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Dispelling the Dissonance: How Conscious Brands Can Turn Customer Beliefs Into Actions

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - In the 2010 UN Global Compact-Accenture Global CEO Study, 49% of CEOs said that the sustainability agenda can only move forward if driven by greater consumer demand; government and corporate initiatives will not be enough. While sustainability advocates fret that companies are interested in sustainability initiatives only to sell more stuff, CEOs are frustrated by the dissonance between what consumers say they want and the values that their spending reflects. To quote a CEO from the survey:

McDonald's Beginning Journey to 100% 'Verified Sustainable Beef' — But Is That an Oxymoron?

SUPPLY CHAIN - McDonald’s announced this week that, by 2016, it will begin sourcing “verified sustainable beef.” The pledge is an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the fast-food chain’s meat production, as well as to be kinder to the animals on which its livelihood rests. Though there is, of course, plenty of debate over just what “sustainable beef” is, or whether it is achievable.In its pledge, McDonald’s vows, rather vaguely, “to improve environmental practices in the way beef is produced, support positive workplaces in the beef industry, and drive continuous improvement in animal health and welfare.”

South America's Largest Solar-Thermal Plant Planned for Chile

CLEANTECH - Abengoa, an international company that applies technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, has been selected by the Ministry of Energy of the Chilean Government and Corfo (Corporacion de Fomento de la Produccion) to develop a 110 MW solar plant using tower technology with 17.5 hours of thermal energy storage using molten salts.Located in the Atacama Desert, the region with the highest solar radiation concentrations in the world, the project will be the first solar-thermal plant for direct electricity production in South America.

City of Phoenix partners with ASU for new regional resource innovation center

PRESS RELEASE - PHOENIX – The city of Phoenix took another substantial leap forward as a global sustainability leader Tuesday afternoon as its city council gave policy approval of a four-year agreement to work with Arizona State University to establish a ground-breaking public/private sustainability incubator focused on converting waste and other resources into economic value.

NYC Now Heating Thousands of Homes with Food Waste

WASTE NOT - Just before the turn of the new year, when many of us were enjoying our annual season of gluttony, New York City Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway announced a pilot program that will convert the thousands of pounds of food waste currently shipped to out-of-state landfills into biogas, which will heat up to 5,200 homes throughout the city and help curb roughly 90,000 metric tons of the state’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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Recyclebank Announces Grant Recipients of 8th Annual Green Schools Program

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE - Recyclebank® — the company that rewards its members with discounts and deals for making more conscious daily actions — today announced the schools selected for its 2014 Green Schools Program. Each year, the program grants money to schools to bring to life unique projects that will lead to greater sustainability in their classroom and community.

Study: Full-Service Restaurants Just as Unhealthy as Fast-Food

MARKETING AND COMMS - Food served in full-service restaurants often is just as unhealthy as, or even unhealthier than, food served in fast-food restaurants, despite consumer perceptions that full-service restaurants are healthier, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.Food prepared away from home is typically higher in calories and lower in nutrition than food prepared at home, and now makes up more than one-third of all calories purchased in the United States, the study says.

D&AD's White Pencil Teams Up with TIE to Create New League of 'Social Intrepreneurs'

COLLABORATION - The D&AD White Pencil, an award that highlights excellent creative ideas with a social purpose — now in its third year — is the world’s top prize for design, advertising or digital work that addresses key social, political or ethical issues.In order to demonstrate its increasing commitment to supporting positive change through creativity, D&AD is now collaborating with The International Exchange (TIE) — a leadership development programme that combines the expertise within agencies and studios with the needs of NGOs to create positive, sustainable change — to offer two TIE placements to this year’s White Pencil nominees.

Intel CEO Challenges Entire Electronics Industry to Become 'Conflict-Free'

SUPPLY CHAIN - In his pre-show keynote at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich outlined a range of the company’s new products, initiatives and strategic relationships aimed at accelerating innovation across a range of mobile and wearable devices, and challenged the entire electronics industry to join Intel in becoming “conflict-free.”

25% of Small UK Businesses Prioritizing Sustainability in 2014

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE - One in four small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK consider sustainability one of their highest concerns for the coming year, according to a new survey by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking (LBCB).While sustainability is becoming an integral part of the business landscape, it has traditionally been much more difficult for smaller firms, who may lack the resources to make changes to company administration practices, LBCB says.Encouragingly, the survey found that three out of ten SMEs plan to invest more in sustainable business practices over the next five years, although another 42 percent said that spending on sustainability is likely to remain flat.

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New Campaign Encouraging Brits to 'Smart Swap' Healthier Food Criticized for Shortsightedness

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - Last week, Public Health England unveiled its latest Change4Life campaign, which this year focuses on getting people throughout England and Wales to “Smart Swap” fatty or sugary foods for healthier alternatives.The campaign recognizes that it’s unrealistic to expect people to immediately switch from chocolate to fruit, for example, so it is hoping to incentivize making smarter food choices by offering participants money-saving vouchers for healthier foods and drinks and in-store offers from partner retailers such as Asda, Co-operative Food, Lidl and Aldi.

Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions to Broaden Possibilities for Internet of Things and Services

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Bosch has expanded its offering beyond the design of home appliances to form a new company, Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH, for the Internet of things and services: The company will supply compact electronic products and software expertise designed to make devices and objects intelligent and web-enabled across a broad range of applications. It will initially focus on sensor-based applications for intelligently networked homes, or “smart homes,” as well as for activities in the fields of traffic, transportation and logistics.

Not Magic, Science: Startup Creating Plastic Out of Thin Air

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - We’re hearing more and more often about inventive new ways companies are turning waste into valuable resources — from turning everything from CO2 and methane gases to human and food waste into fuels, and plastic into bacteria-battling “

Disruptive Conservation: A New Thread to Connect Multi-Sector Values

SUPPLY CHAIN - A Minnesota watershed project is using an ecocommerce framework, a fundamentally different approach to bringing shared value to natural resource management.

Listen to Your Critics: They Could Be Your Biggest Allies

SUPPLY CHAIN - It was every retailer’s worst nightmare: Days after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in one of the worst industrial disasters in recorded history, activists began plastering the Internet with pictures of clothing labels uncovered amongst the rubble of concrete and human remains. Amongst these, some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Mango, H&M and Walmart.

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Consumers, Activists Declare Victory as General Mills Commits to Non-GMO Cheerios

MARKETING AND COMMS - GMO Inside, a campaign of national non-profit organization Green America, celebrated a victory yesterday after target General Mills announced that its original Cheerios cereal would now be produced without the use of GMOs.

Divine Obsolescence, Sustainability & the Silent 'S' in Business Transformation

LEADERSHIP - Mention to a sustainability person that their career trajectory should be hurtling them towards some form of divine obsolescence and the reactions are, suffice to say, mixed.The idea of them passing through some blissful reinvention to rise phoenix-like, only stronger and wiser, in some new primary function at the heart of the business doesn’t always ring everyone’s career bell.The fact that they should wish to render their current position and the status they derive from it obsolete — a planned professional obsolescence — seems confusing to some, demeaning to others and otherwise simply, quietly terrifying to those who have been on the 'S' mission for so long.

IBM's Plastic 'Ninja Polymers' Could Be MRSA Bacteria's First Worthy Opponents

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - A team of research scientists at IBM and Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have drawn upon years of expertise in semiconductor technology and material discovery to crack the code for safely destroying the antibiotic-resistant and sometimes-deadly superbug MRSA.IBM says the researchers have made a nanomedicine breakthrough by converting common plastic materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into non-toxic and biocompatible materials designed to specifically target and attack fungal infections.

Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept Provides Sunny Glimpse of Future for Clean Vehicles

COLLABORATION - Ford Motor Company announced today the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a first-of-its-kind sun-powered vehicle with the potential to deliver the best features of a plug-in hybrid without relying on the electric grid for fuel. The concept car will be exhibited at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas next week.Instead of powering its battery from an electrical outlet, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept harnesses the power of the sun by using a special concentrator that acts as a magnifying glass, directing rays to solar panels on the vehicle roof.

Sustainability as an Emergent Property: What Can We Learn from the Super-Organisms?

COLLABORATION - In the ongoing drive to create and communicate about sustainability in the emerging economy, it can be useful to conceive of sustainability not as a quantifiable end goal, but as an emergent property. An emergent property arises when individual components or actions, combined together, collectively generate a higher-level aggregate experience. Think democracy. Or plague. Or community. One does not "do" sustainability anymore than one "does" community. One co-creates community through all of the little deeds — hosting the potluck, planning the carpool, sharing the tool shed. Like community, sustainability — or any emergent property — arises out of the contributions made and conditions created in service of a shared reality.

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