This week's indicator is 9.1 Gt CO2e, which is the potential annual reduction in global GHG emissions from information and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology by 2020, according to a report by the Carbon War Room. 9.1 Gt is roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of the United States and India. But beyond carbon abatement, M2M technology represents an enormous business opportunity: the industry as a whole is projected to be worth nearly $1 trillion by 2020. As the report states, "If we utilize technologies such as M2M to their full potential, 'low carbon' will by synonymous with economic growth and sustainable prosperity, now and into the future."
This week's indicator is 37 percent, which is the percentage of companies reporting profits from sustainability, according to a study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. This represents a 23% increase over last year.
It can be difficult to get excited about recycling. Squinting to find the number on the bottom of the bottle, rinsing the gunk out, and putting it in the right bin isn’t always convenient and most consumers never see the end benefits of their recycling efforts. But recycling can be more than the monotonous bottle-to-bin routine. Here are a few examples of companies and organizations that have found ways to recycle various materials and use waste to create value.
This blog was written by Daniel Winokur, Leader at LRN and manager of the EcoStrategy Alliance.
Creating a workplace that values and supports sustainability isn’t easy. If you’ve run into trouble, you’re not the only one. When working with our partners, we see many sustainability departments initiating employee engagement programs seeking to deepen sustainability values and formalize them into business-supporting behaviors. But the truth is, many of these programs simply don’t work. They don’t pull the right levers to truly impact employee culture, so they lose out on behaviors that would reduce risk, increase productivity, and lower operating costs.
Recently, I was part of a GreenOrder team working with a client partner that is a home and property care service provider. Despite employing industry-leading integrated pest management techniques, this partner was struggling to communicate the safety of their products to their employees and customers. They’re not alone. Even for highly responsible companies committed to transparency when it comes to their stakeholders, communicating product risks effectively is a challenge. Why?
A wide range of companies are conscious of the
environmental impacts of their products and services. A smaller number
of leading companies have adopted a stewardship mindset and are
developing innovative best practices in supply chain management. These
companies are experimenting with techniques that match their brands as
well their footprints. Levi’s has studied and visualized the life cycle of a pair of jeans, Walmart is harnessing massive data from its suppliers.
In the energy sector, the majority of attention will remain focused on fuel stock – the fuel used for power generation and its method of extraction – as the key to a truly sustainable industry. While this focus is appropriate, it doesn’t capture the scope of the opportunities across the supply chain. Think, for example, of the 120 million utility poles used for electricity transmission in the US alone; or the tremendous amount of water used in resource extraction for energy production and generation; or even the sustainability issues within the renewable energy space itself. The growth potential for sustainability improvements in the energy sector supply chain is limitless.
(co-authored with Dan Saccardi, Associate)
Some companies are betting big that the new Prize -- in terms of sheer billions in wealth available for the taking -- is to be found in the natural gas shales found the world over. That certainly seems sensible if you view the world from the perspective dominant in industry when Daniel Yergin published his seminal book The Prize -- especially with the mounting consensus about Peak Oil, on which even the International Energy Agency now agrees.
As environmental strategy consultants we believe in leveraging market forces to solve our environmental crisis. If financial analysis integrated externalities - such as pollution, contribution to climate change or biodiversity loss - then company valuations would reflect their true impact on our economy, net of their impact on our environment.
One thing that strikes me though is how much emphasis there is on quantifying risks, and not evaluating growth opportunities. There is a paradox here. In financial valuation, the rate of growth typically matters more than other dimensions. That’s why an internet darling with greater growth potential and an unclear path to profitability may be valued higher than a company with solid, consistent dividends but limited upside. But conversely, when it comes to sustainability, analysts seem to place greater stock in managing risks than developing new markets.