Progress on Sustainability Initiatives at Major Consumer Product Companies (Part 1)

Submitted by Rekha Menon-Varma (WG ’06), Managing Partner, Vertaeon LLC

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Leading consumer product companies have embraced corporate sustainability, from setting mid to long term goals to driving alignment with business objectives. In addition to resource scarcity, increasing regulations, and ever expanding global supply chains, these companies also face changing consumer expectations. A decade ago, I was debating aspects of profit maximization, considering all stakeholders rights and the conflicts (in interests) it could bring about, at our business law class at Wharton. Today, leaders like Unilever, Nestle and Coca-Cola have demonstrated how to strike the right balance in implementing Sustainability initiatives.

Here at Vertaeon, our focus on sustainability strategy, resources and supply chain made us curious about goal-setting in consumer product companies (CPG). Sustainability goals in leading CPG companies ranged from operational (reducing/managing resource consumption, emissions, safe workplace) to supply chain (sustainable sourcing and reducing waste and carbon footprint of supply chain) to social impact. There has also been discussions and actions on business model and product innovation. However, as Clayton Christensen put it in a recent conversation* success in business model innovation is not easy even for leaders. Balancing innovation with social and environmental drivers make it even more complex to design and implement.

Being focused on data analytics and having experienced the power of data in ensuring successful Sustainability initiatives, we went searching for consolidated data on Sustainability goals at CPG companies and found it on Andrew Winston’s Pivot Goals site**. As a first pass, we looked at three sub-sectors including Food, Beverage, and Household and Personal Care. Within these, we assessed fifteen companies and fourteen KPIs including: Climate, Energy, Renewable, Fuel, Air, GHG, Water, Waste, Forest, Safety, Packaging, Food & Ag, Products and Distribution.

Our goal was to identify past focus areas and undertake some level of sector and company benchmarking and gap identification that could (a) yield higher visibility into goal-setting and (b) identify improvement options. For analysis purposes, each goal was reduced to the main message and assigned to one of four buckets/goal areas, categorized by Vertaeon, as Operations, Supply Chain, Products and Community. Progress along these four broad buckets is the primary focus of this analysis. In total, we assessed 19 goal types, 12 focus areas and 155 goals. Considering, ‘what’s measured is managed’, we also split goals with specific targets and progress from those with No Reported Change. Community bucket showed up mainly under ‘no reported change’. (Ref: Charts 2 & 3).

[For detailed analytics related to peer benchmarking and company performance, please contact us at http://www.vertaeon.com]

Key Findings

Operational goals lead the way:

It is no surprise that companies focused on their operations. 51% of the goals are related to reduction targets; GHG (11%), energy (9%), water (10%) and waste (14%) combined with improving recycling (5%), safety and renewable energy. Traditionally, reduction goals have been viewed as cost reduction opportunities; however, as CPG customers, retailers and consumers, demand more from their supply chain, operational initiatives will continue to stay at the forefront of sustainability. Vertaeon’s Integrated Analytics™ platform provides opportunities to further leverage, through in-depth analytics, the operational data collected as part of these initiatives to identify actionable operational improvements.

Supply chain offers new KPI opportunities:

Sustainable sourcing leads overall goals; however, this can be attributed to high coverage by Unilever and P&G (20/27 or 74%). Supply chain goals currently under focus in the CPG sector are improving sustainable sourcing (17%), reducing GHG emissions in supply chain (6%) and transportation (2%). This analysis indicates a vital need for more players to adapt goals/KPIs in the areas of reducing GHG and Carbon footprints, reducing packaging waste and improving sustainable sourcing of raw materials and packaging along the supply chain.

CHART 1

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Product goals as prevalent as supply chain goals (Ref: Chart 2):

While leading players such as Unilever, Nestle, Coca-Cola & Pepsi have embarked on product nutrition and sustainability goals, overall there is still considerable room for improving product sustainability within these consumer sectors. Here again, we will see more KPIs as consumers demand higher levels of nutrition and impact labeling. Current product goals focus on health & wellness (13%) and packaging (6%).

CHART 2

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Goals with no reported change (Ref: Chart 3):

The Community section leads the pack here with goals in community (13%), water availability (9%) and health & wellness (6%). This offers opportunities to set specific targets and monitoring for community and social impact and assess investment priorities as well as impact. Other notable ‘no change’ goals came up in Water (Operations), Food & Ag (Supply Chain) and Health & Wellness (Products). This could suggest there is room for setting additional targets and subsequently monitoring changes here as well.

CHART 3

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In Conclusion

This preliminary assessment of Sustainability goal-setting and currently reported goals at leading CPG companies indicate a primary focus on Operational goals. While Product and Supply chain goals are increasingly becoming part of sustainability initiatives at the leading companies, there is room for further adoption in this sector. The focus on Operational goals presents the unique opportunity for companies to leverage the operational data collected as part of goal-tracking to identify opportunities for improvement. As mentioned at the outset, the heterogeneity in consumer expectations has not yet fully translated to goal-setting or reporting. A recent publication by NC State University*** found that consumers see other dimensions (e.g. risk & compliance, social justice) of interest than those put forth by the GRI framework, thereby suggesting a disconnect between corporate sustainability reporting and stakeholder views and interests. Understanding of consumer demographics and preferences via segmentation and translating insights to product and engagement strategies can address this.

Blog Contributors: Danielle Boccelli, Data Analyst, Vertaeon LLC & Vipin Varma (WG’11, IGEL Alumni Advisory Board), Co-Founder, Vertaeon LLC

*Building a business creation engine, MIT Sloan Webinar, January 2017 **www.pivotgoals.com, A. Winston in collaboration with Jeff Gowdy                          ***Study finds current corporate sustainability reporting misses the mark, M. Bradford et al., NC State University, January 2017

Energy Policy Now Podcast: How Alberta Overcame Discord to Enact Carbon Tax

Contributed by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, via Andy Stone

Carbon policy unexpectedly made headlines last week when a pair of Republican party elders proposed a national carbon tax with a few unique twists. The proposal from Treasury secretaries George Schultz and James Baker actually looks similar to the carbon tax that the Canadian province of Alberta enacted on January 1st with unusually broad buy-in from environmentalists, the energy industry (Canada’s oil sands are in Alberta), indigenous groups and government.

Energy Policy Now, the podcast from Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, interviews Alberta’s senior diplomat to the United States on details of the tax and the collaborative process that made it reality.

Gitane De Silva, Senior Representative to the United States, discusses plan details including the rebate checks to the majority of Albertans to offset higher energy costs. De Silva also provides insights into the provincial government’s intended uses for the balance of the C$9.6 billion in tax revenue over the next five years.

Connecting The Dots: Sustainability Through A Circular Economy

By Darci Gold

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Partnering with logistics solution company CHEP, IGEL of the Wharton School presented a conference centered around sustainability through the supply chain. Provoking a complex conversation about the ins and outs of companies currently exhibiting a steady stream of environmental consciousness, the event took place at the University of Pennsylvania, February eighth.

The morning’s first speaker, David Clark (Vice President of Safety Environment, and Sustainability, Amco)  highlighted the importance of packaging with a sustainability mindset. Amco, a manufacturing company, specializes in rigid and flexible packaging goods. With annual sales surpassing ten billion dollars in revenue, it has vowed to protect resources that are considered necessary to create its products. Its innovation and concern for the environment made Amco responsible for saving seven million pounds of resin for customers in the last fiscal year. In his closing minutes, Mr. Clark made poignant remarks on the discussion of biodegradability versus recycling, and interacted with numerous eager questioners in the audience. Mr. Clark made clear Amco’s sustainability initiative was a key driver in the company’s success.

Senior Director of Customer Supply Chain Integration of PepsiCo, Dennis Donelon spoke next about the manufacturing aspect of sustainability. Playing a significant role in the continuing success of the company, Mr. Donelon spoke to the necessity of environmental friendliness in business. Within the next decade, the multi-billion dollar company will seek to further protect the planet, improve the nutritional value of product, and empower the public to pursue innovation. The importance of considering fact and data when forming opinion was stressed, as well as the concept of “end to end collaboration.” Mr. Donelon expressed PepsiCo’s sincere pledge to protect the environment by citing the company’s goals to limit its usage of water and other resources commonly used to manufacture its products.

Providing the retail perspective, Mike Graham of Meijer conveyed the grocer’s strategy and commitment to sustainability. Mr. Graham described Meijer’s solutions to limiting the company’s contribution to the waste stream; simply finding use for residual organic product and selling it as a separate commodity. The company’s longstanding support of sustainability is set to continue by further incorporating recycling into the production design and by establishing a supplier code of conduct within Meijer, itself.

Vice President of Nielsen, Wendy Salomon advocated for visibility and communication between consumers and producers. According to recent data, sixty-six percent of the populations of sixty countries said they would pay more for sustainable products versus cheaper, less clean options. Based on this and other research, Ms. Salomon essentially concluded that the consumer genuinely cares about which companies they support. Therefore, adopting sustainability into one’s business model can promote the general public opinion and consumption of a company’s product. An additional conclusion derived from Nielsen’s research was that millennials value a social and environmental consciousness in their employer. Ms. Salomon urged businesses to connect sustainability to consistent themes throughout their history in order to be believable and appealing to the consumer.

Finally, host of the event and President of CHEP North America, Kim Rumph spoke to the audience. CHEP (a producer of pallets, crates, and containers) has adopting a “pooled” assets model in order to promote sustainability. The logistics solutions company has successfully aided numerous businesses in their goals to move toward a more sustainable model. Essentially, CHEP shares its three-hundred  million reusable products across sixty countries. Ms. Rumph consistently stressed the importance of sharing and collaboration in order to promote sustainability.
Throughout the entire conference, each business leader advised partnership and teamwork. They all acknowledged the obligation of major companies to actively seek to adopt practices that protect and preserve the environment. Packaging, manufacturing, selling, and consuming sustainable goods is not only moral but incredibly beneficial for business. Closing the loop of the circular economy and campaigning for corporate care for the environment depends on consumer interaction, innovation, partnership, and collaboration.

Collaboration, Innovation and Sharing: Turning Circular Supply Chain Vision into Reality

By Todd Hoff, VP Marketing and Customer Solutions, CHEP North America

When many of us were young, our parents taught us to share because it is polite and a nice thing to do. Today, as the world faces significant population growth and the environmental challenges that follow, the concept of sharing is a key building block in the long-term strategy to build a better world.

Experts say that the global population is expected to grow from 7.5 billion today to nearly 10 billion by 2050, adding more than two billion consumers to the global economy that will need access to safe, affordable and nutritious food and personal care products.

For decades, the fast-moving consumer goods industry has kept pace with growing population and consumer demands thanks to the development of innovative agricultural, manufacturing and supply chain practices. In recent years, academics, industry leaders, economic and sustainability thought leaders and efficiency experts have been collaborating to develop equally innovative plans for successfully meeting the challenges of the future.

That is where the concept of sharing comes in. Moving beyond the concept of reduce, reuse and recycle, stakeholders in the global economy have developed a vision of a Circular Economy, powered by a Circular Supply Chain that produces zero waste and zero carbon emissions. The fundamental building block of a Circular Supply Chain is shared and reusable assets.

At CHEP, our business model is based on shared and reusable assets. We move consumer goods throughout the world on more than 300 million reusable pallets, containers and crates that are used over-and-over again by our customers. We are committed to the vision of a Circular Supply Chain and bringing it to life through ongoing collaboration with our customers, thought leaders and stakeholders around the globe.

On February 8th, CHEP partnered with the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania for a thought leadership event entitled,  Connecting the Dots: Sustainability Through a Circular Economy. CHEP teamed up with visionary stakeholders – a major packaging manufacturer; a multinational food, snack and beverage corporation; a grocery retailer and a leading consumer research company. They each discussed their sustainability efforts and collaboration in helping to turn the vision of a Circular Supply Chain into reality.

A recent study by McKinsey & Company shows that the consumer goods supply chain is fertile ground for both efficiency and sustainable savings presently and over the long-term. That is intriguing, because our focus at CHEP is collaborating with our customers to optimize and improve the sustainability of the supply chain.

Through our end-to-end supply chain solutions, we help our customers save money, become more efficient and more sustainable. For instance in the past 12 months, when it comes to sustainability, we have helped customers keep 1.4 million trees on the planet and eliminate 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, equivalent to taking more than 485,000 passenger vehicles off US roads. We’ve also removed 1.3 million tonnes of waste from landfills, eliminated 3 million empty truck miles and avoided more than 3,000 tonnes of food from being damaged during transport.

In collaborating with our customers, CHEP and its parent company, Brambles, have been recognized by the leading Circular Economy foundation and a major grocery retailer as a key component of the Circular Supply Chain because of our shared and reusable business model.

We are excited about developing an efficient and sustainable global supply chain that benefits people and the planet for generations to come. We are equally proud to partner with our customers and leading stakeholders to achieve a Circular Economy and a Circular Supply Chain, through sharing our experiences at Connecting the Dots.

Visit www.chep.com for more information or follow us on Twitter @CHEPna and LinkedIn. Please also check out our YouTube channel.

Education and the Sustainability Professional of the Future

By Neelam Ferrari

Many of my posts talk about the numerous global issues that are related to sustainability, and more particularly, how these important topics relate to human health and nutrition. As food and nutrition security will likely become defining societal issues over the coming decades, and we see no slowdown in the evolution of technological progress, the demands of sustainability professionals working in fields related to these topics need to be responsive to emerging global trends. These trends include not only environmental components, but also encompass changes in business, socioeconomics, technology and culture. When we hear the term sustainability, we often immediately focus on the environment and natural resources. While this is appropriate, it is only a piece of the broader puzzle. The definition, and the acknowledgement of topics related to sustainability encompasses perspectives from many different fields ranging from finance to medicine. Therefore, the foundation education for future sustainability professionals must embrace a multidisciplinary approach, while also emphasizing depth in one or more of the related components.

I can think about this from my own perspective as I will be entering college in the fall. After college, I plan to embark on a career in medicine. However, I plan to do more than practice in a clinical setting. In addition to working directly with patients, I also want to work to address some of the issues that are at the root of the development of disease, and I believe that many of these issues can be addressed through the lens of sustainability. Some of these sustainability/health issues center around access to a clean and plentiful water supply; this brings in the perspective of science and engineering. Others relate to food and nutrition, which can include genetics, biotechnology and education. In addition, we can connect some diseases to the lack of access to markets, which includes knowledge of economics, politics and business. From these high level examples, it is clear to me that while my primary education will focus on medicine and biotechnology, I will also need to develop a foundation in other contributing fields that are part of the sustainability spectrum.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Platform has been a leader in highlighting the importance of education in meeting sustainability goals. Further, education has been selected as one of the priority areas to help advance their agenda. As we broaden our definition of what a sustainability professional is, we can start to see that no matter what your primary occupation might be, a sustainability emphasis can be incorporated into your job and this is important in truly making effective strides towards addressing global problems. Core curriculum emphasizing sustainability subjects is a start, and supplementing this with ties to the business world, such as those developed at Wharton IGEL at Penn, Columbia’s The Earth Institute, and the NYU Stern Center for Sustainability, are great examples that other institutes can emulate.

The Sustainability of Fasting

By L.E. Brolly

In an era where there is a concern over food production with a burgeoning global population and a paradoxical health crisis of obesity, imagine encouraging fasting for future sustainability of both. A calculated fast, in simplest terms, provides a method for reducing consumption overall for both an individual and society as a whole. Reducing or maintaining an individual’s ideal weight which will keep an individual healthy will minimize the burden on already overwhelmed medical establishments. Who doesn’t want to think about all of these things particularly as the New Year rolls over into 2017?

Fasting can be managed by any number of methods ranging from hourly windows to multiple days. Consider a day in which a person, Alex has 12 tasks to complete and very little time to think let alone eat and a spare tire that, by fasting definitions, is ripe for the picking, for energy, that is.

Alex hits the ground running at 6AM. With an ½ hour to get out the door, maybe they only have time to flip the switch on their coffee maker, take a quick shower, and get away with their travel mug. Alex now knows that they will make their 7:30 meeting after the train commute because they did not have to stop for breakfast along the way and have an additional saving of cash with enough time to spare for quick meeting prep.

Demystifying fasting is no easy task particularly when the desire is to, in the same breath, promote it as a sustainable, healthy practice that benefits not only the individual but also society as a whole. Firstly, fasting must be defined by what it is not. Fasting is not starvation. Fasting is strategic and planned. The body responds very differently when there is no food or only specific types of food like broth or bouillon than when it is presented with repeated low calorie options and days on end which is when the body starts thinking it is starving. Pairing fasting with normal eating is the key to its success.

In the previous scenario, Alex skipped breakfast. Consider the resources spared: cash, food stuffs, energy for cooking, transport of raw and finished materials, packaging manufacturing, and more. If Alex had only partially consumed the food, there would have been waste. If Alex had ingested the full thing, it might have been the start of excess of calories for the day. This is a positive deficit.

Moving throughout the day, there are deadlines looming with only time to have tea or a quick cup of soup. Alex will make the deadline because now they have a spare hour to work on the task at hand. Tomorrow is another day and re-scheduling a lunch meeting is often an easy task. But what about having enough energy to think? The body has this capacity to turn stored body fat and consumed fat into ketone bodies (not to be confused with ketoacidosis suffered by diabetics) that can be readily used by the brain instead of glucose. This is a bonus. Skip the candy bar and the processed ready meal which takes time and energy to produce and heat up. Bring on the bouillon soup or bone broth made with hot water to replenish electrolytes.

Moving through the day, there are many fewer tasks at hand and the one key item that often gets skipped is exercise. Powered by ketones and replenished by electrolytes, there is now time for Alex to take a 30 minute jog, weight lifting session, swim, or exercise class. A body powered by fat and trained to do so can get through hours of endurance training. After all, how did the cavemen get through?

Alex has now dodged one day of getting closer to obesity or taken a step in the right direction away from it. Obesity has spawned a global health crisis whose cure is now being touted as fasting and the elimination of sugar. If instead of promoting agriculture that is concerned with a wheat, corn, and sugar base which is increasingly obesogenic and narrowly focused, society could move to an agriculture that promotes caloric density of animal products combined with wholesome, organic, diverse vegetables simply by reallocating resources creating sustainability. There is nothing extra to produce and nothing to buy to combat obesity and essentially a conservation of food resources with fasting. Practiced in an intermittent fashion, fasting is safe and easy and sustainable.

 

n.b. – Fasting while healthful, is not indicated for individuals who have struggled with eating disorders, are pregnant or breastfeeding, are under 18, or have a BMI under 20.

 

Janice Martin Couture: Sewing Green into Philadelphia’s Boutique Apparel Scene

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The Greenest Gowns!

Janice Martin Couture designs classic custom clothing for women who appreciate quality, fit and fashion… which are all attributes that coincide with a more sustainable “European approach” to dressing.  Working with clients to create clothing which flatters their figure and reflects each personality allows for fabrics which are all natural, lighter in weight, more “breathable” than garments which are made from or lined in polyester/petroleum based textiles.  Because the clothing is made for a specific figure, and because each client’s fabric choices reflect her personality, clients have a love affair with the items designed which influences them to wear the items more consistently over time and the quality of the construction allows each piece to survive multiple cleanings… alterations… design upgrades, etc.  Only fabric needed for the client’s use is ordered, so there is little “over-run” and what is left as scrap is given over to students or quilting groups who make items for the homeless.  For those women who “amortize” the cost of a garment, the everyday suit becomes a great bargain.

Of course there are plenty of women whose experience with couture is only through the purchase of bridal and evening wear.  In that case, a garment custom designed at the local level leaves a smaller carbon footprint, keeps finely trained artisans in business and again, allows for better quality fit, fabrics and future use.  Many of the bridal gowns designed at Janice Martin Couture are designed with future use in mind so that clients can wear their wedding gowns to follow up events at the opera, other weddings, holiday parties, etc.

By far the biggest “green” wedding gown would be that of the re-designed heirloom gown…. many women have a family gown which may or may not fit or flatter the current bride’s needs… but knowing the right creative team allows the bride to recreate the gown in a myriad of styles that can make it truly her own —while honoring the family tradition.  It is possible sometimes to completely take apart a vintage gown and use the fabrics to design an entirely new style… or sometimes it’s a matter of tweaking what is already there… or rebuilding just the bodice or just the skirt.  It is possible to take a gown from a small size to large, shorter to longer (or vice versa)… add color, matching lace or contrasting trim.  The right imagination and skills can produce an amazing transformation.

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(Before re-design and alterations)

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(After re-design and alterations by Janice Martin)

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Family textiles may also be the result of far-flung travel.  Numerous clients have purchased “souvenir textiles” that have been sitting unused on a shelf for years from which we have designed a variety of separates (African kente and mudcloth), evening and bridal wear (sari fabric), and sportswear from Kashmiri cashmere.

When our clients are out and about in a great style that transcends trends and are still getting compliments on an item designed 25 years ago the return on investment continues to please.  When a bride walks down the aisle in a gown that has connections with mothers, grandmothers, aunts, siblings or even a close friend, the sentimental value and joy are multiplied.  When being “part of the process” allows a gown to “evolve” with input from the client, it produces a gown much more special and flattering than any item found “off the rack”.  All of which contribute to a clothing philosophy of long lasting beauty, joy, utility and value.

Archival / Long Term Storage for Textiles

Storing textiles, fabric, leathers and feathers, etc. in plastic has proven to be a poor choice for the long term health of materials.  Better to store that heirloom gown in a cotton sheet, or the Ty-Bag, an archival garment bag made to measure by Janice Martin Couture.  These garment bags may be used for transporting a gown to/from an event… or for long term storage thus alleviating the need for a space hogging box that is often NOT truly acid free.  As long as the materials are stored in an area that is “not too hot/not too cold, moist, dry, etc” (if you are comfortable, so are your textiles is one way of judging the situation), your garments can be stored and worn safely for years to come.  The Ty-Bag is made from archival muslin or Tyvek, depending upon the client’s preference.  The muslin bag can be washed every few years to remove dust and an inspection of the materials stored therein made… Tyvek is an inert product used by museums for long term storage and needs no cleaning.  That is not to say that Tyvek cannot get wet however.

For the bride marrying in “iffy weather” Janice Martin Couture has designed a bridal rain cape out of Tyvek —it is lightweight, takes up little space, allows for gown protection, can be used as a drop cloth for photo shoots on wet pavement or grass… and can be used after the wedding as a cover for the gown to keep dust off for long terms storage.  For questions or to order, please contact http://www.janicemartin.net

Go Green (All Natural), Wear Green (Redesigned Heirloom Gowns), Save Green (Money)

For the quality conscious woman who knows what looks well on her… who may not like to shop… but does like the creative input allowed by the process of custom clothing… a wardrobe update may be as close as “closet shopping”…a trip to her own closet may produce a number of things which need to be purged, but may also discover favorite items that need a tweak to make them current, wearable and beautiful again.  Among the items clients have brought to Janice Martin Couture are heirloom wedding gowns and evening wear too cherished to give away.  Besides redesigning a vintage wedding gown into one a contemporary bride would wear, we have designed cocktail dresses, sun dresses, christening gowns…. even jackets, bustiers, pillows, baby quilts and clutch purses from family gowns that otherwise may have languished sadly in disuse.  It’s a great way to “lighten the world” by clearing out storage space, bringing to light beautiful textiles and re-utilizing heirlooms that are joyful connection to family history.

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IGEL at the COP22

By Eleanor Mitch, CEO and Founder of EM Strategy Consulting, Wharton alumna

The swift approval and ratification of the Paris Agreement[1] (104 countries of the 197, or 58%, have ratified the agreement!) was nothing short of “miraculous” in CIDCE[2] president Michel Prieur[3]’s words. Never before had an international agreement been so rapidly approved and adopted by so many nations in such a short span of time (approximately 1 year). Indeed, Prieur, one of the “fathers” of the principle of non-regression in environmental law, was instrumental in ensuring the addition of “this momentum is irreversible” in para.4 of the Marrakech Action Proclamation[4]. He has participated in the drafting of many international conventions since the 1970s and sees great hope in the rapid action even though we and future generations will still have to face the grave effects of climate change.

As part of this historic movement of awakening to the realities of the changes climate change must bring about, Wharton IGEL was represented with a presentation in absentia[5] by Eric Orts[6] on the implications for business of the Paris Agreement. Indeed, one of the key sectors that will be facing changes is the business sector. While markets have already chosen more sustainable energy sources in some areas (investments in wind and solar power, and Morocco boasts the world’s largest solar power plant, which just went live in 2016[7]), much more needs to be done, all throughout the supply chain, especially in Operations.

For the first time ever at a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC-COP), an event uniting the ITC[8], IFAD[9], WTO[10], UNCTAD[11], UNFCCC[12] and UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation[13] was held to discuss how to move forward with business and trade on the Paris Agreement. During the event, Wharton IGEL Alumni Eleanor Mitch raised the point of the role of business schools, and especially IGEL’s, in leading the way to new business opportunities and innovation in sustainability. Given that Wharton graduates and those of other business schools will become business leaders, it is important to strengthen ties with the international law-making, enforcing bodies and business schools to prepare graduates to provide services and products for the challenges the world faces: environmentally displaced persons, sea-level rising, sustainable energy and consumption among others. Innovation and creativity-driven prosperity can come hand-in-hand with sustainable development.

 

[1] https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09.pdf

[2] http://cidce.org/

[3] http://cidce.org/structures-institutional/

[4] http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/application/pdf/marrakech_action_proclamation.pdf

[5] Eleanor Mitch, presented for Eric Orts

[6] http://cidce.org/presentations-cop-22-cop-22-presentations/

[7] http://www.greenprophet.com/2016/02/worlds-largest-solar-power-plant-goes-live-in-morocco/

[8] http://www.intracen.org/

[9] https://www.ifad.org/

[10] https://www.wto.org/

[11] http://unctad.org/en/Pages/Home.aspx

[12] unfccc.int

[13] http://unfccc.int/bodies/body/6406/php/view/reports.php#c

PSR Presents: The Business of Sustainability

By Samantha Freeman

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On Saturday, November 19th, my Management 100 team hosted a conference in John H. Huntsman Hall on behalf of Penn Sustainability Review. This conference, The Business of Sustainability, explored the intersection between business and sustainability. Our keynote speaker was David Cohen, Chairman of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and an Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation. Our panel included Morgan Berman, CEO and Co-Founder of MilkCrate; Melissa Lee, CEO and Founder of The GREEN Program; Jason Halpern, CEO and Co-Founder of Gridless Power; and Emily Schapira, Campaign Director for the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA). Together, these speakers and panelists answered the long-standing question: How can the sustainability efforts of businesses both small and large lead to significant change?

My team, Flight Club, kept two main goals in mind when planning this conference. We wanted to 1) promote the discussion of sustainability issues among the Penn population, and 2) increase name recognition and interest in PSR. With over 130 Penn students in attendance, the conference successfully raised awareness for the academic discourse community PSR has created. Furthermore, the dozens of questions received for the panel and several students’ newfound interest in writing articles post-conference revealed that sustainability is a topic that truly sparks the curiosity of the Penn population. We are so excited to see how PSR will keep bringing this enthusiasm to new heights over the next few years.

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Around 1 pm on Saturday, students began entering F85. They happily stacked their plates with Chipotle burritos and Zesto’s Pizza, then found a seat and waited for introductions from Lori Rosenkopf, Vice Dean of the Wharton Undergraduate Program, and Julianne Goodman, Editor-In-Chief of PSR. Following these introductions, David Cohen spoke for twenty minutes on Comcast’s commitment to sustainability and future of sustainable investments for businesses. Comcast’s LEED-certified buildings were one point of focus. Comcast Center, in downtown Philadelphia, utilizes high-performance glass and sunscreens and water-saving fixtures to reduce expenses and energy consumption. As Comcast builds more structures like these, the corporation remains committed to delivering its services in a manner that lessons its environmental footprint.

Around 1:50 pm, the panel began its discussion, moderated by Penn graduate student Emily Newton. As the panelists shared the stories behind their businesses and how they got involved with sustainability, one thing became clear: All a person needs to start building an idea is a personal commitment to the issue at hand. For Morgan Berman and Melissa Lee especially, an independent goal to live more sustainably blossomed into a plan for a company that would allow others to do the same. Following the initial round of questions, audience members were welcome to ask their own. Several students were interested in hearing the answer to this question: What small things can I do? As they learned from the panelists, regardless of how miniscule the activity may be (for example, carrying a reusable water bottle over a plastic one), anything counts, and every great decision can have an even more substantial impact.

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My team thoroughly enjoyed working with PSR over the course of the semester, and we hope everyone who attended our conference found the experience to be as enjoyable and rewarding as we did. If you are interested in learning more about the featured businesses or want to know what you can do to promote sustainability, please reach out to our panelists, whose contact information is listed below. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Julianne Goodman, Hersh Solanski, and Elena Rohner for their guidance, and we thank you all for flying with us.

 

Panelists’ Contact Information:

Morgan Berman: Morgan@mymilkcrate.com

Jason Halpern: Halpern@gridless.com

Melissa Lee: Melissa@theGREENprogram.com

Emily Schapira: eschapira@philaenergy.org

Upcoming IGEL Event: Bridging the Gap Between Public Health, Energy Efficiency & Poverty

By Shaunak Kulkarni

On November 30th, IGEL will be sponsoring a networking and education event hosted by the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA), in conjunction with the students in Wharton’s MGMT 100 course. The event is meant to explore the intersection of public health and the energy efficiency/clean energy industries as well as bring together a broad coalition of community and national voices from non-profit, public, and private sectors across these industries. The Philadelphia Energy Authority is an organization created by Mayor Nutter and City Council in 2010 with the goals of improving energy affordability and sustainability for the City, holding long-term energy contracts, and educating consumers.

In February 2016, PEA launched the Philadelphia Energy Campaign, an initiative to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency in key sectors: city buildings, the school district of Philadelphia, and low-income residential housing. Philly is the poorest big city in the nation and has one of the highest rates of home ownership, with an extraordinary number of low-income homeowners. Philadelphians also have a very high energy cost burden compared to other cities, increasing rates of chronic childhood asthma and lead poisoning, and are often in serious need of major home repairs or maintenance. This event will spotlight programs and organizations that engage at the intersection of energy and health and highlight specific initiatives that address poverty, healthy homes, housing preservation and household expense reduction.

This week’s event will be hosted at the PECO Energy Hall on November 30th, starting at 11:30am. IGEL is the generous sponsor of the event, providing lunch box catering. Three speakers will present in a TED-talk fashion and host a small Q&A panel session afterwards. Students from Wharton’s MGMT 100 course helped coordinate and organize the event. PEA hopes that this event will foster conversation and influence change regarding the intersection of energy and public health in Philadelphia.