5 Companies Where Tech & Sustainability Go Hand in Hand

We use tech in just about every aspect of our lives. It’s changed how we communicate, shop, travel, to how we get the food on our plate. It’s also changed how companies do business.

Technology like artificial intelligence (AI), sensors and blockchain are enabling companies to provide cutting-edge products and services for consumers – from virtual gyms to smart water dispensers – and increase operational efficiency as they do. But the bulk of companies are missing out on a big opportunity: using tech that’s already at hand to meet their sustainability goals and reduce climate-related risk.

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13 major companies call on Congress to accelerate climate legislation. Here’s why.

Corporate America is setting – and meeting – increasingly ambitious climate and clean energy goals. But the hard reality is that individual corporate action, no matter how big, won’t solve this great climate crisis.

In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need public policies that harness the power of the whole economy to drive down emissions by putting prices and limits on climate pollution.

Businesses that are sincerely interested in protecting our health, economy and future from the ravages of climate change must join this national public policy discussion. We need companies to lead, not follow, Congress.

That’s why it’s big news that 13 major companies have now joined four nonprofit organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, to form the core of a new effort to push for climate policy. The CEO Climate Dialogue initiative involves major food brands, powerful utilities, and one of the nation’s leading car companies. Our goal is to turn the power of the marketplace towards addressing this crisis. Read more

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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What the World Needs Now? Spotify for Sustainable Supply Chains

Businesses today are taking basic services and turning them into well-designed, convenient user-friendly experiences. You see it every day with companies like Spotify and Seamless. Or Netflix, which is suggesting I watch The Great British Baking Show, based on my family’s viewing-history.

Now, imagine the possibilities if we applied this business model to sustainability.

The Supply Chain Solutions Center does just that. Launched today in partnership with over 10 leading environmental NGOs, this innovative platform puts resources and expert advice at the fingertips of sustainability professionals.

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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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5 ways companies can act on the latest dire climate warnings

Oh what a week it has been!

Trying to turn away from the political polarization and fracturing civility in this country, I looked elsewhere in the news and found something even worse…dire warnings for our planet.

Two reports in the news this week ring the alarm bell on climate change. The first report is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries. As the New York Times reports, it “describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

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IPCC report reveals urgent need for CEOs to act on climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a sobering report this week detailing the dramatic effects of climate change and the immediate steps we need to take to make significant progress on limiting warming in the future. The report makes it clear that apathy and inaction are no longer viable options. Unprecedented action is needed by both the public and private sector to transform our energy, transportation and other systems around the world.

Could this report finally be the clarion call to our nation’s business leaders to take responsibility for ensuring a prosperous and clean energy future for all?

There has been encouraging progress to date, but much more needs to be done. Businesses have an essential role to play in building political will for action, which may be the biggest challenge of all. Moreover, new research shows corporate stakeholders want – and expect – climate leadership, including policy advocacy. Read more

Scaling for good: can McDonald’s raise the bar for sustainable food?

At Environmental Defense Fund, we believe that environmental progress and economic growth can and must go hand in hand. EDF+Business works with leading companies and investors to raise the bar for corporate sustainability leadership by setting ambitious, science-based goals; collaborating for scale across industries and global supply chains; publicly supporting smart environmental safeguards; and, accelerating environmental innovation.

This is the 10th in a series of interviews exploring trends in sustainability leadership as part of our effort to pave the way to a thriving economy and a healthy environment.

Let’s turn back the clock to 1990. It was a milestone year for McDonald’s, as the company opened its first restaurants in Moscow, mainland China and Chile. It was also when the largest restaurant company in the world joined forces with Environmental Defense Fund to launch a groundbreaking partnership that would find ways to reduce McDonald’s solid waste. The results? $6 million in savings, more than 300 million pounds of packaging eliminated, and 1 million tons of corrugated boxes recycled.

2018 is shaping up to be a big year for McDonald’s too, with a packaging waste goal set in January and an announcement to reduce emissions across its supply chain in March. Led by Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s has raised the corporate leadership bar with these ambitious sustainability targets. But now, the difficult and complex work of meeting these goals begins.

I caught up with Francesca ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit this week to ask her about what the roadmap to meeting these goals looks like, and how they’ll collaborate with their suppliers and the industry to prioritize action on the areas where McDonald’s has the biggest opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including responsible beef production

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

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The future is sweet – and sustainable – for Allbirds

If you take a quick look around your office, it probably won’t be hard to spot a pair of shoes made by Allbirds, the San Francisco-based footwear company that makes its products using materials like wool and eucalyptus fiber.

The two year-old company aims to make comfortable, sustainably-made shoes – and they seem to be everywhere. Just last week the company launched a new line of shoes, actually flip-flops, with soles made from sugar-cane instead of petroleum. Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown calls the new material, SweetFoam™, “our biggest sustainable-material innovation moment yet.”

I spoke with Tim to learn more about his approach to design and innovation and to look behind the sustainability curtain at Allbirds. Read more

4 Reasons Companies from BP America to Unilever are Thanking Rep. Curbelo for Leadership on Climate

For the first time since 2010, a Republican has introduced a climate bill. Business leaders are welcoming its market-based approach to fighting climate change.

Yesterday, 34 U.S. businesses sent a public letter thanking Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL 26thDistrict) for introducing the MARKET CHOICE Act (H.R. 6463), a bill to fund infrastructure investment while cutting climate pollution. Companies that signed the letter include BP America, Campbell Soup Company, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, Lyft, Inc., IKEA North America Services, LLC, National Grid, PG&E Corporation and Shell. The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, which includes Danone, Mars, Nestle USA and Unilever also sent its own letter of support.

Why are these companies publicly thanking Rep. Curbelo and his cosponsors? Here are four takeaways for companies of all sizes.

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