This week in sustainability

Sociology Professor Helps Students Bridge the Generation Gap With Service

Finding a common thread between generations can sometimes be difficult these days. So, when one of Dr. Keith Whitworth’s students brought Cycling Without Age to his attention, he immediately jumped at the opportunity to bring the program to Texas Christian University. With roots in Copenhagen, Denmark, Cycling Without Age got its start in 2012 when co-founder Ole Kassow identified a need in his community. Riding his bike past a nursing home every day, Ole always saw the same elderly man sitting outside. Because biking is an important part of Danish culture, Ole wanted to give the man the opportunity to share the experience with him; so he rented a rickshaw and took him for a ride. What started as one ride eventually turned into an international program, which has now been adopted in 34 countries. A sociology professor at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Whitworth is an avid cyclist and holds a master’s degree in gerontology. A program that combines cycling and working with the elderly seemed like the perfect match for him. He also saw the program as an opportunity for his students to get involved in the community and engaged in service.


Improving Business Through Fair Trade

An overview of the future of business, with insights from Paul Rice.



New Research Indicates Greener Supply Chains Mean More Profit

According to a new HSBC survey of more than 8,500 companies in 34 markets, lmost a third (31%) of companies globally plan to make sustainability-related changes to their supply chains over the next three years. Of those making ethical or environmentally sustainable changes to their supply chains, cost efficiencies (84%) and improved revenues and financial performance (also 84%) are the main motivations.


Hilton’s Expansion of Recycling Program Helps Achieve Zero Soap to Landfill by 2030

by Jennifer Hermes

The zero-soap-to-landfill goal is part of the company’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility initiative. The hospitality company hopes to cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030. To do this, the company developed LightStay, a corporate responsibility performance measurement platform which allows Hilton to manage and report its environmental and social impact, and to drive efficiencies and continuous improvement, across its global portfolio of nearly 5,300 hotels. Since LightStay’s launch, the company has saved over $1 billion by operating sustainably and carefully managing its energy, carbon, water and waste, it says. Clean the World claims its distribution of hygiene products to underserved communities has contributed to a 35% reduction in the death rate of children under the age of five dying due to hygiene-related illnesses.


Creating a Sustainable Food Future – World Resources Report- A Menu of Solutions to Feed Nearly 10 Billion People by 2050

This report explores a 22-item “menu for a sustainable food future,” which is divided into five “courses” that together could close these gaps:

  • (1) reduce growth in demand for food and agricultural products;
  • (2) increase food production without expanding agricultural land;
  • (3) exploit reduced demand on agricultural land to protect and restore forests, savannas, and peatlands;
  • (4) increase sh supply through improved wild fisheries management and aquaculture; and
  • (5) reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production.

As the global population grows from 7 billion in 2010 to a projected 9.8 billion in 2050, and incomes grow across the developing world, overall food demand is on course to increase by more than 50 percent, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70 percent. Yet today, hundreds of millions of people remain hungry, agriculture already uses almost half of the world’s vegetated land, and agriculture and related land-use change generate one- quarter of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This synthesis report proposes a menu of options that could allow the world to achieve a sustainable food future by meeting growing demands for food, avoiding deforestation, and reforesting or restoring abandoned and unproductive land—and in ways that help stabilize the climate, promote economic development, and reduce poverty. Achieving these goals requires closing three great “gaps” by 2050: The food gap—the difference between the amount of food produced in 2010 and the amount necessary to meet likely demand in 2050. We estimate this gap to be 7,400 trillion calories, or 56 percent more crop calories than were produced in 2010. The land gap—the difference between global agricultural land area in 2010 and the area required in 2050 even if crop and pasture yields continue to grow at past rates. We estimate this gap to be 593 million hectares (Mha), an area nearly twice the size of India. The GHG mitigation gap—the difference between the annual GHG emissions likely from agriculture and land-use change in 2050, which we estimate to be 15 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e), and a target of 4 Gt that represents agriculture’s proportional contribution to holding global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. We therefore estimate this gap to be 11 Gt. Holding warming below a 1.5°C increase would require meeting the 4 Gt target plus reforesting hundreds of mil- lions of hectares of liberated agricultural land. This synthesis report summarizes the findings of the World Resources Report Creating a Sustainable Food Future, a multiyear partnership between World Resources Institute, the World Bank Group, United Nations Environment, the United Nations Development Programme, the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique. The full report will be published in the spring of 2019. Previously published installments analyzing many of the issues covered in this report in greater detail are available at The report focuses on technical opportunities and policies for cost-effective scenarios for meeting food, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions goals in 2050 in ways that can also help to focus.


Can We Grow More Food on Less Land? We’ll Have To, a New Study Finds

by Brad Plumer 

If the world hopes to make meaningful progress on climate change, it won’t be enough for cars and factories to get cleaner. Our cows and wheat fields will have to become radically more efficient, too. That’s the basic conclusion of a sweeping new study issued Wednesday by the World Resources Institute, an environmental group. The report warns that the world’s agricultural system will need drastic changes in the next few decades in order to feed billions more people without triggering a climate catastrophe. Based on current trends, the authors calculated, the world would need to produce 56 percent more calories in 2050 than it did in 2010. If farmers and ranchers met that demand by clearing away more forests and other ecosystems for cropland and pasture, as they have often done in the past, they would end up transforming an area twice the size of India. “We wanted to avoid relying on magic asterisks,” said Timothy D. Searchinger, a researcher at Princeton University and the World Resources Institute and lead author of the report. “We could imagine a significant shift from beef to chicken, and that by itself goes a long way.” (Poultry production has about one-eighth the climate impact of beef production.) Instead, the researchers focused on dozens of broad strategies that could allow farmers and ranchers to grow far more food on existing agricultural lands while cutting emissions, a feat that would require a major shift in farming practices worldwide and rapid advances in technology.


3M to Embed Sustainability into Every New Product

Circular, Climate and Community. 3M launches approximately 1,000 new products each year, and, starting in 2019, 100 percent of them will have Sustainability built in: Every new product will be required to have a Sustainability Value Commitment that demonstrates how it drives impact for the greater good. This new, formal requirement is important because it embeds Sustainability into the pipeline that produces 3M’s diverse global products. About one-third of 3M’s annual sales come from products created in the past five years, so the impact will expand greatly with each successive year. Examples of a Sustainability Value Commitment in new 3M products include recyclability, energy and water savings, responsible sourcing, renewable materials, and/or reuse appropriate for the specific product. This commitment also includes products with a core purpose of helping to solve an environmental or social problem, such as improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving worker and patient safety in healthcare and industrial settings. 3M will measure the progress and impact of this commitment and report on it annually.
Stanford University Adopts New Investment Responsibility Framework and Commits $10 million to ESG Research – Stanford is committing $10 million to a new educational and research initiative in the area of responsible, sustainable and impact investing and governance. At its Dec. 3-4 meeting, the board approved two documents: a new Ethical Investment Frameworkissued by Stanford Management Company (SMC), and an updated Statement on Investment Responsibility from the board. The first document is a statement of how SMC actively incorporates ethical considerations into its investment decisions. The second is a statement of the trustees’ view of the responsible investment of Stanford’s endowment and the “abhorrent and ethically unjustifiable” conditions under which an investment should be excluded from it. Stanford also is adopting procedures intended to be more effective for the board to hear investment responsibility requests from the campus community.


Kelloggs use rejected cornflakes to make beer in bid to cut down on food waste

‘Throw Away IPA’, made by Seven Bro7thers Brewery in Manchester, uses “upcycled” cornflakes which are too big, small or overcooked to go in a box of breakfast cereal as a proportion of the wheat grain which goes into the beer. A spokesperson for Kelloggs said that around 30 per cent of the grain content of the beer will be cornflakes, and 70 per cent wheat. “We plan to create three beers including a Hoppy IPA which will be launched this month and sold in our Ancoats bar and the Dockyard, MediaCityUK.”



Sustainable Innovation Expo

11-15 March 2019 at the UN Environment Assembly Apply for the 2019 Sustainable Innovation Expo – For more information please contact us at: unenvironment-privatesector(a)


Millennials on Millennials – US Shopping Insights in a New Era – Born between 1977 – 1995 of under 35 as of 2017

According to U.S. Census projections, Millennials will account for 57% of the U.S. population by 2020, up from 50% in 2014, and female Millennials will slightly outnumber male Millennials. Millennials care about integrated social responsibility. Millennials are more likely to purchase from socially responsible brands, as 70% indicated that they would be more likely to purchase from a brand if it handled a social issue well. Alternatively, however, Millennials are no more sensitive to a brand’s mishandling of an issue than the broader population. More surprisingly, they claim to be less punishing of a brand remaining neutral on a social issue than the general population. When probed directly on how they would respond if a brand did not respond to a social issue, only 26% claimed they would be less likely to buy and only 4% of Millennials claimed they would be much less likely to buy.


Diageo announced it will be reaffirming its commitment to African farming communities as it looks to source 80% of its raw materials locally by 2020

by Dale Benton

The new strategy will create commercially, socially and environmentally sustainable farming communities that can thrive whilst delivering supplies to Diageo’s growing business in Africa.


UBS launches ESG rating system

UBS Global Wealth Management is planning to launch a new ratings system, which will score funds on the firm’s platform based on their ESG criteria. Initially, the rating system will cover all long-only equity and bond mutual funds and ETFs on the firm’s non-US platform as well as approximately 150 funds and separately managed accounts that feature on the US platform’s select list.


Nielsen Company – What’s Sustainability Got to do With It?

Linking Sustainability Claims to Sales – deep-dive into chocolate, coffee, and bath products—to demonstrate how and where sustainability sells. We’ve chosen to take a look at three sustainability claims for chocolate: environmental claims (carbon neutral, ethically sourced, made with renewable energy, etc.), absence of artificial ingredients, and fair trade. While chocolate with environmental claims makes up only 0.2% of the total category share, it grew by 22% from March 2017 to March 2018. This is more than 4x the rate of total category dollar growth when it comes to sales. Looking at units, it’s a similar story: We see chocolate with environmental claims flying off the shelves at a rate 5x faster than the overall market—15% unit sales growth compared with 3%. Sales of products with fair trade claims (which make up only 0.1% of total chocolate share) are growing faster than the overall category as well, with dollar sales growth outpacing category growth by 2x (10% vs. 5%) and unit sales growth by 5x (15% vs. 3%). While the total coffee category declined 1% in dollar growth from March 2017 to March 2018, coffee products with environmental and fair trade claims experienced double-digit dollar sales growth for the same period. Overall, sales of coffee products with sustainability claims grew faster than the total coffee category.


68 of the greenest hospitals in America | 2018

Becker’s Healthcare is pleased to name 68 of the most “green” hospitals in the U.S. – Hospitals across the nation are taking steps to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. These measures are improving the health of their communities and helping the institutions become more cost-effective. Hospitals featured on this list have made community stewardship at the environmental level a top priority and incorporated green building efforts into expansions as well as embraced projects to reduce waste and energy consumption.
The Becker’s editorial team considered nominations and conducted editorial research when developing this list. Several of the hospitals featured on this list have been recognized with Practice Greenhealth awards, U.S. Green Building Council recognition and accolades from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and the Environmental Protection Agency.