Sustainability Tag

On the Air: using sport to accelerate sustainability

Flickr / woolennium

This week’s Green with Envy radio show focused on using sport to accelerate sustainability. As described by host Peter ter Weeme:

“We all know that sports and physical activity are important to maintaining good health, developing teamwork skills, and fostering relationships and understanding between people and cultures. But there’s a new benefit that’s emerging – a global movement around sport and sustainability. From baseball diamonds to major sporting events, action is being taken to gain a better understanding of the impact sporting events have on the environment, provide inspiration and tools for teams and venues to make changes to reduce that impact, and engage more people in the benefits of sport. Tune into this week’s edition of Green With Envy to hear more about the people making it happen.”

The show started with a topical discussion between host Peter ter Weeme, Tim Reeve and Ann Duffy focused on their experiences integrating sustainability into the delivery of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

Later in the show, Rosalyn Morrison, Chair of the Ontario Summer Games Legacy Committee, shared insights on incorporating sustainability into Toronto’s upcoming Ontario Summer Games and 2015 Pan Am Games. Allen Herschkowitz, board member of the Green Sports Alliance gave some compelling information on the enormous eco-footprint of sporting events followed by some innovative examples of green stadium operations and potential for environmental and financial savings.

Tune in – full audio from the show can be streamed from the Green with Envy website HERE.

New Research Helping Define the “Sustainability Consumer”

This week we’re bringing you a re-post from our colleagues at Ecolabel Index, an online database that offers the largest global directory of ecolabels.

With raw data showing demand for greener products staying robust in spite of a major recession, researchers are working to question old assumptions about who sustainability consumers are and how they behave. Recently, we have learned about a number of innovative studies, including researching online auction behaviour, that are helping to get a more accurate read on this audience.

Perhaps the most comprehensive is a new primer by Dr. Remi Trudel of Boston U. and released by The Network for Business Sustainability that analysed 91 different studies to understand if consumers will pay more for sustainable products. Interestingly, the answer is yes, and the average premiums being paid are 10%. This is contrary to prevailing wisdom that consumers are not willing to pay a premium for environmental and social goods.

Regardless, a gap continues to exist between the number of consumers with good intentions and the number who actually make greener purchases. What is behind that gap? According to this work, the main issues are:

  1. Confusion about the product’s sustainability benefits,
  2. Confusing packaging,
  3. Trade-offs required to buy the product (like a price premium), and
  4. Competition between brands.

One of the recommendations for future research is to investigate when and how much companies should communicate their sustainability performance given the risk of being called greenwashers due to over-promoting and the abundance of information now available at people’s fingertips.

We agree more research is needed, and are interested in what benefits consumers value most and whether those benefits match up with the sustainability needs further up the value chain.

In the short term the sector can take action to more clearly communicate to sustainability consumers:

  1. List a product’s specific sustainability benefits (what makes it better?)
  2. State the amount that benefit costs (how much more am I paying for that? 5%? 15%?)

Two simple steps that could help grow a market.

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!

Reeve Consulting on Twitter

Reeve Consulting is now on Twitter at @ReeveConsulting.

Our tweets focus on sustainable supply chains, ethical sourcing, product certification programs, greenwashing, corporate social responsibility, Reeve Consulting projects and more.

We’re having a great time in the ‘Twitterverse’ connecting with our clients and colleagues and learning a lot from advocacy and news groups in our sector. We hope you’ll join the conversation and connect with us on Twitter. We’re sharing interesting news and helpful resources for improving your sustainable sourcing efforts.

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing

Reeve Consulting recently initiated the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). The aim of this project is to leverage the collective experience of municipalities to advance their sustainable purchasing initiatives by sharing ethical and sustainable purchasing (ESP) resources and lessons learned.

The value of ethical and sustainable purchasing for municipalities

Ethical and sustainable purchasing (ESP) is becoming an increasingly important element in the sustainability sections of municipal strategic plans. Few other programs can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, local economic development, strategic sourcing and staff engagement. Among the advantages of an effective ESP program are mitigating legal and brand risks, enhancing the municipal brand as a sustainability leader, reducing costs by selecting products with less waste, energy consumption and product related health risks and building staff engagement around sustainability.

Facilitating ESP with the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing

Recognizing that ESP is a new and evolving field, Reeve Consulting understands that municipalities need access to tools and information to help them make the right decisions. Through regular conference calls, webinars, expert consultations and sharing of electronic tools, we’re facilitating the development of results-oriented ESP programs that make the best use of limited resources.

Specific initiatives undertaken by participating municipalities include reducing municipal waste by demanding products with minimal packaging, reducing carbon emissions by selecting energy efficient certified electronics, and limiting toxins by sourcing green cleaning supplies. At the same time, participating municipalities are considering the social impacts of their procurement by demanding products that meet international labour standards for fair and safe working conditions.

According to Jeff Byrne, Chief Procurement Officer, City of Ottawa, there are many benefits to participating in the MCSP program including increased access to information and lessons learned, developing civic partnership and leadership, and advancing sustainability performance in the public sector. Another active participant in the group, Shannon Clohosey, Sustainability Projects Manager, City of Whitehorse, has said she’s very optimistic about where the MCSP project is going and wants to remain active in 2011.

To date nine Canadian municipalities have joined the MCSP project, which would not be possible without the lead sponsorship support of the City of Saskatoon, City of Edmonton and City of Ottawa. We are also pleased to have additional support from the following participating members: Halifax Regional Municipality, City of London, City of Guelph, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Town of Olds and City of Whitehorse.

If you’re interested in joining the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing, please contact Tim Reeve, President of Reeve Consulting at 604-763-6829 or tim@reeveconsulting.com.

Who Sets the Standards for Ecolabels?

It is common practice to rely on third-party ecolabels to define environmental criteria for particular purchasing categories.  Ecolabels provide third-party verification of the environmental and social standards related to a particular product or service category and can be used to reduce the onus of creating environmental criteria.  By understanding how to identify a mature and credible ecolabel purchasers can rely on these pre-determined criteria and simply specify that the product or service in question carry this ecolabel, removing the burden of developing criteria.

There are over 350 ecolabels in the global marketplace so it important to understand how to identify mature and credible ecolabel standards, as all are not created equally.  There are three main international expert sources that provide definitions of different types of ecolabels and set out parameters for developing high quality ecolabels that consumers can trust.  The following provides an introduction to these organizations and briefly describes their efforts to set international parameters for ecolabelling.

International Parameters for Ecolabels: Key Organizations and Definitions

The following organizations have set international definitions and parameters for ecolabels:

  1. Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN)
  2. International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  3. ISEAL Alliance

Global Ecolabelling Network

GEN is a non-profit association of third-party environmental performance recognition, certification and labeling organizations founded in 1994 to improve, promote and develop the ecolabelling of products and services.  GEN defines different types of ecolabels, categorizes existing ecolabels, and sets generic environmental criteria for specific product and service categories.  As a membership based organization, GEN provides assurance that member organizations are meeting their parameters for ecolabelling.

For more detail visit: http://www.globalecolabelling.net/whatis.html

International Organization for Standardization

ISO is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards.  It brings together a network of national standards institutes from 159 countries to build consensus of global standard setting.  In particular, they have created the ISO 14020 series of standards that define parameters for developing environmental labels and declarations.  This series includes ISO 14024, 14021 and 14025, which define the parameters for Type I, II, and III ecolabels, respectively.

For more detail visit: http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=34425

ISEAL Alliance

ISEAL is a global association for social and environmental standards.  It works with established and emerging voluntary standard systems to develop guidance and strengthen the effectiveness of these standards.  They also work with companies, non-profits and governments to support their referencing and use of voluntary standards.  They have developed Codes of Good Practice that are applied to leading standards systems and are an ISEAL membership requirement.  As a membership based organization, ISEAL provides assurance that member organizations are meeting their parameters for ecolabelling.

For more detail visit: http://www.isealalliance.org/content/codes-good-practice

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Sports, Legacy and Sustainability Dialogue with Bruce Kidd

Are the Olympics worth it?  That was the question posed to the Sports, Legacy and Sustainability panel on March 13, 2010.  Bruce Kidd, former Olympic athlete and guru of sports and sustainability, anchored the panel with an opening reflection on sustainability in Olympics past.  He seemed encouraged by the progress, yet hesitant to answer yes to his question.

Bruce gave credit where credit is due:  VANOC did build some of the greenest buildings in the world to host athletes; it was the first Olympics to embrace Aboriginal participation at the organizing level; and, VANOC’s Buy Smart program broke ground in the area of sustainable purchasing.

The most important legacy of the Games is athleticism, before the environment, before anything according to Kidd.  And although Canada has proudly hosted three Olympic Games, we were disappointed to hear that participation of children and youth in sports in this country is plummeting.

Flickr / adrian8_8

Kidd was joined by Derek Wyatt, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Group and James Tansey of Offsetters.  Wyatt talked candidly about the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) lack of commitment to ensuring a sustainable legacy in Host Cities.  In his opinion, Host Cities carry the sustainability agenda with little support from the IOC.

Wyatt is advocating for the IOC to support the creation of an “Olympic University” in London that would provide training and education to disenfranchised inner-city East Londoners.  Wyatt believes this is a missed opportunity.  The Organizing Committee for London 2012 could hire more of the so called “underemployed” inner-City folks from East London if training was provided amongst this population.

James Tansey was more positive and sited the sustainability wins of VANOC including their commitments to offsetting the carbon footprint, the green building designs and the training legacy of the Buy Smart program.

Despite having different priorities, the panellists agreed that Host Cities and those who live there feel a deep sense of human spirit and pride, which in itself is a large legacy.  Human’s need food for the body as well as the heart, said Kidd.  To paraphrase James Tansey:  ‘on that gold medal Sunday, Canadians had so much pride they didn’t know what to do with it’.

This is a debate that will continue.  We see many benefits – but are waiting to learn more about the real results before making a final decision.   What do you think?  “Is it worth it?”  Please post your comments as you begin to reflect on your Olympic legacy.

Reeve ‘Out and About’ at the Samsung 2010 Winter Games Sustainability Summit

Say “Samsung Sustainability Summit” really quickly, five times in a row.  Not so easy, is it? 

After attending the Samsung 2010 Winter Games Sustainability Summit in Vancouver last Thursday, January 28, it has been easy to talk about Samsung and sustainability in one sentence. 

Samsung, as an official sponsor to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has grown with the IOC to become a leading sustainable supply chain advocate and practitioner.  In conversation with Ron Hulse, VP of Mobile Communications and Information Technology for Samsung Electronics Canada Inc., we discovered that Samsung appears to run a tight supply chain that fosters sustainability. From using EPA Smartway Transportation, to ensuring ISO 14001 compliance in 37 global manufacturing facilities, to trendy phones made of recycled products that use solar energy to function, to this Sustainability Summit, Samsung is well on its way to stepping out as a leader in sustainable supply chain management.

The Summit was buzzing with James Balog’s ‘Extreme Ice Survey’ presentation, a ground breaking photo documentary of the impact of climate change on glaciers and oceans around the world.  Balog set the scene by clearly demonstrating that climate change is urgent and we have a serious challenge to which to rise. 

Linda Coady, VP of Sustainability for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games highlighted how they are front runners in planning the most sustainable Games in Olympic history.  Sounds like sustainability is becoming an Olympic sport; hopefully records are broken every year.

James Tansey, President of Offsetters, was proud to say they are going to help ensure the 2010 Games are carbon neutral and that individuals will be rewarded for offsetting their carbon impacts during the Olympics.  And Tzeporah Berman, co-founder of Forest Ethics, spoke eloquently about influencing large corporations to rethink their supply chain logistics and strategies in order to help mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

Everyone’s approach to addressing climate change through supply chain management was impressive and it was inspiring to hear their stories.  Reeve Consulting looks forward to helping to make the Olympics carbon neutral by offsetting our carbon emissions during the Games!