Tag Archives: ecology

Fashionable sustainability or sustainable fashion?

Starting from Edun fashion brand, by Ali Hewson and Bono, whose mission is to encourage trade with Africa, to H&M’s Conscious Collection and Zara’s eco-friendly stores, it seems that “sustainability and responsibility” are now a must in the fashion industry.
The latest news regarding fashion and sustainability is the PPR Group’s (home of GucciPuma,Yves Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney) Sustainability Initiative PPR HOME to Set New Standard in Luxury, Sport & Lifestyle and Retail Sectors.

By moving beyond the traditional Corporate Social Responsibility model, the group launched PPR HOME and is setting a new standard in sustainability and business practice in the Luxury, Sport & Lifestyle and Retail sectors.

My deep conviction that Sustainability creates value is part of my strategic vision for PPR. Sustainability can – and must – give rise to new, highly ambitious business models and become a lever of competitiveness for our brands. PPR HOME will provide us with novel, more sustainable approaches to contribute to a better world for the long run”, said Francois- Henri Pinault, CEO of PPR.

PPR HOME’s first announcements are setting the pace for the Group’s sustainability mission in order to reduce the social and environmental footprint for its Luxury, Sport and Lifestyle brands. These pioneering initiatives include:
-PPR HOME launches the Creative Sustainability Lab to help lead the industry and foster creativity, innovation and sustainability. Its inaugural partnership with Cradle-to-Cradle® will drive PPR HOME to challenge traditional approaches and proactively re-think and re-consider product and business development. The Cradle-to-Cradle® concept believes that ‘good design’ of products and services should move beyond typical measures of quality – cost, performance and aesthetics – to integrate and apply additional objectives addressing environmental and social concerns.
– PPR has offset its 2010 global CO2 emissions from PPR’s Luxury group, PUMA and PPR’s headquarters of 98,729 tons to achieve carbon neutrality in Scopes 1 & 2 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and purchased carbon credits from Wildlife Works’ leading REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) offsetting project in Kenya that takes the needs of the local communities and the conservation of biodiversity into account. As the first step in making REDD a reality, Wildlife Works recently provided proof that REDD conforms to the accounting rigor that other carbon credit classes provide, resulting in Wildlife Works project becoming the first-ever Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) validated and verified REDD program.
-PPR’s premiere Sportlifestyle brand, PUMA, has applied a groundbreaking methodological approach to measuring and costing their use of ecosystems and their ecological footprint. This is the initial step to measuring the full economic impact on ecosystem services by PUMA and its supply chain and the delivery of the first-ever Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) account statement. PPR HOME will take a leadership role in building understanding and support for this corporate shift, encouraging others within the industry to share PUMA’s pioneering efforts towards fully-integrated reporting.

Our opinion as sustainability advocates and retail consultants is that all these strategies, well planned and communicated, must follow the companies products from production to sale. The risk is that fashion consumers do not perceive the real added value of sustainability when in-store communication lacks and when the store itself it is not sustainable. An example? Keep following us: ECOFFEE case studies to come in the next weeks!

American consumers punish greenwashing practices, a survey says

Nearly three-quarters of consumers (71%) will stop buying a product if they feel misled by environmental claims”

Two days ago an ECOFFEE prospect tried to convince us that sustainability is just a marketing word, and that consumers are not able to understand whether the retail product/store is really sustainable or it is just greenwashing.
We have already dealt with this kind of prospect – and many became enthousiast ECOFFEE customers and sustainability advocates. Data and market analysis are the only way to convince the sustainability skeptical about the counter effects of greenwashing practices.

That day, we showed to our prospect the Cone Inc. Trend Tracker recent analysis about U.S consumers and their behaviour towards greenwashing practices, dated March 24 2011.

Results are very interesting – and very motivating for those of us who believe in real sustainable business practices.
When consumers discover a claim to be misleading, they will take the following actions:

 

Three mock cleaning products were showed to consumers, who were asked to “purchase” the one they believed to be the most environmentally responsible. They were also required to indicate what they think the certification, claim or image on each package represents.
The results are as follow:

Another very interesting survey finding concerns the inaccurate interpretation by U.S. consumers when it comes to words such as “green” and “environmental friendly”. More than two-in-five Americans (41%) erroneously believe these terms mean a product has a positive (i.e., beneficial) impact on the environment. Only 29 percent understand that these terms more accurately describe products with less environmental impact than previous versions or competing products.
Last but not least, 59% say it is only acceptable for marketers to use general environmental claims when they are backed up with additional detail and explanation:
-23% say vague environmental claims should never be used.
-79% want detailed information readily accessible on product packaging.
-75% wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environmental terms they use.

It is not necessary to add other comments to the above survey results, but if you are interested to know more, you can download the whole survey linking to the Cone Inc. website.

Italian consumers love sustainable products but need better product information.

One of the findings of the “For a Sustainable Supply Chain: business and consumers point of view” survey conducted by the GfK Eurisko and promoted by the Sodalitas Foundation,  the product/service sustainability is ranked fourth among the criterias used by consumers when choosing, but if better communicated, will become an increasingly important requirement. During the investigation 500 consumers and 183 businesses were interviewed . To more than a third of the companies, sustainability is very important. However, only a minority (29%) in the interviewed sample declares to be thoroughly familiar with this concept, while a substantial percentage (45%) say they have “enough information”, confirming the gradual integration of this concept in the corporate culture .
The majority of consumers (63%) had heard of sustainability, even if only 19% of them (mostly young and with a high level of education) believe to know well its meaning, with a prevalence of the environmental (83% ) on the social aspects (64%).

The responsibility for a “sustainable development” is primarily attributed to the central Government (86%) and to local governments (82%), but a very high percentage of respondents (over 70%)  thinks businesses and citizens responsible to ensure the sustainability of the development. The opinions about the companies’ commitment to sustainability is different: one third of the sample (35%) expressed a positive opinion, a  third is critical and another third has no a definite opinion about it.

Only a third of consumers (32%) had heard of “sustainability of the supply chain” (a percentage that is growing in those aged more mature and – especially – among those with a higher education degree). But after the concept was briefly explained a large majority (76%) said to believe that companies must ensure the sustainability of their supply chain. Today, already one quarter of Italian consumers are chosing which products to buy also using supply chain sustainability criterias. Three quarters of consumers also agreed to pay more for a product which is guaranteed in terms of its sustainability. The focus is on all product categories but in particular on food (71%) and detergents (65%). And, at least in theory, the majority of consumers (76%) would be willing to pay more for a guaranteed product in terms of sustainability (though – the majority said to be ready to pay only “little” or “very little” more). (Source: GfK Eurisko, Image credits: Transocean)

Sustainable Coffee: what is it and is it really profitable?

Sustainability in the Retail & Ho.Re.Ca Business, what our ECOFFEE project is about, is based on a main concept: communication to consumers and customers must be clear and simple to make them better understand what are the added values of buying/consuming sustainable products.

For instance, let’s talk about Fairtrade, organic, Rain Forest Alliance or UTZ certified coffee. These are some of the labels with which coffee is traded nowadays and consumers can be quite confused by this abundance of sometimes not well explained terms. 

Among the many information source we always refer to when asked “What is sustainable coffee about?” we found that the Imbibe magazine one is the most consumer-friendly one, covering all main aspects of sustainability in the coffee business.

The other well known issue to our blog readers is “Is it really worth investing in sustainable coffee?”. Commodity traders know the answer, and this is “Yes, of course”. A recent publication by Intracen organization (International Trade Center), shows that “Demand for conventional (i.e. non-certified) coffee is largely stagnant in these markets, whilst it is thriving in emerging markets. Certified coffee, however, is showing strong growth and higher retail prices, particularly in mature markets. This trend is also followed by other commodities, including tea, cocoa and cotton. A new industry of inspectors and technicians has emerged to service the sustainability segment of the market”. 

Sustainable Apparel Coalition: what is it?

In the last days there has been a lot of buzz about the Sustainable Apparel coalition, officially launched on March 1st. But what is it?

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), which includes* Nike, Gap Inc, H&M, Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, and Patagonia, will work to lead the apparel industry towards developing improved sustainability strategies and tools to measure and evaluate sustainability performance. 

The Coalition’s purpose at a higher level has two goals.  First, the member organizations will develop plans to soften the apparel industry’s impact on water and industry consumption, while making commitments to improved waste diversion and the reduction in the use of chemicals. To that end, the Coalition’s members will work with industry peers and supply chain partners to achieve the fullest possible life cycle transparency for clothing. Meanwhile, the SAC seeks to ensure that workplaces throughout the apparel industry adopt fair employment practices and a safe working environment, while eliminating any exposure to toxic chemicals.

Second, the Coalition will develop a metrics-based tool that will assist companies in the measurement of their environmental and social impacts.  For now described as the Version 1.0 Apparel Index, the tool works similarly to Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool and the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index.  Besides offering an assessment on companies’ usages of energy, water, and chemicals, the index will also evaluate products’ entire life cycles.  Companies will be able to measure their performance, compare them to their peers, and receive guidelines and resources for how they can improve their performance all such metrics.  The Apparel Index is slated to launch next month.(Source: Triplepundit Photo: Treehugger)
*Founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition are based in North America, Asia, Europe and the U.K. They include Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Kohl’s Department Stores, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., LF USA, a division of Li & Fung Limited, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Coop, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.

Benetton keeps getting greener

Six hundred fewer tons of plastic in the environment in 2011:  this is the green result that Benetton Group will achieve by introducing innovative, lightweight liquid wood clothes hangers – 100% biodegradable and recyclable – in place of the plastic hangers usually used to display garments. The eco-hangers, developed in partnership with the Fraunhofer-Institut für Chemische Technologie in Pfinztal-Berghausen (Germany), will gradually replace their plastic predecessors throughout the worldwide network of Benetton stores.

The liquid wood hangers are just part of a far broader eco-sustainable business plan launched by Benetton in a context of attention to social issues – and environmental respect in particular – always an important aspect of our corporate identity. Benetton’s green journey includes two other tangible environmental sustainability programmes, involving organic cotton garments and eco-friendly paper shopping bags.

In the Benetton children’s collections, organic cotton already accounts for over 30% of all cotton apparel, and with the spring-summer 2011 collection, organic cotton garments will reach a total of 13 million across the Group’s various brands. These products are all certified according to the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) ethical and environmental criteria, a worldwide benchmark that guarantees adherence to key organic standards in fibre production.

The GOTS standard focuses on ethical and environmental sustainability (ensuring that products are GMO-free and come from low-impact farming). Benetton performs a constant cycle of controls to ensure that the CaMV 35S promoter, indicative of the presence of GMO cottons, is not found within the fibres.

Furthermore, since January 2010, customers buying from United Colors of Benetton stores have been taking their purchases home in a craft-white eco-friendly paper shopping bag, processed using water-based inks only, and sourced from an FSC certified paper factory, ensuring products are made using timber from forests that are controlled and managed according to the principles of social and environmental sustainability. (Benetton Group Official Press Release)

Green labels: are EU consumers confused about them?

It all started with an article about green packaging, where there was a sentence regarding the the Green Guides (US Federal Trade Commission): "65 percent of Americans would prefer just one seal for green products over the hundreds that are now causing confusion. They note that it is increasingly hard to determine if a product is "truly green" or not based on available information. They are presently overwhelmed with the 350 product certifications that currently exist".

In Europe, consumers for sure know about Ecolabel and EnergyStar and…what else? I have made a very quick search on the web about the online resources available to consumers willing to understand a little bit more about "green labels". I did not find anything that is both comprehensive and easy to understand – the best resource being this PDF which is only related to UK. I think that as long as there is so much confusion about labelling, product and process certification, together with a lack of communication, consumers will have a hard time in understanding the real value of sustainable/green products and greenwashing will still be consumers first word associated to sustainability. 

I think that it would be of great interest for retail companies too to contribute to a sort of global database of green seals /certifications/labels in order to better communicate with consumers. Would you, as a product manufacturer, contribute?

When Zero is a great result

I  suggest to everybody interested in what big corporations are doing about sustainability to download the State of Green Business report by Greenbiz.com available online.

For those of you who have little time and want to hear the good news first: many big coCourtesy of Naem.orgrporations, from Xerox to Kraft, from Procter and Gamble to Coca-Cola, are working hard at reducing if not eliminating the waste originated by the manufacturing process. Companies learnt that cutting waste can yield multiple savings, together with a better image and a greener environment.

But -here's the bad news – there is no generally accepted definition of what "zero waste" means. For some companies zero waste might include also incinerations and other technologies that many "green professionals" will not define as sustainable and eco-friendly ones.

As we always stress, a standardization of sustainability practices is a need for a better and more efficient communication with consumers and with stakeholders, so that to avoid a word that we don't like at all: greenwashing.(Photo courtesy of naem.org)

ECOFFEE’s green guerrilla: here’s the proof!!

Well, there is not so much to add to this great video showing the backstage of our ECOFFEE green guerrilla action during last SIGEP. Spread the video, spread sustainability!

7-Eleven embraces sustainability

As we at ECOFFEE are always saying, sustainability in the retail business is not a trend but it is a must if you want to be sucessful in the future. And when we read that giants such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods Market, Castorama and Tesco, are actually changing their policies and store design to follow a more sustainable business we wonder when this will happen in Italy.

Today, our attention was caught by a very interesting article on the NYTimes about 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan where fluorescent light bulbs have been replaced by the soft glow of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, that consume half the energy and last much longer.

The 7-Eleven Japan program also includes photovoltaic panels on the store roof, and light-reflecting floor and sensors that automatically adjust the lighting.

The article also points out that this is going to be a very expensive program, being a green 7-Eleven store as much as 30 percent more expensive to build than a more traditional one. But Japanese customers are now more eco-conscious and shopping in a greener store can be more appealing to them. (Photo courtesy of Voice)