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.


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

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

EDF Climate Corps – Creating a New Generation of Leaders

Tyrone Davis

Tyrone Davis

In his State of the Union Address last night, President Obama offered a new twist on the customary pronouncement on the nation’s health, saying “it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.”

Seated in the gallery with the First Lady were some shining examples of those citizens.  One of them was former EDF Climate Corps fellow, Tyrone Davis.

Tyrone is from Winston-Salem, NC, and has been legally blind since the age of nine.  Despite his vision loss, he ran cross-country and track in high school, and received a political science degree and Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University.  He developed an interest in environmental issues during his time as an undergraduate, which led him to apply for an EDF Climate Corps fellowship in 2010. Read more

Along with new EDF Climate Corps hosts, new project offerings in 2014

CC-200x300Environmental Defense Fund unveiled today the first group of participating organizations to sign on for EDF Climate Corps 2014, along with a revamped list of smart energy management offerings the program will provide for them. New host organizations including Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Dow Chemical Company and Jackson Family Wines join veteran participants like AT&T, Shorenstein Properties, PepsiCo, Caesars Entertainment and McDonald’s in choosing EDF Climate Corps as a cost-effective resource to advance organizational energy management. Read more

PitchBook Survey Highlights Growing Importance of ESG

A recent report by PitchBook is telling on several levels when it comes to the changing state of environmental, social and governance (ESG) management in private equity (PE).

Pitchbook report cover

First, the survey highlights the growth in the number of PE firms, limited partners (LPs) and general partners (GPs) who are engaged on ESG issues. A whopping 84 percent of LPs told PitchBook that ESG is at least somewhat important when deciding whether to invest, and 24 percent said a strong ESG program could outweigh slightly lower historical performance. A majority of GP survey takers (60 percent) have an ESG program at their firm, up from 49 percent last year. Another 26 percent either are developing an ESG program or plan to do so in the near future. This year’s survey included 54 GP and 54 LP respondents, up from last year’s 48 GP and 4 LP respondents.

Then, there's the fact that a prominent industry publication like PitchBook is now regularly reporting on ESG. This is a pretty clear signal that ESG management is now a mainstream issue for private equity.

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.


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:

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


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

What's In Your Home? New Walmart Policy Promises Safer Ingredients In Household And Personal Care Products

By: Sarah Vogel

This content was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

Ever worry about what's in that cleaner you just sprayed all over the house? What about the shampoo your kids use each night? Today, an overwhelming number of products on store shelves and in our homes contain chemicals known to pose health risks to humans. Thanks to a new chemicals policy just announced by Walmart, American consumers are a step closer to having safer, healthier items in their homes.

It may surprise you that Walmart is leading the retail industry in eliminating hazardous chemicals from household products. Under the guidance of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Walmart has committed to taking steps that will move the entire industry — from manufacturers to retailers — towards producing and stocking safer products on shelves across America.

At Walmart's Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting, the company unveiled a new policy on chemicals, calling for expanded ingredient disclosure and targeting about ten key chemicals of concern for substitution with safer ingredients. It also plans to take its private brand consumables products through a rigorous screening process for these chemicals.

The commitments made today will impact some 20 percent of the consumables sold at Walmart stores nationwide — the non-food products that you can pour, squeeze, dab or otherwise apply to your body or use in and around your home or car. This includes everyday products like shampoo, baby lotion, cosmetics, paint, spray cleaners and air fresheners.

Regardless of your views on the company, Walmart's ability to transform how business does business is unprecedented. EDF has been working with Walmart since 2006 to protect people and the environment. Harnessing the massive scale of Walmart's business to move hazardous chemicals out of the supply chain and off store shelves will have ripple effects across the entire industry.

Consumers today demand safer products; scientific research points to serious risks of chemical exposures to our health, including cancer, diabetes and infertility. Several years ago, EDF challenged Walmart to remove toxic chemicals from thousands of products on its shelves. Walmart's announcement marks an important step toward doing just that.

Since 2006, Walmart suppliers have submitted chemical ingredients for consumables to The Wercs, which allows Walmart to see exactly what chemicals are in suppliers' products. Using a screening tool called GreenWERCS, developed by a working group of industry, government and NGO representatives and co-chaired by EDF, Walmart will now be able to measure the progress it makes towards these commitments over time.

In our view, taking action on chemicals is a timely and practical response to growing public concern about toxic chemicals and public interest campaigns directed at many retailers and product manufacturers to remove hazardous ingredients from their products.

Over the past several years, major companies like SC Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, and most recently, Procter & Gamble — some of Walmart's biggest suppliers — have all taken steps to phase out hazardous chemicals.

This commitment promises to make thousands of healthier and safer products available to the 80 percent of Americans that shop at Walmart. It is a first and important step that must be followed through with meaningful implementation. At EDF, we will be closely monitoring and verifying the reduction of hazardous chemicals and shift to safer ingredients, ensuring the promise for healthier products becomes a reality.

This will not be achieved overnight or by one single retailer. Industry and government are both responsible for continuously improving the safety of chemicals in the products we bring into our homes every day. But Walmart's initiative marks a major step forward, and we hope to see other retailers follow suit.

Generating solutions for energy reduction across the supply chain

How China can harness the power of supply chains to save costs, energy and ultimately the environment

Gearing up for the start of a new school year begins with shopping for new school supplies. Your daughter has asked for the latest princess backpack and a full set of colored pencils. While she has insisted that you buy the set of 36 and not 12, she has not specified any carbon footprint limit. And neither have you.

Turns out, your purchases hold great promise for reducing emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, the global industrial sector emits approximately one-third of energy related CO2 emissions and consumes the same amount of total primary energy supply.

Luckily, a perfect storm of consumer awareness, corporate responsibility and government incentives has ushered big US players like Walmart into the spotlight, who can use their market clout to move their suppliers away from wasteful practices. The good news is that from a technical standpoint, we know how to help companies like Walmart reduce their footprint at in a way that actually saves a lot of money.

But despite making economic sense, the average company implements less than two thirds of energy efficiency projects. We can attribute a lot of this disparity to the complexity of the marketplace in China, where most consumer goods on the shelves of US retailers are manufactured. Among these small and medium sized producers, the scale is vast. Coordination is difficult. The true numbers are obscured. The promise of financial return is hazy. There is a lot of room for improvement.

In October of last year Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) partnered with the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment’s NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE) to convene 31 participants from energy service companies, finance, retail, NGOs, government and academia to brainstorm real solutions to this challenge.  This week, we’re launching The Supply Chain Coordination and Energy Efficiency Symposium report to summarize the group’s findings and outline a roadmap to close the gap between the energy efficiency opportunities that are identified and those that are implemented in the supply chain.

Once again, EDF’s commitment to “finding the ways that work” has paid off in spades. This group of unlikely partners has crafted ideas that will help guide our work moving forward. Our ideas included staging pilot programs at leading companies, engaging peer manufacturers to collaborate and compete for success, and advocating for increased industry transparency.  Finally, and most importantly, we emphasized the need to find quick and easy ways to prove to investors what we already know—that investing in energy efficiency pays back, and pays back well.

At the heart of this report lies the goodwill of unlikely partners working together to catalyze solutions. As we know, the trick is ensuring that these solutions are not only imagined, but that emission reductions are realized both in the US and in China, both among industry giants and small businesses. A purchase as simple as a backpack and colored pencils could be a powerful tool in securing a safe future for your daughter. This report is a step toward that future.

On the Road to Better Data

Source: Bulk Transporter

This blog post was written by Jason Mathers, Senior Manager of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships Program.

The International Energy Agency weighed in last week as bullish on the future of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the IEA “expects natural gas use in road and maritime transportation to rise to 98 billion cubic meters by 2018, covering around 10 percent of incremental energy needs in the transport sector.”

Three factors are behind this increase in the use of natural gas for transportation, according to Maria van der Hoeven, the IEA's executive director. These are the fuel’s “abundant supplies as well as concerns about oil dependency and air pollution." The cost factor is particularly a driver for commercial fleet operators where current fuel prices have become more favorable for natural gas over diesel.

In the U.S., all new trucks fueled by diesel or natural gas must meet the same standards for emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. Natural gas engines for medium- and heavy-duty trucks have surpassed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent standards for particulate matter emissions by as much as 80 percent and for nitrogen oxides by up to 35 percent. Cummins Westport, the leading producer of natural gas engines, is investigating the feasibility of reducing NOx emissions from its spark-ignited natural gas engines to levels significantly below the current federal emissions standard.

Natural gas trucks have the potential to deliver tangible greenhouse gas emissions benefits over their petroleum-based counterparts. This certainty that natural gas vehicles are able to consistently deliver on their potential climate benefits in part depends on minimizing methane leaks caused by vehicle operations, refueling and maintenance. Read more