These Five Companies Are Leading The Charge On Recycling

forbes.com
Hernando Cortina
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

With scientists predicting that if nothing changes in our plastic consumption habits, there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish by 2050, it’s not surprising that this year’s Earth Day theme is End Plastic Pollution. According a recent study from Science Advance, since the invention of plastic in 1907, 8.3 billion metric tons of virgin (non-recycled) plastic have been produced, generating 6.3 billion metric tons of waste, 79% of which has piled up in landfills while just 9% has been recycled. A total of 12 billion metric tons are expected to be in landfills or the environment by 2050 if current production and waste management trends continue.

While we are all, as individuals, accountable for our contribution to the planet’s pollution and waste buildup, large corporations play a critical role in either damaging or protecting the environment. At JUST Capital, we’ve heard from the American people – across all demographics – that environmental impact is one of their top concerns when it comes to just corporate behavior.

As part of our analysis and ranking of corporations in the Russell 1000, we look closely at companies’ environmental practices – including their waste and recycling programs. Of the 875 companies we analyzed, just 136 have disclosed both the total amount of waste produced and recycled within a given year (i.e. the latest year they’ve disclosed), and we’ve found that, of the total waste produced by those companies, about 54% is recycled.

These corporations – the largest in the United States – are producing a tremendous amount of waste, and the way it is managed and disposed is likely to critically impact the future of our planet. Here are five leaders that stand above the rest for their environmental stewardship, particularly when it comes to waste management:

These companies:

Recycle more than 85 percent of their waste.
Have made a strong commitment to environmental practices by establishing environmental management systems that include objectives, targets, monitoring and measurement, audits, training, performance records, etc.
Have received external certification (including to the ISO 14001 standard) of their environmental management systems across the majority of their facilities.

These companies are also leaders in our overall rankings, with four in the JUST 100 (including Intel and Texas Instruments at #1 and #2, respectively), and Eaton not far behind, suggesting that environmental leadership is an integral part of overall just business behavior.

We’ve dug into what makes these five companies unique in their efforts to minimize impact, finding notable transparency around their waste and environmental management systems. Here’s what sets them each apart:

Accenture

1st in Environment, 15th Overall in our Rankings

According to Accenture’s 2017 Corporate Citizenship report, the company has made considerable progress toward reducing its environmental footprint and fostering sustainable growth, particularly with regard to carbon emissions – reducing 52% in CO2 emissions per employee. Among Accenture’s top priorities are its reuse and recycling efforts – including the management of e-waste and water.

Intel

2nd in Environment, 1st Overall in our Rankings

Intel continually strives to improve its operations and minimize its impact on the environment. Since 2008, Intel has recycled more than 75% of the total waste generated by its operations, and in an effort to reduce waste in 2013, the company linked a portion of employees’ compensation to solid waste recycling metrics. Intel aims to achieve zero hazardous waste to landfill by 2020, and recycling rates of 90% for non-hazardous waste.

Estee Lauder

3rd in Environment, 84th Overall in our Rankings

Estee Lauder’s Global Environmental and Safety (EAS) team has a strong record of minimizing waste, and continues to identify new ways to improve recovery and diversion rates. Since 2003, the company’s 23 owned manufacturing and distribution facilities have sent zero waste to landfill, and any waste that cannot be recycled is incinerated and converted to energy. At its industrial sites, the company achieved a recycling rate of 88.5% in 2016, and has set a target of 90 percent for 2017.

Eaton

5th in Environment, 183rd Overall in our Rankings

Eaton’s waste reduction efforts are geared toward supporting its operations as well as the communities where employees live and work. Since 2015, Eaton has reduced the waste sent to landfill by its operations from 33,400 to 25,100 metric tons, a 24.9% reduction. More than 120 of its facilities send zero waste to landfill, and the company seeks to increase this in the near term by another 20 sites.

Texas Instruments

6th in Environment, 2nd Overall in our Rankings

With a strong history of environmental stewardship, Texas Instruments makes significant investments to efficiently use, reuse, or recycle materials across its operations, and reduces its potential environmental impact by sourcing materials responsibly, as well as appropriately managing waste handling and disposal. Each major production site around the world operates a robust recycling program for industrial and nonindustrial waste – for example, recycling water used in the fabrication process by feeding utility plant cooling towers.

This year, as we reflect on how we can all strive to #BreakFreeofPlastic, the work of these companies is already moving the needle – significantly reducing the amount of waste produced and sent to landfill by their operations. Corporations across America stand to learn by the example of companies like these, and JUST Capital will continue to track how they lead the charge in environmental impact, as well as in their efforts to build and drive more just business practices overall.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/justcapital/2018/04/20/these-5-companies-are-leading-the-charge-on-recycling/#740ee72323ec#740ee72323ec

This article features research from Sam Schrager, JUST Capital Director Metrics & Data Analytics.

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First came the Straw Wars. Next up are the Balloon Battles.

treehugger.com
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair January 11, 2019

The balloon bubble is about to get popped as the anti-plastic movement gathers force.

When a night club in the Philippines announced that it would host an enormous balloon drop on New Year’s Eve in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record, there was international outrage. The spectacle was decried by Greenpeace Philippines as “nothing short of an arrogant and senseless enterprise” and the Climate Reality Project blasted it as “wasteful, unsustainable, and ecologically apathetic.”

The club, Cove Manila, was initially defensive, saying the event would be held indoors and, because the 130,000 balloons were made of biodegradable latex, they would be recycled afterward. But then the government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources sent a letter to the night club, asking it to reconsider. A spokesperson urged the club to “redirect their efforts towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly activities that the majority of Filipinos will enjoy and be proud of.” Shortly after, Cove Manila said it had voluntarily canceled the balloon drop.

This interesting news story is a sign of changing times and a glimpse of a not-so-distant future in which balloons will be reviled in much the same way as disposable plastic straws are now. This night club is not the only place where balloon-centered events are no longer allowed. Last year Clemson University announced it would end the tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons into the air before football games. The anti-balloon website Balloons Blow has an ongoing list of “balloon releases averted.” The Associated Press describes other newly implemented limitations:

“In Virginia, a campaign that urges alternatives to balloon releases at weddings is expanding. And a town in Rhode Island outright banned the sale of all balloons earlier this year, citing the harm to marine life.”

What’s unique about balloons, however, is that there’s no obvious replacement for them, unlike straws, which can be recreated in paper, metal or glass and work in exactly the same way. Balloons – unless we go back to the days of inflated pig bladders… just kidding! – must cease to exist for now, and we have to learn that it’s still possible to have a fun party without them. (The Cove Manila people did. They still had an awesome New Year’s Eve bash.)

It’s important, too, not to fall for the greenwashed ‘biodegradable latex’ label because it means very little. As Quartz reported about the Cove Manila controversy, “Purchasing, transporting, inflating, and discarding 130,000 rubber orbs, even if they are made from earth-friendly latex, results in significant waste.” While latex is biodegradable in theory, every balloon reacts differently depending on where it lands. And you can’t avoid the fact that you’re still sending trash up into the air to fall back to earth at some point, to the detriment of wildlife. There’s no way to make this OK other than to stop doing it. (Read more about why latex balloons are not environmentally friendly.)

I predict this is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the next year. First it was the Straw Wars; next up are the Balloon Battles.

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/first-there-were-straw-wars-next-are-balloon-battles.html

‘Naming and shaming’ is a powerful tool in the fight against plastic waste

Katherine Martinko feistyredhair February 11, 2019

Companies will do anything to protect their brand – maybe even redesign packaging.

Taking a stance against a giant, when you’re only a normal-sized human, requires sharp strategy. Thankfully, Froilan Grate has plenty of that.

Grate is a community activist in the Philippines who has made it his mission to fight the plastic pollution that is overwhelming his homeland. It all started when he moved to the capital for school at age 18. In an interview with NPR, he described the shock of entering Manila Bay and seeing garbage everywhere.

“He felt sick. ‘The contrast of where I grew up, beautiful white sand beaches, clear water, and arriving in Manila where it’s black water with countless plastic, that was shocking to me.’ His first thought at the time, he says, was that his own island would someday end up strewn with plastic as well. His next one was: What can I do to stop it?”

For years Grate headed up local initiatives to improve recycling practices and infrastructure. He spoke to groups about lifestyle changes that would cut down on waste, and joined an organization called the Mother Earth Foundation, working with waste-pickers to get formal employment and better working conditions.

Despite his efforts, every tide brought a fresh wave of garbage to Filipino shores. Grate said, “You realize that despite everything that you do, you really aren’t solving the problem.” He understood that cleanup efforts would never get at the root problem.

That’s when an idea occurred to him. Rather than just collecting plastic trash and removing it to a landfill site, why not leverage the information that came with all that trash and use it to pressure manufacturers to change? That’s when Grate began conducting brand audits – recording the names of the companies that made each individual item and publicize it.

“They feel there is value in brand,” Grate says of the companies. Consumers trust brands. “We wanted to use it against them.”

Manila Bay brand audit© Richard Atrero de Guzman/Greenpeace – Thousands participate in the Manila Bay clean-up and plastic waste brand audit in Roxas Blvd, Metro Manila.brand_audit.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-smart

It was an astute move. As Grate and his team persevered, the rest of the world started to notice. A list began to circulate of the brands responsible for most waste in the Philippines. These are:

Nestle, 16.74%
Unilever, 10.82%
PT Torabika, 10.17%
Universal Robina Corporation, 9.75%
Procter & Gamble, 7.19%
Nutri Asia, 4.74%
Monde Nissin, 4.87%
Zesto, 4.44%
Colgate Palmolive, 4.25%
Liwayway, 2.87%
Peerless, 1.94%
Mondelez, 1.65%

NPR writes, “It’s dirty work — eight days of community trash spread in piles on the concrete floor of a fenced-in outdoor basketball court. It stinks; workers wear masks and gloves.” But the effort paid off. Suddenly the power imbalance had shifted. No longer were the bigwigs in corporate offices impervious to the complaints of people on the ground, the same people who had to live daily with the tangible consequences of poor design.

Grate was invited to Washington, D.C., to sit down and talk with the heads of the same companies he was publicly shaming about the problem of plastic pollution. NPR asked Grate if the brand audits had triggered the meeting:

“They weren’t happy about it,” he said of the audits. “And they have questions,” he added, about how his group does them. “But I would say this: The brand audits contributed to the pace of the discussion that’s happening right now.”

brand audit in Philippines© Richard Atrero de Guzman/Greenpeace – Thousands participate in the Manila Bay clean-up and plastic waste brand audit in Roxas Blvd, Metro Manila.

Shame is not always an effective tool for change. In personal relationships, it usually causes people to shut down and become defensive. But as in this case, when the power imbalance between corporation and consumer is so great, and when the consequences of a company’s actions are actively harming the consumer and undermining their quality of life, shame can be necessary and justifiable.

Progress is happening slowly. Look at British chip-maker Walker’s, who was pressured by a social media-driven campaign into redesigning its non-recyclable bags. Unilever and Nestlé have both signed on to the Loop project that will offer limited products in refillable packaging.

This holds a valuable lesson for all of us. While not littering remains a decent rule by which to live, we need to shift our focus to the drivers of this waste and not allow them to blame us for not picking it up or sorting it properly. If packaging cannot be recycled or composted, it shouldn’t be used. These companies have the resources with which to develop better alternatives, but up until now they’ve lacked the motivation to do so.

Shame, however, can be a powerful motivator, so don’t hesitate to point fingers when it comes to plastic. Take a page out of Grate’s book and call them out on social media. Post pictures and ask questions. Demand better. We deserve it, and so does our planet.

Companies will do anything to protect their brand – maybe even redesign packaging.

https://www.treehugger.com/plastic/naming-and-shaming-powerful-tool-fight-against-plastic-waste.html

Plastic is toxic at every stage of its life cycle

treehugger.com
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair February 22, 2019

At no point does it ever stop harming us.

In case you had any doubts about how bad plastic really is, a new study out of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has just revealed that plastic is toxic at every stage of its life cycle.

The 75-page document is a sobering read. It points out the shortsightedness of focusing on specific moments in the plastic life cycle, rather than the entire picture. We know that oil refining, microplastics, plastic packaging, and recycling are huge problems on their own, but put them all together and you have an even more dire situation on your hands.

The report reveals “numerous exposure routes through which human health is impacted at each stage”. In other words, quitting single-use disposables and living zero-waste doesn’t mean you’re safe. Your health – and that of your family – continues to be affected by plastic in ways you might not even realize. These include:

Extraction and Transportation of fossil feedstocks for plastic, which releases toxic chemicals like benzene, VOCs, and 170+ fracking fluid chemicals into the air. These are inhaled or ingested, leading to immune dysfunction, cancer, and neuro-, reproductive, and developmental toxicity, among other things.
Refining and Manufacturing of plastic resins and feedstocks is linked to “impairment of the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, leukemia, and genetic impacts like low birth weight.”
Consumer use of plastic products exposes users to countless unnamed chemicals (which are not listed as ingredients), heavy metals, carcinogens, and microplastics. People ingest, inhale, and touch these to their skin.
Plastic waste management, especially “waste to energy” incineration, releases toxic chemicals into the air, which are absorbed by soil, air, and water, causing indirect harm to people and communities nearby (and sometimes far away).
Fragmenting of plastic results in microplastic pieces entering the environment and human body, leading to “an array of health impacts, including inflammation, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and necrosis.”
Degradation of plastic results in more chemical leaching. “As plastic particles degrade, new surface areas are exposed, allowing continued leaching of additives from the core to the surface of the particle in the environment and the human body.”

Where does one even begin with this information?

In a way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know plastic is an environmental scourge with real health implications, but to see it analyzed so comprehensively makes the issue more urgent than ever.

The study authors call for plastic exposure to be treated as a human rights issue, saying we need laws that require accurate information about what goes into plastic products at all stages of manufacture and transparency in the development of solutions.

Von Hernandez, global coordinator for the Break Free From Plastic movement, is quoted in the report’s executive summary:

“It is shocking how the existing regulatory regime continues to give the whole plastic industrial complex the license to play Russian roulette with our lives and our health. Plastic is lethal, and this report shows us why.”

Dire as it may be, we cannot let it overwhelm or discourage us. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and this report offers precisely that. Individuals, communities, health care providers, and policy makers can use it as an effective negotiating tool when it comes to confronting the companies and corporations that continue to churn out plastic at high rates. And confront them we must – especially now that we know what’s at stake.

At no point does it ever stop harming us.

https://www.treehugger.com/plastic/plastic-toxic-every-stage-its-life-cycle.html?utm_source=TreeHugger+Newsletters&utm_campaign=30ae1a3107-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_11_16_2018_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_32de41485d-30ae1a3107-243719061

Sign Petition: Bald Eagles And Other Animals Are Dying Slow and Painful Deaths From Lead Poisoning!

Lead ammunition and fishing tackle pose an urgent threat to wildlife species across our country, including our national emblem: the bald eagle. We cannot stand idly by as lead poisoning kills our wildlife and threatens the survival of threatened and endangered species.

Lead ammunition not only poisons wildlife through direct contact when an animal is shot but also when animals scavenge on the carcass of another animal shot with lead bullets or ingest fragments of lead bullets and fishing tackle left behind in the environment. Since bald eagles enjoy feasting on dead animals, they are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning.

The American Bird Conservancy estimates that 10 to 20 million animals are killed by lead poisoning in the United States every year. These animals can die a painful death through starvation, paralysis and damage to the nervous system or live with the symptoms of lead poisoning for a prolonged period of time before finally dying.

Lead ammunition was the principal cause of the near extinction of the California condor, which is currently listed as critically endangered. Even though California banned lead ammunition in the state, lead ammunition still threatens the survival of the condor and other species as other states have more relaxed laws.

The Obama administration recognized the severe threat lead poses to our nation’s wildlife and enacted a national ban on lead ammunition and tackle. This was revoked, threatening the welfare and survival of many species across the country.

Please restore the ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands to preserve our country’s heritage and pride: our wildlife. Our country’s beautiful and iconic bald eagle should not be forced to suffer a slow and painful death from lead poisoning.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/347/989/280/?TAP=1007&cid=causes_petition_postinfo

Sign Petition: In Texas, Anyone Can Own a Tiger, Gorilla or Orangutan. This Must End.

by: Care2 Team
recipient: Texas Legislature and Governor

Last week, a Houston man decided to break into an abandoned house so he could have a little privacy to smoke some weed. But before he took his first puff he was already tripping. There, right before his eyes, he saw something he couldn’t believe — a young male tiger.
Luckily for the unnamed smoker, the tiger was in a cage so he wasn’t in any immediate danger. On the other hand, the situation didn’t look so good for the tiger itself. When rescuers arrived, they saw that the tiger was in an enclosure much too small for his size, and the room wreaked of ammonia from the animal’s waste and he was thirsty. Other than that he looked to be in good shape.

Of course, the real question is what is a tiger — native to Asia — doing in the middle of Texas in the first place? The answer may shock you, while it is illegal to own a Tiger in Houston, it isn’t illegal in the state of Texas. In fact, according to some estimates, Texas has the second highest tiger population in the world – after the entire nation of India. In the Lone Star state, any Tom, Dick or Mary can fill out a few papers, comply with minimum standards of care and safety and walk away with a certificate of registration that allows them to keep a tiger as a pet — one that will live an unfulfilling life.

And it’s not just tigers. Unbelievably, according to Texas’s dangerous animal registration laws, any registered person can own lions, tigers, bobcats, bears, coyotes, hyenas, jackals, leopards, cheetahs, cougars, ocelots, jaguars, lynxes, servals, caracals, baboons, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas. That’s right, someone can have a gorilla in their backyard!

Wild animal ownership isn’t just cruel, it puts the lives of both the animal and the people at risk. There are countless stories of big cats that have escaped their enclosure and killed innocent bystanders or ones that have had to be put down by law enforcement once they are on the loose.

The state of Texas is being negligent by allowing ordinary citizens the opportunity to own dangerous animals. And they will be responsible for the deaths of innocent bystanders or the helpless animals themselves.

It’s time to end wild animal ownership in Texas. Please sign the petition and demand that the state ban this practice today.

photo credit: BARC
Sign Petition

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/859/474/445/in-texas-anyone-can-own-a-tiger-gorilla-or-orangutan.-this-must-end./

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Sign Petition

Toxins Aren’t Pretty: Demand Safe Cosmetics | Take Action @ The Breast Cancer Site

thebreastcancersite.greatergood.com
Toxins Aren’t Pretty: Demand Safe Cosmetics | Take Action @ The Breast Cancer Site
2 minutes

I am writing to applaud your championing of the Safe Cosmetics Act, a long-overdue piece of legislation critical to protecting all of us from the dangerous and insidious chemicals we are exposed to every day.

The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 is woefully out-of-date; loopholes in U.S. federal law allow manufacturers to use unlimited amounts of chemicals in their products without requiring testing, monitoring of health effects, or adequate labeling. This is unacceptable, and I am grateful that you recognize the urgent need to regulate an industry with such a far-ranging impact.

The Safe Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2359) you have co-sponsored with your colleagues Rep. Ed Markey and Rep. Tammy Baldwin will give the FDA authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients by phasing out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects, and developmental harm. It will also create a health-based safety standard system that will protect both consumers and workers in the cosmetic industry, while providing the funding to the FDA it needs to provide effective oversight of a $50 billion industry that is currently self-regulated. Furthermore, not only is this legislation good for consumers and industry workers, it will level the playing field for businesses that are striving to make the safest products.

I commend you for displaying the leadership to sponsor the Safe Cosmetics Act and strongly encourage you to continue efforts to pass this important legislation.

https://thebreastcancersite.greatergood.com/clicktogive/bcs/petition/SafeCosmetics?utm_source=bcs-ta-health&utm_medium=email&utm_term=02242019&utm_content=takeaction-f&utm_campaign=SafeCosmetics&oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937