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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RSF Launches Search for Next 25 'Social Enterprise Stars' at SOCAP 2014

RSF Social Finance, a San Francisco-based organization that lends money to path-breaking social enterprises, is launching a campaign Sept. 2 to find the Next 25 Social Enterprise Stars (#SocentStars).The campaign, kicking off in concert with SOCAP 2014, the world’s leading conference on impact investing and social enterprise, is designed to attract RSF’s next cohort of extraordinary, mission-driven borrowers. RSF wants to add 25 social enterprise stars to its loan portfolio over the next year.

20 Semi-Finalists Announced for 'Socially Responsible Design's Highest Award'

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has announced the semi-finalists for the 2014 Fuller Challenge. Named "Socially Responsible Design’s Highest Award," the Fuller Challenge invites scientists, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners from all over the world to submit their solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy.

FedEx May Pay for Millions For Misclassifying Workers

FedEx could be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in drivers’ operating expenses and wages after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a class of 2,300 individuals working for FedEx Ground was misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.As a result, FedEx may owe its workforce of drivers hundreds of millions of dollars for illegally shifting to them the costs of such things as the FedEx branded trucks, FedEx branded uniforms, and FedEx scanners, as well as missed meal and rest period pay, overtime compensation, and penalties. The case, known as Alexander v. FedEx Ground, covers employees in California from 2000 - 2007.

invisaband Provides Long-Lasting, Plant-Based Alternative to Toxic, Sticky Mosquito Repellents

invisaband is a DEET-free, mosquito-repellent microfiber bracelet currently seeking funding on Indiegogo.Creator Gogadgety, Inc. says invisaband improves upon existing repellent lotions and sprays in several ways:

Cradle to Cradle Marketplace First Online Store Dedicated to Circular Economy Products

The concept of a circular economy has been on the fringes of market development for a while now, but a boost could come from the recent launch of the Cradle to Cradle Marketplace, the first online store to support the circular economy, selling only C2C-certified products (products in which their full life-cycle has been taken into account).

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EDF Announces Finalists for Next-Gen Methane Monitoring Competition

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has announced five finalists for its Methane Detectors Challenge, a collaboration with seven oil and natural gas companies aimed at identifying next-generation technologies that will help better monitor and reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.The Methane Detectors Challenge attracted 20 proposals from companies and university research teams, which used an array of diverse technologies ranging from infrared lasers to circuit boards filled with off-the-shelf sensors.

Sustainable Startups Compete for Postcode Lottery Green Challenge's $680,000 Prize

Five eco-friendly startups from the Netherlands, UK, France and Vietnam are competing in the final of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, an annual global competition for startups with environmentally sustainable business plans. On September 11th, the finalists will present their ideas in Amsterdam before a jury led by Dame Ellen MacArthur; the winner will receive US$680,000 and runners-up will receive US$272,000 towards their ventures.

What If … a Conference Collaboration Led to Real Sustainable Results?

Large pieces of paper cover the tables. A few bright sticky notes sprout here and there. Earnest-looking people bent over writing or steeped in conversation ignore their half-eaten lunches. Ideas begin to pop.It’s lunchtime at Sustainable Brands 2014 and we’ve challenged delegates to come up with a vision and concrete plans for answering three big What If questions while they eat:

Chick-fil-A, THRIVE Partnership Supporting Economic Sustainability for Coffee Farmers

Chick–fil–A has announced it is partnering with THRIVE Farmers™ Coffee to offer the QSR industry’s first–ever socially beneficial, specialty–grade coffee. Per THRIVE’s unique revenue-sharing model, the sale of each cup of coffee directly supports its network of Central American family coffee farmers, allowing them to earn up to 10 times more than farmers earn in traditional or even fair trade revenue models. THRIVE created a blend specifically for the chain, which is now available in restaurants nationwide.

Don't Blame the New Middle Classes in the Developing World. Reinvent Your Offering!

Worldwide, according to forecasts from the United Nations, emerging economies will contribute 98 percent of population growth to 2050. Millions of new consumers will be joining the middle classes in years to come. That makes it an appropriate time to discuss a social and economic phenomenon that is transforming both Brazil and other emerging economies around the world — the rise of a new middle class of consumers, with a major impact on the current global system of production and consumption.

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Forget Innovation — Responsible Products Drive 70% of New Product Growth

A recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) research report showed responsible products accounted for two-thirds of grocery product growth in 2013. That’s a pretty incredible number considering how grocery brands have been struggling.

Sustainable School Supplies Startup Enters $5.6 Billion Market

Just in time for back-to-school season, eco-friendly school supplies company Green ABCs has launched a new line of supplies, which help minimize waste with recycled materials, renewable resources and innovations in biodegradability.The company’s co-founder and CEO, Beth Davies, says she was compelled to help start the company after finding it difficult to find eco-friendly school supplies for her son. With a widening gap between classroom supply needs and adequate funding provided from school budgets, parents, teachers and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) increasingly are making up this difference in school supplies.

SVN Innovation Award Winners Tackle Social, Environmental and Economic Problems

Farmland LP, Public Lab, Rising Tide Capital and Sustaintech India are the winners of the Social Venture Network’s (SVN) 2014 Innovation Award, which recognizes companies that demonstrate the greatest impact in solving social, environmental and economic problems.The winners were selected by a panel of 16 judges, including Leigh Buchanan of Inc. magazine, Neil Grimmer of Plum Organics, Jean Oelwang of Virgin Unite, Jorge Calderon of Impact Strategy Advisors and Ed Dugger of the National Institute for a Sustainable Economy. The entrants were judged on their use of innovation, impact and ability to scale.The WinnersFarmland LP

Bupa, Unilever, Terrafiniti Shortlisted for 2014 Finance for the Future Awards

Organizations in the retail, consumer goods, telecommunications, consulting and property management industries are among those shortlisted for the 2014 Finance for the Future Awards, which recognize the role of the finance function in creating sustainable business models and economies. The finalists — in the Large Business, SME, Public Sector, Social Enterprise and Innovative New Idea categories — will be judged on September 5, with the winner announced at the awards ceremony on October 14.

BMW i's Fast Charger Charges EVs Up to 80% in 30 Min

BMW of North America this week launched its BMW i DC Fast Chargers, which can charge the BMW i3 all-electric vehicle’s battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes.A joint development between BMW and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, the charger was on display on July 28 at Plug-In 2014 on July 28 at the San Jose Convention Center.Half the size of a traditional electric vehicle DC charger, BMW i DC Fast Chargers can be mounted on a wall, a first for EV DC fast chargers. The chargers also will be significantly cheaper than other DC Combo chargers in the market, priced at $6,548 for authorized BMW partners.

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Bentley Becomes First Automaker to Achieve Triple Carbon Trust Standard

British luxury carmaker Bentley Motors announced this week it has become the first automotive manufacturer to earn the triple Carbon Trust Standard, having separately secured group’s Standards for Carbon, Water and Waste through significant reductions in these three key areas at its Crewe, Cheshire headquarters.Bentley joins Marks & Spencer, PwC, AkzoNobel Decorative Paints and Ireland’s ABP Food Group as one of only 11 companies to date to achieve the triple standard from the Carbon Trust, one of the world’s leading independent authorities on delivering carbon reduction and achieving greater resource efficiency.

How Uncle Matt’s Organic Is Revolutionizing Florida’s Citrus Groves

With its subtropical climate and rich pest population, Florida has been slow to embrace the organic movement: Fewer than 8,000 of its 541,328 acres of citrus groves are organic. Matt McLean has made it his mission to change that. As the founder and CEO of Uncle Matt’s Organic — the largest and oldest organic orange juice company in the US — McLean not only sells delicious juices, he’s making it easy for other small Florida citrus growers to transition to organic.

Can a Startup Saving 1 Ton of Food Waste Per Week Scale and Preserve Its Social Value?

In the three years since it first set up a modest stall in London’s Borough market, UK startup Rubies in the Rubble can be now found lining the shelves of Waitrose, Selfridge’s Food Hall and Harvey Nichols. In 2012, the concept won Ben and Jerry’s pan-European Join Our Core competition, bagging €10,000 in cash and six months’ mentoring from experts at Ashoka — a nonprofit supporting entrepreneurship.

Starbucks, M&S Sign On to Launch of neighbourly's Philanthropic Matching Service

The first tech entrant into the UK’s £800m corporate philanthropic sector launched Thursday — with corporate giants Starbucks and Marks & Spencer among the first companies to sign on to the service.neighbourly, a finalist in our 2013 SB London Innovation Open, is a social network designed to help connect community and charity projects with socially responsible companies that can contribute funding or volunteers.

Coca-Cola Enterprises' Recycling Conundrum (or 8 Ways to Reinvent Consumer Recycling)

After an 11-week challenge in partnership with design and innovation platform OpenIDEO, the eight winning ideas for Coca-Cola Enterprises’ (CCE) brief to encourage consumer recycling are as simple as an illustrative sticker and as complicated as a dedicated app. It’s all in a bid to close the recycling gap, helping consumers develop habits and the inclination to recycle when the packaging materials are designed to be used again.

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