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

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

New Truck Efficiency Standards Are Great News for American Innovation

We've partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume.  When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I'll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.” — President Obama. 2014 State of the Union

Global warming pollution from our nation’s heavy trucks is projected to increase by more than 130 million tons between now and 2040. This is expected to be the largest increase in emissions from any single end-use. Read more

Coming Soon A Showtime Documentary on Climate Change: Years of Living Dangerously

By: Stephanie Kennard

“Everybody thinks [climate change] is about melting glaciers and polar bears…this is 100 percent a people story,” James Cameron said in the trailer for the upcoming Showtime documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously.

In the series, the famed filmmaker along with a number of notable producers and a star-studded cast including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, America Ferrera, Michael C. Hall and Olivia Munn uncover the stories of those whose lives have been transformed by climate change.

EDF Climate Corps is also featured in the series. Actress Jessica Alba follows three EDF Climate Corps fellows as they attempt to green organizations across the United States.

We’re excited to be a part of this compelling documentary, set to air on Showtime Network in 2014. Keep an eye out for more details on the film and release date – we will be sure to update the blog leading up to the premiere.

Meanwhile, here  you can view the trailer for one of biggest stories of our time, Years of Living Dangerously, released yesterday.

YEARS of LIVING DANGEROUSLY Trailer from YEARS of LIVING DANGEROUSLY on Vimeo.

Join EDF, Walmart and Guardian Sustainable Business for a Live Chat about the Sustainability Index

Walmart is by far the world’s largest retailer. Its annual revenues exceed those of Kroger, Target, Costco, Home Depot and Walgreens combined. It is also the world’s largest customer, doing business with over 100,000 suppliers from across the globe.

That’s why Environmental Defense Fund has spent seven years on the ground with Walmart, driving sustainability initiatives from within.  The company’s unique place in the global supply chain could raise the bar for environmental performance across the board, providing EDF with a powerful lever for achieving global environmental results.

With the introduction of Walmart’s supplier Sustainability Index, environmental outcomes truly worthy of Walmart's scale seem achievable for the first time: Major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Improved efficiency across supply chains and sectors. Improvements in water quality and human health. The list goes on.

Please join EDF Managing Director Elizabeth Sturcken for a discussion on the Sustainability Index. We’ll explore new initiatives, successes to date and areas where EDF hopes to see improvement. Details below.

Live chat

Join the chat here at noon ET on Wednesday, October 30.

The direct link is: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/walmart-supply-chain-sustainability-index.

Submit your questions in the comments or on Twitter @GuardianSustBiz.

Panelists

Jeff Rice, director of sustainability at Walmart

Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director of the Environmental Defense Fund

Marc Gunther, editor-at-large for Guardian Sustainable Business

EDF and Walmart: Changing the Retail Industry to Protect People and the Planet

Today, Walmart broadcast its Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting across the Web, giving audiences everywhere a peek into its journey to achieve its goal of selling “products that sustain people and the environment.”

Why wouldn’t a retailer sell products that sustain its customers (so they can continue shopping there) and its resources (so it can continue operating)?  In a perfect world, all companies would operate like this. That’s not the case though.

Aspirational goals like this are hard for any company, much less the world’s largest retailer.  Environmental Defense Fund has spent 25 years proving that good environmental strategy and profitability go hand in hand.

For Walmart—with up to half a million products in every store from more than 100,000 suppliers—product sustainability is a massive undertaking.

My colleagues and I have spent seven years on the ground with Walmart, driving sustainability initiatives from within. We even opened an office down the street from Walmart’s Headquarters in Arkansas.

As we commend Walmart on today’s Milestone announcements. What’s most exciting is the proof we are chipping away at this behemoth goal together and impacting the retail industry as a whole.

At today’s meeting, Walmart highlighted its progress on product sustainability and credited the newly launched Sustainability Index for delivering results.

We recently published a blog post reiterating the power of The Sustainability Index “to move entire industries to go beyond what is required by law, benefiting consumers, workers and the planet.”  Today, Walmart showed how The Sustainability Index is doing just that, especially in regards to the work we’ve done together on chemicals in consumer products and fertilizer use in agriculture.

Offering products to customers with safer chemicals

Walmart announced a new policy today that promises to bring safer, healthier products to the 80 percent of Americans that shop there. The policy focuses on chemical ingredients in consumables –household cleaners, personal care products and cosmetics. Walmart is calling for expanded ingredient disclosure, targeting about ten key chemicals of concern for substitution with better ingredients and looking to take its private brand products through a rigorous screening process.

EDF pushed hard for this policy, which sets a new standard for the retail industry and sends a strong signal to suppliers that it’s time to get serious about phasing out hazardous chemicals in products. Just last week, P&G announced that it has already begun doing this.

The potential impact of this commitment to get hazardous chemicals off the shelves of American stores is monumental, and American consumers will be safer for it.

Helping to optimize fertilizer use in agriculture

Groceries account for half of Walmart’s US sales. It’s no wonder that agriculture presents massive opportunity for the company to advance sustainability. In fact, fertilizer use is responsible for nearly half of Walmart’s carbon footprint in its supply chain. That’s why EDF has spent years working with farmers to optimize fertilizer use on farms, saving the farmer money and reducing environmental impacts. And it’s working! Walmart announced commitments from 15 suppliers to encourage better fertilizer use in their supply chain.  These changes will touch more than 30 percent of food and beverage sales in North America. That’s huge.

We can all celebrate the seven million metric tons of greenhouse gases that can be avoided by the agriculture initiatives discussed today, in addition to improving waterways and soil health.

The entire retail industry has a long way to go to truly sustainable products. Walmart has been steadily moving forward on this journey, and today’s announcements exemplify its leadership. EDF will continue to push these initiatives forward and track progress along the way.

Whether you shop at Walmart or not, these changes are bound to impact your shopping cart and improve the products in your family’s home.

EDF Heads to Atlanta for TSC's Spring Member Summit

This week, Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Retail Team travels from Bentonville, AR to Atlanta to attend and speak at the The Sustainability Consortium’s (TSC) second Member Summit.

EDF is an NGO member of TSC, an independent organization of diverse global participants who collaborate to improve consumer product sustainability through all stages of a product’s life cycle. TSC has over one hundred member organizations representing over $1.5 trillion in revenue. Other members include Walmart, Coca-Cola, Disney, L'Oréal, NRDC and WWF. Scientific American Magazine named TSC one of the “Top 10 World Changing Ideas of 2012.”

Because of EDF’s in-depth work with Walmart (we even have an office in Bentonville, AR), our Retail Team’s expertise spans across the multitude of categories TSC tackles, from apparel to food to packaging and many things in between. We’re excited to share our knowledge, while continuing to learn from our fellow TSC members in Atlanta.

If you’ll be there, keep an eye out for our Retail Team: Elizabeth Sturcken, Michelle Harvey, Jenny Ahlen and Alisha Staggs. We will be actively involved throughout the event and speaking at the sessions below.

An Introduction to Membership in The Sustainability Consortium

Tuesday, May 14 1pm – 2:45pm

Conference Room 7

Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director at EDF, will speak at this session for invited, non-member organizations wishing to gain a better understanding of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and what it means to be a member. After a brief history and overview, member organization panelists will share their perspective on the value of TSC and the return on their investment, their time commitment to TSC and how their organizations are using its work. This is an opportunity for guests considering membership to have candid conversations with current members and to understand how TSC can provide value.

On-Farm Improvement Opportunity Workshop Series

Tuesday, May 14 1pm – 2:45pm

Conference Room A

Jenny Ahlen and Alisha Staggs, project managers at EDF, will help lead this workshop, which will review the existing information in the knowledge products related to fertilizer use on-farm and build on the list of improvement opportunities for addressing impacts related to fertilizer use. It will also provide information about how to communicate across the supply chain in a way that facilitates progress in addressing impacts related to fertilizer use on farm.

Agriculture Supply Chain Committee

Wednesday, May 15 8:30am-12:00pm

Conference Room 7

Jenny Ahlen and Alisha Staggs, project managers at EDF, will present at this session, working to increase the relevance and application of the Sustainability Measurement and Reporting System for product categories that have commodity market supply chains. The approach will be to identify the points of connection (where product category materials and information transfer from one stakeholder to another) across commodity market supply chains and for each point of connection. This workshop will identify one commodity product on which to initially focus and further define the scope, objectives and goals for the committee.

EDF on the road to share strategies for innovative Sustainable Logistics

Freight transportation's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and carbon fuel consumption is set to rise significantly in the coming decades unless we do something to halt the trend now.

The good news is there's plenty that can be done, simply and effectively, with minimal capital outlay and rapid results. And a lot of companies are already taking advantage of a wide range of operational strategies that improve environmental performance and cut costs.

Our role at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is to raise the bar for environmental performance in logistics operations in the private sector. One of the ways we do this is by sharing success stories of leading companies that are choosing cost- and carbon-saving transportation strategies.

Last month EDF held a workshop at the GreenBiz Forum in New York titled "Smarter Moves: Practical Supply Chain Strategies." Jason Mathers was joined by Kristine Young of Ocean Spray and Edgar Blanco of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics to discuss the case study we released in February.

On April 2, 2013 EDF will be participating in another panel discussion with some of our valued partners. This time we’ll be in Newport, RI at the CONECT (Coalition of New England Companies for Trade) Trade & Transportation Conference.

CONECT is a non-profit, membership-based association for businesses involved in international trade and/or transportation.  CONECT's 750+ members consist of importers, exporters, customs brokers & freight forwarders, 3PLs, ports, air/ocean/ground cargo transportation providers, banks, law firms, colleges, insurance companies and other related service providers active in international trade. CONECT’s members represent a range of significant stakeholders in the freight industry so this event is a prime opportunity for EDF to share practical advice on how to reduce carbon emissions throughout the entire freight system.

The “Innovative Sustainable Logistics: Operationalizing Carbon Reductions in Your Supply Chain” panel will feature Peter Diehm of nora, Edgar Blanco of MIT, Cynthia Wilkinson of Staples, Ed Poloway of Ocean Spray and Jason Mathers of EDF. The focus of the panel discussion will be on providing practical examples of how Staples and Ocean Spray have improved the carbon-efficiency of their supply chain.

To learn more about what your company can do today to reduce transportation costs and freight emissions, join us at CONECT’s Trade & Transportation Conference. The conference will be in Newport, RI. If you are able to attend, mention that you heard about the event through this blog from EDF and you will receive the discounted member rate for the conference.

ESG Management Takes Center Stage at SuperReturn Berlin

Last week, I attended Europe’s largest private equity event of the year, where 1,400 of the world’s leading private equity sector professionals gathered to discuss the future of the industry, fundraising opportunities and the economic climate.

I spoke at two events: a panel entitled “ESG: Theory vs. Practice – Discerning quality ESG from claims of best practice” and a more informal roundtable discussion on creating value through ESG initiatives, which I was pleased to host. My primary goal was to spread adoption of EDF’s new ESG Management Tool, which defines the building blocks of a successful ESG management program at private equity firms of all sizes.

Four themes of the conference stuck out for me:

1)      ESG management can improve the reputation of the industry. 

Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein repeatedly mentioned the eroding reputation the private equity sector has experienced over the past several years. When asked how to fix the reputation, he suggested one method is for all GPs to better understand that investors and other stakeholders are interested in more than just financial returns. “They want to hear about the environmental impact of what we do. ESG factors are very important to what we do at Carlyle,” Rubenstein said in his keynote address.

2)      ESG management plays an important role in fundraising.

In an increasingly difficult fundraising environment for GPs, having ESG as a core part of your value creation strategy can assure LPs that the firm is adequately managing risks and identifying opportunities. GPs ignore ESG at their peril, as highlighted by a comment by Dushy Sivanithy, a principal at Pantheon who is a member of their European Investment Committee. “I just met with a GP that stated when he hears ESG his eyes glaze over. We haven’t invested in him in the past and we will not in the future,” Sivanithy remarked during our "ESG: Theory vs. Practice" panel.

3)      ESG management will be increasingly important as natural gas investing spreads worldwide.

Not only is the fracking boom here to stay, but it is quickly going to spread around the globe, as will the related environmental challenges. I learned from William E. Macaulay, chairman and CEO of First Reserve Corp. that China has more shale reserves than we do here in the U.S. This further highlights the importance of EDF’s work in getting the science, policy and best practices for unconventional gas right in the U.S. not only for environmental protection but also the numerous financial risks that exist in shale extraction, as the industry goes global.

4)      ESG management is even more important with continued lower economic growth.

The current economic climate creates an increased need for better risk analysis and operational excellence. Private equity firms are still expected by their LPs to make returns in the 20 percent range, just as they did when interest rates were 5 or 6 percent. With returns across asset classes declining and PE firms still expected to perform as they did pre-crisis, two things will happen. The first is that firms will look to riskier investments and strategies, making improved ESG analysis even more critical in the due diligence process. The second is that operational performance will play a bigger role than ever before in creating value. Firms that can capture the value from ESG initiatives in their portfolio companies by improving ESG performance in areas like energy efficiency, worker productivity and supply chain transparency will outperform their competitors.

My most important take away was that the importance of ESG management is increasingly understood by all the players in the global private equity sector.  It’s not just Europeans anymore but also an increasingly diverse array of global stakeholders that includes GPs, placement agents, insurers and deal professionals that understand the value creation potential of ESG integration.

 

Where You’ll Find Us in February

In honor of Valentine's Day, we're showing our love for these conferences this month. Here's where you can find us in February:

Kate Hanley is attending The Retail Supply Chain Conference: Logistics 2013 or RILA Logistics from February 17-20 in Orlando, FL.

On February 20-21, Jason Mathers is hosting a workshop at the Greenbiz Forum in New York. He is joined by Kristine Young of Ocean Spray and Edgar Blanco of MIT’s Center for Logistics and Transportation. This group is discussing our recent collaboration on an Ocean Spray case study. Chris Riso and Scott Wood are exhibiting a booth at the event, so be sure to come and say hello.

Switching coasts for a bit: Sitar Mody is hosting a workshop on the Virtuous Cycle of Energy Efficiency at the Greenbiz Forum in San Francisco on February 27-28. Christina Page from Yahoo! Inc. and Nicola Peill-Moelter of Akamai are joining the panel to share experiences about EDF Climate Corps.

Join us at the Greenbiz Forum!

Use this priority discount code: gbf13EDF to receive 10 percent off the registration fee. Register here for the New York Forum or here for the San Francisco Forum.

February 25-28, Lee Coker is headed to Berlin for a panel discussion at SuperReturn International, “ESG: Theory Versus Practice – What Counts as Good ESG?”

Look for us at these conferences – and let us know if you'll be there so we can watch for you as well!

You can always see where we're going to be – and what other conferences we know about– on the EDF Biz Calendar.