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How brands are evolving in the area of sustainability marketing and communications — and how their stakeholders are asserting their own needs and preferences.

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Disney Scores the Only 'A' on Cruise Industry Environmental Report Card

Cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of sewage in the ocean last year, much of it raw or poorly treated, according to federal data analyzed by Friends of the Earth, which is calling for stronger rules to protect oceans, coasts, sea life and people.

Unilever, KT, Nestlé Top Tomorrow’s Value Rating 2013

Unilever, KT and Nestlé lead the Tomorrow’s Value Rating 2013 (TVR), which recognizes companies that increasingly demonstrate “clarity of vision and innovation in their pursuit of a sustainable business model.”Sprint, Vodafone, Iberdrola, E.ON, BMW, Ford and Deutsche Telekom rounded out the top 10. Two Tomorrows, the sustainability strategy consultancy that created the rating, says the average for the top 10 this year is 83 percent compared to 55 percent in 2010. While the average score across the companies rated has varied only slightly over recent years, in that time the highest scores have gotten higher. There also is a growing gap between sustainability leaders and laggards, the report says.

Effective Sustainability Strategies - Case Study #1: Pret a Manger

Bar none, the most persistent challenge that the sustainability movement faces is how to prove the business bottom line benefits of sustainability activities. This is particularly acute for small and medium-sized companies, for whom survival is the number one priority. When looking at who engages and communicates sustainability activities, a disproportionate number of them are large corporates with dedicated sustainability/CSR budgets, as covered in our previous post. All too often, sustainability is a ‘tack-on’ to what business normally do anyway, and not the reason for being.

Dell Pledges 80% Reduction in Product Portfolio Energy Intensity by 2020

Earlier this week, Dell announced a commitment to reduce the energy intensity of its product portfolio by 80 percent, as part of a comprehensive long-term corporate responsibility framework to achieve by 2020.The information technology company’s 2020 Legacy of Good plan is divided into three areas — the Environment, People and Communities. Dell says the plan complements its overarching purpose to “provide technology that enables people everywhere to grow, thrive and reach their full potential.”The Environment

How to Design Eco-Labels to Influence Consumers

How can consumers choose sustainable products? Eco-labels or sustainability ratings can be an important guide. These systems compare products or services in terms of their social and environmental performance, identifying those that are best in class.But not all rating systems are equally effective at influencing consumers. When the European Union revised its energy efficiency ratings for appliances recently, researchers Stefanie Hille (née Heinzle), a doctoral student, and Rolf Wüstenhagen, a professor at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, identified what kind of ratings were most likely to lead consumers to make energy-efficient choices.

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Disney, Yahoo!, Google Top List of 100 Companies 'Most Loved' by Consumers

Global opinion research consultancy APCO Insight last week revealed its list of the 100 Most Loved Companies, based on findings generated by its Emotional LinkingSM model, which measures consumers’ emotional attachment to brands. The Walt Disney Company was ranked #1, but the list was largely dominated by tech companies — Yahoo!, Google and Sony rounded out the top four.

McDonald's to Offer Educational Books in Lieu of Happy Meal Toys for National Family Literacy Day

Cross-Posted from Behavior Change. Last week, McDonald’s USA announced the launch of a new Happy Meal Books promotion, coinciding with National Family Literacy Day on Nov. 1. From Nov. 1–14, Happy Meals will be accompanied by one of a series of four original books designed to encourage children to eat right and be more active.As part of the launch of Happy Meal Books, McDonald’s is collaborating with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the U.S., to help more children and their families discover the joy of reading. RIF will distribute 100,000 Happy Meal Books to children who do not have easy access to books.

Diageo, GSK and Anglo American Top 2013 FTSE 350 Climate Change Report

Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Anglo American were recently ranked highest among the companies reporting on indirect emissions and supply chain impacts on the CDP's FTSE 350 Climate Change Report.Launched this week, the report provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) data and climate change strategies at the UK's biggest public companies. While those topping the list make up a wide range of industries, the financial sector is prominent among the leading eight firms.Rounding up the top 8 were BT, Barclays, British Sky Broadcasting, HSBC and British Land, which all received a disclosure score of more than 90.

Investors Call For Food Companies That Oppose Labeling to Stay Out of Washington State GMO Battle

Companies that donated funds to oppose ballot initiatives to require the labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are facing new pressure from shareholders to stay out of future elections.

CVS and Humana Partner to Educate Customers About Health Coverage Options Under the ACA

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. CVS recently announced a partnership with health and well-being company Humana to help customers make sense of their healthcare coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).Starting this month, Humana representatives will be present at CVS’s Project Health events, where individuals can receive free health screenings to check blood pressure, body mass index, glucose, total cholesterol and even receive oral or dental care. During October and November, Humana representatives will be available to answer questions about health coverage under ACA at 80 Project Health weekly events in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and Texas.

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Brands Embracing Transparency to Feed Consumers Hungry for Responsible Food Choices

While it might not win any Academy Awards, certainly the best title for a movie this year has to be the food industry critique, GMO OMG. On the surface, it is an attack on genetically modified seeds and what they are doing to our health. Underneath, it is an emotional play on a father’s frustration with the clarity of our food system. What is in our food and where does it come from?

Don't Just Sell Green, Sell Great

Cross-Posted from Behavior Change. Heading into this year’s Sustainable Brands conference, I was looking forward to driving BMW’s electric prototype that was on display. In hindsight, however, the technical highlight of the show for me was the Tesla Model S. You know, the ones that people were actually driving, with coffee cups in the console and crumbs in the backseat.

Microsoft Achieves Carbon Neutrality, Increases Green Energy Use By 70%

Microsoft says it achieved carbon neutrality after introducing an internal carbon fee for renewable energy and carbon offsets, which led the company to increase the purchase of green energy in the U.S. by 70 percent, from 1.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2011 to 1.9 billion kWh in 2012.

Failure to Communicate: Dry Sustainability Reports a Missed Opportunity

Does your heart sink at the thought of reading yet another sustainability report?Over the last three years I’ve been documenting the ways companies are communicating sustainability online and using social media in particular. Time and time again, even those companies that demonstrate real panache in their sustainability communications fail to make the best use of the research, data and information that goes into their sustainability report. Often, as a result, a company’s most interesting sustainability work is left buried in these dull but worthy publications that no one really reads.

Defining Sustainability: A Process and Strategy Focus

Currently, sustainability is a lot like beauty — its definition lies in the eyes of the beholder. This author’s preference is for actionable definitions that can be integrated into daily operational processes. The following is an attempt to define sustainability through this lens.

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Consumers Give Microsoft, Disney, BMW, Google Highest Marks for CSR Performance

For the second year in a row, consumers named Sustainable Brands® corporate member Microsoft the company with the best CSR reputation, according to a new study by corporate reputation management consultancy Reputation Institute. This year, the IT company was joined at the top in a four-way tie with fellow SB member The Walt Disney Company, Google and SB ’13 sponsor BMW.

Dr. Bronner's Backing GMO Labeling Legislation with a Label of Its Own

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, family-owned maker of the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America and advocate for sustainable agriculture, has created a special agitprop label for its quart-size liquid soaps in support of GMO labeling and the Washington State voter initiative to label GMOs, Yes on I-522 — “The Washington Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.” Last week, natural product stores nationwide and Dr. Bronner’s webstore began stocking products featuring the limited edition soap label, which will be available through November.

M&S, BT, Unilever, Sainsbury's Top FTSE 100 Carbon Ranking

For the second year in a row, retailer Marks & Spencer has topped Carbon Clear’s ranking of the carbon performance of the FTSE 100. This is the third year that Carbon Clear has undertaken the research, examining the extent and depth of FTSE (London stock exchange) 100 companies’ carbon measurement and reporting practices, ranking companies based on a well-developed scoring matrix.

New NRDC Report Finds Progress on Promises Made at Rio+20, But Calls for More Accountability

There has been significant progress on many of the key globally negotiated and voluntary commitments made at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in June 2012, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Stakeholder Forum.“Fulfilling the Rio+20 Promises: Reviewing Progress Since the UN Conference on Sustainable Development” is a first-of-its-kind assessment by civil society organizations on progress toward some of the key commitments made at Rio+20.

The North Face Receives EPA Green Power Leadership Award

The North Face recently became one of eight organizations awarded a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves through purchases of power from a utility green-pricing program or a renewable energy certificate (REC) supplier.The outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear company says it installed a one-Megawatt solar system at its distribution center in Visalia, Calif. and worked closely with its parent company VF Outdoor, Inc., and sister brands Lucy and Jansport, to install a 950-kW system at their new headquarters in Alameda, Calif.

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