Walmart Puts Consumer Product Suppliers on Notice: The Chemical Phase-out Starts Now

By: Michelle Mauthe Harvey and Sarah Vogel

Today dozens of consumer product makers will get a letter from Walmart detailing new requirements on phasing out a list of toxic chemicals found in goods sold by the world’s largest retailer. The comprehensive initiative is by far the largest and most ambitious of its kind. It reflects a growing trend in which consumer and wholesale purchasing power are combining to change the chemical makeup of the products we see on store shelves and bring into our homes.

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The policy and its implementation guide can be found here.

Walmart worked closely with vendors and non-profit advisors including Environmental Defense Fund. Together they spent several years developing the policy, and figuring out how to implement the unprecedented measures across a sprawling global supply chain with hundreds of suppliers. The solution had to be robust, credible and transparent. It also had to set an ambitious goal for suppliers without creating impossible hurdles. Read more

Buzz from GreenBiz Forum 2014

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Last week, I had the pleasure of joining hundreds of leading sustainability and energy practitioners at the 2014 GreenBiz Forum. For those who were unable to attend, I wanted to call your attention to three themes that I noticed buzzing throughout the conference. For those who joined me at the Forum, I hope you’ll  add your perspective in the comments below.

1: Align Your Policy Efforts With Your Sustainability Goals

I was struck by an emphatic talk by Anne Kelly from Ceres Bicep. She emphasized the need for green business leaders to get involved in policy and to influence their company’s decisions on lobbying. She urged the leaders in the room to envision the future of green business and drive us there. Read more

EDF Hosts International Freight Sustainability Strategies Forum, and You're Invited

How does supply chain sustainability help build competitive advantage? How does growth in Latin America trade create opportunities for new partnerships in the U.S.? Next Tuesday, February 25th, leading supply chain experts will gather in Irving, Texas to tackle these critical issues at a forum on sustainable logistics.

Speakers such as BNSF Railway, Dal-Tile Corporation, and EPA Blue Skyways will help drive the dialogue on innovative and cost-effective strategies for sustainable freight transportation. Attendees are also able to participate in an informal networking session at the end of the forum to exchange ideas and meet other experts working on sustainable supply chains. This event is open to supply chain sustainability champions looking to advance their knowledge and understanding of these issues. Read more

U.S. drought: is this the new normal?

Guest post by Tim Fleming, Director of Sustainability Operations, AT&T

By now most of the country is aware of the severe drought conditions impacting California. Now entering its third year, it is also affecting neighboring states and is an increasing cause for concern.

Last month, Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency and called upon all Californians, including homeowners and businesses, to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent. President Obama reiterated this call last week and AT&T asked its more than 34,000 California employees to reduce their company water usage by 30% until the drought declaration is lifted.

California is not the only state suffering from dangerously dry conditions. Last week, Governor Perry in Texas renewed his July 2011 proclamation extending the drought emergency. Leading me to ask – is this our country's new reality?

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Cut Water Use for Today’s Drought—And Tomorrow’s

California reservoir levels; red lines indicate historical average levels. (Source: California Data Exchange Center)

California reservoir levels; red lines indicate historical average levels. (Source: California Data Exchange Center)

California is experiencing its driest year on record, facing a drought that impacts industries across the state: electricity, farming, fishing, even tourism. Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought a statewide emergency last January, and President Obama visited the state on Friday to speak firsthand with farmers and other stakeholders about how the drought is impacting them.

While the state and the federal government rally resources to try and help those affected in this crisis, businesses also have a role to play by reducing how much their operations impact the state’s precious water supplies.

AT&T stepped out in front of the issue on Friday, with AT&T California President Ken McNeely announcing that he was directing the company’s 34,000 California employees to reduce their company water usage by 30 percent until the drought condition passes. Among the measures McNeely announced, employees will reduce water use by cutting landscape irrigation and halting the washing of AT&T’s fleet of more than 15,000 vehicles. Kudos to AT&T for acting quickly in a time of crisis to implement these and other measures at their California facilities. Read more

A momentous week for trucks: Walmart unveils “Jetson” truck and President Obama announces next generation fuel efficiency standards

What a great two days it’s been for the future of trucks. Yesterday, Walmart unveiled a prototype, concept next generation tractor-trailer truck that they have affectionately dubbed “Jetson.” This morning, President Obama laid out a timeframe for action on developing the next generation truck efficiency standards – standards that will improve the fuel efficiency of American trucks, bolster energy security, cut carbon pollution, save money and support manufacturing innovation.

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Innovation is critical to curb the growing climate pollution and fuel consumption from our nation’s freight trucks – which are projected to increase by 40 percent between now and 2040. But innovation is best supported by strong standards.  A well-designed efficiency program can speed the deployment of clean, energy-efficient technologies and the infrastructure to support their widespread use nationwide. Read more

Meet the sustainability leaders of tomorrow

Here at EDF Climate Corps we have the ability to glimpse into the future and see what the next generation of business leaders looks like.

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They are passionate about creating a new business model where the bottom line and sustainability go hand in hand. They are well studied in building sustainable supply chains, energy management, reducing water use and responsible freight logistics. And they have incredible tools in their toolkits to build sustainable financial models and do in-depth analysis of energy use across companies.

As we look across the nearly 700 graduate students who are vying for EDF Climate Corps fellowships this summer, we can’t help but be impressed at the depth and diversity of this pool of applicants. Here’s a snapshot:

  • 5+ years of work experience
  • 3 years of project management experience
  • 2.5 years of sustainability/energy experience
  • 31% are engineers
  • 62% are MBA students
  • 27% have dual degrees
  • 23% are international
  • 43% speak a second language Read more

EDF named “Trusted Leader” in Inaugural GreenBiz NGO Report

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is honored to be ranked by GreenBiz as one of the three trusted leaders among environmental nonprofits, along with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) – truly excellent company.

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In its inaugural NGO Report, GreenBiz asked hundreds of sustainability executives from large corporations to rate and rank 30 leading NGOs in terms of influence, credibility and effectiveness. GreenBiz charted the responses and grouped the NGOs in four categories:

  • Trusted Partners – Corporate-friendly, highly credible, long-term partners with easy-to-find public success stories
  • Useful Resources – Highly credible organizations known for creating helpful frameworks and services for corporate partners
  • Brand Challenged – Credible, but not influential, organizations
  • The Uninvited – Less broadly known groups, or those viewed more as critics than partners Read more

EDF Highlights Important New Fertilizer Strategies at Walmart Sustainability Milestone Meeting

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At today’s Walmart Sustainability Milestone Meeting, EDF Vice President Tom Murray brought welcome attention to strategies farmers are implementing to more precisely match fertilizer use with the amount their crops need.

In a question and answer session with the head of Walmart's U.S. grocery business, which accounts for roughly half the retailer's sales and approximately a third of all U.S. grocery business, Tom commended the excellent work many farmers are already doing to get this balance right, and called on other retailers and suppliers to engage in this effort. Read more

Meeting Retrofit Chicago’s Energy Goals: 3 Key Constituencies

Following the lead of mayors and governors across the country, last month the President announced energy as a priority for the year. By focusing on energy management, organizations are contributing to the transformation of energy use in the country, saving billions in energy costs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Retrofit Chicago initiative, aimed at reducing participating buildings energy use in the city by 20 percent within the next five years, is a compelling example of this. For this reason, EDF Climate Corps, an innovative summer fellowship program that places specially trained graduate students in organizations to save energy and related costs, is working to recruit organizations in Chicago this month.

To ramp up energy savings in the area, EDF Climate Corps has already signed on AT&T, McDonald’s Corporation, Shorenstein Properties and Jones Lang LaSalle. Each summer, EDF Climate Corps fellows evaluate organizations for energy savings opportunities with many of them uncovering stakeholder engagement as a key savings opportunity.

After 400 EDF Climate Corps engagements, the program has found that there are three key constituencies to tap into for energy management:

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