Product, Service & Design Innovation

The latest products, services, design approaches and business models that are helping organizations of all sizes deliver on their sustainability ambitions and establish a new business as usual.

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7 Tips for Creating Social Value by Empowering Young People

As we prepare to unveil the Top 25 Under 25 year-olds working in sustainable business as part of the 2degrees New Generation initiative later this year, the latest Sustainable Brands London event offered the perfect opportunity to discuss how a number of organizations are creating social value by inspiring, enabling and mobilizing young people.

Innovations in Business Models, Water Stewardship, Engagement Abound on Final Morning of #SB14London

The circular economy and water stewardship dominated the morning’s agenda on the final day of SB ’14 London. After leading us through a host of thought-provoking plenary presentations Tuesday morning, our two event MCs - Forum for the Future chief executive Sally Uren and The Guardian’s executive editor Jo Confino – expressed their enthusiasm for the ideology that underpins the circular economy.Confino felt it was a concept that could go mainstream. “Business can buy into it easily as it doesn’t fight against the current capitalist system,” he said, while Uren was optimistic about the level of brand innovation it could potentially unlock.

#SB14London: How Model Behavior Is Helping Companies Drive Sustainability Innovation

On Tuesday at SB ’14 London, I was privileged to join Matt Loose and Zoe Arden of SustainAbility at their afternoon breakout workshop. They were presenting their recent publication Model Behavior, exploring the role and practice of business model innovation in the context of sustainability.Model Behavior is the result of extensive research, compiling information from 100 companies and documenting more than 80 examples of business model innovation, to create a framework of 20 potential models from which to consider the journey towards more adaptable, responsible and ethical businesses.

Speakers Reimagine Business Models, Stakeholder Engagement, Product Sustainability on #SB14London Day 2

In her opening address Tuesday at SB ’14 London, Sustainable Brands founder KoAnn Skrzyniarz confronted the audience with a challenge: Reimagine what an economy might look like if it was based on trust.“The big root of the conversation we’ve been having this year is about connecting head and heart,” she said.Reflecting that it had been “an explosive year” on many fronts, with key battles on ideology taking place across the world, Skrzyniarz said the passion for interlinking sustainable business with social value was growing: “As we continue to have this conversation around the world, more communities are coming to us, asking us to localise the conversation,” she revealed.

Lead Up to #SB14London: Sky Continues to Explore New Avenues for Showing Stakeholders 'The Bigger Picture'

The Bigger Picture is Sky’s approach to building not only a more responsible business for the long term, but contributing to a more sustainable society through inspiring action on the ground.The far-reaching programme has many highlights to draw on since its inception five years ago. These include its Sky Rainforest Rescue partnership with WWF that has raised over £8 million in fundraising, its Sky Academy initiative helping thousands of young people build skills and confidence, and the delivery of a 40 percent reduction in emissions intensity across the business.

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Nigerian Pedal-Powered Recycling Initiative Takes 2014 Sustainia Award for Best Sustainability Solution

Wecyclers, an initiative that enables low-income communities in Nigeria to make money from waste piling up in their streets, wins the 2014 Sustainia Award, chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger. By deploying a fleet of cargo bicycles to collect and recycle unmanaged waste in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, Wecyclers lets families exchange garbage for consumer goods via an SMS-based point system.

Waste to Wear: The Pathway to a Global Circular Economy

With global fiber consumption expected to reach 96.4 million tons by 2020, it has become apparent that a linear economy where we produce, consume and dispose of products after a one-time use is not sustainable. Through Aquafil’s various collaborations with carpet and apparel industries, we’ve noticed an increased trend towards the use of sustainable materials and fabrics in product manufacturing. Companies that are looking to move beyond recycled post-consumer waste are starting to shift towards suppliers that are taking a unique but sustainable approach to production, such as the implementation of closed-loop manufacturing systems.

Coastal Resiliency Project Crowned Winner of 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) has announced that a comprehensive climate change adaptation and community development project, Living Breakwaters has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Fuller Challenge, what has been dubbed by the Institute as "socially responsible design’s highest award." The project was submitted by SCAPE / Landscape Architecture PLLC based in New York.

Could Harvesting Water From the Air Be a Sustainable Option for Businesses?

For businesses looking to make their businesses leaner and greener, taking a look at the drinking water they provide for their employees is one place to start. The average full-time employee drinks about 2.5 gallons of water per month at the office — and that does not include the water used to make coffee or other hot drinks. Clearly a business looking to be more sustainable is going to ditch bottled water because of the heaps of plastic involved. Tap water is the cheapest option, but the filtration systems often have their own costs and waste issues. Now a southern California startup, Skywell, is pitching atmospheric water-generator systems, which extract water out of the air with its advanced water generators.

Sustainable Materials at Scale: 100% Recycled Denali Fleece Prevents Waste on Multiple Fronts

Here at The North Face, we believe in making great outdoor gear in a sustainable and responsible way. That’s why we’ve set out to change the way outdoor apparel is made. We’ve set a bold goal to have 100 percent of our polyester (or 80 percent of all of the fabric we use for apparel) come from recycled content — from thousands of plastic bottles — by 2016. Repurposing plastic waste helps reduce carbon emissions and avoids using more open space for landfills.

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Global Forum Attendees Design 'Flourishing' Solutions to Real-World Challenges

On Thursday, the first full day of Flourish & Prosper: The Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit in Cleveland, Ohio, the morning’s plenaries and CEO panels explored how business can move beyond how social and environmental responsibility are thought of today, to a new mindset of "full-spectrum flourishing" where “companies prosper, people excel, and nature thrives.”

From Spend Shifters to Strategic Buyers: How Soon Will Climate Become a Reason to Purchase?

One of the highlights of Sustainable Brands ‘13 London was Chip Walker’s talk about The Shifting Landscape of Consumer Values and Implications for Your Brand’s Future. The power in Walker’s delivery was, in common with all the best talks, that he provided insight into questions that everyone in his audience has. Specifically, he shed new light on how consumers think about brands.

Healthy Disruption Needed to Advance Clothing Recycling

I am sitting in the airport at Minneapolis, Minnesota, having just left the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Retailer Sustainability Conference, and my mind is awash in the list of challenges and risks that were reinforced over the past few days. The U.S. retail economy plays an enormous role in our daily lives — it employs 25 percent of the U.S. workforce, represents more than 66 percent of the country’s GDP and undoubtedly plays a critical role in our environmental stewardship.While the central theme of the RILA conference was sustainability, much was devoted to addressing recent advancements in technologies, the sharing economy, resource responsibility and transparency.

When Money Packs a Positive Punch

Impact investing is the all the rage in billionaire circles. Now as most of us aren’t billionaires, you might ask: ‘why do we care?’ Quite simply because this phenomenon is changing the face of both philanthropy and finance and has the potential to radically impact our communities, the causes we care about and the world at large.

Craft Brewers Dramatically Reducing Carbon Emissions by Sharing Kegs

By sharing a pool of kegs rather than owning their own, over 200 leading craft brewers have helped reduce their collective carbon footprint by over 3 million kg of CO2e in 2013. These findings, based on a study by John Heckman, Ph.D with PE International and commissioned by MicroStar Logistics, will be used as a benchmark to help the craft beer industry further minimize its carbon footprint each year.

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How Comfortable Are You with Your Customers Having All the Power?

Wolff Olins and Flamingo’s Game Changers series is an annual exploration of what’s driving change in the world of brands. The latest Game Changers report, The New Mainstream, looks at the evolving ways people are consuming products and interacting with brands. The research addresses the sense of uneasiness from companies about ‘giving up control to consumers’ in the age of social media. Some business leaders are embracing it, finding new ways to connect with their customers on an individual level — but most are nervous at the thought of potentially losing control of their brand.

Apple's New HQ Could Be 'Greenest Building on the Planet,' CEO Says

Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed last week that his company’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California would be the “greenest building on the planet.”Speaking at Climate Week NYC, when asked about Apple’s efforts to reduce its impact throughout its supply chain, CEO Tim Cook reportedly said: “We’re building a new headquarters that will, I think, be the greenest building on the planet. It’ll be a center for innovation, and it’s something clearly our employees want and we want. Apple at its roots has a very core value of leaving the world a better place than we found it.”

Unilever, Coke, M&S, BT Launch Digital Platform to Engage Millennials on Our Power to Create Change, 'Collectively'

A coalition of the world’s biggest companies has launched a global digital platform to drive conversation and momentum around sustainability — and to help reach the ever-elusive goal of making sustainable lifestyles the new normal.The idea for Collectively, launched today, emerged from conversations at last year’s World Economic Forum between Unilever, BT Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Marks & Spencer and Carlsberg, around how to engage more effectively with millennials to inspire and accelerate more sustainable ways of living.

Home-Brew Innovators Prove Simple, Plant-Based Remedies Could Revolutionize Skincare

For most people with skin problems, the solution is to try every possible remedy and product out there until they find one that works. But when the alternatives don’t work, some enterprising patients decide to make their own.Anita Redd took matters into her own hands when conventional remedies were no match for her infant son’s eczema — a painful condition causing inflamed and itchy skin. From birth, Kevin suffered from flaky and blistered patches on his body. When doctors recommended putting him on creams and steroids with potential side effects such as stunted growth, infections and hypertension, Redd decided to look elsewhere for alternatives.

Avery Dennison RBIS Opens Innovation Center in Los Angeles

Avery Dennison RBIS, a global provider of apparel branding, labeling, packaging, embellishments and RFID solutions, celebrated the opening of its Los Angeles-based Customer Design and Innovation Center (CDIC), a 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in the city’s Arts District.The LA center will offer a collaborative experience for apparel brands with access to deep consumer insights and the latest trend information from Avery Dennison RBIS. The CDIC will also equip the apparel industry with custom embellishment and analysis tools for intelligent, creative and sustainable designs that help communicate the power of their brand.

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