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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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.

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.

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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.

Seventh Generation Continues Expansion with Gamila Acquisition

Seventh Generation, a leader in household and personal care products, has acquired Raleigh-based beverage brand Gamila Company for an undisclosed sum. Gamila is the startup behind brewing products Impress, a single-serve coffee maker and the Teastick, a tea infuser.

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AT&T Commits $18 Million to Youth Mentoring Programs

AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson joined President Obama today to commit $18 million to education programs with a youth mentoring component. This funding supports the company’s goal of providing youth across the country one million hours of mentoring by AT&T employees through the end of 2016.“Research shows that the presence of a mentor in a young person’s life significantly improves their potential for success. That’s why thousands of AT&T employees volunteer to mentor students across the country,” Stephenson said. “I am proud to be a part of this initiative with the president.”

Airbnb Rebrand Invites You to Bélo-ng

Airbnb has a fresh coat of paint – including a new website and mobile app, and Bélo - a new logo that invites you to 'belong anywhere.' In addition to the rebranding, the company has tried to redesign its entire user experience – the new website attempts to provide a more intuitive experience with bigger photos, clearer listings and a simpler booking process.Termed as the 'universal symbol of belonging', Bélo is “an iconic mark for our windows, our doors, and our shared values. It’s a symbol that, like us, can belong wherever it happens to be,” says Airbnb. A video released by the company explains that Bélo stands for people, places, love and Airbnb.

Study: Companies Must Shift from Touting Sustainability to Tangibly Impacting Customers' Lives

Only a third of consumers regularly consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions, according to a global study by Accenture and Havas Media RE:PURPOSE, which reveals the reasons for the disconnect between business and consumer expectations of sustainable products and services.

Hackers Help Chipotle, Applegate Re-Engineer the Future of Dining

Food+Tech Connect's recent Hack//Dining hackathon in New York City has yielded some insightful solutions to big problems faced by the dining industry. The call to “re-engineer the future of food” was answered by nearly 200 hackers who spent the weekend trying to use technology to find answers for a more sustainable industry.“The problems in the food industry are complex, and they aren’t going to be solved in a weekend,” said Danielle Gould, founder of Food+Tech Connect. “The point is to get new ideas into circulation, new people working on this, and to do rapid prototyping — to actually make a real product in a weekend.”

GE's Ecomagination Initiative Targets GHG Emissions from Canada’s Oil Sands

General Electric (GE) has announced the launch of an up to $1 million ecomagination open innovation challenge to help accelerate technology development in Canada’s oil sands.The Innovation Challenge will target two of the biggest opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the oil sands: new uses for waste heat and improved efficiency of steam generation.

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Dell’s 2014 Products Save Customers $449 Million in Energy Costs

Dell reduced the energy intensity of its product portfolio by 23.2 percent over the last two years, and that of its server portfolio by roughly 50 percent, according to the company’s new sustainability report.Dell asserts customers who purchased products in FY14 can expect to spend $449 million less on electricity to power their products over their lifetime compared to those purchased in 2012.

West Elm's Artisan Partnerships Supporting Thousands in Developing Communities

This post is part of a series written by MBA and MPA candidates in Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course, examining the role of marketing in advancing sustainability across all sectors.

LA Entrepreneur Crowdfunding Sustainable Sandals in Brazil

While the World Cup is drawing attention to Brazil from millions of soccer fans across the world, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur is working with Brazilian manufacturers to develop a new line of sustainable footwear.Called Joya da Terra, the handmade sandals are made of natural and recycled materials and the production process is centered on zero waste, recycling and sustainable manufacturing."Not only do we have our unique handmade sandals (aka 'flip-flops'), but we also have 'our take on the TOMS shoe.' All these styles are unisex," said Cynthia Tello, the company’s founder.

MIT Crowdsourcing Solutions for Host of Issues Related to Climate Change

Some of the most profound recent developments in media, technology, education and science have been the product of crowdsourcing. Think of Wikipedia, Linux, or reCAPTCHA — all are products of harnessing the power of collective human intelligence. While these are notable applications, can crowdsourcing be used to tackle some of the world’s more pressing problems — such as climate change?

SASB Issues Guidelines for Disclosure of Risks for Non-Renewable Resources Sector

When it comes to addressing climate change, many companies may ask, “How much will it cost to change the way of doing business?” The real question, however, is “What is the cost of doing nothing at all?” Last week, a bipartisan group released Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States, a report that addresses this very question, and serves as a call to action for both the private and public sectors. Among its key findings:

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