Saving the planet - one post at a time.

Category: Business Impact of Green

Forbes: Moscow Discovers Climate Change Can Be Good Business

Dec 4, 2020

Kenneth Rapoza

Kenneth Rapoza

Snowy weather in MoscowRussians play in the snow on November 21, 2020.  MIKHAIL JAPARIDZE/TASS

“Green is good” has replaced that old 1980s Wall Street mantra: “Greed is good.”

Even the oil rich Russians have discovered it. They’re not alone.

City planners, start-up entrepreneurs and big business are all discovering that concern over climate change is leading to entire new industries. Or fresh demand for old ones – like solar panels that became a thing in the 1970s; new battery powered car companies like Lordstown Motors, and really old school stuff like bicycles and electric powered scooters that are part of the so-called Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) movement.

Moscow is home to some of Russia’s biggest ESG investors. Who knew?

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Collaboration for Sustainability

The fundamental challenge to address the climate crisis in a market-driven economy is that the cost of climate change is not included in the economic transactions that contribute to it.  In the wake of super storm Sandy, there is increasing awareness and acknowledgement that global warming has a significant, measurable cost.  (See previous post.)  However, the challenge is that our buying decisions are distant from those costs.

Collaboration is one way to bridge the gap between purchase decisions and their impact on the environment.  As a recent article in the Guardian points out, “Collaboration is widely acknowledged as vital if we are to address global challenges at the scale and speed we need…”

While governments and companies are often countervailing forces in many respects, collaboration between them will likely be helpful and perhaps necessary to align the profit motive with actual costs borne by the public due to environmental impacts.  An example, in my mind, is refundable deposits on disposable drink containers.  While some may see this as government intervention rather than collaboration, once the intial jolt is past, this has beneficial impacts without too many downsides.  This doesn’t impact the actual price of the product, since the consumer may (although doesn’t always) redeem the container for the initial deposits.  Most supermarkets provide machines which can process the returns.  “Studies show that beverage container legislation has reduced total roadside litter by between 30% and 64% in the states with bottle bills.[2]…and that the recycling rate for beverage containers is vastly increased with a bottle bill. The United States’ overall beverage container recycling rate is approximately 33%, while states with container deposit laws have a 70% average rate of beverage container recycling. Michigan’s recycling rate of 97% from 1990–2008 is the highest in the nation, as is the state’s $0.10 deposit.[3]

Charities and companies often collaborate and the article speaks to those that have worked well by targeting a single issue such as Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund on water stewardship.

Certifications can often best be done with the use of a non-profit such as the Forest Stewardship Council for wood and paper products or the Marine Stewardship Council for seafood.  Office and building supply manufacturers and retailers can then opt to offer products which meet third-party standards without investing undue resources in research and self-certification.

The article also points out Starbucks cup recycling is an excellent example of collaboration for sustainability.  “the company’s starting point was to convene all the players in the system.  Government officials, suppliers, manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, competitors, conservation groups and academics were brought together to develop an approach that worked for Starbucks as well as the food service sector as a whole.”

The conclusion is that competition in the marketplace will give consumers the opportunity to reward those brands that implement practices with which they agree.  But “The idea that traditional adversaries can realise greater benefit by upholding common environmental and social standards, rather than by competing on them, seems to have come of age. If our 800 sustainability professionals are to be believed, company-led collaborations may really start to move the dial if they focus on a single systemic problem, actively engage the public sector, and seek to learn from and build on what has worked before.”

Green: For a Few, Focus on Green Products Pays Off

Green: Business
New York Times Green Blog April 21, 2011, 8:59 pm By Andrew Martin and Stephanie Clifford

These days, it seems, the provenance of green products matters.

While big consumer-product companies have struggled with environmentally oriented brands, some niche manufacturers have bounced back from the recession.

Manufacturers who have long aligned themselves with environmental causes, like Seventh Generation and Method, have rebounded better from the recession than the “green” lines of larger, more traditional manufacturers.

Analysts say the reason is that the niche manufacturers tend to attract serious green customers who want products that are good for the environment even if they cost more. And if these customers find that a botanical ingredient isn’t quite as effective as bleach, they believe it is better for their house and lungs.

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