the commission to investigate EcoAds and to warn CBS that it is not complying with the FTC Act and FTC Green Guides, which advise advertisers on sustainability claims. The Groups also called on CBS to develop criteria for evaluating advertisers, with compliance evaluated by a third-party auditor.

The FTC is currently updating the Green Guides. It has been taking actions against advertisers that it says use misleading environmental claims. In 2009, it charged Kmart Corp., Tender Corp., and Dyna-E International with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their paper products were “biodegradable.”

The commission also charged four companies — Sami Designs LLC, dba Jonäno; CSE Inc., Mad Mod and Pure Bamboo LLC and the M Group – selling clothing marketed as made from bamboo, with what the agency called deceptive advertising and marketing claims.

Last month a study released by communications agency Cone found that American consumers continue to misunderstand phrases commonly used in environmental marketing and advertising – such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” – giving products a brighter halo than they may deserve.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How nitrogen costs us 700 euros per year and six months of life.

POLLUTION - The nitrogen used in fertilizers is spread through the atmosphere, soils and waters, causing adverse health effects
Air pollution, water contamination and soil nitrate, pollution on biodiversity, etc., nitrogen is very expensive for Europeans. A study conducted by 200 experts in 21 countries assesses the impact of pollution associated with nitrogen between 70 and 320 billion euros per year in Europe, between 140 and 730 euros per citizen. More worrying, the nitrogen may be responsible for shortening the duration of six months average life in Europe.
The nitrogen fertilizer necessary but has side effects:
"Nitrogen is absolutely essential for human well-being. The challenge is how to retain the benefits while minimizing negative impacts, "explains Professor Bob Watson, head of the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Used as fertilizer, nitrogen has increased agricultural productivity and feed more people. But its effects "secondary" on soil and water is expensive in terms of expenditure on health and water sanitation.
When spilled on soil, nitrogen seeps deep and turns into nitrates and ammonia. Nitrates pollute sustainable groundwater and rivers, threatening fish and making the water longer to retreat into purification plants.
When emitted into the atmosphere, nitrogen can cause disorders such as asthma and even contribute to cancer development. It is also the source of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas whose global warming potential over a hundred years is 310 times higher than CO2.
Eat less meat, a solution?
Although the use of nitrogen has slowed in recent years, "it must move faster to avoid such environmental damage," warns Bob Watson. According to researchers, our food choices could be a powerful lever: "The number of cattle and proteins that we choose to eat is a critical factor," said Dr. Mark Sutton, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Without encouraging people to become vegetarians, the scientists explain that the fertilizers used to grow feed for livestock could be reduced with a decline in meat consumption.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lifecycle Analysis: Moving from Black-box to Transparency

PE International among the companies poised to benefit from growth in the lifecycle assessment (LCA) software sector

PE International, SolidWorks, PwC and WSP Environment & Energy are among the companies poised to benefit from growth in the lifecycle assessment (LCA) software sector, according to a report by analysts Verdantix.

A flood of new software in the product LCA category will help firms improve their environmental impact, with demand picking up in 2012, Verdantix said – but the sector will remain a niche market, the analysts said.

The study, Smart Innovators Product LCA Software, identifies 18 innovators now active in the market. These range from specialists to consulting firms, and include Bluehorse Associates, Bureau Veritas, CleanMetrics, e3 Solutions, EcoMundo, Granta Design, ifu Hamburg, National Institute of Standards and Technology, PE International, Pré Consultants, PTC, PwC, Quantis, SAP, Sinum, SolidWorks, Sustainable Minds and WSP Environment & Energy.

More than a dozen suppliers have rushed into the product LCA software market in the past two years, Verdantix analyst and report author Emilie Beauchamp said. In 2010 investors put more than $20 million into new ventures and growth capital for existing players.

Beauchamp said that so far demand for the software has been patchy, the market has lacked direction and price points have been low, as little as $85 per month. But Verdantix expects demand to pick up next year due to new regulations on Scope 3 emissions reporting, as well as a growing focus on green procurement and evidence of the business value of LCA projects.

“For the last two years an influx of new product LCA software and services suppliers have tried to stimulate market demand,” Verdantix director Rodolphe d’Arjuzon said. “The green shoots of demand for product LCA solutions are just starting to poke through a muddy patch in the market. Growth will continue to evolve slowly in 2011 until more powerful market drivers boost demand in 2012. Our research suggests that product LCA software will remain a niche market.”

Europe leads the world in setting standards for product sustainability, Verdantix said, with regulations such as REACH and the French government’s Bilan Carbone, which requires Scope 3 emissions data reporting by the end of 2012. France will become the leading market for LCA software, Verdantix said.

Supply chain “power players”, such as global food retailers and public procurement agencies, will put a particular emphasis on improving the sustainability and cutting the cost of their purchasing decisions, the report said. For example, Unilever has been performing product LCA studies on margarine, tea and ice cream. Such investments will flow upstream to encourage sustainable agriculture practices, Verdantix said.

Many companies are using LCA applications in an attempt to differentiate their products, the report added. Michelin has used the software in the design of its Green X tires, which help reduce fuel consumption. Flooring manufacturer Shaw Industries drew upon product LCA studies to design its Shaw Nylon 6 products, which can be recycled into new carpets and rugs after use.

DS SolidWorks sustainability product manager Asheen Phansey says manufacturers must use the most rigorous lifecycle assessment tools they can afford as soon as possible, rather than waiting to carry out more robust exercises.

Packaging made from 94% renewable carbon

Cellulose-based NatureFlex ™ range of products is made from renewable resources* and is used for packing many everyday items including fresh produce, snacks, confectionery, dairy, dried foods and bakery.

NatureFlex™ films are certified to meet the European EN13432, American ASTM D6400 and Australian AS4736 standards for compostable packaging. The wood-pulp is sourced from managed plantations from referenced suppliers operating Good Forestry principals (FSC or equivalent).

The most recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for our NatureFlex™ films was based on data from 2010 and has been taken to independent 'peer review' in order to verify the data and methodology used.