Canucks’ Power Play takes aim on Sustainability

Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks

Flickr / pointnshoot

What a tremendous third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and fantastic game on Sunday. In case you missed it, our local Vancouver Canucks were victorious with a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, putting them just 1 win away from the Stanley Cup Finals! It’s all people can talk about around here.

The team at Reeve is similarly caught up in all things Canucks, so we’re focusing this week’s post on the team’s recent commitment to the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the environmental impact of professional sports while engaging fans with environmental education.

Mass sporting events and sustainability

The Green Sport Alliance (GSA) was started in 2010 with founding members from six different North American professional sports teams – the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and the Seattle Sounders FC (MLS). Over the past year staff from these teams and venues have been focusing on sharing experiences, lessons learned and creating practical metrics.

Rogers Arena Vancouver Canucks warm-up

Flickr / Dahlstrom

At Reeve Consulting we feel the Canucks support of the GSA is great news. A main take-away from our experience working with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games is the tremendous power of mass sporting events to engage a broad, global audience on key sustainability issues. From green building projects to the stories of sustainable athlete gifts and locally sourced victory bouquets, the sustainability initiatives of the Vancouver Olympics were a valuable side story to the 2010 Games.

While we welcome a North American network that blends environmental responsibility with professional sport interests, the Canucks and other teams need to walk the talk and show results.

What could sustainability success look like for the Canucks?

We’ve seen some commendable initiatives from professional teams like the Seattle Mariners, who among other projects have dramatically increased their stadium waste diversion rate and reduced their water usage. The Philladelphia Eagles have ambitious plans to power Lincoln Financial Field solely with on-site renewable energy by September 2011.

Building off our work with VANOC and more recently with the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, we have plenty of ideas for how the Canucks could make a real impact with their sustainability measures.

Vancouver Canucks merchandise

Flickr / Cindy Andrie

From introducing a comprehensive zero waste program in Rogers Arena, to taking a closer look at food and catering services, energy and water use, there’s plenty of potential for making the team’s operations more eco-efficient.

We would encourage the Canucks to view sustainability as more than environmental initiatives, and consider opportunities for further social investments. Canucks merchandise should be made free of child labour, and the team should be looking closely at the labour practices employed in their merchandising program supply chain. Closer to home, possible opportunities lie in structuring employment opportunities for people with disabilities, profiling local suppliers, and getting high profile Canucks to act as “green ambassadors” in the community.

We believe in our Canucks and are confident they will triumph in the end; they already have a fantastic image in the community through their valuable sponsorship and involvement with charities that support children’s health, wellness and education.

Green Sport Summit, Portland, August 1

Reeve is planning to attend the GSA’s inaugural event, the Green Sport Summit being held August 1 in Portland, and looks forward to hearing more about the plans for this group. Following the event, we’ll be sharing our insights here.

Go Canucks Go, CBC

Flickr / roland

While the full impact of green sport initiatives is yet to be seen, we feel there’s a lot of opportunity given the diversity of audiences sport draws.

In parting, we’ll leave you with this thought – 26.5 million, or 80% of Canadians watched some part of the Canadian gold medal hockey game during the Vancouver Winter Olympics – imagine the potential for public engagement if Team Canada’s victory had been accompanied by a call to action for Canadians to make a simple environmental commitment!

Go Canucks go!

New Report Reveals Trends & Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing and Ethical Sourcing

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing recently released the first annual Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report, the most comprehensive discussion of municipal sustainable purchasing and ethical sourcing in Canada to date.

Beyond revealing key trends across the country and valuable best practices, the report offers a national snapshot of how Canadian municipalities are implementing sustainable purchasing programs.

Complete with a listing of common program barriers and recommended solutions, the report is a valuable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable purchasing programming.

>> Download the Summary Report.

The full report is available from Reeve Consulting by request at tim@reeveconsulting.com or 604-763-6829.

Status of municipal sustainable purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing has become a hot topic in the municipal sector. Few other internal sustainability initiatives can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, economic development, staff engagement, risk mitigation, improved operational efficiencies and cost reductions.

While comprehensive sustainable purchasing is still a relatively new field for local governments, municipalities are finding the support they require through the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). Formed in 2010 as a pilot project, the MCSP is comprised of a group of Canadian municipalities that are leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources to strengthen their respective sustainable purchasing programs.

The Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report documents the great wealth of expertise shared by these and other local governments, pulling from them practical insights for municipalities looking to advance their sustainable purchasing practices.

Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Key findings of the study show that municipalities continue to give priority to environmental issues over social or ethical considerations. The study also found that achieving some noteworthy early returns on investment, particularly a strong financial return, is key for generating momentum and further senior support for the advancement of sustainable purchasing practices. Municipalities say that their efforts are focused on developing realistic annual action plans, implementing policies or guidelines and collaborating with others to share experiences and resources.

Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Readers wanting to fast track their efforts will find great value in the report’s identification and description of the 10 Program Success Factors required to maximize the impacts and benefits of sustainable purchasing.

Among these elements are following a written action plan, defining a clear sustainable purchasing policy and product guidelines, developing supplier scorecards and Codes of Conduct that outline fair labour standards, providing adequate training for purchasing and staff and engaging directly with suppliers in sustainability conversations.

These and more best practices are discussed in detail in the summary and full report.

Municipalities team up to overcome the challenges

The release of the report also marks the first year of full-fledged programming for the MCSP, which through its collaboration and resource sharing programs will help participating municipalities address challenges and priorities raised in the 2010 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report. This includes seeking goods and services that conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize waste, as well as increasingly using scorecards and eco-labels to evaluate suppliers based on multiple social and environmental measures.

Key activities and tangible deliverables for the MCSP in 2011 include:

•          4 best practices peer exchange teleconferences

•          2 technical training webinars on focusing specific best practices

•          The 2011 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report

•          Individual customized action planning sessions for each municipality

•          Access to a helpful resource library

Fast Track your Municipal Sustainable Purchasing Program – join the MCSP

Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate in the MCSP. If you’re interested in joining the project, or would like more information, please contact Tim Reeve at tim@reeveconsulting.com or Kevin McCarty at kevin@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

The MCSP project is led by a steering committee comprised of the cities of Edmonton, Ottawa, London, Whitehorse and Victoria and is being facilitated by Reeve Consulting.

This Mother’s Day, ask for fair flowers

Kevin McCarty, a consultant with Reeve Consulting, recently wrote the following article for the Commentary section on the straight.com

photo courtesy of Kevin McCarty

A day or two prior to Mother’s Day, flower shops across Canada will sell more flowers than any other time of the year, apart from Valentine’s Day.

To meet this demand, women and men are working nonstop, often without fair compensation and safe working conditions, in greenhouses across Ecuador and Colombia, two of the leading suppliers of cut flowers to the Canadian market.

Recently I visited Cayambe, the heart of Ecuador’s flower industry, and learned that many people working in this industry are reporting serious labour rights violations.

Cayambe is a small city that lies on the equator at the foot of Cayambe Volcano high in the Andes, north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Due to the constant high position of the sun and the relatively cool mountain temperatures, this region of Ecuador has been a leading producer of some of the world’s biggest roses and tallest carnations since the mid 1980s.

In Cayambe, I met Gladys, a mother of three…read more…

Canada votes: party platforms pass the buck on responsible purchasing

Flickr / alexindigo

While the economy and healthcare are receiving the most airtime during this Canadian federal election, polls show that the environment remains a top election issue. However, meaningful discussion of environmental concerns has been seriously lacking within the overall debate.

After reviewing the environmental and sustainability components of the main parties’ election platforms (Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Green Party) we were sadly disappointed to see little mention of sustainable purchasing as a key component of their strategy (we did find a short section at the end of the Green Party’s Vision Green – section 6.4 to be exact)

Not surprisingly, all the parties have environmental promises in the area of action against climate change and supporting cleaner forms of energy. While support for a green economy varies across the parties, all show favour for employment in the environmental sector, whether it’s through investment in renewable energy, clean technologies, energy efficiency or related research and development.

Missed opportunity: ethical and sustainable purchasing investment

The Canadian Government spends over $20 billion per year on goods and services on behalf of Canadians – a huge opportunity to contribute directly to a green economy.

Flickr / waferboard

Beyond supporting environmental protection, purchasing decisions that consider labour conditions and support a local economy would round out a purchasing program to its fullest triple-bottom line potential. Among the advantages of an effective ethical and sustainable purchasing program are enhancing the image of the national government as a sustainability leader, mitigating legal and brand risks, reducing costs by selecting products with less waste, energy consumption and product related health concerns.

While the government of Canada currently has a green purchasing policy, Reeve Consulting knows from our experience working with the public sector across Canada that policy alone does not necessarily equate to significant impact and benefits. What’s needed is a clear plan for implementation, and perhaps most importantly, training and staff capacity to ensure success. Basically, a level of investment that would fit well in the environment section of an election platform.

Large investment for even larger returns

While we fully acknowledge it takes resources to achieve an effective ethical and sustainable purchasing program, the potential results are huge.

Few other programs can directly contribute to multiple sustainability agendas around climate leadership, energy efficiency, waste reduction, local economic development, strategic sourcing and government employee engagement.

Moving in the right direction

We realize that transitioning $20 billion in spending to responsible and sustainable procurement program takes time. However we can’t help but notice the lucrative opportunities to support green products and technologies that continue to pass the government by, including low hanging fruit in the form of the G20 dignitary gifts, and more complex, but full of potential, stimulus spending in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Flickr / Muffet

Adoption of the Government of Canada’s green purchasing policy is a good first step and suggests Ottawa is on the right track, but we’d like to see far more – from both the current Conservative Government (oops! Harper Government) as well as those that would like to assume a leadership position within parliament.

Be sure to get out and vote on May 2 and next time you run into your MP raise the issue of responsible purchasing and sustainable supply chains

Sustainable Procurement Program for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics steps into the Starting Gate

A busy Moscow street

I recently returned from my second trip to Moscow as part of Reeve Consulting’s work advising the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee on the design and development of an Environmental and Sustainable Procurement Program for the next winter Olympics.

Building on our experience as the lead consultant on the award-winning BuySmart Program for the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC), Reeve Consulting became engaged with the Sochi 2014 organizers in mid-2010. Following approval of the project by the Sochi Supervisory Board last summer, our work began in the fall, including a project scoping trip in late-November to define the design of policies, procedures, scorecards, metrics and implementation plans

We returned to Moscow in February to present the recommended green purchasing and sustainable sourcing program to key stakeholders in Procurement, Licensing, Sustainability, Environment and Planning departments. I also met with key Functional Areas across the Organizing Committee to identify high priority environmental and sustainable purchases. These include the opening and closing ceremony costumes, victory bouquets, gifts, Olympic medals, as well as more functional items like office supplies, paper, temporary power generators, waste and food contracts.

Implementation Strategy

There are 3 key elements in the Sochi 2014 implementation strategy:

Flip chart sheet featuring elements of the process design

1. Applying tools and supplier scorecards to RFP documents to reward environmental and sustainable innovations from suppliers. Organizers will continue to use selection criteria such as price, quality and service when choosing vendors through a competitive bid process, but now there is a formal and systematic way for sustainability to be factored into supplier selection; a potential “tipping point” in which suppliers secure contracts.

2. Targeting “high profile” procurements and working directly with key Functional Areas and the official supplier community to maximize sustainability benefits. Examples of such opportunities include food and catering services that use local food, subcontracting opportunities for local businesses in cleaning, recycling, FSC paper products and printing services, legacy recycling and waste collection containers and more.

If supplier scorecards and sustainability specifications in RFP documents (element #1 above) are like “procurement fishing nets”, then Sochi can expect to catch lots of salmon through its procurement processes. But some fish are too big for the nets: healthy local food, compostable dinnerware, medals, official gifts, vehicles, temporary power. These are the really Big Tuna’s, and these are the procurements that are on the high profile watch list (element #2). These key opportunities need to be tracked individually to ensure they are landed.

3. Introducing a social compliance program for licensees. During my trip the key executives endorsed a social compliance program for licensed merchandise, including policies prohibiting forced and child labor for all merchandise displaying the Olympic mark. Further, the project stakeholders reviewed a draft Licensee Code of Conduct and compliance procedure for current and future licensees. By introducing requirements for factory audits and ensuring licensees are meeting ethical and environmental standards, the Sochi 2014 organizers have initiated a program very similar to VANOC’s Buy Smart program.

3 Years and Counting

I experienced classic winter in Moscow

Just like our first trip the days were long, the work was challenging, and I continued to be impressed by the dedication, professionalism and passion of the Sochi 2014 staff.

Our recent February trip also marked a number of significant Olympic milestones, including the start of the three-year countdown to the opening ceremonies and the beginning of test events in some of the recently completed competition venues

Three years may seem like a long time – but in fact, for the Organizing Committee, the planning and project definition phase is very nearly complete. Procurement activity will greatly increase in the next 12 months. The team of Licensees will be filled and production of branded merchandise will begin to significantly ramp up. Now is the time for the Sochi Buy Smart project to leverage the brand, economic, and green benefits associated with environmental purchasing and sustainable sourcing.

Protecting our oceans with sustainable seafood production and consumption

Flickr / Dan Hershman

Industrial fishing practices are having serious detrimental effects on the world’s fish populations. Here in the Pacific Northwest, some top concerns include farmed salmon, the overfishing of tuna species and fishing practices like bottom trawling among others.

While there are a myriad of concerns related to seafood production, fish are a valuable global protein source that offers substantial health benefits.

So what is to be done?

As is common across much of our work, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed from both the production and consumption ends of the supply chain. Wild fish populations need to be sustainably harvested, farmed stocks sustainably raised and consumers need to shift their purchasing habits to support these practices.

Two of Reeve Consulting’s current projects have us examining sustainable seafood from both the production and consumption dimensions.

Influencing consumers with the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions
We’ve been learning more about the consumption end of things through a research project for the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions a group which, we were comforted to find out, believes seafood can be produced sustainably.

Flickr / twoblueday

A partnering of sixteen leading conservation organizations from the United States and Canada, the Conservation Alliance was formed to pursue a common vision for environmentally sustainable seafood. A main focus of the group is engaging businesses involved in fisheries and aquaculture to help realize the common vision, thereby combining the industry’s business knowledge and ability to innovate with the group’s conservation expertise.

The Conservation Alliance is interested in influencing consumer buying decisions and on their behalf, over the next few months, Reeve Consulting will be putting together case studies on some of North America’s top behaviour-change campaigns. We’ll be taking a closer look at tools, tactics and procedures that elicit action and successfully influence consumer demand.  The main goal of this project is to develop a strategy for creating an effective campaign that drives consumers to purchase more sustainable seafood in grocery stores and restaurants.

Sustainable Seafood Production in Ecuador
We’ve also been plugging into the production end of sustainable seafood through our colleague, Kevin McCarty, who is currently in Ecuador researching sustainable seafood production and certification. As part of this work he will be visiting two seafood farms to see sustainable practices in action.

Tropical Aquaculture Products Inc.

Both the farms Kevin will be visiting have been third-party certified. The first, Bio Centinela, a producer of farmed organic shrimp in Ecuador, holds a number of certifications, including Fair for Life fair trade status and the Soil Association Organic Standard. You can view some of the many photos and videos showing their operations here. Kevin will also be visiting the Ecuador operations of Tropical Aquaculture Products Inc. a producer of farmed Tilapia whose facilities are Best Aquaculture Practices Certified.

We’ll be using Kevin’s findings to enhance Reeve Consulting’s experience in sustainable seafood and better serve our clients in this field. We’re keen to learn more about his research and field experiences and will be sharing details here on our blog.

Sustainable Seafood Ecolabels: connecting production and consumption
Ecolabels serve an important purpose for both verifying and making clear to consumers products for which sustainable production practices were applied. There are a number of resources available to help people select sustainable seafood options – whether you’re at the grocery store, in a restaurant or responsible for a larger procurement program. We’ve listed a few helpful resources below.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – The MSC Chain of Custody standard for seafood traceability makes sure that the MSC label is only displayed on seafood from a MSC certified sustainable fishery. It means that consumers and seafood buyers can have confidence that the fish they are buying can be traced back to a fishery that meets the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.

Fish Choice – Launced in 2009, fishchoice.com is an online portal for commercial seafood buyers that provides free, instant access to products and information necessary to source environmentally responsible seafood. Acting as a business-to-business matchmaking service, buyers can find seafood suppliers that catch, farm or process seafood products that meet the criteria or certifications of the partnering NGOs and distributors who have attained chain of custody certificates for MSC certified products.

SeaChoice – Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program formed by five of Canada’s most respected conservation organizations – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Center, Living Oceans Society and Sierra Club BC (many of which are also a part of the Conservation Alliance). To help you with your seafood choices, SeaChoice has created helpful resources including a quick reference seafood guide available as a PDF, drop card or iphone app. They also have a business guide targeted at corporate seafood buyers.

Ecolabel Index – Read more about the various seafood ecolabels by looking them up in the Ecolabel Index database, the largest global directory of ecolabels currently tracking 377 ecolabels in 211 countries. We’ve discussed this resource on the Reeve Consulting blog before and you can read more about it and navigating the field of ecolabels here.

Additional resources:
Suzuki’s Top 10 Sustainable Seafood Picks, David Suzuki Foundation

Carting Away the Oceans, GreenPeace – includes an overview of the role of supermarkets in seafood supply chains and a rating of North American super markets regard for marine environments

Lifting the lid on the major canned tuna brands in Canada, GreenPeace

Review: Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, Treehugger.com

Smart Seafood Guide 2011, Food & Water Watch

Sustainable Health Care: Opportunities for Green & Ethical Purchasing in Canadian Hospitals

Flickr / boliston

In a recent discussion paper titled Greening Canadian Hospitals, Community Research Connections reported there are more than 3000 hospitals, medical facilities and surgery centers across Canada, making up a healthcare sector that contributes approximately 10% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). More than affecting individual health, these facilities impact the environmental, social and economic health of the communities where they operate as well as further afield through their product and service supply chains.

The Canadian health care sector is the second largest single-sector source of dioxin contamination in Canada. It also contributes 20% of all mercury emissions from incineration and 2.1% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing the potential of both environmental and economic returns, there has been considerable attention to the greening of health care. A number of hospitals and health authorities have been identified as leaders in the field including those listed below (click on the links to view case studies outlining their achievements).

  • University Health Network Toronto, Ontario (2008 Co-Winner of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Pollution Prevention Award for overall pollution prevention by an organization)

Primary areas of focus for these groups include reducing energy and water consumption, improving waste diversion practices, and removing toxics. Less common among these facilities is the inclusion of a green purchasing policy. Illustrating this point, a recent review of 10 Ontario hospitals by Corporate Knight’s found only one had a sustainable procurement policy in place. Even less common in the Canadian health sector is the presence of ethical purchasing standards. For  example, considering the working conditions where uniforms and surgical instruments are manufactured, or closer to home, supporting local businesses with sub-contract opportunities for cleaning and maintenance.

Flickr / uberzombie

A comprehensive sustainable purchasing program is an effective way for hospitals to introduce environmental and ethical considerations to their operations. While there are a number of challenges specific to the sector there are many opportunities.

Reeve Consulting is currently working on a project with the Buy Smart Network to assess opportunities and challenges for Health Shared Services B.C., a division of the Provincial Health Services Authority responsible for supply chain logistics and procurement for health authorities in B.C. While our project is in it’s early stages, an initial review of best practices and opportunities has us optimistic about reducing the use of one-time disposable products as well as the high volumes of packaging used in the sector. We’ve also found positive examples to build off of in the realm of ethical purchasing practices, a field that is more developed in Europe (e.g. the British Medical Association’s Medical Fair & Ethical Trade Group). There are also great strides to be made in employee and supplier engagement as well as collaboration within the sector.

We look forward to updating our readers on our results both here on the blog and with related reports on our new website ‘Resources’ page (to be unveiled in coming weeks). Please check back for more information.

 

 

How to navigate the field of ecolabels to improve your ethical and sustainable purchasing practices

With close to 400 ecolabels available in the marketplace, selecting the ones that fit your sustainable purchasing program (or simply a weekend trip to the grocery store) can often seem confusing, frustrating or even risky. And since ecolabels aren’t created equal when it comes to environmental claims and third party verification, corporate purchasers and consumers often fall victim to “analysis paralysis”; potentially giving up altogether on their intentions to buy green due to their confusion and uncertainty of real benefit.

In Reeve Consulting’s first “how to” post, we’ll be examining how this sometimes confusing world of ecolabels can be broken down into smaller, more ‘bite-sized’ pieces to help you make your procurements green and at the same time feel confident you understand the environmental benefits you’re receiving. We’ll also provide links to a number of useful resources to further assist with your environmental and sustainable purchasing.

A quick introduction to ecolabels

Ecolabels provide information about the environmental and social impacts associated with the production or use of a product or service. They’re a helpful tool for individual consumers, but also for corporate purchasing staff as they reduce the onus of creating environmental or sustainability product specifications. They can also offer credible third-party verification of environmental claims.

Types of ecolabels

While the bad news is that there are hundreds of ecolabels to choose from, the good news is that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a system whereby the universe of ecolables can be broken down into three more manageable categories. These are:

  • Type I Ecolabels: ISO 14024 – Ecolabels in this category are based on environmental criteria selected by an independent third party entity. Criteria are typically developed for a specific product type (for example, personal computers or monitors). Products must be certified to these criteria through a third party entity to be allowed to display the ecolabel.
  • Type II Ecolabels: ISO 14021 – Type II Ecolabels include any kind of sustainable declaration made by manufacturers, importers, distributors or anyone else who is likely to benefit from the product’s environmental claims. Also referred to as “self-declarations”, ecolabels in this category are usually not independently verified by a third party entity. They should however meet ‘truth-in-advertising’ or other product claim standards.
  • Type III Ecolabels: ISO 14025 –These ecolabels include comprehensive data lists that give environmental and social information on a product throughout its life-cycle (similar to nutrition labels on food).  Type III independent bodies set the categories of information and verify the data given, but no specific criteria have to be satisfied in order to qualify for certification. This category of ecolabels is also referred to as “Environmental Product Declarations” (EPD).

While all three types of ecolabels provide relevant information and are worth considering, Type I ecolabels are most widely available, easy to identify and certified by a third party entity. Type II ecolabels are viewed as less credible since they’re not independently verified and aren’t required to meet specific standards. For example, popular terms like “natural” found on product labels are wide open to interpretation. Type III labels on the other hand often involve thorough lifecycle assessment of product materials and third-party verification. The challenge with Type III ecolabels is that they’re not widely available in North America.

Segmentation by product category, industry and geography

Beyond these categories, ecolabels can be further segmented by product category, industry and geography. Put another way, when purchasing a given product one doesn’t actually choose from 400 ecolabels, but a smaller subset that applies to the product in question.

Ecolabelindex.com

A useful tool for determining the ecoloable type and category as outlined above is ecoloabelindex.com, an online database that offers the largest global directory of ecolabels. The site offers a free search tool that anyone can use to look up a specific ecolabel and find out the range of product it covers, verification process (e.g. third party verified) and region where it’s available.

Recently ecolabelindex.com started offering an additional paid subscription service that provides users with access to over 60 data points on each ecolabel, including life cycle coverage, standard development, conformity assessment and more. Pro users also have access to improved search functionality including the ability to filter ecolabels by sector, region and audience, compare ecoloabel attributes side-by-side and integrate the Index data with one’s own tools and platforms through the Ecolabel Index API. Subscription tiers are available for small and large teams, all include a free 7-day trial run. We suggest you check out the full details on the Eco Label Index website.

Read more

Who set the standards for ecolabels? Reeve Consulting Blog

Are there too many ecolabels? Reeve Consulting Blog

Sustainable purchasing and ecolabels Product with Purpose Fairware Blog

The Sins of Greenwashing: home and family edition 2010 TerraChoice & Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

Beyond the sexy consequences part 2: giving chocolate for Valentines Day

This post builds on our Valentines Day post from last year: Beyond the Sexy Consequences of Giving Flowers for Valentine’s Day.

Flickr / Stewart

It’s Valentines Day. Before you present that fancy-looking box of chocolates to your love, ensure there’s a fair trade logo on the package. With chocolate supply chain concerns becoming more mainstream, it’s likely your special someone has read an article, scanned a blog post, watched a news story or catchy You Tube video outlining the ethical and ecological concerns in this industry.

Take for example an article running in this weekend’s Globe and Mail that covers the status of cocoa production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s two largest producers of cocoa. According to the article, both countries are on a path to “ecological implosion”. Forests are being cut down to make room for more crop land, existing tree stocks are aging, soil is depleting, temperatures are rising and rainfall has become erratic. Add to this concerns of child labour and you have one very un-sustainable and un-ethical product.

Fair Trade Cocoa

Flickr / jetalone

One way to remove the exploitive elements of chocolate from your gift is to buy official fair trade certified products. Doing so provides you with the assurance the cocoa production was independently monitored to ensure farmers received a reliable and living wage for their work. Fair trade also encourages sustainable farming.

Cocoa lends itself well to fair trade. It’s one of the few global commodities grown predominantly by small holders on plots of three acres or less. By meeting fair trade standards, small producers receive a higher price for their crops. Through additionally organizing into co-operatives, they can benefit from social premiums associated with fair trade projects to invest back into their communities for schools, roads and other initiatives.

Innovative Fair Trade Resources

To help you make the right decision this year, we’ve collected together a number of innovative fair trade chocolate resources.

  • The Good Guide, a product rating database for health, environment and social impacts, recently announced a partnership with Fair Trade USA around their  new chocolate rating category. Available through a smart phone app, the Good Guide can be referenced from the store aisle. Check the rating on that box of chocolate before you purchase it.
  • If you’re looking to step outside the box this Valentine’s Day, take a look at this green gift guide from Treehugger.com. Set-up as a slideshow, the

    Flickr / ndrfww

    guide highlights gifts that are “useful, thoughtful and – best of all – sustainable”. View the gift guide HERE.

  • We were impressed with this fantastic infographic from Ethical Ocean which outlines the status of fair trade chocolate and its benefit to world producers. View the infographic HERE.

Play Fair 2012: Advocating for workers’ rights in London 2012 and Olympic supply chains

Flickr / Michael Francis McCarthy

Millions of people are employed in the global supply chains that produce souvenir Olympic apparel and athlete uniforms. Through the Play Fair 2012 campaign, a consortium of unions, advocacy groups and non-profit organizations have come together to advocate for the rights of these worker’s.

Building on the original PlayFair 2008, the 2012 campaign is asking organizers of the London 2012 Olympics and global sportswear brands to ensure internationally recognized labour standards are upheld in the production of all materials with the Olympic logo. These include the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Core Conventions and the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code – standards encompassed by the ILO’s concept of Decent Work.

Progress to date: London 2012 and the International Organizing Committee

In addition to outlining a full Sustainable Sourcing Code and Diversity and Inclusion Business Charter, the London organizers have included the labour standards in the Ethical Trading Initiative base code in their contracts with suppliers. Play Fair 2012 is asking the commitment to ethical sourcing go further, by including stronger labour standards, transparency in factory auditing and a clear course of action for workers reporting abuses.

More than pressuring London 2012 organizers, the Play Fair campaign is asking the International Organizing Committee to promote workers rights in all future Olympic events. The IOC is being asked to include respect for workers’ rights in the Olympic Charter and Code of Ethics as well as in all contracts with companies supplying the games.

playfair2012.org

The PlayFair 2012 website features resources, news stories, event listings as well as a number of informative videos (including a particularly entertaining spoof on setting the world record for hat wearing). Site visitors can participate in the campaign by sending an electronic message to major brands of the Olympics, asking them to raise the bar on workers’ rights. UK-based supporters can also participate in Workers’ Rights Days, a series of free workshops, panels and interactive sessions focused on educating people on workers’ rights in apparel factories around the world.

Pressure is mounting on London and future organizing committees (e.g. Socchi, Rio de Janeiro) to continue the responsible sourcing work started in Vancouver. This is a large topic and complex field.  Reeve Consulting will be actively monitoring developments in ethical and sustainable purchasing for Olympic Games and updating our readers as London 2012 approaches.