Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sustainable Successes and Failures

When it comes to sustainability the right vision and effective execution can help companies compete and emerge as winners. Inadequate sustainability efforts can profoundly undermine a company’s ability to survive. Some once great companies have watched their iconic brands crumble due to their failure to proactively adapt to emerging megatrends. GM and Kodak are but two examples.

Many companies around the world now have a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) including AT&T (U.S.), SAP (Germany), and LoyaltyOne (Canada).

Forward looking companies are already benefiting from their sustainable positioning. By focusing on outperforming competitors on regulatory compliance 3M’s Pollution Prevention Pays reduced pollutants by more than 2.6 billion pounds and saved the company more than $1 billion.

DuPont understands that environmental risks outweigh potential earnings. That is why under a zero waste commitment, Dupont has opted to divest itself of its holdings that have big eco-footprints such as nylon and carpets.

Dow’s 2015 Sustainability Goals yielded new products in areas from solar roof shingles to hybrid batteries. Its core business, which had traditionally relied on commodity chemicals, has shifted toward advanced materials and high-tech energy opportunities.

IBM uses their environmental management system as the foundation for policy deployment, practice management, goal setting, decision making, and data capture.

Although some companies have made valiant efforts, this does not preclude room for improvement. Walmart has 38 sustainability goals and earlier this month they released their third sustainability report. Walmart's new climate goal is to reduce 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution from its products’ lifecycle and supply chain over the next five years. However, Walmart still needs to focus on avoiding waste and they need to define the way they measure progress on packaging.

Pioneering companies are already reaping the rewards of their sustainable efforts and a growing number of businesses are realizing that success in sustainable positioning comes from greater competitiveness and cost savings.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sustainable Business Methods, Strategy, Management and Reporting


There are at least four critical areas for businesses seeking to enhance their sustainability, including, methods, strategy, management, and reporting.

To address the specialized requirements of sustainability, companies are employing new business methods. Specifically, companies are using habitual practices and systematic processes to achieve accuracy and efficiency, often in an ordered sequence of fixed steps. Sustainable methods include business-case analysis, trend spotting, scenario planning and risk modeling.

Sustainable strategy involves planning to reduce a company's footprint. This implies using resources efficiently and effectively. By using analytical data, businesses can position themselves to develop distinctive sustainability strategies. Many aspects of strategy development will remain internal, but companies are increasingly adopting open-source approaches that rely on outside assistance.

Some sustainable companies are instructing their managers to incorporate sustainability objectives into compensation models, reviews, and other management processes.

Some firms have invested in technology to record and report environmental events such as spills and waste disposal. An environmental management system can be the foundation for policy deployment, practice management, goal setting, decision making, and data capture.

Sustainability concerns involve obvious issues like efficiency, carbon intensity and transparency, green IT, green power use, GHG reductions, toxic emissions, packaging, water intensity, paper use and recycling. Other less obvious issues include cleantech investments and patents, employee commuting, telecommuting, environmental financial impacts and toxics in manufacturing.

There are many things that businesses can do to be more sustainable, and many good reasons to do so.
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Next: Sustainable Successes and Failures

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Sustainability is an Unstoppable Megatrend


Sustainability is not a passing fad or a marketing gimmick, it is a worldwide movement that is changing the way we do business. Sustainability entails continued development or growth, without significant deterioration of the environment and depletion of natural resources on which human well-being depends. This definition measures income as flow of goods and services that an economy can generate indefinitely without reducing its natural productive capacity.

Sustainability is more than a trend, a trend reflects a pattern of gradual change in a condition, output, or process, or an average or general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time, represented by a line or curve on a graph. The term megatrend was popularized by John Naisbitt in his 1982 bestseller "Megatrends". Rather than being a function of a series of data points, the term megatrend reflects a general shift in thinking or approach affecting entire countries, industries, and organizations.

In the May 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review there is a feature article titled ‘The Sustainability Imperative’. The feature is written by David Lubin from the Sustainability Network and Daniel Esty from Yale University. Together they argue that sustainability is the next transformational business megatrend comparable to mass production, manufacturing quality movement, IT revolution, and globalization.

The authors suggest firms seeking to gain a competitive advantage must know what to do and how to do it. With many already onboard businesses must act now, as this unstoppable megatrend will make or break companies around the world.

Although we are still at a relatively early stage of the sustainability megatrend, it can be expected to continue to grow exponentially.
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Next: Sustainable Business Methods, Strategy, Management and Reporting / Sustainable Successes and Failures

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Mobile Electronics are Driving Demand for Lithium

The phenomenal growth of mobile electronics is fueling demand for lithium. Cell phones and laptop computers are some of the most sought after products in the world and they are both powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium is powering the wireless world and wireless communications are driving the enormous demand for Lithium. Lithium is a crucial component of the $65.7 billion cell phone industry. Last year one billion cell phones were sold around the world each one powered by lithium.

Wireless communications include popular international mega-brands like iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. These are products with huge, ever-increasing demand, last year there were 50 million Blackberries sold and iPhone sales increased over 600 percent. Cell phone producers reliant on lithium include companies like Nokia, Motorola, SamSung, and Sony/Ericson.

There are a variety of other technologies that are powered by lithium batteries like MP3s and new mobile devices like Apple's iPad.

Laptop computers are another major source of lithium demand. The 177 million laptops sold last year eclipsed PC sales for the first time. The fact that laptops are outselling home PCs, reflects a general trend towards mobile sources of power and lithium is the key to mobile power.

Blue-chip companies are investing in lithium because they know that for the foreseeable future lithium batteries will provide the energy for all the most popular mobile electronics. This makes lithium one of the greatest wealth making opportunities of the century.
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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Electric Vehicles Will Drive Demand for Lithium

Lithium is a key ingredient in the power plants of electric vehicles, prompting Public Broadcasting (PBS) to say that, "Lithium is a metal which may soon make our old-fashioned, oil-dependent vehicle obsolete." Technology Review has said that,"Lithium batteries are driving a renaissance in electric vehicle development."

Lithium battery powered electric vehicles come in a range of sizes and configurations from tiny unicycles to large transport trucks. Toyota's Prius is a well known hybrid vehicle that has been a commerical success for years followed by Honda's Insight. Nissan recently inaugurated an affordable vehicle called the Leaf and most car makers have already released hybrids in a range of classes from subcompact to SUV.

After investing one billion dollars, General Motors is coming out with the highly anticipated electric car called the Volt. With the help of lithium batteries, GM estimates that the Volt can get 230 miles per gallon.

BusinessWeek magazine says, "Large and niche automotive makers are declaring the electric car the vehicle of the future..." The Financial Post reports, "people are realizing there are going to be an awful lot of lithium batteries used in electric vehicles."

The Wharton Business School raves about the electric car saying "the global impact would be enormous." As reported by the BBC, Mitsubishi expects that the demand for lithium will outstrip supply.

The coming explosion in electric vehicles makes lithium a sound investment.
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