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Posts tagged 'UK Government'

Resource Resilient UK #circulareconomy

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Resource Resilient UK - Circular Economy

Here is the first year report of the Circular Economy Task Force, a government supported, business led group convened by Green Alliance. It is a forum for policy innovation which aims to disseminate information and recommendations on the best responses to sustainable resource security.

Their Executive summary

Resource security concerns have increased significantly over the past five years, reflecting risks affecting the availability and the price of materials essential to industry.

The root causes of resource insecurity lie substantially in environmental problems. Water scarcity, rising extraction costs for fossil fuels and limitations on land availability increasingly constrain supply at a time when demand is growing. Greater visibility of globalised supply chains, alongside rising public concern about environmental damage, is compounding these pressures.

To address resource constraints on business, the Circular Economy Task Force has identified how reuse, remanufacturing and secondary material supplies can address the root causes of resource insecurity.

Some businesses are already protecting themselves against resource risks by making their operations more circular. The Task Force has explored why other businesses haven’t done so. The analysis shows that businesses want to become more circular, but they face two types of barriers: market barriers, which keep businesses from capturing the full value of recovered resources; and material barriers, which make recovery difficult or impossible.

This report describes what businesses and government can do now to secure resources for UK industry through a more circular economy. No single intervention on its own will be sufficient. Instead, the Task Force proposes three areas of action: clarifying exposure to risk, facilitating co-operation and enabling the design of circular systems.

Key interventions recommended include

* disclosure by companies of high impact risks on water, land, and materials use in company reports to investors
* a government-led study into the UK’s exposure to material insecurity, starting with sectors identified by the industrial strategy as those most able to contribute to growth
* using the industrial strategy to broker collaboration within business sectors
* clarifying competition law to reinforce exemptions for environmentally beneficial co-ordination between businesses
* much greater commitment from businesses to use long term contracts and joint ventures to speed up recovery of materials and products; and
* intervening in product design directly through existing legislation to make products easier to reuse, remanufacture and recycle

UK businesses have been at the forefront of circular economy thinking, but progress on the ground has yet to catch up with the rhetoric. The actions proposed by Task Force are intended to give companies the confidence to pursue circular approaches, and to help to create the tipping points that enable a resource resilient UK.

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The Single Market For Green Products – Facts and figures

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The European Commission has released the following facts and figures from the Single Market for Green Products initiative:

* The global market for low carbon environmental goods and services is estimated at €4.2 trillion. EU companies’ market share is 21% (UK Department for Business, Innovations and Skills, 2012).

* Xerox reported savings of $400 million and Zara €500 million in 2009 by designing their products to minimise their life-cycle environmental impact.

* There are currently more than 400 environmental labels worldwide (www.ecolabelindex.com).
For analysis at company level, 80 leading methodologies and initiatives were identified according to which GHG reporting could be carried out (EC study, 2010).

* For product carbon footprinting, 62 leading initiatives and methods were identified (EC study, 2010).

* PUMA has stated that 94% of the environmental impacts of its products occur along the supply chain.

* 90% of consumers buy green products at least sometimes (Eurobarometer).

* 39% of consumers say business claims about the environment are not accurate (GFK, 2011).

* Only 6% of EU citizens trust producers’ claims about their products’ environmental performance completely (Eurobarometer, 2009).

* 94 companies examined used 585 different indicators in environmental reports. Of the indicators disclosed, 22% were used by more than 3 corporations; 55% were used only once (Journal of Cleaner production, 2012).

* Investors are interested: the investors’ base behind the Carbon Disclosure Project grew from 35 investors with assets of 4.5 trillion USD in 2003 to 655 investors with assets of 78 trillion USD in 2012.

* More than 1/3 of 250 business executives said that they could not keep up with consumer demand for sustainable products and services and 62% declared that sustainable investments were motivated by consumer expectations for green products (Accenture, 2012).

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Helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze

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The European Commission has released a fantastic initiative around the subject of ‘Building the Single Market for Green Products’. Helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze.

What is the problem for companies?

A company wishing to market its product as green in several Member State markets faces a confusing range of methods and initiatives. Let alone the hundreds of certification sharks, private labels and incumbent national systems that make a huge amount of money from this.

What is the problem for ‘Mum’ in the supermarket?

Consumers are also confused by the stream of incomparable and diverse environmental information: according to a recent Eurobarometer, 48 % of European consumers are confused by the stream of environmental information they receive. This also affects their readiness to make green purchases.

In the words of Commissioner Potocnik

“To boost sustainable growth, we need to make sure that the most resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly products on the market are known and recognisable. By giving people reliable and comparable information about the environmental impacts and credentials of products and organisations, we enable them to choose. And by helping companies to align their methods we cut their costs and administrative burdens.”

The commission has issued strong guidance on product footprinting as well as organisation footprinting. I will be commenting on these documents in the future.

The EC is launching a three-year pilot phase. Their objectives:

* Set up and validate the process of the development of product group-specific rules (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules – PEFCRs), including the development of performance benchmarks. Where product group-specific rules already exist and are used by stakeholders, the Commission will use these as a basis for the development of the PEFCRs;

* Make the application of the environmental footprint methods easier, especially for SMEs, by testing innovative ways of managing the process and through the development of tools;

* Test different compliance and verification systems, in order to set up and validate proportionate, effective and efficient compliance and verification systems;

* Test different business-to-business and business-to-consumer communication vehicles for PEF information in collaboration with stakeholders.

I hope businesses will jump at these pilots to achieve our dream of open standards and push for full product transparency in the market without delay.

 

Links

Original press release

Draft Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Building the Single Market for Green Products – Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations (April 2013)

Draft Commission Recommendation on The use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations (April 2013)

Annex II of the Recommendation: Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Guide (April 2013)

Annex III of the Recommendation: Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide (April 2013)

For more information contact: 

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93) and Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

 

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5. What is an epd?

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Full Product Transparency bookExcerpt 5 from the book ‘Full Product Transparency

‘What is an EPD?’

An environmental product declaration (EPD) is a statement of a product’s ‘ingredients’ and environmental impacts across its lifecycle. In the same way that nutritional labels help consumers compare the health benefits of food items, an EPD enables them to compare the environmental impacts of products.

Why an EPD is not just another eco-label

An EPD is not another eco-label. It is a statement of fact about the environmental impacts of a product. There are no ratings, claims or judgement calls to be made, as there are with eco-labels: an EPD itself doesn’t tell you whether a product is good or bad, green or polluting; it just provides the facts to enable better informed decisions.

In the same way that a chocolate bar with a nutritional label is not necessarily any healthier than a chocolate bar without one, having an EPD does not mean a product is ‘better’ or more sustainable. It does, however, enable customers to compare products and choose the ones that have least impact.

EPDs give you the full picture: for example, data on several environmental impact categories. Your product might be good on global warming potential (e.g. low CO2) but have a high acidification potential (e.g. high SO2) and both parameters have to be reported and not cherry-picked by the company.

How are EPDs created?
The methodology used to obtain an EPD is robust, and the assumptions used in the LCA calculations behind it are standardised. This means that manufacturers cannot manipulate assumptions to favour their own product (by calculating an artificially long life-span, for example). The methodology uses internationally recognised standards; an LCA must be conducted in accordance with ISO 14040 and the EPD must be produced in accordance with ISO 14025. All of this must be verified by an independent third party.

What does an EPD tell you?
A good EPD declaration would disclose the following:

• A list of raw materials and their origin
• A list of chemicals and their origin
• A description of raw material processing and production
• Specifications on the manufacturing of the product, including a breakdown of energy consumption and embodied energy, emissions released, treatment of waste, and packaging and transport
• Information on product use and end of life processing, including treatment of any waste and emissions released
• A table with the LCA results per impact category per lifecycle stage
• Evidence and verification for the calculations. All EPDs need to provide a report showing evidence for verification of the calculations and statements in the EPD

Once all these data about the environmental footprint of the product have been verified by an independent third party auditor, they then need to be captured in a clear and concise declaration.

How EPDs provide full product transparency and why that matters

FPT disclosure based on EPDs empowers and enables all customers, whether they are governments, businesses or consumers, to gain a clear understanding of the total environmental and social impact of a product, including at its end of life.
Providing customers with accurate, impartial third party-certified information about the total footprint of a product allows them to vote through their purchasing decision and to buy the right sustainable product. This will not only have a positive impact on the environment and society but also on competition and innovation. It creates a clearly visible level playing field for companies offering similar products within a sector, and it forces them to compete not only on price and quality but on all aspects that go into the making of a product.

EPDs are inexpensive, contrary to the urban myth

Some people argue that EPDs are very expensive and, especially if you have too many product categories, that it becomes unmanageable. This is like arguing that Unilever or Kraft would find it impossible and very expensive to provide the nutrition facts for all their products, given their product range. Yet they manage.

EPDs are expensive if you don’t do the internal work and you ask a consultant to do all the work for you. You would end up paying from €10,000 to €15,000, which is still much less that what many companies pay for some green labels. To put this into perspective, I have seen companies in the building products sector pay more than €50,000 for various types of green labels and certification schemes of dubious independence and robustness.

Once you invest internally and a small part of your corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability team have the ability to perform LCAs, it becomes very inexpensive and EPDs can be done for less than €1000, sometimes even €500. And the information collected is not only of great use externally but for internal purposes and decision-making, mostly substituting for redundant internal reporting.

Example of information contained in a real EPD

Result of the LCA for Microtuft modular PA 6.6 carpet from InterfaceFlor

 

Next time ‘The Magic Metric That Changed The Car Industry’

… please revisit regularly for more excerpts from the book ‘Full Product Transparency‘ – or rent/buy by clicking here

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1 – The Case for Refocusing on Product (Rather than Corporate) Sustainability

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Full Product Transparency bookExcerpt from the book ‘Full Product Transparency

1. The corporate responsibility beauty contest hasn’t taken us that far

WE ARE AT LEAST TEN YEARS ALONG the corporate sustainability journey now, so what really significant changes have we achieved?

Perhaps the business world has focused on the wrong tasks? Could it be that, despite all the carbon neutrality claims, hundreds of Global Reporting Initiative A+ reports and sustainability teams of ten or more people, companies have still not radically redesigned their core products and business models? The answer is that there has been far too much focus on companies wanting to look good, and not nearly enough attention paid to actually performing well. The beauty contest It’s in the blood of companies to compete, to strive to be better than their peers.

That has been the reason for the success of corporate sustainability, because businesses like to vie with each other to be the best in this area. But the end result of all the competition has been to encourage companies to give the impression of looking good while barely changing their ‘business as usual’ model. It’s hard to change the direction of a business, especially in the short term, but the corporate sustainability beauty contest has nonetheless been characterised by a disappointingly low level of achievement.

An entire industry has been created around this beauty contest, including thousands of labels, corporate responsibility (CR) report design agencies, boutique assurance providers, hundreds of awards with infinite categories, materiality matrix mavericks, investor questionnaires consultants, professional stakeholders looking to ‘engage’ with companies and all manner of membership organisations offering support networks for a hefty fee. Service-provider directories in the field typically feature more than 500 such organisations offering to help businesses look more virtuous than their peers – what the marketing guys call ‘differentiation’.

The problem with all this activity is that looking more virtuous doesn’t have anything to do with being more sustainable.

We in the sustainability movement need to ask ourselves honestly whether we are pushing for actual change or whether we are merely helping companies to gloss over big issues by making them compete in irrelevant contests? We offer companies the prospect of being able to make ‘100% natural’ products or to be the first company in their sector to become ‘carbon neutral’. In short, we have been tremendously innovative in coming up with fairly meaningless stuff that is easy and quick to implement, or that can deliver nice stories and marketing claims, but frighteningly ineffective at producing anything that will affect actual performance.

And astonishingly, CEOs are quite happy about their performance.

A 2010 Accenture survey of global CEOs put the last nail in the coffin of CR as it stands. It found that 81% thought sustainability issues were fully embedded into the strategy and operations of their company. Yes, FULLY EMBEDDED! It’s not a joke. It’s actually quite sad that the most senior people don’t get it.

Please someone explain to them that having a CR team reporting to public affairs with a nicely designed 150k report with some cherry-picked case studies and a set of qualitative targets plus a few quantitative targets on quick wins is not ‘fully embedded’! Fully embedded means sustainability is fully taken account of in all the products of the company. You are redesigning your products, your business models, your entire value chain. Yet there is no company in the world that has achieved this. The sustainability movement should brutally tell CEOs that making wishy- washy claims such as ‘Sustainability is part of our DNA’ is just wrong.

Seventy-two percent of CEOs in the same survey felt the strongest motivator for taking action on sustainability issues was ‘strengthening brand, trust and reputation’. Well, here we have the reason we are trapped in this rather useless beauty contest.

Prepare yourself for the next sustainability phase: Full product transparency.

Somebody needs to speak out if we are to move towards something more meaningful. We need a proper comparative benchmark, so that companies can compete on what really matters – and so that the sustainability consultancy industry can sell properly useful transformative services to these companies. This book is aimed at providing this benchmark: products instead of companies.

So the next phase in sustainability has to be truly embedded by being focused on the product. We need to understand clearly the total footprint of a product throughout its lifecycle – that must be the starting point.

There has been some focus at product level but wrongly headed: Green labels.

You may well be asking, ‘Why does it have to be this complicated to choose the most sustainable product? Can’t I just look for a product with a green label?’

It’s not surprising people look for shortcuts to help them decide. After all, few of us have the time to study every purchase we make. That’s why there have been so many people, from gurus, to NGOs, to certification sharks, to industry associations inventing so many lucrative labels that offer ‘quick assurance’ about product sustainability credentials.

But when you look carefully at how some labels are administered, you realise how flawed they are. Most are too easy to obtain, which is obvious because the easier your label is to get, the bigger your market becomes. Most labels are very narrow in scope, measuring the easiest things to measure rather than the big issues. Many lack independent certification or may even be administered by the manufacturers themselves. Many labels duplicate each other, confusing clients and obliging manufacturers to certify the same product several times. Unfortunately, some of the best marketed labels are the least robust.

Today nobody certifies whether a yoghurt or a burger is good for your health. You just get the calories and the nutrition facts and you judge.

This is what this book is arguing for: the environmental impacts of products – Full Product Transparency.

… please revisit for more excerpts from the book ‘Full Product Transparency‘ – or rent/buy by clicking here

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Book ‘Full Product Transparency’ – Author Profile

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Ramon Arratia - Sustainability DirectorOver the next few months I will publish excerpts from my book ‘Full Product Transparency’ on this blog to encourage the use of its content, and spread the message that we need to ‘cut the fluff’ out of sustainability communications, dispel partial truths, and constantly push for stronger corporate responsibility through education and regulation.

You can rent or buy ‘Full Product Transparency’ via this link

Here is my Author profile should you not know who I am or what I do. Thank you so much for taking the time to come to this blog and read the book. We would obviously appreciate your support by spreading the word, and all feedback gratefully received.

 

” RAMON ARRATIA is a sustainability director with 13 years of practical experience in corporate positions at multinational companies such as Interface, Vodafone and Ericsson.

He was named by The Guardian newspaper as one of the world’s top sustainable business tweeters. He is a strong advocate of product sustainability through his popular blog (you’re here!) and gives 50 speeches a year on the subject. He campaigns for stronger and more efficient European regulation based on product standards, for revisiting corporate sustainability reporting and for many years he led the ‘Cut the Fluff’ campaign against labels, certificates, partial truths, marketing claims and all the components of the old sustainability beauty contest.

Ramon has an MBA from Warwick Business School, a MSC in Quality and Environment from Spain and a degree in chemistry. This mixture of business and technical education has given him a privileged perspective to understand both the geeks (LCA practitioners, academics, engineers) and the geezers (marketing, PR, sales, sustainability consultants). This book has been clearly written with a hybrid ‘geekzer’ mindset. “

 

‘Full Product Transparency’

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The Cambridge Econometrics wind report for WWF and Greenpeace: modern environmental campaigning

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I loved the way WWF and Greenpeace have campaigned on the wind versus gas debate in the UK. This is modern campaigning and shows how sophisticated the environmental movement is becoming. It’s not just telling mum to save the tigers or making a scene at Westminster, it’s proper public policy debate.

Here is some analysis of what I think went well and why I think it’s a recipe for the future:

1. Commission a proper, authoritative piece of research by a reputable consultant. 

In this case, a 70 page report from Cambridge Econometrics, has been written illustrating being transparent with the scenarios, as well as showing real macroeconomic figures with a proper sensitivity analysis. Download the full report here. It’s worth it!

2. Partnership. NGOs working together, sharing resources and rewords.

3. Wider alliance.

They got the Green Alliance involved, the Aldersgate Group, and quotes from several businesses.

The same week the report was published, The Green Alliance wrote the report The Future of Gas Power.

4. Engage businesses.

WWF asked several businesses to provide quotes to support the research. 11 people from key businesses contributed.

The Green Alliance asked Jim Watson, Director of the Sussex Energy Group, to talk about why gas can’t solve the UK’s energy woes. Here is their blog.

5. Brilliant findings bring brilliant PR

The Guardian:  Substantial deployment of offshore wind by 2030 would boost growth and create 70,000 more jobs than gas.

 

 

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Suscon conference in Bonn – Sustainability Conference 2012

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Im happy to take part today in Suscon conference in Bonn. A key sustainability conference to attend in 2012.

Particularly interested to hear from Pavan Sukhdev on his new book: Corporation 2020

 

 

About SusCon:

” SusCon 2012 is one of a number of successful sustainability conferences initiated in collaboration with NürnbergMesse. Bernward Geier, former director of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) and Udo Censkowsky, director of the international consultancy Organic Services, organised on behalf of NürnbergMesse 2009 the first “International Conference on Sustainable Business and Consumption”.

The first conference was distinguished by the appearance of eminent speakers such as Professor Klaus Töpfer, former Director of the UN environmental organization (UNEP) and Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In addition, several well-known corporations, such as KraftFood and PUMA were represented at the meeting.

The issues of “greenwashing”, credibility and transparency in the market for sustainable products were the focus of this first event. “

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It’s about product standards

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Great report from Tom Turnbull and Dustin Benton on the incredible power of regulating through product standards.

Instead of investing huge amount of money on subsidizing renewable energy, you decrease demand and without bothering consumers. How? Through better product design, all ‘forced’ through product standards.

Boilers, TVs, cars, washing machines…

All with little of the local self-serving, rent-seeking politics at national level. Because the seemingly ugly, obscure technocrats from Brussels are doing the job for us. Dont expect this great story to make it into the Daily Mail…

Some outstanding figures from the report:

- 42 per cent of energy bill cost reductions are expected to come from product policy, saving £158 off the average energy bill

- we are using appliances which are 59 per cent less efficient than the best available technologies

- The UK is relying on product policy to deliver 51 per cent of CO2 emissions savings expected from energy efficiency

- it takes four years to set up a regulation and producers usually have three to five years before they have to fully comply with it. Overall, it takes between seven and nine years for a regulation to come into force

 

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Mandatory Carbon Reporting vs. Mandatory Product Reporting

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Reuters recently reported that the UK was being urged to force firms to report carbon emissions and finally, the UK government has committed to mandatory carbon reporting.

Not especially ambitious, but it’s something.

It will affect less than 2,000 companies and even the CBI was in favour so I dont think the coalition has taken any real risk.

Next steps? – Extending the number of companies?

Here is the latest Carbon Emissions Poll from Populus which suggests that 77% of us think that larger businesses should be required to report on their carbon emissions.

The Aldersgate Group with other businesses and the general public have been calling for mandatory carbon reporting including this open letter to Nick Clegg.

However, more interesting than corporate reporting would be mandatory product reporting.

Nutritional information on food packaging is a must and nobody argues with the customer’s right to know, even if most of us don’t look at them. In a similar fashion, product environmental information should be mandatory.

At Interface we have committed to product reporting and most of our products are already covered by EPDs. We disclose raw materials, ‘ingredients’, production methods and environmental impact categories such as GWP in kgCO2eq or acidification in gSO2eq.

One day this will be standard. We’re pushing for soon!

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