Sustainability Boosts Business
Volume 9, Issue 5
In This Issue:
Sustainability Boosts Business
Committing to sustainability pays off for consumer brands, according to the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report from Nielsen
Airline Establishes Airport ‘Farm’
JetBlue passengers at JFK International Airport now enjoy more green space with the launch of the world’s first blue potato farm at an airport.
Also Featured In This Issue:
Sustainability Boosts Business
Committing to sustainability pays off for consumer brands, according to the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report from Nielsen, New York, NY. In the past year, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability expanded more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%.
To gain insight into purchase behavior, Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries. Consumers were asked how much factors such as the environment, packaging, price, marketing and organic or health and wellness claims influence purchase decisions.
“Sustainability is a worldwide concern that continues to gain momentum—especially in countries where growing populations are putting additional stress on the environment,” says Grace Farraj, senior vice president, Public Development & Sustainability, Nielsen. “An increasing number of consumers in developed regions consider sustainability actions more of an imperative than a value-add.”
Brand trust tops the list of sustainability factors that influence purchasing. It was cited by nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents. “This indicates an opportunity for consumer goods brands that have already built a high level of trust with consumers to evaluate where best to introduce sustainable products into the market to drive growth,” says Carol Gstalder, senior vice president, Reputation & Public Relations Solutions, Nielsen. “On the flip side, large global consumer goods brands that ignore sustainability increase reputational and business risk. This may give competitors of all sizes, the opportunity to build trust with the predominantly young, socially conscious consumer looking for products that align with their values.”
Willingness to pay a premium
The percentage of respondents willing to pay a premium for sustainable goods has risen 11% to 66% (up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013). Consumers across regions, income levels and categories are willing to pay more, if doing so ensures they remain loyal to their values. Sustainability sentiment is quite consistent across income levels. In fact, those earning $20,000 or less are 5% more willing than those with incomes greater than $50,000 to pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact (68% vs. 63%).
“Consumer brands that haven't embraced sustainability are at risk on many fronts,” says Gstalder. “Social responsibility is a critical part of proactive reputation management. And companies with strong reputations outperform others when it comes to attracting top talent, investors, community partners, and importantly, consumers.”
Despite coming of age in one of the most difficult economic climates in the past 100 years, Millenials continue to be most willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings — 73% in the latest findings, up from approximately 50% in 2014. The rise in the percentage of respondents under 20, also known as Generation Z, who are willing to pay more was equally strong — from 55% of total respondents in 2014 to 72% in 2015.
However, it should be noted, consumers in developed markets are less likely to pay more. “Consumers in developed markets are flooded by choice, often making them more skeptical and therefore harder to influence,” says Farraj. “Consumers are starting to consider sustainable practices a basic cost of entry, rather than a market differentiator. Going forward, brands have to define a credible, relevant social purpose, deliver greater social value and communicate that value effectively to attract and retain consumers.”
When it comes to sales intent, commitment to the environment has the power to sway product purchase for 45% of consumers surveyed. Commitment to either social value or the consumer’s community also influence (43% and 41% of respondents, respectively). Retail data backs up the importance of these influencers. In 2014, 65% of total sales of consumer goods measured globally were generated by brands whose marketing conveyed commitment to social and/or environmental value.
“The hierarchy among drivers of consumer loyalty and brand performance is changing,” says Farraj. “Commitment to social and environmental responsibility is surpassing some of the more traditional influences for many consumers. Consumer goods brands that fail to take this into account will likely fall behind.”
In addition, it’s essential to use multiple communication methods to demonstrate good deeds. Communication methods include third-party validation (news coverage), annual reports, affiliation with a respected nonprofit or civic organization, employee volunteerism, advertising or reporting actual work in the community on a website. “A balanced approach is key for brand communicators, with the emphasis on demonstrating good deeds versus self-serving promotion,” says Gstalder.
About the survey
The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability was conducted Feb. 23-March 13, 2015, and has a margin of error of ±0.6%. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country and is based on the behavior of respondents with online access. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.
Airline Establishes Airport ‘Farm’
JetBlue passengers passing through Terminal 5 (T5) at JFK International Airport in New York now enjoy more green space with the launch of the world’s first blue potato farm at an airport. The T5 Farm, located pre-security on the departures level, marks a “farm-to-air” collaboration between JetBlue and TERRA Real Vegetable Chips with support from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and GrowNYC Partners, a consultancy arm of the nonprofit GrowNYC that uses the profits to support gardens, Greenmarkets and hands-on education.
“An airport seems like an unexpected place for a farming experiment, but what better way to explore JetBlue’s role in the food cycle than to harvest right in our own back yard at JFK,” says Sophia Mendelsohn, head of Sustainability, JetBlue, which already supports composting of food waste from outlets in Terminal 5. Nearly 300 pounds of food waste are sent each day to McEnroe Organic Farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York, which, in turn, supplied the nutrient rich, organic soil for the T5 Farm.
The 24,000-square-foot T5 Farm will feature 3,000 crates of plants and is expected to grow more than 1,000 pounds of blue potatoes per harvest, as well as crops of arugula, beets, mint and basil, which were carefully selected so birds and other wildlife would not be attracted to the area. The harvests will increase self-sufficiency for JetBlue and its partners in T5 by providing herbs and produce for some of the terminal’s eateries as well as potatoes for TERRA Blues chips. The TERRA brand, part of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., New Hyde Park, NY, supplies the TERRA Blues® potato chips handed out on every JetBlue flight.
T5 Farm harvests also will benefit local food pantries. Creating a healthier airport environment is a core pillar of JetBlue’s sustainability philosophy. The airline regularly utilizes opportunities such as the T5 Farm to educate customers on issues such as carbon offsetting, composting and climate change, and to deliver more nutritious options onboard and at the terminal.
Tape Production Goes Solvent-Free
3M, St. Paul, MN, has eliminated 99% of the organic solvents used in production of the release coating (non-sticky side) of its Scotch® Box Sealing Tape. The adhesive side has been manufactured without solvents since 1975. The change has no effect on tape performance or cost, but does positively impact the plant and its surrounding community, Greenville, SC. In fact 3M’s Greenville production facility is recognized as a Responsible Tape Manufacturer by the Pressure Sensitive Tape Council, Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Eliminating solvents lowers greenhouse gas emissions, conserves petroleum resources and shrinks carbon footprint and equates to total avoided emissions of about 100 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. For more information, visit www.3M.com/ScotchTape.
Single-Serving Coffee Eliminates Waste
Some see packaging waste as the dark side of the popularity of single-serving beverage brewing. After all, each serving involves several levels of packaging: the primary pod holding coffee grounds, tea leaves or beverage mix plus secondary and distribution packaging.
The typical brewing pod consists of multiple materials and is not recyclable. To provide a greener alternative, Coffee Club, Toronto, Ontario, offers the compostable PῧrPod100™ design. Plant-based resins and use of the coffee “chaff” (the coffee bean skin left over from the roasting process) ensure degradability.
In fact, the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), New York, NY, confirms the PῧrPod100 design is “industrially compostable,” making it the world’s first 100% compostable single-serve pod for coffee, tea and other hot beverages to earn certification for compostability. BPI certification involves testing in approved independent laboratories and independent verification according to ASTM D6400 and D6868 standards. “Diverting products associated with food residuals away from disposal is complicated, and BPI certification is a critical piece of the process, ensuring that items will break down in a timely manner in the appropriate composting environment, and not have a negative impact on the quality of the finished compost,” says Rhodes Yepsen, executive director, BPI.
Club Coffee developed PῧrPod100™ in collaboration with the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre at the University of Guelph (Ontario). PῧrPod100 is compatible with most Keurig®-style brewing systems, including Keurig® 2.0 brewers. For more information, visit www.clubcoffee.ca, www.bpiworld.org.
Resource Scarcity Tilts Purchases Toward Renewable Packaging
Americans typically don’t think about declining resources unless they’ve been educated about the issue. Once the problem is understood, attitudes and actions shift, according to a survey undertaken by Global Footprint Network, Oakland, CA, in conjunction with Tetra Pak Inc., Denton, TX.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers who buy groceries showed only 41% of respondents report being very aware of the issue of resource constraints. However, an overwhelming number of respondents (86%) said that if they knew that use of renewable packaging contributed to reduced carbon emissions and helped slow climate change, it would impact their choice of packaging. This was particularly the case with women — 90% of the female respondents would choose renewable packaging if they knew it would help cut carbon emissions vs. 77% of male respondents.
The survey also found respondents willing to take action to conserve natural resources. Seeking out food or beverages in renewable packaging was among the top three responses. Other actions included buying locally grown food, matching food purchases to consumption and consuming all the food bought.
Respondents also noted they are ready to be equally accountable with government and industry and support the need to do more. For more information, visit www.doingwhatsgood.us/moving-to-the-front.
Biotech Firm Expands PHA Capacity
MHG Danimer, Bainbridge, GA, becomes the world’s largest producer of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymer with startup of its first commercial scale fermenter. In the fermenter, canola oil feeds the microorganisms that create the patented, ultraviolet-resistant and 100%-biodegradable Nodax™ PHA bioplastic, a material with properties equal or better than most petrochemical-based polymers. Certified by Vinçotte International, Brussels, Belgium, to biodegrade within three to 12 months in soil, fresh water, marine water, industrial compost and home compost, Nodax
PHA also is acceptable to FDA for food contact and can be custom-formulated with polylactic acid, another biopolymer. One current application is for coffee pods for San Francisco Bay Coffee, Oakland, CA. Other potential applications include cups, straws, bags and disposable consumer products. PHA production relies on a trademarked process MHG dubs Agrofacturing™, which integrates planting, harvesting and cold crushing of non-GMO canola seed. Canola was selected because the seeds contain approximately 42% oil by weight, plus can be planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, allowing farmers to sow a food crop for the spring-fall growing season. The food-grade oil is produced by MHG’s AgroCrush facility from locally grown canola. The material remaining after pressing is converted to fertilizer or livestock feed.
“At MHG, we believe PHA is the solution for a healthier planet,” states MHG CEO Paul A. Pereira. MHG is so committed to solving the problem of plastic waste, it is funding a four-month, 30-country expedition, From Florence to Singapore, to raise awareness about plastic recycling and gain insight about local conditions. For more information, visit www.MHGBio.com.
Mondelez Hits Target Early
Mondelez International, Deerfield, IL, reduced packaging consumption 89 million lb. in 2014. This source reduction, exceeds the company’s 2015 goal of 50 million lb. by 78% and was achieved by using less material and more recycled content. One contributor to the reduction, a redesign of pouch size and display height for Tang powdered beverage mix in Latin America, increased pouches per display unit and cut paperboard and corrugated consumption.
The company’s proprietary, web-based Eco-Calculator™ tool tracks and measures results, determines the percentage of post-consumer-recycled materials and identifies the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from packaging production and disposal. In addition, The Call for Well-Being, 2014 Progress Report notes, “We also ‘upcycle’ waste such as flexible films, which are difficult to recycle through normal channels, and convert them into merchandise through our work with TerraCycle®, Trenton, NJ.”
Mondelez also has reduced waste generated by its manufacturing facilities. At the end of 2014, 67 facilities qualified as Zero Waste to Landfill sites. This represents 48% of the company’s production. For more information, visit www.mondelezinternational.com/~/media/mondelezcorporate/uploads/downloads/cfwb2014progressreport.pdf.
Water Bottles Add Recycled Content
Nestle Waters North America, Stamford, CT, is boosting the level of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) content in its Arrowhead® brand 100% mountain spring water 38%. As a result, most bottles for the Ontario, CA-based brand will contain up to 50% recycled content.
“Thanks to California's strong commitment to recycling, there is high-quality rPET available enabling us to increase our use of recycled material,” reports Tim Brown, CEO & president of Nestle Waters North America. Arrowhead began using rPET it in its half-liter bottles three years ago. “Using recycled content, plastic products and other materials are converted back into new bottles,” explains Dave Thorpe, supply chain director for Nestle Waters’ Arrowhead brand. “In this ‘closed-loop’ model, recycled packaging can be reused indefinitely and can help foster a circular economy that prioritizes sustainability.”
Arrowhead is partnering with Los Angeles-based CarbonLITE Industries LLC, one of the largest producers of food-grade, post-consumer rPET in the world. “By reusing these materials, Arrowhead will save 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide from production annually. That’s a significant reduction in greenhouse gases and a model for other packaging companies,” notes Leon Farahnik, founder & CEO of CarbonLITE.
Arrowhead also supports trash-free waterways and has established partnerships with local groups such as Inland Empire Waterkeeper, Riverside, CA. Its Crest to Coast restoration effort seeks to reduce litter found within the Santa Ana River watershed via restoration sites, pollution reduction and student education. For more information, visit www.carbonliterecycling.com/, www.iewaterkeeper.org/.
Recycled Denim Insulates Products
NaturalBlue thermal liners from Bonded Logic, Inc., Chandler, AZ, consist of up to 90% recycled denim and insulate cold chain shipments. Thermal liners can be customized with a variety of FDA-approved encapsulation materials.
“NaturalBlue offers a significant advantage over expanded polystyrene, urethane and other foam-based options,” says Sean Desmond, sales and marketing director for Bonded Logic. “With our vertical integration of textile recycling and manufacturing, we can offer a recycled denim-based product that performs equally as well, is cost-effective and is a much better option for our environment,” he reports.
If desired, brand owners can set up a closed-loop process whereby recipients return liners to Bonded Logic for recycling. Composting also may be a possibility, depending on the choice of encapsulation material and fiber blend. For more information, visit www.naturalbluethermal.com.
Reusable Container Integrates Pallet
DuraGreen Pallet Pack All-in-One reusable container from RPP Containers, Cincinnati, OH, integrates pallet and container. When not in use, a collapsible plastic sleeve folds onto the pallet and the top locks onto the base with the sleeve nesting inside. The reusable container weighs 60 lb., can be collapsed or stacked to simplify storage and shipping and comes in three sizes: 40 x 48 x 30 in., 40 x 48 x 34 in. and 45 x 48 x 34 in. For more information, visit www.rppcontainers.com.