Banning Straws Won’t Save our Planet; But Changing Attitudes Just Might

Already following the plastic straw ban in Seattle,  Washington we’ve seen Disney, Starbucks, and several other companies come forward with similar bans. And while we applaud the efforts of these companies as they continue their “journey of environmental stewardship” (in the words of Disney), we need to remind ourselves what the real problem is that we’re trying to solve.

The truth is that plastic straws are estimated to be a mere 0.03 percent of ocean plastic waste. While straws have enormous potential to cause harm to wildlife, the real concern regarding ocean waste is the huge amount of abandoned fishing debris (estimated to be 46% of all ocean waste) as well as the huge volumes of plastic bags and plastic bottles creating floating islands of debris all over the world. In reality, our consumer attitudes towards the convenience of single-use items and our misplaced belief that we can compost or recycle our way out of this eco-dystopia, is really the more substantive issue.

That’s why I was so impressed to be included in the team working on the Sustainability Program for the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games held in Seattle earlier this month. Once again, a mega-sporting event (4,000 athletes, 14,000 volunteers, nearly 100,000 spectators) demonstrated that it’s the sustainability legacy that matters just as much and probably far more, than the impact of ‘greening’ initiatives. Listen to this school teacher from Oklahoma in the associated video– her story confirms that by attending the Games, being exposed to the Sustainability Program, and being inspired by the greening activities (even straw bans) means that she’s changed her attitude. Even more significantly, she’ll be taking home these inspirations to share with school kids and others – with enormous potential impact on progression!

So, we encourage corporate groups to continue their efforts to reduce their eco-impacts and transition to a more circular form of economy. No doubt every little bit helps. But let’s remember what really matters – capturing the hearts and minds of everyone around us to make those small and big shifts that can really tilt the difference to a sustainable future.

 

Reeve helps Special Olympics Seattle 2018 set new sustainability benchmark

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On July 1, 2018 something very exciting will be happening in Seattle, and at Reeve we’re excited to be a part of it!  The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games opens, showcasing the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Reeve Consulting has been working closely with the Special Olympics USA Organizing Committee (SOUSA) to help them become the first Special Olympic Games to develop and deliver on a Sustainability Strategy.

In 2017, we created SOUSA’s Sustainability Strategy, which includes a framework of six sustainability goals that range from diverting waste to promoting education, sustainable transportation choices and accessibility. Responsible and sustainable procurement is also an important dimension of the Games’ sustainability strategy. Reeve also created six detailed action plans to support implementation of each goal. Drawing from our experience enabling the sustainability legacies of the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, we’ll be working with SOUSA on their Sustainability Impact Report and a Legacy Playbook.  The Playbook will equip future organizers with a template and tools to plan their own sustainability programming. Funding for this Sustainability Partnership has been made possible by the generous support of Microsoft.

We’re glad to help set this new benchmark for sustainability excellence within the Special Olympics movement. We love how this event is all about a more respectful and inclusive society for everyone, and look forward to the events.  Find us in the stands cheering!

Now Available: State of Sustainable Purchasing in Canada 2017 Report

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) are pleased to release our eighth annual MCSP State of the Nation Report. The report highlights MCSP achievements this year, as well as the latest trends and current sustainable purchasing (SP) experience of Canadian municipalities, educational institutions and an airport authority.

MCSP is a member-based network of Canadian public-sector institutions working together to deliver better services and achieve better value through sustainable purchasing. Our member organizations meet virtually several times per year to share information, collaborate on tool development, and exchange lessons learned related to mitigating risks and improving social and environmental outcomes by considering sustainability risks in the procurement process.

Over 2017, MCSP Working Groups collaborated to create supplier engagement and monitoring and evaluation tools, while members individually advanced sustainable purchasing in their organizations. Read the report for stories on how members are making an impact by greening laboratories, reducing packaging materials, using energy more efficiently, buying sustainable swag, enhancing job security, implementing a Living Wage Policy and achieving Fair Trade Town certification.

Major Sustainable Purchasing Trends

  • Social purchasing is gaining ground to complement environmental purchasing as more public organizations are considering how their procurement can positively impact the social wellbeing of their communities
  • Organizations are striving to align and integrate SP from corporate strategy to SP policies and tools
  • Organizations are investing in training and communication towards building cultures of embedding sustainability thinking into purchasing decisions for all staff, as the default way to buy
  • Organizations are using certification systems and developing partnerships with universities, social enterprises and other organizations to achieve SP impact
  • More organizations are creating dedicated Sustainable Purchasing roles to realize their SP goals

Download the full report here, and contact us if you are interested in learning how you can join the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP).

New UN Report Showcases Sustainable Public Procurement Practices Around the Globe

Version 2The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released the 2017 Global Review of Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP), which provides and in-depth look at how governments and public institutions around the world are improving the sustainability of their supply chains and procurement practices.

Building on the first Global Review, published in 2013, this report draws on research conducted in 2015 and 2016 to present a comprehensive picture of global progress in advancing SPP and to elucidate the opportunities, needs, challenges, and innovations in SPP in the last five years.

The 2017 Global Review is unique in its breadth of coverage on SPP, incorporating thoughts, opinions, and data from more than 200 stakeholders across 41 countries. The report found that, although there continue to be significant challenges, awareness and implementation of SPP principles continues to grow around the world. Countries are working toward implementing SPP mainly through capacity-building activities for staff and stakeholders, and through integrating SPP principles and practices into existing procurement and management-related processes, procedures, and tools.

The report also discusses persistent challenges related to SPP implementation, including the perception that sustainable products are more expensive and a lack of expertise on sustainable purchasing. Countries are actively working to overcome these challenges, particularly through awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing activities.

Reeve is proud to have been a part of this project, which will be a useful source of information and experience on SPP, and can contribute to greater implementation and ultimately greater impacts through sustainable procurement activities.

The 2017 Global Review was published as part of UNEP’s 10YFP Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement, a “global multi- stakeholder platform that supports the implementation of SPP around the world. The Programme builds synergies between diverse partners to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target on SPP, i.e. to promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) leads the 10YFP SPP Programme with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) as co-leads.”

The New MCSP Annual Report: Contributing to an evidence-based shift in perceptions about sustainable purchasing

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) are pleased to release our seventh annual MCSP State of the Nation Report. As always, the report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date discussion of the latest trends, best practices, examples and case studies in sustainable purchasing at Canadian municipalities, and now, for the first time in 2016, the MCSP welcomed educational institutions, that are also profiled in the report.

The 2016 annual report has a specific focus on recounting members’ experiences in developing their sustainable purchasing programs and carrying out sustainable purchasing work. We continue to hear from our members and others that the best way to get decision-makers on board with sustainable purchasing philosophies is to demonstrate the value that sustainable purchasing can have in working toward myriad strategic priorities and concrete examples. As a result, we have profiled dozens of case studies and examples from our members, alongside an in-depth discussion of trends, challenges, and what’s to come in the year ahead.

Download the full report here, or learn more.

Happy reading!

 

lululemon’s Sustainable Purchasing Journey

lululemon’s 2016 work on improving the sustainability of their supply chain was recently profiled in the purchasing publication, Purchasing B2B. Reeve worked with the Vancouver-based fitness and lifestyle apparel company to deepen the integration of sustainability into their operational purchasing procedures, and to create tools to help buyers accomplish this.

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Responsible Supply Chain features prominently on lululemon’s sustainability page

Julie Strilesky, Sustainability Operations Manager for lululemon, reported to Purchasing B2B that since making the changes, “nearly a dozen projects will have sustainable criteria incorporated into the products and services being purchased.”

The changes lululemon has incorporated into operational procurement have empowered purchasing team members to capitalize on sustainability opportunities, and have increased collaboration between the sustainability and procurement teams. Their journey so far has already imparted several key lessons, including the importance of engaging early in the procurement process, to ensure that sustainability can be adequately integrated, as well as how vital it is to build relationships with decision-makers across the organization to gain buy-in and traction.

Most importantly, lululemon recognizes that sustainable purchasing is a journey, and they are looking forward to many impactful successes to come.

Colliers Project Leaders Sustainability Impact Report: a new wave of sustainability reporting

Colliers Project Leaders, the project management branch of parent-company Colliers International, recently released their Sustainability Impact Report, which introduces a bold way of thinking about corporate sustainability reporting that goes beyond a traditional exclusive focus on internal operations.

When it came to producing a sustainability report, Colliers Project Leaders elected to take a step back and evaluate exactly where their material (that is, significant or important) sustainability impacts reside. Although they knew they wanted to track their internal paper use, the greenhouse gas footprint of their own offices, and other impacts of their operations, they realized that this would omit two important spheres of sustainability influence in which they operate.

Colliers Project Leaders’ main innovation is to acknowledge that they share responsibility for the ultimate sustainability impacts of their projects.

A materiality assessment they conducted revealed that, in terms of the importance to both their stakeholders and to their company, they had to take a good look not only at the company’s sustainability impacts in terms of their operations, but also sustainability as it relates to both their people, and the projects that they manage (see below). Thus, they reported upon sustainability in three categories: “Our Operations,” including governance, environmental footprint, and community contributions, “Our People,” including safety, health, wellness, and opportunities for professional development and volunteerism, and “Our Projects,” including client satisfaction, sustainability in their processes, community and user impacts, and ultimately advocacy for the future of sustainable building.

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Colliers Project Leaders’ main innovation is to acknowledge that they share responsibility for the ultimate sustainability impacts of their projects. As a project management firm that manages hundreds of large capital projects each year, Colliers Project Leaders recognizes that they are in the position to help their clients see the benefits of working in line with circular economy principles throughout the process, from design and procurement, to execution, and of ensuring that community members and end-users are appropriately consulted so that projects are carried out to benefit stakeholders to the maximum extent.

Although Colliers Project Leaders does not have all of the data or all of the answers just yet, they have committed to advocating for an environmentally and socially regenerative economy through the building projects they manage – and we think that sets them up for leadership and success.

From Sustaining to Renewing: Where Purchasing Fits in the Circular Economy

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method’s soap bottles made from recovered ocean plastic

With the world’s atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration exceeding what is considered a permanent threshold at 400ppm last month, there’s now more cause than ever to think a little differently about where we’re going – and that’s what the push toward the “circular economy” is all about. Companies and consumers are now thinking not just about the sustainability of their purchases for the planet, but are also looking at ways to help renew the natural environment through their supply chain choices.

When companies purchase with the goal of contributing to a circular economy, they are typically purchasing something originating from what would traditionally have been waste, used in an innovative way. Most often, this sourcing is understood to go beyond products from traditional recycling streams (e.g. recycled paper and plastics), employing materials or inputs that would otherwise have been left to generate some form of pollution.

The following are a few examples of how companies are driving circular economy initiatives through their supply chain choices:

Although not yet a huge portion of the market, some companies are producing paper from agricultural waste, such as sugarcane waste and wheat straw. Much agricultural waste is normally burned, releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By using the agri-waste for paper, some emissions from its disposal are actually avoided, while forests are conserved.

Similarly, innovative food companies are now using ingredients that would traditionally be considered food waste to create desirable products, such as teas, jams, and even chocolate whisky. Given the lower cost to these inputs (often only involving time spent to collect or retrieve them) using food waste as an input lends itself well to small and medium sized enterprises, thus having a dual benefit of promoting local economic development where they are located.

Method, a home and body care product company, have packaged their ocean plastic 2-in-1 dish + hand soap in bottles made from recovered sea plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic. They partnered with local beach clean up groups in Hawaii to source the plastic for their bottles, thereby decreasing plastic pollution in our oceans.

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adidas’ sea plastic shoes made in partnership with Parley for the Oceans last spring

Clothing companies using recovered plastics are more controversial, given recent concerns about tiny plastic fibres entering our water system when synthetic fibres are laundered, but they may at least present an opportunity to use some of the plastic that is already in our oceans, while we transition to more preferable materials for textiles across the board. Bionic Yarn, a textile company that sources the material used to make its unique yarns from recovered plastic. The company has partnered with nonprofit Parley for the Oceans to source plastic recovered from the sea, thereby avoiding the use of new materials, while helping to clean up this big problem for our oceans. Bionic has also created partnerships with big brands downstream in the supply chain, such as adidas and G-Star Raw, to make apparel and shoe products with their yarns.

Diverting waste from landfills and recycling systems into the supply chain is not a perfect environmental solution to over-consumption, but it certainly conserves new material inputs and reduces negative impacts from existing waste – and this renews our conviction in the positive potential of the supply chain.

 

 

 

Impact Sourcing Means Going All In

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In sustainable purchasing, there is often talk of “market readiness” for sustainable products and services. The idea is that sometimes organizations or consumers wish to purchase a more environmentally, ethically, or socially sustainable option, but the market has not yet produced this option, or does not produce it at scale. In these cases, purchasers can leverage their collective power to help influence the market to develop in a sustainable direction, through advocacy, or even direct investment. When it comes to sustainable services, sometimes the commodity that needs developing is the available labour itself.

Help develop a market-ready young person in Uganda

A few weeks ago we posted about a new trend in sustainable procurement and global economic development called impact sourcing. Driven by initiatives from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, “‘Impact sourcing’ is an inclusive employment practice through which companies intentionally connect high-potential, disadvantaged youth to available jobs.” The practice is taking off, with tech giants such as Microsoft beginning to capitalize on a win-win opportunity.

However, the jobs created when companies are practicing impact sourcing are only one half of the equation: these high-potential youth still need the education and training required to successfully perform at their jobs. Impact sourcing requires capacity-building. In order to develop this market of young and promising employees, we must find ways to invest in their education.

The African continent is a place where there is an abundance of high-potential youth who are desperately in need of sustainable employment. In many African countries, such as Uganda, education is prohibitively expensive for much of the population, and youth cannot access loans to defray the costs. As a result, even if jobs appear through impact sourcing employment creation, many prospective applicants would find themselves under-prepared to fill the positions.

So what can be done? Reeve believes in grassroots capacity-building, which is why we are helping to support a young and promising Ugandan student to fulfil her higher education dreams. Please check out Rosemary Nakasiita’s story here, and consider how you too might help push toward market readiness for impact sourcing.

Help Rosemary Nakasiita Get Her University Degree on Indiegogo

In the World of Green Sport, It’s New Stadiums That Are Making the Offensive Charge

Green Sports Alliance Summit

In June, Tim visited Houston, Texas for the sixth annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. Tim moderated a panel discussion on green cleaning at sporting venues, and exchanged ideas with leaders throughout the green sports world.

In 2016, it was environmental stadium design and operations that stole the show. From green building practices to food sourced from on-site gardens, the innovative work happening in new sporting venues reinforces the importance of supply chain considerations in greening professional and collegiate sports.

A couple of notable green gems in development are:

15-aerial-200-2000w-1940x1091Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the new home to the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United FC. Overseen by the stadium general manager, Scott Jenkins, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is targeting the highest LEED certification, under the new LEED v4 standards, which place an increased emphasis on the sourcing of materials and operational products. Eco-features of this new venue will include rainwater capture and reuse, solar energy, natural ventilation and lighting, and building control systems to monitor and reduce overall energy use.

Golden 1 Center, new home of the Sacramento Kings and the venue for next year’s Green Sports Alliance 2017 Summit. In addition to using 100% solar electricity and targeting LEED Gold certification, the Golden 1 Center will source 90% of the ingredients for its food and beverages services from responsible sources within 150 miles of the arena, as per its Food and Sustainability Charter.

The structures in which we live, work, and congregate to play are some of the largest single contributors to our collective environmental footprint. With greener design, and sourcing in the construction and operation of venues, professional and collegiate sports are seizing the opportunity for leadership in sustainability and work toward a circular economy.

For more information on greening the sports world, check out the Green Sports Alliance Resources page.