Photo: Coffee plants in El Salvador

81 percent of global consumers say it’s extremely or very important for companies to implement programs to improve the environment, according to a recent survey conducted by Nielsen. Consumers in many emerging markets feel even more strongly about this, with India (97 percent) and Colombia (96 percent) at the top.  https://bit.ly/2FpcVJM

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Renewables can challenge existing coal plants on price – according to analysis from the research firm Lazard. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis finds that U.S. onshore wind energy costs average between $26/MWh and $56/MWh without subsidies, while utility-scale solar averages between $36/MWh and $44/MWh. That challenges the average cost for existing U.S. coal plants, which Lazard pegs between $27/MWh and $45/MWh. https://bit.ly/2QAUWkJ

K-State will save $200,000 a year by tapping into this natural resource – By 2020, half of Kansas State University’s Manhattan campus will be powered by wind, school officials announced Tuesdayhttps://bit.ly/2QFjBog

Argentina launches 400 MW mini renewables auction – Some 350 MW will be divided between wind and solar for projects of 500 kW to 10 MW in scale. The ceiling price for solar and wind has been set at $60/MWh.  https://nyp.st/2Fu4Wey

Freddie Mac launches new, “green” mortgage – The new GreenCHOICE Mortgage will allow Freddie Mac to assess mortgage loan performance between homes with and without energy efficient enhancements. The research will help the GSE design valuation guidance and uniform data collection tools and develop underwriting guidelines to account for energy efficient features. https://bit.ly/2QQX3ks

The World Energy Outlook 2018– “We have reviewed all current and under-construction energy infrastructure around the world – such as power plants, refineries, cars and trucks, industrial boilers, and home heaters – and find they will account for some 95% of all emissions permitted under international climate targets in coming decades,” said Dr Birol. “This means that if the world is serious about meeting its climate targets then, as of today, there needs to be a systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies. But we also need to be much smarter about the way that we use our existing energy system. We can create some room for maneuver by expanding the use of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage, hydrogen, improving energy efficiency, and in some cases, retiring capital stock early. To be successful, this will need an unprecedented global political and economic effort.”  https://bit.ly/2T6SxQx  Video – https://bit.ly/2A1ZARL

EU Parliament approves binding 2030 target for renewables (32%) and an indicative target on energy efficiency (32.5%) that will play a crucial role in meeting the EU’s climate goals. By 2030, energy efficiency in the EU has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption. Both targets are to be reviewed by 2023. These targets can only be raised, not lowered.  https://bit.ly/2JZKmBf

New air-conditioning design cools without using fossil fuels scientists at Stanford are working to develop air-conditioning free of fossil fuels. The device creates a heat sink and then cools a targeted area through radiative cooling. The device remains in development and is far from ready for commercial use.  https://bit.ly/2qTisOw

Columbia University CleanTech: Designing Batteries for a Sustainable Future – The Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center plans to study how battery systems interact with other efficient technologies, including thermal storage.  https://bit.ly/2A1EUte

Richard Branson just launched a $3 million prize for a better air conditioner – The number of AC units may swell from 1.2 billion worldwide today to 4.5 billion by 2050–and household air conditioning, alone, could push global warming up half a degree by the end of the century, according to a new report.  The new competition is designed to provide an incentive to create higher-efficiency air conditioners and support startups in a field that’s currently dominated by a handful of major corporations. To participate, companies need to submit a solution that has five times less climate impact than a standard air conditioner, at no more than twice the cost, so it has a payback period of less than four years.  https://bit.ly/2QvAP7w

2018 Energy Efficiency Indicator survey: More than half of global organizations plan to increase energy efficiency spending in next 12 months – The survey of nearly 2,000 facility and energy management executives from 20 countries found that 57% of organizations in the United States and 59% of global organizations plan to increase investment in energy efficiency in the next year.  https://bit.ly/2PBN06s

Tesla offers glimpse inside Buffalo Gigafactory – The 1.2 million-square-foot plant RiverBend gigafactory, which makes solar roofing tiles.  https://bit.ly/2PB8foI

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the “Cleaner Trucks Initiative” – with the aim of reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks and publishing a new proposed rule for tighter federal nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions standards by 2020, according to a Tuesday press release issued by the agency. https://bit.ly/2FrTY9t

How to create a sustainable portfolio – Key components include: Exclusion; Best-in-Class ESG reporting; Active Ownership; Thematic Investing; Impact Investing; ESG Integration.  https://bit.ly/2Q4MLA7

Schneider Electric Ups Innovation Drive Via $565M Venture Capital Funding Outfit – The unit – ‘Schneider Electric Ventures’ – will have up to €500 million ($565 million) of dry powder to invest in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and would “welcome ideas” from innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their concepts into reality.  https://bit.ly/2FqxSny

Scientists Create Energy-Producing “Bionic Mushroom”– A team of researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey have created a “bionic mushroom” that can produce electricity without using fossil fuels. The mushroom is covered in cyanobacteria, tiny organisms found across the globe that turn sunlight into electrical current. The scientists published their findings in the journal Nano Letters.  https://bit.ly/2qRUtQ5

 

RECYCLING

Despite China’s National Sword, US PET recycling rate improves in 2017 – The rate hit 29.2 percent in 2017, up from 28.4 percent in 2016, according to a report released Nov. 15 by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) and the Association of Plastic Recyclers.  U.S. and Canadian plastics processors used 1.57 billion pounds of recycled PET in 2017, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year. Fiber, strapping and thermoformed products/sheet all posted increases, while recycled PET use in bottles dropped.  https://bit.ly/2zXGvQQ

Startups targeting food waste reduction raise $125 million this year – according to a report from ReFED grants for food waste reduction groups hit $134 million from January through September 2016, a 70% jump over five years, ReFED reported. https://bit.ly/2QLL5bP

A true/false quiz on preventing food waste during the holidays – Here with a fun quiz with Olivia Horwitz, Ecofellow from the Center for Ecotechnology.  https://bit.ly/2DNfF22

How to Reduce Food Waste over the Holidays [VIDEO] – NFRA’s “No Taste for Waste” Video Demonstrates How Buying Frozen Foods Can Help…and Save You Money. https://prn.to/2KcsBPo

Garbageman pulls 93-year-old into truck as Camp Fire spreads – https://bit.ly/2FtXmAK

Video Young people say not recycling is a deal breaker – https://nyp.st/2Fu4Wey

Recycling 101: No Plastic Bags in the Recycling. No Bagged Recyclables – Did you know that plastic bags don’t belong in your recycling container? Did you know that plastic bags should be returned to a grocer or retail outlet to be safely recycled? Did you know that plastic bags not only prevent items from being recycled, but also damage recycling equipment and even create a hazard for recycling workers? https://bit.ly/2Fsd0fI

Radio – What Do We Get Wrong About Recycling? – How has America’s attitude toward recycling changed over the years? What more can be done to educate and empower people to start recycling or improve the status quo? Experts on the forefront of recycling efforts in Texas spoke to “The Source” on National Recycling Day.  https://bit.ly/2FtWXOv

Video How to keep recycling from turning into ‘wishcycling’  The impact of recycling is being undercut by materials not being sorted properly, which drives up the cost to process them and makes the contents useless. Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, called the issue “wishcycling,” and it makes recycling loads impossible to process and resell.  https://cnb.cx/2QQO3vR

New Beyond 34 Recycling Improvement Projects Launched in Orlando – The goal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (USCCF) Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for a new Economy (Beyond 34) is to move the United States beyond its current 34 percent recycling rate. Thanks to the generous support of The Dow Chemical Company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and The Coca-Cola Company, USCCF has engaged a number of implementation partners to conduct more than $100,000 worth of prioritized projects to increase recycling in the Orlando region, some likely to commence before the end of the year. https://bit.ly/2KcA4xX

E-Commerce Mogul Amazon Launches “Second Chance” to Promote Sustainability – Amazon has launched a new portal which is called “Second Chance,” The concept behind the Second Chance portal is to compile information on how to recycle, repair and return electronic devices. Amazon is calling it a “one-stop shop” where people will be able to learn how to responsibly get rid of old gadgets. You can visit Second Chance to find out how much you can get if you trade your devices in and to learn how to start the process. Second Chance also provides the service of finding repair options for broken devices. For devices that are broken beyond repair Second Chance will instruct you on how to get Amazon to take your broken gadgets and recycle them. The initiative also encourages clients to purchase refurbished gadgets at a discount price. https://bit.ly/2DFLJ7X

Turn trash into toys with this maker kit for kids – A new kit of 64 small connectors, wheels, and other parts–is designed to turn water bottles, juice boxes, and other items that might otherwise end up in the trash into toys.  https://bit.ly/2z4Vmcz

Why Procter & Gamble will start delivering Tide in a shoe box -Tide laundry detergent will soon be shipped in a shoe box, part of its parent company Procter & Gamble’s push to adapt to online deliveries.  P&G rolled out the new “Tide Eco-Box” on Friday. It features a twist-to-open pour for the detergent, a pull-out stand, and a measuring cup. The liquid formula, which contains less water than normal Tide, comes in a sealed bag.  The version uses 60% less plastic than shipping an equivalent 150 ounce bottle of Tide since it doesn’t require additional layers of cardboard boxing or bubble wrap. https://cnn.it/2OHWPKC

 

DEFORESTATION

At the root of the problem: the best books about deforestation – Entomologist EO Wilson 2002 book The Future of Life; Richard Powers, 2018 novel, The Overstory; Kenyan Nobel peace prize-winner Wangari Maathai autobiography, Unbowed.  Indonesian environmental advocacy group Walhi, Mistaking Plantations for Indonesia’s Tropical ForestThe Falling Skyhttps://bit.ly/2KbbTjh

An advertising watchdog has deemed supermarket’s Christmas ad campaign too “political” for broadcast in the UK – The ad, which highlights the destruction of rainforests for palm oil production, was originally created for Greenpeace.  UK supermarket Iceland, which has a partnership with Greenpeace, was given permission to place its logo on the commercial and run it as part of the store’s Christmas campaign. However, a bid to broadcast the ad on commercial television was blocked.  https://ab.co/2DCCdTh

EU states call for tough action on deforestation to meet 2020 UN goal – The UK, France and Germany have called on the European commission to launch tough new action to halt deforestation by the end of the year.  To help meet a UN goal of halting deforestation by 2020, the EU should show “a leadership role, mobilising its political and market leverage, and promoting broader international dialogue and cooperation”. https://bit.ly/2zKjEbl

Extreme logging in Haiti is causing an irreversible change it the tropical rainforests and the habitat they provide – Ninety-nine percent of the country’s original wooded areas have fallen victim to deforestation. 42 of Haiti’s 50 largest mountains have lost all of their primary forest. Likely the world’s most deforested nation, Haiti saw its primary forest cover decline from 4.4 percent of total land area in 1988 to 0.32 percent in 2016.  https://bit.ly/2K4jS1K

Tinderbox California: Drought, Dry Soil Cover 100% of State – Drought and dry soil conditions widened to 100 percent of flame-whipped California from 26 percent a year earlier, providing tinder for this month’s Camp Fire conflagration — one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S. history, according to data for the week ended Nov. 13.  https://bit.ly/2Q4k865

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is soliciting applications for technical assistance grants for Climate Smart Agriculture programs.The grants are for organizations that can provide assistance to applicants to the CSA programs. Nonprofit organizations, California academic institutions and California Resource Conservation Districts are eligible to apply. Applicants may receive up to $60,000, depending on the number of programs and funding cycles. Applications must be submitted by email to cdfa.oefi@cdfa.ca.gov no later than Nov. 30. Grants will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis. To learn more about eligibility and requirements, visit the CDFA website.  https://bit.ly/2zhIM9U

Attis Industries Launches Video Series to Demonstrate Bio-Based Technologies and Discuss Targeted End Use Products – “Our [processing] outputs include pulp and a unique form of high purity lignin…. While the pulp can be used in traditional pulp and paper markets or to produce cellulosic ethanol, it’s this high purity form of lignin that allows Attis to substantially increase the value and products made from biomass….  For every 1.0 pound of cellulosic ethanol produced, Attis is able to recover about 1.3 pounds of high purity lignin…. This is an alarming amount of highly concentrated carbon, captured from carbon dioxide and stored by photsyntheisis in plants, that has been overlooked for decades….  Attis plans to convert its lignin into transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel and/or jet fuel, which could double the fuel output of biomass, or to convert the lignin into various materials such as plastics, adhesives or carbon fiber.   https://bit.ly/2JZMsB7

Attis Industries Launches Video Series to Demonstrate Bio-Based Technologies and Discuss Targeted End Use Products –  https://bit.ly/2z2F0Ry

2018 AF&PA Sustainability Report – Advancing US Paper and Wood Products Industry Performance – The Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability initiative includes the most extensive sets of sustainability goals established for a U.S. manufacturing industry.  https://sustainability.afandpa.org

 

WATER STEWARDSHIP

Processing human urine to recycle nutrients into fertilizer – Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that require energy to produce. Human urine is full of those same nutrients, but we literally flush them down the toilet. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), University of Michigan environmental engineer Nancy Love and a team that includes the non-profit, Rich Earth Institute, are fine-tuning new methods to process human urine into fertilizer. The team wants to create a more sustainable fertilizer while at the same time eliminating a waste that contributes to water pollution. https://bit.ly/2S6LOF5

Next generation ‘may never see the glory of coral reefs’ – The warning follows a landmark UN climate report that upgraded risk assessments for corals following faster-than-expected global bleaching. Scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that if warming reached 2C, currently very likely in the next 50 years, there would be a more than 99% chance that tropical corals would be eradicated.  https://bit.ly/2Qz3gS8

Your water footprint is just as important as your carbon footprint – The average American water footprint is 7,800 liters per day. Compare that with Germans who have a water footprint of 3,900 liters or the Chinese with 2,900 liters. So what can you do? Buy from brands who take caring for water seriously. Look at what companies are doing to use water sustainably across their value chain by studying sustainability reports, reading water-disclosure statements, and learning about their water stewardship programs. https://bit.ly/2KhSDkt

Purple bacteria ‘batteries’ turn sewage into clean energy – The first reported use of photosynthetic microbes in a battery-like ‘bioelectrochemical system’ shows that purple bacteria could turn wastewater treatment plants into zero-carbon fuel generators.  Organic compounds in household sewage and industrial wastewater are a rich potential source of energy, bioplastics and even proteins for animal feed – but with no efficient extraction method, treatment plants discard them as contaminants. Now researchers have found an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective solution.  Published in Frontiers in Energy Research, their study is the first to show that purple phototrophic bacteria – which can store energy from light – when supplied with an electric current can recover near to 100% of carbon from any type of organic waste, while generating hydrogen gas for electricity production.  https://bit.ly/2FrRJmk

POD Cast: The Blue Economy: How Impact Investing Can Help It Grow – Dale Gavin from the Meloy Fund and Aimee Gonzales from Partnerships and Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSA) discuss creative solutions for balancing the need for sustainable fishing with protecting the livelihoods that depend on it.  The world’s oceans provide food security to 3 billion people who rely on fish as their primary source of protein. However, their livelihoods are under threat as 90% of the global fisheries are being fished at above their maximum sustainable levels. Asia will face the maximum adverse impact of that overfishing, as it accounts for 84% of all people employed in the fisheries and agriculture sector worldwide. Globally, the push for the so-called “blue economy” or sustainable use of oceans aims to protect economic activity worth $3 billion-$5 billion annually that coasts and oceans support.  https://whr.tn/2qNsbpR

 

SUSTAINABILITY

Commercial PACE Financing – Available in 35 states.  CleanFund is the leading direct provider of commercial PACE (C-PACE) financing, offering long-term, fixed-rate, non-recourse capital for commercial, multi-family and alternative non-residential property types. CleanFund’s PACECapital product finances up to 100% of both hard and soft building improvement costs for value-add, respositioning and retrofit projects through property taxes.  https://bit.ly/2Tgcnc6

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency – http://www.dsireusa.org

50 companies with the highest ESG scores indicate a strong correlation between financial performance and sustainability performance. https://bit.ly/2PJFd5R

Investing’s Final Frontier: Impact Measurement – Video – Measuring the impact or “social return” of money spent on enterprises and initiatives aiming to solve pressing social problems. Social returns can manifest in myriad ways, from increased literacy, to healthier infants, to reduced pollution. In general, each type of social return calls for its own metrics to answer this basic question: Is this social impact investment/initiative having the intended effect?  https://bit.ly/2Tddklz

 Why it’s now easy being green in the bond world – A green bond is a debt instrument in which the issuer commits to using the borrowed money for projects deemed environmentally beneficial. These can include everything from installing solar panels at factories to improving energy efficiency to constructing green buildings. Today there are almost $475 billion in green bonds outstanding, with over $150 billion issued in 2017 alone (source: BlackRock, Bloomberg, as of 6/30/2018). https://bit.ly/2DoGwR7

Duke, Dominion issue $1.3B in green bonds – Duke’s green bonds have a weighted average coupon of 3.74% between the three-year and 10-year maturities. https://bit.ly/2z87NUP

How to Tie Executive Compensation to Sustainability – In a survey of 89 institutional investors by Callan, 43% of respondents said they incorporate sustainability factors into their investment decisions — up 21 percentage points from 2013.  Compensation committees often start by tying bonuses and long-term incentives to goals related to compliance and risk management. Boards should demand entirely new kinds of strategic thinking from management, the kind of thinking that not only makes the company more sustainable but also aids suppliers and customers in becoming so. https://bit.ly/2OFHREX

BSR – The State of Sustainable Business 2018 – Key Findings: Companies are defining a new sustainability agenda:Corporate integrity and diversity and inclusion, are top priorities for sustainability efforts, Climate change and human rights remain in the top four priority issues;Sustainability needs to be integrated into strategy; SDGs are driving strategy; Companies have limited focus on value chain impacts; There is a need for more cross-functional collaboration; There is room to improve communications. https://bit.ly/2A0ArHa

Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) has committed to sourcing 100 percent of its coffee responsibly and to improving the lives of 1 million people in its supply chain by 2020, and is making significant progress in both areas. These goals are designed to bring KDP beyond the audit “checklist” and bring true, meaningful impact to coffee communities.  https://bit.ly/2qToXBh

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s International Corporate Citizenship Film Festival is the largest film festival devoted exclusively to celebrating the work of corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals, their companies, and programs. The eleventh annual Film Festival, presented by BBVA Compass, is now accepting submissions. Winners will be honored at the 2019 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, being held April 28-30, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. The Film Festival is open to all companies regardless of size or location. To participate, an organization is asked to submit a short film depicting one or more aspects of a recent corporate citizenship initiative. Click here to submit your film for the 2019 International Corporate Citizenship Film Festival. If you have questions, please email filmfestival@bc.edu. https://bit.ly/2zg5D5Q

The ROI of Philanthropy: Consumers Willing to Spend 6% More for Products from Socially Responsible Companies – New findings from Nucleus Research show that philanthropy is good for business, with the average consumer willing to pay up to six percent more for a product from socially responsible companies. The research is part of a guidebook developed by Nucleus for Saleforce.org Philanthropy Cloud – a platform that connects consumers and corporations with the causes they care about.  Consumers are 64% more likely to recommend socially responsible companies to friends Consumers are 63% more likely to try new products from socially responsible companies 50 percent of respondents believe it is important or very important to work for a company that supports philanthropic causes that they favor. https://bit.ly/2OGilPR

Jeff Foote

Jeff Foote is Executive Vice President, Sustainability at TreeZero. He’s also an investor. He has helped hundreds of organizations, both large and small, successfully incorporate sustainability strategies into core business functions. Jeff has traveled to all seven continents working to protect and preserve the environment. Jeff’s mission is to help organizations and individuals use fewer resources to sell more, more profitably.