For Danone, Business And Environmental Goals Are One And The Same

Credit: Danone North America

You may not be thinking about the environment when you’re opening your yogurt container or adding almond milk to your morning coffee. But for Danone North America, the company behind these and dozens of other dairy and specialty food products, sustainability is top of mind. “At Danone, we believe that each time we eat and drink, we can vote for the world we want,” the company’s website notes.

Just today, Danone North America announced that its Bridgeton, New Jersey facility achieved one of its zero waste goals, keeping more than 40 tons of waste out of the landfill this year alone.

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India’s largest wine producer is helping its customers sip more sustainably

Last year, global wine production rose to near-record highs, reaching a harvest of 292.3 million hectoliters – that’s more than 7.7 billion gallons. In the U.S. alone, domestic and imported wine sales reached $70.5 billion. The world clearly loves wine.

But, few industries feel the perils of climate change more directly than the wine industry. And with temperatures expected to only become more extreme, wineries are being forced to consider the long-term risk a changing climate will have on their business.

I had a chance to chat with Inesh Singh, the first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer of Sula Vineyards, India’s largest wine producer. For Inesh, sustainability isn’t just an opportunity to save the company money, it’s a key part of its long-term survival. Inesh is GreenBiz’s 30 Under 30 honoree, and was an EDF Climate Corps fellow with PepsiCo back in 2016.

Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

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Sustainability and innovation at IBM: A green vision for ‘Big Blue’

The logo for IBM appears above a trading post on the floor of the NYSE. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

More than five decades ago, IBM CEO Thomas Watson, Jr. stated that “Businessmen are influential leaders in public opinion. That is why it is so important that they be as open-minded and far-sighted in matters concerning the general public need as they are in questions relating to the operation of their businesses.”

Today, Wayne Balta, Vice President of Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety at IBM, is keeping Watson’s commitment to sustainable business practices alive.

I recently spoke with Wayne to learn more about IBM’s sustainability goals – including an effort to procure 55 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 – and how the company is using technology to help solve environmental challenges.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

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WAYB car seats designed by former Patagonia CEO put safety – and sustainability – first

In July, I’ll become a first-time mom, which means the next four months of my life are going to be spent preparing for what’s to come. In my attempt to navigate the baby-care industry, I’ve started researching the options for toxic-free, eco-friendly, safe and affordable products. To say the process is ‘overwhelming’ is an understatement.

Lucky for me, I’m not alone in asking for products that are good for the health of my kids and the planet, and companies are starting to meet this demand.

I recently spoke with Tracy Liu, the Chief Operating Officer of WAYB, a new company co-founded by former Patagonia CEO Michael Crooke alongside manufacturing experts Tio Jung and his father I.S. Jung that aims to deliver safe, well-designed and sustainable products to families with young children.  Tracy (who’s also expecting) shares how the company is bringing its experience in the outdoor gear industry to design its first product, a next generation car seat. Tracy is also an EDF Climate Corps alumna.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

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How Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is furnishing a better planet

Pottery Barn Kids / west elm Greenguard certified and Fair Trade crib

Furnishing a new home is a big job. I know because I recently went through the process myself. You need to purchase the big ticket items, maybe a new bed from Pottery Barn, down to the nitty-gritty items, possibly a nice west elm throw for the couch. It’s taxing work – for you and the planet.

Danielle Jezienicki, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. works across the company’s eight brands, including Williams-Sonoma Home, Pottery Barn Kids and PBTeen, west elm, Rejuvenation and Mark & Graham, to ensure that products are made with the environment in mind.

I recently spoke with Danielle, an EDF Climate Corps and Presidio Graduate School alumna, to learn how Williams-Sonoma, Inc. works with stakeholders – from customers, employees and vendors – to engrain sustainability into its values.

Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

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Bevi CEO explains how an idea for a product grew into a sustainable startup

Reducing impact on the planet isn’t an afterthought at Bevi – it’s the startup’s core business.

Co-founder and CEO of Bevi, Sean Grundy, wanted to work for a company where sustainability was woven into the business model from the start, and shareholder and environmental values were one in the same. So, Sean chose to start fresh and build that very company.

Today, Bevi’s smart water dispensers, which provide customizable flavors using filtered tap water and natural ingredients, have saved the waste generated by over 65 million plastic bottles.

I recently chatted with Sean to learn about how he wound up co-founding Bevi, and how the startup has created an efficient, customizable and environmentally friendly alternative to canned and bottled beverages. Sean was also an EDF Climate Corps fellow with Hilex Poly back in 2012.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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Why Disney World is betting on clean energy

“Environmental stewardship and conservation were engrained in The Walt Disney Company from the beginning,” Angie Renner recently told me. Angie is an Environmental Integration Director at Walt Disney World Resort, and today she says the company is investing in new technologies and renewable energy projects that have thus far cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half. Why? Because as a Bloomberg story just noted, warmer temperatures are already impacting the “the comfort and health and well being of [the resort’s] customers.”

In other words, climate change is bad for business. But as I’ve seen firsthand, companies that invest in clean energy, engage customers in sustainability efforts and leverage their influence to drive smart policies can turn a downside risk into tangible cost-savings, customer retention and global leadership.

I recently caught up with Angie to learn more about the company’s sustainability initiatives and successes and its efforts to provide environmental education to the hundreds of thousands of guests who visit the iconic Disney resorts each day.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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How The World’s Largest Crowdfunder For Creativity Is Kickstarting Sustainability

Bureo makes the first skateboard deck made out of recycled fishnets. KICKSTARTER

Where else can you bring creative projects, like a handheld printer that can imprint on any surface or soap that smells like bacon, to life? I’m a big fan of Kickstarter. So when I heard the company was inspiring its creators to make environmentally conscious decisions, I immediately wanted to learn more.

As the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter has built a global community that aims to bring creative ideas to life. Since its launch in 2009, more than 155,000 creative projects have been successfully funded, and over $4.1 billion dollars pledged.

I recently spoke with Heather Corcoran, outreach lead at Kickstarter, to find out more about the company’s sustainability philosophy, its recent environmental features, and her favorite Kickstarter product to date.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

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Why TD executives are banking on sustainability

Nicole Vadori remembers being in grade school and watching the news about a fire at a tire warehouse with big plumes of black smoke that would inevitably cause environmental damage and thinking at that moment, “how can adults let this happen?”

Today Nicole is associate vice president and head of environment at TD Bank Group, where she spends her days finding ways to help reduce the bank’s carbon footprint, mitigating climate risk in its investment activities, and helping to drive business initiatives that can create positive environmental and social impacts.

I recently caught up with Nicole to talk about what TD is doing to help support the transition to a low-carbon economy, how the company analyzes climate risk, and to hear about her favorite Toronto restaurants.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

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