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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A major move for SFI?

FOREST CERTIFICATION PILOT ACHIEVES SUCCESS IN MAINE
1.4 Million Acres/570,000 Hectares Certified to SFI Standard 
   
WASHINGTON - An innovative pilot project involving Time Inc., Hearst Enterprises, National Geographic Society, Verso Paper Corp. and Sappi Fine Paper North America has led to 790,000 acres/320,000 hectares of additional forest lands being certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Standard in Maine.

The pilot was an extension of an earlier project involving Time Inc., Hearst Enterprises, Verso Paper Corp., Sappi Fine Paper North America and NewPage Corporation that led to 620,000 acres/250,000 hectares certified to the SFI 2010-2014 Standard in 2010 - bringing the total of additional lands certified to the SFI Standard to 1.4 million acres/570,000 hectares.

"The companies involved are among a growing number of corporate leaders who know certification is key to responsible sourcing of forest products, and embrace credible standards such as SFI," SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow said today. "And Maine is just a starting point - they are already looking for ways to expand supply options and promote responsible forest practices by encouraging more landowners to certify their forests to the SFI Standard."

Increasing demand for SFI-certified products is also fueled by the fact it is recognized by respected organizations around the world, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the UK government's Central Point of Expertise on Timber, and the Competition Bureau of Canada's Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers. Just last month, the SFI forest standard was endorsed by PEFC International.

The first phase of the Maine pilot project improved access to SFI certification by creating a template so medium-sized landowners could develop, implement and coordinate management plans in a simpler and more consistent manner. The second phase included additional landowners and land managers such as Katahdin Forest Management LLC and Huber Resources Corporation.

"The pilot showed us how the SFI standard's training and outreach requirements can help us manage our lands responsibly so our forests can deliver environmental values and support local jobs today and into the future," said Kenny Fergusson, Maine woodlands forester for Huber Resources Corporation."

Through forest certification, forest operations meet requirements set out in an independent standard such as the SFI 2010-2014 Standard, and this is verified by a third-party audit. The SFI Standard is based on 14 core principles that promote sustainable forest management, including measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value. About 10 million family forest owners account for more than 60 percent of private forest lands in the United States.The State of Maine has more than seven million acres/ 2.8 million hectares certified to the SFI Standard.

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About SFI Inc.
SFI Inc. (www.sfiprogram.org) is an independent non-profit charitable organization, and is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program. Across North America, more than 195 million acres/ 79 million hectares are certified to the SFI forest management standard, making it the largest single forest standard in the world. SFI chain-of-custody certification tells buyers the percentage of fiber from certified forests, certified sourcing and/or post-consumer recycled content. The SFI program's unique fiber sourcing requirements promote responsible forest management on all suppliers' lands. SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

symbols and ccertification

Evidence does exist that standards are beginning to make progress, and one need only look to the ongoing evolution and extraordinary success of the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Green Building Rating System to demonstrate that.
With over 40,000 certified and registered projects all over the world in under ten years, the USGBC has achieved one of its primary stated goals – “to transform the built environment marketplace”. Today, thanks to LEED, environmental attribute based competition is fierce throughout the built environment value chain and some architectural firms have essentially ‘forgotten’ how to design non-LEED buildings. Furthermore, the US government and many municipalities in the US now require that all public buildings be built to the LEED standard. To be sure, greenwashing does occur in this sector, but with much less frequency now that green building specifiers are more knowledgeable and are asking better, more informed, questions. The power of influence has also spurred the development of several LEED- compatible product sector specific standards for carpet, furniture, textiles and other products. Solid evidence that the needle is moving!
In the end, the importance of a well informed populous cannot be overstated. Sustainability, in all its dimensions, is an incredibly complex topic that defies measurement by one standard set of criteria. In fact, I would argue that it is the most complex (and most important) thing that we humans have ever tried to measure. Done well, standards, labels and certifications are tools that can help consumers and businesses make better, more sustainable, decisions. Continued ‘movement of the needle’ will be dependent on both being well informed and engaged.

Mark LaCroix Carbon Neutral Company

Certififcations and symbols

Evidence does exist that standards are beginning to make progress, and one need only look to the ongoing evolution and extraordinary success of the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Green Building Rating System to demonstrate that.
With over 40,000 certified and registered projects all over the world in under ten years, the USGBC has achieved one of its primary stated goals – “to transform the built environment marketplace”. Today, thanks to LEED, environmental attribute based competition is fierce throughout the built environment value chain and some architectural firms have essentially ‘forgotten’ how to design non-LEED buildings. Furthermore, the US government and many municipalities in the US now require that all public buildings be built to the LEED standard. To be sure, greenwashing does occur in this sector, but with much less frequency now that green building specifiers are more knowledgeable and are asking better, more informed, questions. The power of influence has also spurred the development of several LEED- compatible product sector specific standards for carpet, furniture, textiles and other products. Solid evidence that the needle is moving!
Evidence does exist that standards are beginning to make progress, and one need only look to the ongoing evolution and extraordinary success of the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Green Building Rating System to demonstrate that.
In the end, the imp
With over 40,000 certified and registered projects all over the world in under ten years, the USGBC has achieved one of its primary stated goals – “to transform the built environment marketplace”. Today, thanks to LEED, environmental attribute based competition is fierce throughout the built environment value chain and some architectural firms have essentially ‘forgotten’ how to design non-LEED buildings. Furthermore, the US government and many municipalities in the US now require that all public buildings be built to the LEED standard. To be sure, greenwashing does occur in this sector, but with much less frequency now that green building specifiers are more knowledgeable and are asking better, more informed, questions. The power of influence has also spurred the development of several LEED- compatible product sector specific standards for carpet, furniture, textiles and other products. Solid evidence that the needle is moving!
In the end, the Evidence does exist that standards are beginning to make progress, and one need only look to the ongoing evolution and extraordinary success of the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Green Building Rating System to demonstrate that.
With over 40,000 certified and registered projects all over the world in under ten years, the USGBC has achieved one of its primary stated goals – “to transform the built environment marketplace”. Today, thanks to LEED, environmental attribute based competition is fierce throughout the built environment value chain and some architectural firms have essentially ‘forgotten’ how to design non-LEED buildings. Furthermore, the US government and many municipalities in the US now require that all public buildings be built to the LEED standard. To be sure, greenwashing does occur in this sector, but with much less frequency now that green building specifiers are more knowledgeable and are asking better, more informed, questions. The power of influence has also spurred the development of several LEED- compatible product sector specific standards for carpet, furniture, textiles and other products. Solid evidence that the needle is moving!
In the end, the importance of a well informed populous cannot be overstated. Sustainability, in all its dimensions, is an incredibly complex topic that defies measurement by one standard set of criteria. In fact, I would argue that it is the most complex (and most important) thing that we humans have ever tried to measure. Done well, standards, labels and certifications are tools that can help consumers and businesses make better, more sustainable, decisions. Continued ‘movement of the needle’ will be dependent on both being well informed and engaged.

Mark LaCroix Carbon Neutral Companyimportance of a well informed populous cannot be overstated. Sustainability, in all its dimensions, is an incredibly complex topic that defies measurement by one standard set of criteria. In fact, I would argue that it is the most complex (and most important) thing that we humans have ever tried to measure. Done well, standards, labels and certifications are tools that can help consumers and businesses make better, more sustainable, decisions. Continued ‘movement of the needle’ will be dependent on both being well informed and engaged.


Mark LaCroix Carbon Neutral Company
ortance of a well informed populous cannot be overstated. Sustainability, in all its dimensions, is an incredibly complex topic that defies measurement by one standard set of criteria. In fact, I would argue that it is the most complex (and most important) thing that we humans have ever tried to measure. Done well, standards, labels and certifications are tools that can help consumers and businesses make better, more sustainable, decisions. Continued ‘movement of the needle’ will be dependent on both being well informed and engaged.

Mark LaCroix Carbon Neutral Company

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conservation and Conservatism - getting past the political issue of climate change


As is the case with so many issues in our society today, climate change has, it seems, become a political football. At the extremes we have those observers who denounce climate change [especially the contribution made by man] as a hoax and at the other end of the spectrum those who believe that galloping climate change will bring ruin to the planet far sooner than any scientist has predicted. Broadly speaking, it seems that the right does not accept that man has much responsibility for changes in the climate, which, if they exist at all, are the result of normal trends on our planet and the left believes that human behavior is, generally speaking, responsible for the changes that have occurred in our climate and which some predict will bring massive problems in the not-too-distant future. This division appears to be particularly true in our country for some reason, and yet there can be no question that for corporate America at the very least, the issue of climate change has become a major part of corporate commitment and attitude. Something seems to be at odds here! Perhaps it is that we sometimes get conservatism and conservation mixed up!

Even a cursory look at any major corporation in the United States, reveals that conservation [whether ascribed to climate change or simply to being stewards of the planet's resources] is at the center of Corporate Social Responsibility today. The implications of this massive change in the last five years have been felt by suppliers all over the world. The Wal-Mart scorecard, the P &G scorecard. for example, and many others, have impacted the sustainability performance of hundreds of thousands of companies across the globe. As a consequence, all links in the supply chain, from raw materials through distribution, are, or will be, forced to look at their own sustainability in order to fit in with the requirements of those giant corporations so frequently at the end of the supply chain.

The main market driver for this change is ultimately public opinion. Whether this is most effectively expressed by pressure in the media [in their view a reflection of public opinion], by younger generations more attuned to environmental issues, academic institutions or major conservation groups is not entirely clear. What is clear, however, is that corporate America, academic America and governmental America [through cities and states legislation] have responded with far-reaching programs for sustainability in greater quality and quantity than we have ever experienced before.

Whether politicians and individuals can or cannot agree that man has a significant responsibility for climate change, it would appear that there is unanimity that we have responsibility for environmental management in the sensible and sustainable use of our resources. The business implications for large and small companies are obvious. The sooner they become more sustainable, the more chance they have of competing in the burgeoning sustainability market. The  truth is that sustainability can bring large cost savings through the conservation of energy, the reuse of materials and the continued review of those products which are shown to be more damaging to the environment than others and it would be na├»ve not to recognize that this is one of the major market drivers, that has worked to expand the sustainability market so significantly.

Finally, there is a question that is asked in every expanding market. Will it last? The idea that sustainability might be a ‘passing phase’ has surely been laid to rest and the likelihood is that for at least the near term, the demand for sustainable products and performance will grow significantly until sustainability becomes a way of life. The focus will doubtless move to other centers but the practices will surely remain.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Finally: Simplified Recycling Labels Are on Their Way



So you bought a coffee in a disposable cup (it happens) and you want to recycle it. What do you do? Who the hell knows. The fact that the plastic lid has a recycling symbol on it doesn't necessarly mean you can, in fact, recycle it. It depends on what kind of plastic it is, indicated by that tiny, mysterious number printed inside the recycling logo, and where you live. Some kinds of plastic are recyled almost everywhere; some, like Styrofoam, are rarely ever recycled. Plastics without a number, like utensils, can't be recycled at all. It's confusing.
To address that problem, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of the nonprofit group GreenBlue, is working to redesign recycling labels. The group's current proposal features four labels: "widely recycled," "limited recycling," "not recycled," and "store drop-off." Unlike the current system, this gives consumers clear, general guidelines, in words. For materials that can only be recycled in certain places, the "limited recycling" label can carry an additional note that might, for example, advice consumers to "check locally."
This isn't just some design exercise. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has around 200 member businesses, including everyone from Burt's Bees to Nike to Proctor & Gamble. Once the label designs are finalized, ten of these member businesses (no word on which ones yet) are going to participate in a nine-month, nationwide pilot project. You should start seeing the new labels on shelves in early October. The eventual goal is to make them the new standard.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To make logging illegal, Liberia will give every tree a barcode

The African country of Liberia is blessed with lush rainforests full of pygmy hippos, Diana monkeys, duikers, and lots of valuable trees. But when Charles Taylor started plundering the forests to fund his forces in the country's civil war, the UN placed sanctions on Liberian timber.
Now President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wants to establish a legitimate timber trade to boost the Liberian economy. To that end, she has signed a deal with the European Union that would require companies bringing Liberian lumber into the EU to have proof that it's legal. To make that possible, every legally harvestable tree and every cut log would have to carry a barcode that makes it traceable. Helveta, a British company that specializes in timber supply chain management, has invented the tracking system.
Even with the barcodes, there will still be challenges. Making sure harvests stay within sustainable limits will be difficult and corruption may still undermine the integrity of the system. But some think Liberia could be pioneering a new model for legal, sustainable logging. According to Frank Hawkins, who leads Conservation International's efforts in Africa, “Liberia has an opportunity to show the world how it is done.”
The barcode, that symbol of commercialism, could become a treehugger's best friend.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2013 Sustainability Tipping Point

The growth of investment in sustainable business programs will be between 50 and 100 percent higher in 2013 than in 2011, according to new projections by analyst firm Verdantix.
The firm predicts that the global sustainable business market will reach a “tipping point” in 2013, based on an analysis of the spending patterns of more than 2,500 global firms. Spend on sustainability programs by Australian, Canadian, U.K. and U.S. companies with over $1 billion in sales will hit $60 billion in 2013, Verdantix predicts.
“Spending on sustainable business initiatives such as energy efficiency, sustainability assurance and cleantech innovation is positively correlated with global economic growth,” Verdantix director David Metcalfe said. “By 2013 a powerful mix of market drivers, led by the forecasted global economic rebound, will significantly increase strategic investment in sustainability programmes. The arrival of the 2013 tipping point will be good news for cash-strapped cleantech innovators and struggling sustainability entrepreneurs.”
Verdantix said its analysis is based on four years of research on sustainable business market trends and the firm’s proprietary Critical Moments market size and forecast models.