Tag Archives: ecology

Sostenibilità: la mia verità

Si, la verità. Nient’altro che la verità. Perlomeno la mia, ovvio.


L’idea mi venne in mente lo scorso gennaio, quando alle prese con la presentazione per il mio intervento al TEDxBocconi, ho dovuto ripercorrere a ritroso più di 3 lunghi anni. Al TED, avrei dovuto parlare delle mie esperienze professionali in relazione con la sostenibilità, partendo dal progetto di ECOFFEE. Chi ha parlato in pubblico, senza essere un oratore e chi ha domestichezza con le presentazioni in Power Point, sa benissimo quanto sia difficile riassumere e racchiudere più di 3 anni di esperienze in 15 minuti e 15 slides a disposizione. Se poi, come detto nel post relativo, oltre all’emozione, ci si mette anche l’influenza …

Comunque, l’idea maturata nel tempo, è quella di scrivere per benino le mie esperienze, i progetti, le persone e le aziende incontrate e tutto quello che mi è accaduto nel bene e nel male, fino a questi giorni. In poche parole, esplicitare al massimo il mio intervento al TED, raccontando aneddoti e dettagli. Si, come detto, nel bene e nel male.

Perchè? Perchè la sostenibilità, quella vera, non è quella che si pensa o quella che si legge sui giornali o su internet. Non è quella che vi propinano le aziende dagli slogan tutti “green oriented” o i manager dai titoli inventati e posticci. Probabilmente non sarà nemmeno quella che vi racconterò io. Starà a voi giudicare, ma vi assicuro che scoprirete cose interessanti.

Quindi? Se avrete pazienza e voglia di leggere il mio punto di vista, prossimamente pubblicherò “svariati capitoli” sulle mie esperienze personali e la sostenibilità. Spero di riuscire ad essere abbastanza costante, perchè fino a febbraio ho già l’agenda abbastanza fitta di impegni importanti e viaggi all’estero e soprattutto, spero vi interessi.

Un ultima premessa: il mio blog è impostato sia per l’italiano che per l’inglese, a seconda di cosa voglio pubblicare e del pubblico a cui mi rivolgo. I post sulla sostenibilità saranno in italiano. Capirete da soli il perchè.

Buona lettura.

Ixsir it means Elixir: in vino veritas

I am writing from Beirut, the very active and beautiful Lebanese capital.  I’m here to visit the Horeca Exhibition, to meet with some potential clients and to attend to BIFEX where I’ve been invited as speaker.

Today I wish to share with you a great experience I had last Sunday in the suggestive country side. I had the pleasure to visit a wonderful vineyard and winery.

“The vision behind the wines IXSIR is to reveal the best local Lebanese sometimes forgotten for generations. Created by friends sharing a common passion for wine and Lebanon IXSIR is the culmination of their dream. They managed to develop fine wines that will be forever associated with the land of their ancestors. The wines IXSIR combine a rich variety of grapes grown on land carefully selected to symbolize the diversity of Lebanon. Batroun, north to Jezzine, south through the Bekaa Valley to the east, the vineyards chosen include everything the country has to offer. Winemaking and aging in cellars are above which rests the mansion. Located on the hills of Batroun, this bastion of regional heritage dates from the 17th century and overlooks a modern vineyard whose heart is sustainability priorities. It combines all the resources of the earth to give birth to wines that reveal the secrets”.

Trust me, the wine has a great taste but what surprised me the most is that this winery was selected by the CNN as one of the greenest building in the world; and what a building.

Well, I believe in this case images talks more than words, therefore, please enjoy:

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Kitchen nano garden

I never thought of buying a Hyundai!

Trust me, if this beautiful concept will be soon available, I will be the first out of the store and I guess, the first of a long queue. 

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I can already think about the same concept applied also to our business. Whatever will be an hotel, a restaurant or just a coffee shop, this could be a very revolutionary equipment that could solve lots of environmental and economic problems.

That’s for sure: I will surely add it to the ECOFFEE equipment list.

This cool concept could be the best way to sensibilities the people about sustainability and responsibility, especially young generation, enabling you to add a real vegetable garden to your apartment kitchen or coffee shop, without too much of trouble!

There’s anybody of Hyundai management reading this post? Please contact me, thanks!

H&M in the quicksand – A very short pop-up story

When H&M unexpectedly opened a new store on the beach of Riccione (Rimini – Italy) I thought this was a smart marketing action. Then I started wondering if this could work.   Of course the store would have benefited from massive visibility, but was this enough?

The great adventure of the pop-up store only lasted one week. It seems that those in charge of developing the concept did not have all relevant licenses.

The Italian Guardia di Finanza sealed off the area and confiscated property.           Someone thinks H&M violated some provisions, while others state inspections were too severe. It seems evident to me that someone chose to turn a blind eye in order to authorize the opening of this beautiful pop-up store on the beach. 

I think that if some licenses were missing works could not have been authorized.  And I’m also convinced that if inspections were too severe the shop couldn’t have been inaugurated.

Do you want to know my opinion? I don’t care who is right or wrong, nor which business activities were damaged the most. What really infuriates me is that in order to place the new pop-up store several square metres of “dunes” were destroyed, thus damaging an enchanting protected area gathering fine sand and lush vegetation.

Just for another shop! And I’m saying this in a conflict of interest. This behaviour is really not acceptable, especially because H&M has always been involved in sustainability and conscious collection campaigns, we also spoke about.

I think everyone involved in this matter should deeply reflect on it. Don’t you think so?

Accor launches PLANET 21 Sustainability Program

Accor is taking sustainable development to new heights, with the launch of PLANET 21.

The name is a direct reference to Agenda 21, the environmental action plan signed at the Rio Earth  Summit in 1992, and reminds us of the urgent concern that face our planet in the 21st century and the  need to change our methods of production and consumption logo_planet21_accor_hotelspatterns to preserve human beings and  eco-systems. With PLANET 21, Accor is making 21 commitments and the same number of quantified  goals for the year 2015, including:

  • employees trained in disease prevention in 95% of hotels;
  • 80% of  properties promoting balanced meals ;
  • 85% of hotels using eco-labelled products;
  • a 15% reduction in  water consumption;
  • 10% decrease in energy use at Accor’s owned and leased hotels worldwide.

“At a time when the Group is embarking on a phase of brisk expansion, with the aim of becoming the  global reference in hotel industry, we are reaffirming our choice of responsible growth capable of  generating shared value for all”, said Denis Hennequin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Accor.

“With the PLANET 21 program, we are putting sustainable hospitality at the core of the
Group’s strategy, development and innovation. I am convinced that sustainable development will  lead us towards a new business model. PLANET 21 gives us a fantastic driver of competitiveness for  our brands, attractiveness for our customers and partners and loyalty for our employees”.

Since 1994, when Accor first established its Environment Department, the Group has adopted  numerous solutions to contribute to the development of local communities, reduce water and energy  consumption and limit the environmental footprint of its hotels. With PLANET 21, Accor is reinforcing  its determination to put sustainable development at the heart of its activities: 21 commitments that  involve customers, partners and employees in order to improve Accor’s sustainability performance.

For these reasons, the new PLANET 21 strategy includes a program to engage customers, inviting  them to contribute to the hotels’ actions and achievements. From making a reservation to staying  and or dining in Accor hotels, customers will discover a rich and diverse array of messages that will  encourage them to contribute actively to the hotel’s action through a few simple gestures.

The tone of the messages will be friendly and thoughtful, aimed at encouraging customers to participate without  ever making them feel guilty.

Tesco and RSPB to protect rainforests around the world

UK retailer Tesco has formed a partnership with Europe’s largest wildlife conservation charity – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) – that aims to protect rainforests around the world.

In addition to raising funds, the “Together For Trees” campaign includes a competition to identify a “Rainforest Reporter,” who will travel to one of the projects in the RSPB’s rainforest program and experience first-hand the efforts to slow deforestation.

Together For Trees aims to raise over £1million for the RSPB in its first year. Every time a Tesco customer brings in a re-usable shopping bag, he or she will be able to donate the vouchers or points Tesco awards through its green Clubcard membership. Additionally, customers have the option to donate cash, and Tesco will contribute £75,000 from the sale of its new Together For Trees reusable bags.

Funds raised by the partnership will support conservation work such as the replanting of native trees in areas damaged by illegal logging, providing equipment for researchers and conservationists, and helping local, forest-dependent people to improve their livelihoods in a sustainable way.

“Our customers will trust this scheme because it brings together the UK’s most popular retailer with the UK’s most popular conservation organization,” said David North, Tesco UK Corporate Affairs Director.

The money raised by Together For Trees will be spent on the RSPB’s rainforest projects across the world, including Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia, Gola Rainforest in West Africa and Centre Hills National Park in Montserrat, a UK Overseas Territory in the West Indies. Rainforests such as these are home to more than two thirds of the planet’s land-based creatures, three quarters of all endangered bird species and have more than one billion of the world’s poorest people depending on them to survive.

In the search for the Rainforest Reporter, Together for Trees has partnered with Amazon explorer and European Adventurer of the Year, Ed Stafford. (Stafford participated in a live web chat Thursday morning, hosted by The Guardian.) People can apply to be the Rainforest Reporter on the Together for Trees website.

Tesco has set a goal to become a zero carbon business by 2050. In 2011, the Carbon Disclosure Project named Tesco the top retailer in the world for its efforts in tackling climate change. However, last month, Tesco abandoned its industry leading effort to place carbon labels on all of its products

via Tesco Raises Funds for RSPB, Opens Competition for ‘Rainforest Reporter’ | Sustainable Brands.

Introducing the Eco-Scale rating system for cleaning products

Wholefoods has recently introduced its new Eco-Scale rating system, a color-coded system under which products will be rated, red, orange, yellow or green based on the sp

ecific set of environmental and sourcing standards each product meets.

The company said it is committed to working with vendors to evaluate and independently audit every product in its cleaning category.  Red-rated products do not meet the Eco-Scale standards and will not be sold at Whole Foods Market.

Naturally, the green color code is the highest possible rating, ensuring that products have all of these features:

  • ✓ Full transparency, disclosure of ingredients on packaging by April 2012
  • ✓ Independent 3rd party verified compliance to standards
  • ✓ No ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns
  • ✓ No formaldehyde-donors, preservatives which have the potential to release formaldehyde
  • ✓ No phosphates, chlorine, or synthetic colors
  • ✓ No animal testing
  • ✓ 100% natural fragrances
  • ✓ No ingredients with moderate environmental or safety concerns
  • ✓ No DEA, MEA or TEA—surfactants that have the potential to contain nitrosamines and other impurities
  • ✓ No synthetic, petroleum-derived thickeners made from nonrenewable sources
  • ✓ Only 100% natural ingredients
  • ✓ No petroleum- derived ingredients

Under current law, manufacturers do not have to disclose all ingredients in cleaning products. Under the Eco-Scale Rating System, Whole Foods Market’s household cleaning vendors will be required to list every ingredient on product packaging. To ensure compliance of the standards, all products will be audited through an independent third-party for verification before they are color-rated and labeled on shelves.

“Shoppers have a right to know what’s actually in the products they use to clean their homes,” said Jim Speirs, global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods Market. “We’ve always carefully monitored ingredients. Now, with Eco-Scale, we’re able to help shoppers buy eco-friendly products with confidence and provide safer alternatives for their households and for the planet as a whole.”

What is striking in fact is that almost three out of four (73 percent) adults falsely believe that the U.S.  government requires household cleaning products to provide a list of ingredients on the label, according to an online survey commissioned by Whole Foods and conducted by Harris Interactive in April among 2,483 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Another two-thirds (64 percent) believe that many household cleaning brands opt to disclose the full list of ingredients on packaging, when in fact few provide this information on product labels. (Source: GreenRetail decisions, Wholefoods)

Low-carbon products: when there will be a mass mass-market demand for them?

As stated in the last CBI report about UK consumers and low-carbon products, three quarters of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions either directly or indirectly attributable to consumer actions. Companies are taking action to drive up standards and setting up pilot initiatives for green products. Energy efficiency and carbon labels and descriptions currently adorn many of our shopping shelves, increasing transparency. But many consumers do remain skeptical about sustainability being a MUST for our future.

The report shows that there is no trade-off between sustainability and profitability but, as we are always stressing in our ECOFFEE communication projects,”(Many business leaders acknowledge that) it is not sufficient to operate in a sustainable way – they also have a responsibility to inform consumers about green choices”. Business cannot boost demand for low-carbon products without the appropriate communication. Let’s take for instance Procter & Gamble’s successful Turn to 30 campaign with Ariel linked the financial benefits to consumers of washing at lower temperatures with the positive environmental impact. This campaign successfully create a link between a product, a consumer personal behaviour and the resulting more sustainable impact on environment.
Once a company has created a demand for its green products, gains arrive very fast.

Philips’ success in energy efficient lighting is an excellent example: the strategic decision to develop the energy efficient lighting side of its business led to successful positioning
at the forefront of innovation.

Retail plays a very important role in raising awareness among consumers and empower them to make greener choices. Tesco for example has worked to highlight the carbon
footprint of its products to help consumers understand the impact of their purchasing decisions. And it worked great.

Now the question is: why there is not such a mass-market demand for green products? It seems that there is a missing link between the consumer and the environmental impact of purchasing a green product versus a not-so green one. When asked about the top three or four factors shaping their choice of purchase, UK consumers top rated one is cost to buy, followed by quality and reliability and brand. The environmental impact is ranked 10 (8%). It seems that there is a disconnection between consumers and the environmental impact of their choices, especially when carbon emissions are concerned. Nearly half (48%) of survey respondents could see the link between low-carbon and helping to tackle climate change, whereas less than a third (30%) identified the link between climate change and energy efficiency.

Labelling plays an important role in raising consumers’ awareness and A-G labelling has been a particular success, being well recognised among those aged between 35-64 (76%) and those earning over £25,000 a year (83%). It is no coincidence that products where the energy efficiency story is most developed for consumers tend to be those where the A-G label is displayed, such as fridges.

To answer to the question “When there will be a mass-market demand for green products?”, it all relies on clear communication and on educating consumers about the impact of their shopping and daily habits on the environment.

How to implement grocery retaling and e-tailing in India

We found this article by Avinder Batra, published on IndianRetailer.com very interesting because of its very detailed approach to the implementation of a home delivery service for those small groceries retailers that are facing the competition with by multinational like Wal-Mart. This is also a business model which is very sustainable, by lowering CO2 transportation emissions and by mainting vital the traditional small retail grocery business.

Batra identifies a big trend in the grocery business- home delivery- due to two main reasons:

-High fuel price: Indian families are not interested in spending time on these products
-Families want more leisure time for themselves: Since both the partners are working, shoppers find this activity as waste of time to collect groceries in weekends

“When most of the big retailers are fighting for larger space, opportunities can be foreseen where you do not have compact space and can still run successfully through Etailing the Grocery model” Batra says.

The solution could be a mix of website, mobile, IVR.

High rental costs have made the retail business cumbersome for the independent players.  As told by Ragib Hussain, VP, Vice President Strategy at e.Soft Technologies,  “This type of model does not need much of investments. Etailing models (having virtual shop) can help retailers in expanding the business thus by covering larger area & reap good volumes.”

Small independent retailers need to increase their customer base: Online services and then home deliveries would fetch revenues only when you have large customer base. Margins are the rewards which an investor gets and this is what he has to work on to have with minimum liable cost.

Develop tie-ups/partners: Developing partnership agreements with the kirana shopkeepers and others nearby shops in the area that would reach the consumers through home delivery systems. This should  be the initial step of building a strong network in the areas concerned you want to cover.

 Also, it would decrease the liability on the retailer—warehouse cost, maintenance cost, procurement cost, etc. 

Develop your own site and make a strong viable back-end system for smooth functioning of the business model: either by creating your own hosted website or by opting for cloud services, this is a very important step. Cloud services would play a vital role to make updated connections with your suppliers, logistics suppliers, CRM updates and drop shipping suppliers. Because time is a critical factor, efficient distribution is of utmost importance. Technology plays a key role in enabling an efficient dairy distribution model.

 This is the back bone of the whole concept when the business starts working and it is the most challenging part of the business to make real-time connectivity with them.

Home delivery services: By tying up with the partners in the local areas, investor can direct the orders to those shops and through delivery boys; the task can be executed smoothly. This would even increase the revenue prospects of the local partners.

 If the business model is churning profits, there is no harm in having your own warehouses and company owned shops in the localities. This could be the way to expand your business model and make it stronger.

Each small outlet should be centrally connected to the warehouse to record the sale and updates are on real time basis. This would help to replenish the goods which are going out of stock.

Delivery system: Tempos and other mini trucks can be used to provide deliveries in the located areas if orders come in bulk in particular area. (Source: IndiaRetailer.com)

Cosmetics industry faces sustainability

We always talk about sustainability in the retail sector dealing with products such as food and apparel, but what about cosmetics? There has been increased interest from the cosmetics industry toward sustainability, the reason why a  Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, is going to be held in New York from May 12 – 14.

In the cosmetics business too, sustainability has become very important to help companies to steer their way out of the recession and tap into the big opportunities that are likely to arise over the next five years.

As stated by Irina Barbalova, head of beauty and personal care for Euromonitor, the four key trends in the cosmetic industry include focusing on the ever-growing emerging markets, new media in western markets, offering better value for money to consumers who continue to be hard hit by the economic downturn in western markets and communicating sustainability through brands.

As stated by Aveda‘s VP, Chuck Bennet “The environmental footprint of a cosmetic, or any product, must account for the full ‘life cycle’ of the product. This includes many factors such as energy and water consumption, emissions to the environment. It can significantly misrepresent the actual footprint of a product if the focus is limited to, for example, manufacturing only.”

According to market researcher Accenture, co-operation with packaging suppliers in efforts to reduce the overall carbon footprint of products. Pressure to reduce environmental impact, and to reduce costs generally, is forcing companies to take sustainable packaging seriously. A supply chain view of packaging provides the breadth of vision required to develop optimal solutions: for example, the recycling of some packaging materials and the switch to reusable packaging. To address sustainability, Accenture recommends companies scan their supply chains to determine the true value proposition of different strategies to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The research firm estimates that companies can save 3 to 5 percent in supply chain costs by adopting green packaging initiatives, in addition to the revenue uplift from green consumers.

In the US, L’Oreal for example made inroads to reduce the environmental impact of its beauty product packaging by introducing two new assessment tools to its package design process, while Unilever has looked to reduce the amount of waste used in the packaging of a product, yet maintain protection. Unilever has minimised the packaging on its stick deodorants as well as making them more lightweight, to reduce the impact of transporting the goods.

In France, Clarins has built an alternative model, such as agreeing long term Fairtrade contracts with producers of katafray in Madagascar, offering 5% of the sales price from relevant brands to help local communities. “I believe consumers today are more knowledgeable than before, thanks to the media, so they can see through companies that greenwash,” said Yvette James, head of Clarins‘ responsible development division. (Source: CosmeticDesign.com, warc.com. Picture credits: Americanspamag)