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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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Obama Administration Selects 26 Communities to Foster Economic Expansion Through Local Food Projects

On Wednesday, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies came together to announce the 26 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), a federal initiative providing technical support to integrate local food systems into community economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health and regional economic experts will work directly with the communities to develop specifically identified local food projects.

Chipotle Leads with Sustainability to Maintain Brand Sheen

While the fast-food business in the United States remains sluggish and roiled, eco-conscious burrito chain Chipotle has experienced rapid and relatively smooth growth through the recession and, especially, since then: Same-store sales rose by 20 percent last quarter. But lately the chain has demonstrated a few chinks in its tortilla wrap even while it also has stepped up its sustainability efforts.

Keurig Green Mountain Founder Invests $10M in Future of Fair Trade

Bob Stiller — long-time Fair Trade enthusiast and founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (now Keurig Green Mountain, Inc) — and his wife, Christine Stiller, recently awarded a monumental $10 million challenge grant to nonprofit organization and leading Fair Trade certifier Fair Trade USA. This investment will help fund three critical work streams aimed at increasing the reach and impact of Fair Trade certification for farmers and workers worldwide.The grant is particularly unique for Fair Trade USA, as it stipulates that an additional $10 million be raised in order to unlock the funds, for a total goal of $20 million.

LSDC Asserts 'Green' Entrepreneurs, Such as This Year's London Leaders, Key to Future-Proofing City's Economy

A recent report from the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) asserts that socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurs are “critical” to London’s future as a world leader in the economy of the future, as the Commission unveils its picks for this year's crop of the City's most notable mission-driven startups.Green Means Business highlights why London is an ideal location for 'green' entrepreneurs to 'drive innovation, growth, and job creation'; estimating that London's low-carbon and environmental goods and services (LCEGS) sector has the potential to give an annual market value of £69bn by 2025.

Himalayan Stove Project Matching Donations on #GivingTuesday

In an effort to get back to a more meaningful sense of the “holiday spirit” after the over-hyped Black Friday (November 28) and Cyber Monday (December 1) spending binges that follow Thanksgiving, more than 10,000 organizations will give consumers more bang for their donated and charitable bucks on #GivingTuesday on December 2.

Eco-Friendly Coffee Condiments Canister Saves 4 Billion Packets from Landfill

United Food Group, developer and manufacturer of specialty dry powder mixes and equipment, has developed the first sustainable canister for coffee condiments.Unlike traditional cream and sugar canisters that have plastic tops, metal bottoms and end up in landfills, the Perfect Servings Sustainable Canister consists of a reusable outer shell and uses sustainable replacement cartridges that are 100 percent biodegradable. The outer shell also comes in eight stock colors and can be private labeled with custom artwork creating a unique marketing tool.

Kohler Gets Green Light to Develop Next-Gen, Closed-Loop Flush Toilet System

Kohler Co., developer of kitchen and bath design and technology, has received a two-year grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to design and fabricate five closed-loop flush toilet systems for field testing in developing world locations without adequate sanitation.The grant followed a successful two-year cooperative project between Kohler and Caltech in the development of a photovoltaic toilet as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, hosted by the Gates Foundation.

Henkel Challenging Students Around the World to Propose Next Big Sustainability Solutions

Under the theme of “Create. Learn. Grow.,” the eighth Henkel Innovation Challenge is inviting university students from all over the world to submit their visionary ideas for sustainable products and technologies.Through December 10, students of any discipline from 28 participating countries are invited to form a two-person team and create a sustainable solution for any of Henkel’s three business units: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care or Laundry & Home Care. The task is to identify market trends and challenges for 2050 and develop ideas that are aligned to Henkel’s sustainability strategy.

Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 Tests 25 Eco-friendly Innovations

The Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 has begun flight testing more than 25 new technologies aimed at improving aviation's environmental performance through every phase of flight.The program accelerates the testing, refinement and use of new technologies and methods that can improve efficiency and reduce noise. Boeing says this new round of testing, using 787 Dreamliner ZA004, will evaluate software and connectivity technologies related to operational efficiency; remote sensors to reduce wiring; aerodynamic and flight control improvements for greater fuel efficiency, and icephobic wing coatings to reduce ice accumulation.Technologies being tested include:

Social Enterprise Using Low-Cost Kiosks to Provide Drinking Water in Rural India

India-based social enterprise Spring Health has announced plans to join the Business Call to Action (BCtA) and provide safe drinking water to two million customers in rural India by 2017 to improve the health outcomes of more than five million people in Eastern India by 2019.Spring Health is the Indian counterpart of US-headquartered Windhorse International, founded by entrepreneur Paul Polak with Indian partner Jacob Mathew and CEO Kishan Nanavati.

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.

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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