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Sustainability Is about Long-Term Thinking, Planning & Profitability, Part II

A giant challenge facing us all is how to convince the C-Suite that sustainability is about profitability and not just about PR. The problem is long standing and not easy to overcome. Like a long dysfunctional relationship, this problem faces deep-rooted baggage that seems impossible to leave behind, and, in … Read more »

Sustainability Is about Long-Term Thinking, Planning & Profitability (Part I)

It occurred to me recently, while working with a client on a particularly sensitive issue, that perhaps we need some reminding about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Internal politics, power plays, word spin, data manipulation, income generation, and KPIs are all part of regular business activity and … Read more »

Food LCA: The Elusive Quest to Go Beyond Carbon

Each time we speak about food product life cycle analysis (LCA), the question of whether or not to use a multi-indicator approach comes up. It’s understandable to hear this question from players in the food industry who are confronted regularly with issues of water use, waste, and cost reduction, although … Read more »

The Sustainability Tool Melting Pot

I’ve spent a good number of my columns debating the confusing terminology in our field. It’s proof of the relative infancy of our field that the same term is used for such varied sustainability objectives. Even simple terms like “tool” can mean wildly different things. So you can imagine what … Read more »

Food LCA Pilot Projects: 15 Tips to Avoid the Pitfalls

For many of us in the LCA business, pilot projects can be both invigorating and frustrating. It’s invigorating because we’re often breaking new ground by using sustainability metrics to uncover true business value to guide decisions. And a pilot can be frustrating because we sometimes feel that the work is … Read more »

The Era of Data: When to Dig Deeper and When to Stop

I’m reminded of the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler,” which has the line: “Know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em.” In the era of data overload, there’s a certain wisdom in knowing when to fold ’em, or in the context of sustainability measurement, when to stop digging … Read more »

A Rise in Food Prices Could Stem the Tide of Food Waste

During this summer when the news channels were repeatedly showing images of corn drying in the fields due to the drought, another news article told a very different story. One that is not seasonal yet has reached epidemic proportions in the US — food waste. This particular article about consumption … Read more »

A Debate: What Should We Call Sophisticated Sustainability Measurement Tools?

One of the ongoing debates in our office is based on the frequent and common use of the word “tool” in the sustainability metrics field. What is a program that delivers sustainability measurement and results? Is it a tool? An application? A solution? A product? The debate rages without any … Read more »

Sustainability & the Economics of Drought

We’ve all read the headlines and know that the American Midwest is suffering from a major drought. Crops are starting to wither, farmers are already suffering, and fairly soon consumers will start to feel the pinch too. Droughts come and go as do floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters – … 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 »

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 »