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Lifecycle Analysis: Moving from Black-box to Transparency

Lifecycle analysis, or LCA, is all the rage. Academics and consultants tout the amazing insights that an LCA can provide companies. Labeling organizations solicit companies to run LCAs to produce carbon or other environmental footprint numbers. And it’s true – mostly – that LCAs can provide incredible and sometimes truly … Read more »

What Does Corporate Responsibility Really Mean?

Q: What does corporate responsibility really mean? A: Corporate responsibility means long-term profitability. And here’s why… With all this talk about reporting, labeling, transparency and social responsibility, companies are scrambling to find the right balance between responding to consumer pressure, government mandates, client requirements, and employee demands, while at the … Read more »

Sustainable Packaging: Not That There’s Anything Wrong with It

This classic guilt-ridden Seinfeld come-back is what I often want to say when talking to people about sustainable packaging. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with working on reducing packaging weight, or reinventing plastic to be compostable, or focusing supplier incentives on packaging…but there are so many other areas that … Read more »

Food LCA and the Myth of Primary Data

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clarke There is a common (mis)understanding that the major obstacle to widespread adoption of lifecycle measurement is the lack of quality primary data. Over the past 5 to 15 years, this thinking has been perpetuated by a major slice … Read more »

The Myth of LCA Cost and Complexity

Lifecycle analysis – the practice of measuring the environmental impacts of a product from its raw materials, through transport and processing, to consumption and disposal – is become an increasingly accepted practice in the FMCG industry. Lifecycle analyses (LCA) can seem pretty complicated and even scary-looking. The ROI on LCA … Read more »

Confused about LCA Standards? You Should Be

How fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers can untangle and benefit from standards: Last month four key international bodies released updates to their lifecycle analysis standards and guidelines. For those of us who think about these things on a daily basis, they provided some clarity as well as some additional complexity. But, … Read more »

Food Industry, Are You Ready for Reporting?

Whether it’s for the government, the client, or for the consumer, you will be required to report on the environmental impacts of your organization and its products sooner or later. In France, there was a mandate in place for all consumer goods. Then there wasn’t. And then Europe decided not … Read more »

Lessons from Kraft and Tesco on Making LCA Count

There have been two particularly “mediatized” stories recently in the food industry that I felt needed some reality checking. The first was the coverage of Kraft’s news that after many months and dollars spent their environmental impact analysis (LCA) revealed that most of their hotspots are in the production of … Read more »

Consumer Engagement: Gaining Customers or Mitigating Risk?

I’m ashamed to say that there is one phrase in particular that makes me lose all measure of diplomacy and tactful behavior suitable to business meetings. When I hear “consumer engagement,” aka “customer engagement,” it makes my blood rise. It has become a trend in the sustainability field for consumer … Read more »

The Food Crisis & Big Box Thinking

There is a crisis in food supply. This critical imbalance of food demand to food supply will peak sometime in the next 30 years leaving large groups of people without enough access to nutritious food. Only a tiny group of experts in sustainable agriculture and the food industry talk seriously … Read more »

A Message to the Food Industry: Be Selfish

sel-fish – adjective devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interest, benefits, welfare, etc. Outside of the relatively small community of sustainability and CSR professionals in the food industry, corporate responsibility is often assumed to mean some sort of philanthropy. CSR reports with smiling children, … Read more »