Category Archives: forests

Peeking into Sustainable Paper and Packaging

by Silvia Schmid*

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To some, the idea of a sustainable paper and packaging company can produce an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance, perhaps conjuring up imagery of clear cutting and Styrofoam. Yet as much as we would like to think, do not print emails and traveling mugs are hardly going to replace the paper and packaging products that consumers want, firms demand, and on which the economy relies every day. Although this doesn’t mean that there is nothing being done. There are plenty of efforts to nudge consumer behavior toward the more sustainable, and, as attendees at a recent lecture at Wharton found out, the paper and packaging industry itself certainly considers issues of sustainability.

The Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) invited David Kiser, Ph.D., Vice President, Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability at International Paper (IP) and a member of the IGEL Corporate Advisory Board, to speak about the company’s sustainability initiatives. The lecture was cosponsored by the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading

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Forest Certification Schemes for Corporate Supply Chains

(Post by Caroline D’Angelo, IGEL Communications Coordinator and lead author of the report from which this post is adapted. This research and report was made possible by a Wharton Global Initiatives Research grant.)

Forests are the planet’s biodiversity reserves: One hectare of tropical forest may contain up to 750 species of tree and millions of other species of insects, fungi, bacteria, reptiles and mammals – and of course, the most intelligent of primate, humans. This biodiversity provides medicine, income, food and shelter for millions of people around the world, as well as supply materials and products for corporate supply chains. Beyond hosting an impressive array of species, trees are also reserves for carbon, consuming and storing this greenhouse gas in their soils, bark and leaves. (Indeed, protecting and re-generating forests may be the cheapest way to mitigate climate change – see REDD+.)
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Wharton MBA students write business plan for Kenyan honey farm

Jonathan Nipper, Anuj Kulkarn, Alexis Cox, and Julia Wynyard, Wharton MBA students from the class of 2012, traveled to  Kenya to help write a business and forest conservation plan for a honey business.  They assisted REFUGE, an indigenous-led, community-based organization, which is working to restore the Mau forest in Kenya.  One of the only sources of income for the community is charcoal production, which 85 percent of Kenyans rely on as a fuel source.  REFUGE is using the honey business to provide alternative sources of income and to provide a revenue stream to be used to plant trees and to reinvest into the community schools. The trip was part of the Wharton International Volunteer Program, and co-sponsored by IGEL. You can read their diary from the trip here.

Highlights from the business plan:

  • The team conducted primary market research with purchasing and gift shop managers in both Nairobi and the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
  • The team evaluated the market and found that the high-end honey market in Kenya consists mostly of tourists and business travelers, as well as Nairobi-dwellers who seek organic foods. The export market is also a possibility in the future, and the team identified Mau Honey’s main competitors to establish how Mau Honey might differentiate to capture market share.
  • The team also identified the social impacts of the business; detailing projected trees saved and planted using a portion of the profits from the honey.

We at IGEL are certainly happy we could help send these students to Kenya to use their business skills to assist REFUGE’s efforts to provide alternative community income, invest in community education and assist in forest conservation.  Thank you to the students who did such a great job, and REFUGE for the excellent work it does!