Last week in the news, we heard about some interesting reuses for plastic bottles. This week, those ubiquitous water bottles are making headlines yet again—this time for a massive jump in the recycling rate. According to new data from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), plastic water bottle recycling in the United States jumped nearly 20 percent since 2010. While that’s certainly a vast improvement over the years, NAPCOR’s data also showed that more could be done.
From black and gold to green, pianomakers Steinway & Sons’ “ethic of continuous improvement” has earned it a place as a leader and innovator in corporate sustainability. The roof of the company’s 100-year-old factory was equipped with the world’s largest parabolic solar installation in 2009. The 38 solar troughs collect sunlight for converting into a system that cools and dehumidifies the factory—factors incredibly important for the specialized piano manufacturing process. A recently released project update quotes cost reductions that will achieve ROI within five years.
Switching from manmade to naturally occurring global sustainability issues, Japan is using the aftermath of nature’s fury to increase its building of smart, sustainable cities. After the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the country has been actively supporting smart city projects—those designed to encourage sustainable growth and healthy economic activities that reduce the burden on the environment while improving the quality of life. To read the project’s mission statement, visit the Japan Smart City Portal.
We can also thank Mother Nature in part for issues facing the energy market. Electricity prices in New England have been the subject of public concern as cold, snowy weather continue to hit the Northeast. The spike in electricity demand created by the frigid temps has caused prices to increase four to eight times higher than average for the region. The New York Times cites a reliance on natural gas and the shuttering of plants as contributing parts of the problem. Read more about the issue here.
By Linda Tiger
Editor’s Note: Linda Tiger spent 30 years in the foodservice industry in Southern California before reinventing herself as a sustainability and resource management consultant in 2011. She recently became a California Resource Recovery Institute Certified Resource Management Professional. Linda attended the CHOICES Sustainability Summit in May and shares her experiences and insights below.
I thought the CHOICES Sustainability Summit was an exceptional learning opportunity for anyone concerned about issues of business, conservation, supply-chain management and how “going green” can be good for the bottom line.
It was fascinating to have an opportunity to tour Disneyland and see the sustainable choices they have prioritized to help conserve their energy resources. Between water irrigation systems, landscaping materials, biodiesel transportation and cooking oil recycling, Disney has made multiple choices that are effective in meeting sustainability priorities, while maintaining a positive guest experience.
I liked the guest speakers at the CHOICES Summit as well – everyone who spoke and participated in the panel discussions shared a passion for environmental impacts that addressed the business and social needs of today and into the future. They all shared a common bond with regard to the economics of sustainability, reiterating that good environmental practices are, in fact, good business.
In many ways, the Summit was different than what I expected. First of all, I was surprised to find such diverse attendance – it was far from the “usual suspects” I tend to find at similar conferences. There were representatives from multiple industries, not just paper or manufacturing businesses. For instance, I had a great discussion with someone else who shares a background in foodservice – we talked about moving the industry away from polystyrene and toward paper-based packaging.
The most valuable part of the Summit for me was being able to implement what I learned as part of my consultancy. I work frequently with educational institutions, helping them choose sustainable products for building and construction, remodeling, supplies, etc. With financial constraints forcing schools and other institutions to make purchases based on budget alone, our Summit discussions about championing sustainability in a down economy were particularly useful, as I can now illustrate the cost-saving benefits of sustainability improvements.
For commercial enterprises, I believe the economic downturn has forced them to change the way they are doing business. It’s the beginning of a new paradigm; especially for large corporations that are becoming more conscious of how small decisions – like minimizing office waste – can pay huge dividends.
What may have begun as a “feel-good” proposition has now attained a higher priority level. Social and environmental awareness is now a common currency in business, with new opportunities for boosting profits while doing what is right for people and the planet.
There’s definitely a steady drumbeat of buzz happening here in Southern California (and across the country) about sustainability, and businesses are more open to the discussion now than they were several years ago. Thanks to companies like Boise, business and industry are now full participants in this discussion, and events like the CHOICES Summit will continue to educate business leaders about the importance of sustainability when making important business decisions.
By Phil Riebel
Editor’s Note: Phil Riebel is President and Chief Operating Officer of Two Sides U.S., Inc., a non-profit membership organization that promotes the sustainability, responsible production and use of print and paper.
The CHOICES Sustainability Summit was a great experience for me. Not only did I get to go to Disneyland (my family and I are fans), I also met a number of fascinating people and made some good business contacts.
I was impressed with the Summit for a number of reasons. Firstly it was very well attended. Most company-organized events I have been to in the past always had much fewer people. The mix of companies attending was original: environmental groups, designers, retailers, pulp and paper companies, publishers, and others. This added several viewpoints to the discussions.
Secondly, the presentations were all of good quality but my personal favorites were the ones given by Dr. Beth Stevens of Disney, Drew Dudley of Nuance Leadership, Joann Cox of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Jim Johnston of BMO. In fact, Drew presented right before me and this created a bit of an issue for me! You see he is a motivational speaker and really good at what he does. As I was watching him I could only think of the huge drop in “audience motivation” once I got up to the podium after him! Fortunately I was able to think of a transition and started my presentation with a bit of humor…I think the impact was lessened.
There were several networking opportunities including a great guided environmental tour of Disneyland. It was really nice to see that Disney has invested a considerable amount in fuel, energy and waste reduction initiatives reduction in their park and operations.
I was invited to present about our organization called Two Sides, a non-profit that promotes the sustainability, responsible production and use of print and paper. The Summit was a perfect opportunity to tell more people about our message and raise awareness about the unique sustainability features of print and paper. A number of people introduced themselves after the presentation and I am still in touch with them today. Hopefully, they join us along with Boise and our 60+ members today.
In closing, I want to thank Boise again for the invitation and I hope to attend future Summits. I also invite you all to have a look at www.twosides.us and contact me if you are interested in our initiative and our message. Our goal is to ensure people understand the life-cycle of print on paper and its unique sustainability features including renewability, recyclability, carbon storage, and the numerous environmental and social benefits of well-managed forests that also provide us with numerous forest products.
Pam Blackledge, RePaper Project Coordinator for the Environmental Paper Network, reflects on paper recovery and her experience at the 2012 CHOICES Sustainability Summit in a recent blog post for EPN. Thank you, Pam, for helping us create an environment for good ideas.