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Enter the Sustainable Business Awards

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The Guardian is running some sustainable business awards for companies that have recognised the importance of integrating sustainability into the core of their operations to ensure their future success.

The aspiration is that this creative potential will lead to the development of innovative practices, ranging from technological solutions to energy efficiency to intelligent supply chain management that can be shared as best practices.

The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards have been created to recognise the sustainability leadership these companies are providing. You can find out more about the awards here

But time is running out: entries close on February 7th.

Water water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

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OK, it's not every day I get to quote from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner but it seemed appropriate in this case.

This post from Andrew Winston on the Harvard Business Review blogs asks a very good question: is water the next carbon?

It follows the decision of the Carbon Disclosure Project  to publish its first report on the impact of water constraints on the world's largest corporations, clearly illustrating the significance and immediacy of water as a corporate issue.

Granted, it's a stretch to cover Water Disclosure in a blog about Green IT, but Andrew Winston's always a good read. Here, he discusses a few more issues of IT relevance in his Top Ten Green Business Stories of 2010. 

Happy New Year!

Green Business Leadership and the World Climate Summit

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Last time I mentioned the excellent Green awards that took place in London. They were not the only awards taking place recently. Another set were the Gigaton Awards, referred to in this piece by Andrew Winston on the Harvard Business Review blogs. In fat, there's a close link referred to in the piece with Sir Richard Branson's Carbon War Room.

Winston remarks that the point of the Awards is to praise companies that are actually cutting emissions in order to inspire others.

I concur, provided that that inspiration actually works. As Winston points out, given the challenges of climate change and the policy failures of recent years, it was good to celebrate business and the work it's doing.

"This is hard work and many of the executives representing their companies are in fairly thankless positions.  All that said, it's clear that these Awards were just a beginning. We're not at gigaton scale by any stretch. The winners have made cuts on the millions of tons at most. Gigatons have to happen at the industry and value-chain level, and that is the work that the CWR is doing."



Gartner/WWF: ICT industry 'falling short' in making sustainability part of its 'core' business

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Next week, the Gartner research group is holding the European leg of its IT Symposium, which will feature four days of thinking on sustainability.

Coinciding with that event, the results are out of an assessment of 28 global information and communication technology (ICT) providers by Gartner and WWF Sweden which revealed that the ICT industry sees climate change and sustainability as an emerging opportunity. While it identified the emergence of a group of market makers, the industry as a whole fell short of making climate change and sustainability part of its core business.

"2009 and 2010 have seen rapid progress in the maturity of ICT vendors both in terms of their internal environmental programs, and the development of a set of low-carbon market offerings," said Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner. "We now have a clear group of market makers formed by BT, IBM, Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Fujitsu, and SAP who we believe are beginning to build a distinguishing capability. However, at this stage they have not really taken the issues associated with climate change and sustainability into the core of the business and their strategies, and they continue to deal with it within the mindset of incremental improvement and short-termism."

Gartner and WWF invited 28 global ICT providers to participate. Nineteen chose to participate by providing the required information. Those companies include: Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, BT, CSC, Cisco, Dell, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, SAP, Sun Microsystems, TCS, Verizon, Wipro and Xerox.

The survey, the second of its kind, examined ICT providers' commitment to managing the environmental aspects of their internal operations and their supply chain. Very importantly, it also explored their capabilities in advancing the low-carbon solutions markets and developing products and services that will help them and their customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or increase their energy efficiency.

"The good news is that we don't see anyone going backwards," said Mingay. "But, across every category, there are clearly a group who are on the move and a group who seem to be treading water relatively." IBM, Fujitsu, HP, Cisco and BT ranked in the top five positions, while others such as Verizon and Lenovo did not score particularly well, and held the No. 19 and No. 17 spots, respectively. Mingay said Microsoft, ranked in the No. 13 position overall, is making reasonable progress, from a relatively weak starting point.

The survey revealed that service and software providers have improved their position from 2008, but remain relatively immature in terms of both their internal programs, as well as their market offerings. SAP, ranked No. 8 overall, did substantially better than any of the other large software and services organisations. SAP has put sustainability at the heart of its communications and closer to its strategy over the last 18 months. The survey also found that Fujitsu, ranked No. 2, is the only ICT provider to set a long-term context to its initiatives, and want to help reduce more emissions in society through low carbon IT solutions than their own emissions. Fujitsu has set itself a carbon reduction goal in terms of its impact on its customers versus a target related to their own emissions. Finally, ICT providers in Asia (not Japan) are still lagging overall, but making some dramatic improvements, which Gartner analysts anticipate will continue.

The dominance of talking in 2008, when Gartner and WWF Sweden completed their first assessment has evolved into much more action in 2009 and 2010. "We now have a number of ICT providers with an actual low carbon portfolio and a readiness to move from an incremental contribution into the center stage when it comes to providing society with low carbon solutions," said Magnus Emfel, director of Climate Program, WWF Sweden. "It is precisely this shift -- from ICT as a minor contributor to global emissions to a major enabler of low-carbon solutions -- that we need to see replicated in business strategies and urban planning, if we are to succeed in the transition to a low carbon economy and stabilize the climate."

The survey also found that inter-industry partnerships are starting to emerge, particularly from ICT providers including Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and IBM. This is a very significant and important step in ICT's ability to develop commercially viable solutions for a low-carbon economy, particularly around smart grid, intelligent buildings and smart city infrastructures.

When looking at ICT's own impact, and the focus on the 2 percent of ICT's global CO2 emissions, it has become evident that hardware vendors, such as HP, Ericsson and Fujitsu are increasingly focused on the energy efficiency of their equipment and making it a core business, while for software and services organisations this is not the case. Very few vendors are thinking about dematerialisation in any real systematic way, though Xerox is one of the few exceptions that is reusing and recycling parts.

Collectively the ICT industry has enhanced its game in terms of providing solutions in other areas, e.g. transport and buildings, to help reduce the 98 percent of global CO2 emissions that are not generated by ICT, but that can be reduced with the help of smart ICT.

"Although the leaders in the Carbon Delivery sections such as IBM, Fujitsu, HP, BT, Ericsson and Cisco have begun to build structural capabilities, governance, and allocated organisational resources to addressing the opportunities of a low-carbon economy, their commitment still falls short of being integrated into their core business," Mingay said.

Gartner's client interactions and analysis of the survey suggests this is due to a lack of spending on low-carbon and sustainability-related solutions by the public and private sectors, except in the area of smart grids, but also to the ICT sector's conservative approach built on incremental changes in existing technologies and capacity.

"We were surprised at the lack of disruptive innovation, with the majority of responses essentially focused on the incremental 'client-driven' development," said Dennis Pamlin, co-author and independent consultant working for WWF Sweden on this project. "If the ICT industry is to deliver on its promise of making a significant contribution to enabling a transformation to a low-carbon economy it is going to require substantially more than marginal incrementalism."

"No one is making any serious effort to extend the life of equipment beyond the basics one would expect of improving reliability and quality," said Mingay. "But, with the management of e-waste and rare earth metals rapidly turning into a substantial global challenge and the growth of emerging markets the industry needs to be giving much more serious thought to dematerialisation, recycling and longevity."

More Green rankings, now from Greenpeace

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Just to complete the set of rankings, here are the latest Guide to Greener Electronics ratings from Greenpeace. Its one-two-three are Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Philips.

Newsweek's profiles of the Top 10 greenest US companies

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My previous post listed the Top 5 rankings both in the US and globally from Newsweek's research. Here are Newsweek's profiles of its Top 10 greenest US companies.


No 10. Nike

Nike stands out for its particularly strong commitment to handling environmental issues in its supply chain. The company has a number of programs in place for evaluating and improving the environmental footprint of its suppliers, including checks on chemical toxicity, water use, and carbon emissions. Nike is also progressing toward carbon neutrality itself and aims to achieve it for company-owned facilities and business travel by 2015. The company has worked to improve its own environmental performance through increased efficiency and use of renewable energy. For instance, it has reduced energy use substantially at some of its facilities by installing energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems, and its headquarters in Belgium and the Netherlands currently run on 100 percent renewable energy (the Belgium facility actually produces more energy than it uses). Nike is also investing in new teleconferencing equipment to cut down on business travel. Nike had a Reputation Survey score of 97.39 (based on a survey of academics, sustainability experts, and CEOs).

No 9. Yahoo

Yahoo. This Internet giant encourages its 600 million worldwide users to be environmentally aware. Its Yahoo Green site is the top destination on the Internet for green lifestyle tips. The company has also supported and worked on related initiatives, including its "Be a Better Planet" program and its annual Earth Day Web site. Yahoo is also a leader in improving the efficiency of its data centres. Its efforts include purchasing energy from renewable sources, such as hydroelectric facilities, and locating new data centres in cooler climates to reduce AC needs. Its new data centre in Lockport, N.Y., which monitors the Yahoo infrastructure, consumes 40 percent less energy and uses 95 percent less water than conventional data centres. The water saved is enough to provide drinking water for 200,000 people for a year.

No 8. Applied Materials

This supplier of manufacturing systems and services to the global semiconductor industry made great strides in reducing CO2 emissions and water use last year, cutting each by 21 percent and 18 percent, respectively, compared to 2006 levels. Both those reductions exceeded Applied Materials' greening goals, but Applied also acknowledges 2009 was an "unusual" year and says it is reviewing internal data to try to maintain and improve on those numbers. The company also has programs for reducing the hazardous waste it generates and the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) it emits as part of its manufacturing. It has also made significant strides in reducing solid waste sent to landfills by nearly 90 percent.

No 7. Adobe.

Three areas on which Adobe has focused are their office building operations, their waste management program, and their product packaging. The company currently has four buildings that are LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council at the Platinum (highest) level, making Adobe a world leader in this area. Employees at the company's headquarters in San Jose, Calif., also actively recycle and compost, diverting up to 97 percent of the site's solid waste from landfill. Lastly, Adobe launched an environmentally sensitive redesign of its software packaging based on an evaluation of its packaging materials, production, use, and disposal. The firm's overall Green Rankings green score came in at 94.15.

No 6. Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel was the first U.S.-based wireless provider to announce a target for reducing its absolute greenhouse-gas emissions. The goal: reduce emissions by 15 percent between 2007 and 2017 by improving energy efficiency within its networks, and by using renewable energy sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells, to replace backup generators at its cell towers. The company boasts a portfolio of three environmentally friendly phones, which is unusual in the industry. It also has a well-known product-recycling program in which customers can return their old cell phones, batteries, and accessories, regardless of brand, to Sprint for free using a postage-paid label. In some cases, Sprint will even buy back old equipment. Their aim is to recycle 99 percent of products; as of 2009 they were recycling nearly half.

No 5. Intel

Intel's efforts to reduce waste and to mitigate its use and release of toxics are notable. It has high recycling rates for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste and is working to find suitable alternatives for toxic components in its products. Intel also has a strong commitment to energy efficiency. The company ties a portion of its employees' compensation to reaching environmental goals, and its Intel Core and Atom chips are among its greenest products. The corporation has been the Environmental Protection Agency's largest green power purchaser among Fortune 500 companies for the past three years, with almost half its U.S. energy coming from renewable sources. NEWSWEEK's Rankings gave them an environmental impact score of 95.74.

No 4. Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson stands out among its competitors for its climate-change policies, with clear goals and deadlines for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the reduction of baseline 1990 CO2 emission levels by 7 percent by 2010—, goal the company surpassed with a 16 percent absolute reduction. Between 2005 and 2009, the company also reduced nonhazardous waste by 32 percent and hazardous waste by 32 percent, exceeding its goal of 10 percent. Similar goals in paper, packaging, and energy efficiency have been met or improved on through steps like the company's largest installation of solar panels at a New Jersey site. As a result, a comprehensive assessment of their environmental initiatives earned them a Green Policies score of 98.86 in our rankings.

No 3. IBM.

This global technology manufacturer has a strong program for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and also offers products and consulting services to help clients make their businesses greener. IBM set out in the 1990s to reduce its own consumption of electricity and water, and between 1990 and 2000 cut its energy use by 5.1 billion kilowatt hours, enough to power a medium-size town. The company's newest venture, its Sustainability Management System technology, aims to help clients operate their commercial buildings more efficiently. The product was a home-grown solution, allowing an IBM semiconductor factory in Burlington, Vt., to cut water usage (a key ingredient in chip-making) by 30 percent. The company has also participated in a pilot program to reduce Stockholm's traffic congestion, which resulted in a 14 percent drop in emissions from road traffic in the inner city. IBM is working with London, Singapore, and Brisbane to address their traffic-management and congestion challenges. For its overall excellent scores, IBM ranked No. 3 on the U.S. list and No. 1 on the Global ranking.

No 2. Hewlett Packard

HP has long been an industry leader in environmental issues. The company dates its commitment to the philosophy of its founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who believed technology can improve society. One of its most notable programs aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and use renewable energy. In 2008, HP began reporting greenhouse gases associated with its supply chain, making it the first major tech company to do so. It is also working to reduce the energy use of its products. If all the printers, PCs, and servers shipped in 2005 (all models, all brands, globally) were recycled and replaced with new HP energy-efficient models, the company estimates customers could save more than $10.4 billion in energy costs and avoid the release of more than 40 million metric tons of CO2 in the first year. That's equivalent to shutting down 10 coal plants for an entire year. In addition to a strong Environmental Impact Score (90.60), the company did very well in our Reputation Score, making it a close second to Dell.

No 1. Dell

Dell has built its sustainability strategy over the years by setting a series of ambitious goals, several of which it has already met. In 2008, the company announced it would reduce its total emissions by 40 percent by 2015. It is well on the way to achieving that goal. Many of Dell's efforts are also focused on reducing the environmental impact of its products at all stages of their life cycles, from design to disposal. The company's laptops and desktops are now built to use 25 percent less energy than comparable systems made in 2005. That effort, among others, has saved its customers more than $5 billion in energy costs over the past few years. The company has also used 7.2 million pounds of post-consumer recycled plastic to build new computers--the equivalent of recycling 263 million water bottles. Dell also has one of the tech industry's most comprehensive recycling programs. The company takes back and recycles any of its products for free, and will also take back competitors' products at no cost with the purchase of new Dell computers or peripherals. Consumers can also mail back old equipment, Dell will pick up items at their homes, or they can drop them off at more than 2,000 Goodwill or 1,500 Staples locations. Based on their strong Environmental Impact score, Reputation score, and excellent Green Policies score, Dell was the No. 1 company in NEWSWEEK's 2010 Green Rankings.

Technology companies dominate Newsweek's Green Rankings

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The US Magazine Newsweek recently announced its environmental rankings of the US 500 and Global 100 companies. They were designed to be a "data-driven assessment of the largest companies in the U.S. and in the world." Newsweek's goal was to "cut through the green chatter and quantify the actual environmental footprints, policies, and reputations of these big businesses."

Among all the companies recognised, those in the technology industry ranked in 7 of the top 20 spots on the Global 100 list and 8 of the top 10 spots on the US 500 list.

The top 5 globally were:

  1. IBM
  2. Hewlett Packard
  3. Johnson & Johnson
  4. Sony
  5. Glaxo SmithKline

The top 5 in the US were:

  1. Dell
  2. Hewlett Packard
  3. IBM
  4. Johnson & Johnson
  5. Intel

To produce the 2010 Green Rankings, NEWSWEEK collaborated with MSCI ESG Research--a source of environmental, social, and governance ratings--which served as lead research organisation; Trucost, which specialises in quantitative measurements of environmental performance;, the world's largest online directory of social responsibility, sustainability, and environmental reports; and ASAP Media. The goal was to assess each company's actual environmental footprint and management of that footprint (including policies and strategies), along with its reputation among environmental experts.

Spending Review: Treasury makes grab for CRC revenues

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There have been many words written about the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme over the last year. Now there will be plenty more after the announcement in the Spending Review yesterday that revenue raised from the scheme will be used to support the public finances (including spending on the environment), rather than being recycled to participants.

Here's the Department of Energy and Climate Change press release

And here are some comments from Deloitte about the changes and by PWC

And a more in depth summary from Greenwise.

It will be interesting today to see further reaction from other organisations who have had plenty to say about CRC in the last year.


Business fails in role as Green change agent

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The Guardian has made a nice job of relaunching its Sustainable Business site. I liked this piece about business failing to act as a change agent for Climate Change.

It says that although the latest FTSE 350 report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), produced ahead of a UN climate change summit in November, found that eight out of 10 FTSE 350 companies that reported to CDP identified significant opportunities from climate change, only 10% encouraged policy making in this area.

The ongoing reaction to 10:10's Climate Change movie

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The UK Director of 10:10 has posted a statement on the organisation's website apologising for the 'mistake' the organisation says it's made.

It's a contrite statement, with a clear message to its corporate sponsors, delivery partners and board members, who the organisation admits 'have been implicated in this situation despite having no involvement in the film's production or release.'

Those include the copy, document and print specialist Kyocera Mita which has been a strong supporter of 10:10's activities and which itself is very much a thought leader in the drive to reduce carbon emissions.

It's Director of Brand and Reputation Tracey Rawling Church said, "Kyocera Mita UK has supported the 10:10 campaign because we share its ambition to reduce carbon emissions. However, we don't support the "No Pressure" video and are dismayed by the suggestion that we might have been knowing partners in its production; in fact, we had no knowledge of its content until it appeared online. We consider that 10:10 made a serious error of judgement in its choice of creative approach, which is totally at odds with the inclusive and positive attitude that has been the hallmark of its other activities. We understand that 10:10 has acknowledged its mistake, withdrawn the video and issued an apology. Kyocera is taking this issue extremely seriously. A formal statement will be issued in due course."



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