We’re certainly living through some strange times: a contentious U.S. election, ongoing threats of climate change, and, of course, the unprecedented global pandemic. With such a variety of “heavy” headlines flying around, it’s easy to have missed some key stories in the sustainability sector—But, that’s where we have you covered! Despite the aforementioned global events, some brands have been quietly gaining traction with critical environmental initiatives that are worth noting and will likely make a positive impact on our planet in years to come. With all that is going on in the world, it is encouraging to see larger organizations taking action to introduce new processes and protect the environment, starting with their own internal operations. To quote a recent RoadRunner partner, Avery Dennison, “Lasting change requires commitment and contribution from everyone.” In this blog post, we’re rounding up some of the latest sustainability news you should know and highlighting helpful takeaways from each article in hopes of inspiring your business to get involved as well!
A Roundup of the Latest Sustainability News
Air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and in understanding this information, many companies are trying their best to offset their aviation impact. As such, Microsoft and Alaska Airlines recently announced their partnership to make flying more sustainable. Microsoft employees that fly with Alaska Airlines from Washington and California will soon be using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced from waste oil supplied by SkyNRG. Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business, says, “We are excited to partner with Alaska Airlines to make business air travel a little greener by using sustainable aviation fuel supplied by SkyNRG to reduce the carbon impact of the flights Microsoft employees fly most.” He continued, “We hope this sustainable aviation fuel model will be used by other companies as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their business travel.”
In addition to its commitment to the environment, Microsoft's new initiative is essentially killing two birds with one stone by also providing eco-friendly solutions to employees. This is a win, because as recent research has shown us, many workers prefer being associated with environmentally-responsible companies. For example, a recent study found that involving your workers in sustainability initiatives can have a high return on your internal company culture, with 88 percent of millennials claiming their job is more fulfilling when businesses provide opportunities for them to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues. While some organizations may not have the same resources as Microsoft, many opportunities still exist to create a more eco-friendly work environment.
Avery Dennison, a leader in adhesive technologies, display graphics, packaging materials, and also one of RoadRunner’s recent partners, recently announced that it will use technology to fight the growing textile waste problem and help the apparel industry become more sustainable. By scanning labels with a smartphone, consumers will soon be able to confirm the authenticity and sustainability credentials of a product. Michael Colarossi, VP of product line management at Avery Dennison, states, “While this technology will help drive the circular economy and it will provide or help shine a light on some of the other areas, it is one part of solving the bigger challenge that the industry faces in terms of sustainability.” In October, the company partnered with Cartilogo, a digital authentication platform, and will begin testing the technology soon.
As a society, we’re frequently seeing more brands (and consumers, as you’ll see in the example below) emphasizing the importance of transparency when it comes to sustainability. As Avery Dennison and other sustainability leaders continue to create partnerships and provide solutions to customers, they will impact the production, and hopefully inspiration, of more sustainable supply chains, which is essential for a circular economy, the health of a business, and, of course, the overall planet.
See how RoadRunner's impacting just one area of Avery Dennison's more sustainable supply chain
On another exciting note: Customers will soon be able to order meals with a side of sustainability! Chipotle is among the most recent restaurants to add sustainability and carbon footprint impact labels to its menus. The labels are designed to help consumers understand how the food they purchase is helping the environment. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the Real Foodprint app tracks the following five categories:
- Less Carbon in the Atmosphere
- Gallons of Water Saved
- Improved Soil Health
- Organic Land Supported
- Antibiotics Avoided
The restaurant chain states that it is the first brand to provide customers with detailed information about how each ingredient affects the planet.
Restaurants that are adding the “foodprint” labels on their menus will likely see a massive uptick in loyalty among “green” consumers. Nowadays, consumers and stakeholders want brands to be upfront about their sustainability efforts. In fact, 70 percent of consumers want to know what businesses are doing to address social and environmental issues, and, if you ask us, the foodprint labels are the perfect way to achieve this.
Gillette recently reported new data finding that 59 percent of men are more engaged in sustainability efforts due to COVID-19. In addition to this information, the shaving and personal care company announced that they plan to make100 percent of packaging recyclable by 2030, reduce virgin plastic by 50 percent, maintain zero waste to landfill status, and more. Throughout the past decade, the company claims to have reduced enough energy across its operations to power 17 million homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent.
Furthermore, it seems the coronavirus era has inspired a growing number of consumers to focus on sustainability more than they did before and undoubtedly led to opportunities for businesses to take advantage of this consumer interest and evaluate the effectiveness of current strategies to create new methods to inject their processes with transparency and sustainability. For a deeper dive into how COVID-19 is inspiring eco-friendly behavior, check out our recent blog post here.
As you may have gathered from the above stories, many companies are finding that improvements in packaging are a great place to start when it comes to sustainability initiatives, and that is exactly what Johnson & Johnson’s consumer brands are doing. J&J plans to make many positive changes by 2025, including using 100 percent recyclable, reusable, or compostable plastic packaging and certified/post-consumer recycled paper. The initiatives come from its Healthy Lives Mission, which aims to improve the health of both people and the planet. To achieve this, the global brand plans to spend $800 million through 2030 to make packaging adjustments.
In the article, Wes Carter, president of Atlantic Packaging, said, “Looking at the carbon footprint should be part of the sustainability process.” In addition to reducing packaging as a means for reducing carbon footprints, businesses worldwide are working hard to lessen the impact of their products and services to better address climate change, curb greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste, and more. Thankfully, there are small changes every workplace can start to make that add up, over time, to create a massive impact. Start by understanding how to calculate the carbon footprint of your business here and then follow these suggestions for small changes to get started:
1. Map out your supply chain
2. Start a conversation with your suppliers
3. Collaborate within the industry
4. Define clear strategies and goals
5. Optimize packaging
6. Reuse products when possible
To learn more about each of these suggestions, read our Step-By-Step Guide to Sustainable Supply Chains
In the end, these news stories are just a few of many positive updates from global organizations that are gaining momentum as they take action to help our environment. No matter the size of your business, we all have the power to make an impact on our organization, our employees, our friends, and the plant and we hope that you learned something in this news roundup that will help you make a change today! If you have any questions, or would like to learn how RoadRunner can help your business improve its sustainability and carbon footprint, please get in touch with us here. Thanks for reading!