Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

16.9.04

Bridging the gap between ecology and economics: Heubach India

Bridging the gap between ecology and economics: Heubach India
Geneva, 8 September 2004 - Did you know that ecology and economics can go
hand in hand through sustained efforts to incorporate environmental
thinking into mainstream processes? Heubach India is doing just that, and
making a profit.
Pigments, like the colors they reflect, are everywhere: ink in magazines,
the plastic covers of mobile phones, anti-corrosive paints on cars, etc.
The factories producing such pigments are typically large consumers of
chemically based raw materials and hence create vast amounts of highly
toxic discharges.
Heubach India has set its goal to come as close to zero emissions as
possible without compromising its leading position as a producer of
high-quality pigments for the global market. Backed up by the results to
prove it, their philosophy is one that assertively states that ecology and
economics can go hand in hand, even for an upstream/primary producer. As a
direct result of their effort to incorporate environmental thinking into
their mainstream processes, Heubach has become one of the world?s top
pigment suppliers, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Investment costs for pollution controls are usually seen as heavy burdens
in a competitive market, enticing industries to move to countries where
compliance is less restrictive and expensive. This movement creates
tensions including:
A greater concentration of polluting industries and the resulting natural
resource depletion and contamination in one area;
The prospect of local companies trying to outperform their global
competitors by cutting environmental corners on their home grounds;
The struggle to combine economic growth without the traditional dirty
phases of catch-up.
However, companies like Heubach set examples that resolve such tensions.
As Heubach?s German Chairman Rainer Heubach has stated: ?By incorporating
environmental practices at the very first planning stages, we have managed
to save the costs of cleaning up our act afterwards.? Cost-effective
implementation, however, is the difficult part. Rainer Heubach continues:
?Harnessing the Indian labor cost advantage vis-à-vis developed countries
has made implementing environmental practices at such an early stage
possible.?
Eco-design I: Waste = food
In nature, matter continuously circulates and thus ecosystems generate no
waste. Traditionally, the industrial process is linear, i.e. from input to
output and waste. But as technical director, Dr. Marx, observes: ?in
essence, every emission is a material loss and hence also a financial
loss.? In the line of eco-design, Heubach has undertaken many efforts to
reduce such losses by converting waste into food/feedstock. It created an
?industrial plant ecology? where the waste from one unit is circulated as
feedstock for the next.
Heubach?s efforts are illustrated in three concrete cases:
The conversion of waste from Huebach?s green pigment plant into a sellable
by-product, aluminium hydroxide, used in antacid formulations in the
pharmaceutical industry, rather than neutralizing it with lime and sending
it to landfill.
Stripping the effluent from the blue pigment plant of its ammonia content
through a chemical process to create a residual by-product that is also an
essential raw material used at the aluminium hydroxide plant.
Offsetting emissions: Heubach calculated its CO2 emissions and put into
place a program to plant 50,000 heterogeneous plants to offset their
emissions. 25,000 plants have already been planted on the factory?s
premises.
Eco-design II: Doing more with less
A second principle of sustainable business is ?doing more with less?.
Traditionally industries have concentrated on increasing productivity by
investing in labor and machines, leaving the gains that can be made by
increasing resource productivity often ignored. In fact, ?doing more with
less? can be expanded into ?doing more with nothing?. Take for example:
The intelligent laying of pipes to increase proximity to sources and to
make the best use of gravity, thereby eliminating the need for
electricity-consuming pumps.
The construction of a natural gas-fired power plant to generate its own
electricity.
The use of electricity co-generation through a heat exchanger where waste
heat from the engines is used to create the steam and hot water necessary
for the production of pigments, thereby reducing boiler costs to a
minimum.
Waste reduction achieved by inciting suppliers to change the packaging
(polyethylene bags, HDPE bags, and paper or plastic containers) used to
deliver raw materials. As a result, the quantity of waste generated
through packaging materials has been reduced to a negligible amount.

Heubach is a prime example of a company that is actively engaged in
limiting its environmental impact while achieving outstanding financial
results. Turnover has doubled every three years since its inception in
1994, despite almost 25% of investments flowing into ecological projects.
In fact, profits have risen partly due to these environmental investments.
This can be traced back to measures that have increased efficiency and
reduced consumption through resource productivity.
In an era where foreign direct investment has been the biggest driver of
development, and has often left environmental devastation in its wake in
developing countries, examples like that of Heubach are few in number.
However, there is a growing awareness that companies can only achieve
long-term business success if they recognize that the economy is an ?open
subsystem of the earth?s ecosystem, which is finite, non growing and
materially closed? (Herman Daly, The Case of the Global Economy, Sierra
Book Club, 1996). It is in this scenario that ecologically oriented
companies will outperform their competitors. Heubach profits from its
values, precisely because it values its profits. As a private firm, it
shows that environmental projects can be profitable, and sometimes even
imperative in cutthroat competition.
Case study produced in cooperation with Philip Reuchlin, freelance
journalist from the London School of Economics, currently based in Mumbai,
India. Contact: p.a.reuchlin-alumni@lse.ac.uk -- Tel: 0091 -2223890364/
9819488218
Further information
Download the complete case study ( 194 kb/ 688 kb)
Heubach India

Blair warns of threat posed by climate change, seeks support for Kyoto

Blair warns of threat posed by climate change, seeks support for Kyoto



Tue Sep 14, 7:07 PM ET


ED JOHNSON
LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) warned
Tuesday of the threat posed by climate change and urged support for the
principles of the Kyoto accord on global warming, a treaty rejected by
President George W. Bush (news - web sites) as unfair toward U.S.
industry.

Blair promised to make global warming a focal point of Britain's
presidency of the Group of Eight summit next year and said he will push
for greater international commitment to cut greenhouse gases.
In a keynote environment speech in central London, Blair noted that the
United States had refused to sign the 1997 protocol, which aims to cut
carbon dioxide emissions. But he suggested Washington's position was
softening and that it now accepts the scientific arguments behind climate
change.
"Climate change will be a top priority for our G-8 presidency next year,"
Blair said. "This remains an issue of high and fraught politics for many
countries. But it is imperative we try."
The prime minister said he would seek agreement among the G-8, of which
the United States is a member, on the threat posed by climate change and a
"process to speed up the science, technology, and other measures necessary
to meet the threat."
The world needs a "new green industrial revolution" to tackle the crisis
that is seeing temperatures rise, glaciers melt, and sea levels rise, he
said.
Blair said he would also seek a commitment from countries outside the G-8,
notably India and China, to cut greenhouse gases and said he was
encouraging Beijing to take a leading role in addressing the issue.
Britain's energy strategy unit has advised ministers that nuclear power
must play a major role if Britain is to meet the requirements of the
treaty. Blair said his government has not ruled out building new nuclear
power stations but knows it must reassure people about costs and safety.


Young SD managers find natural fit with financial community

Young SD managers find natural fit with financial community
Geneva, 7 September 2004 - ?The investment community wields tremendous
influence on the way companies approach sustainable development,? says
Chris Hunter, a team lead for the Young Managers Team (YMT) program at the
WBCSD. ?It?s critical for companies to make the business case in order to
demonstrate the value of a sustainable development commitment to global
financial markets.?
Making connections that create novel opportunities to advance
sustainability is the over arching theme of this year?s three YMT work
streams. Chris and his colleagues chose to collaborate with the investment
community to build awareness and an understanding of sustainable
development within the financial industry. They are working toward
communicating the importance of the investor?s role in driving
sustainability and forging relationships between the finance industry and
advocates of sustainable development.
The team is focusing on a very unique group by targeting young financial
analysts. ?We?ve found a natural fit by honing in on this segment of the
investment community as they will ultimately influence perceptions towards
the role of corporate sustainability in financial markets in the future.?
With a background in mechanical engineering, Chris began his career with
WBCSD member Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in 1997 in the United States,
managing a number of energy and emissions related projects. He now acts as
energy manager at J&J?s Energy Management Group in Brussels, where he is
responsible for leading energy and climate change initiatives for J&J in
Europe, including liaising with both internal and external stakeholders to
build a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating innovative
energy management systems.
?Apart from consumers, the finance industry is the sector with the most
power to drive change toward sustainable development, yet financial
analysts still remain skeptical about the sustainability movement,? he
says. ?We felt that the investment culture doesn?t always encourage the
young analysts? perspective. This is an occasion to leverage the synergies
between the professionals in our team and the younger generation within
the financial community.?
The nine-member YMT group is working in collaboration with the United
Nations Environment Programme ? Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI). ?We felt it
was important to partner with an organization that is centered on the same
issues that we are exploring,? Chris explains. ?UNEP-FI is traditionally
targeted at the CEO level. We have a unique opportunity to focus on a new
audience - high potential younger individuals.?
This November, the group has arranged regional dialogues in New York,
Paris and Hong Kong. The results of these dialogues will assist in
creating a one-day session for young analysts at a conference in New York
in February 2005 in conjunction with UNEP-FI and one of its American
signatories.
?We aim to spark lasting momentum,? says Chris, ?by eliciting feedback and
sharing perspectives about the direct financial impacts of engaging in
sustainable development practices.?
More specifically, the young managers view the February event not as the
end of their project, but the beginning of an ongoing process that will
continue into the future, possibly through the launching of a Young
Managers Team program within UNEP-FI.
?We want to better understand how financial markets can materially assess
social, environmental and corporate governance issues,? he says. Chris
believes that engaging in sustainable development practices can directly
increase the value of a company?s equity. ?Nike?s use of sweat shops, for
example, has clearly had significant fiscal impacts in terms of its
reputation.?
Sustainable and responsible investments have grown exponentially over the
past decade, yet it appears that sustainability principles are not yet
resolved. ?There is a gap in a common understanding of what sustainability
is,? he says. ?Companies engage in different levels of activity. Some are
full fledged actions with real effects, while others are simply token
activities and not nearly enough in terms of truly advancing sustainable
development.?
?It goes beyond just talking the talk,? Chris claims. ?It?s about working
together with the investment community and other stakeholders to create
meaningful change in mindset and behavior.?





The WBCSD's Young Managers Team (YMT) is a program designed to provide a
learning experience and networking opportunity for team members as well as
for the member companies they represent. The YMT program runs for one year
and is composed of high potential employees, interested in sustainable
development, and drawn from across a range of job functions.
This year's group is certainly no exception. WBCSD member companies came
out in force, nominating 30 young professionals for the Young Managers
Team 2004. This year's group is particularly diverse, representing China,
Japan, North and South America, Australia and Europe, and a wide range of
commercial sectors and functions.
The team decided to work around the theme of "sustainability connections",
where they seek to build bridges between people and organizations by
sharing experiences to simulate solutions to sustainable development
challenges. To this end, the Young Managers determined three work streams,
based on their particular experience and interest. The three individual
areas are: challenging young financial analysts to enable them to use
sustainability criteria in company valuation, exploring the social and
environmental issues in forestry projects in Brazil and designing
education tools for Chinese MBA students and business leaders.
In this YMT series, we profile the team leaders for each work stream. Here
we interview Chris Hunter, leader of the young financial analysts
workstream.


Further information
Learn more about the WBCSD's Young Managers Team


14.9.04

Canadian Study Validates CO2 Sequestration

Canadian Study Validates CO2 Sequestration
The Electricity Daily, 10 September 2004 - A major four-year international
study at the Weyburn oil field in southeastern Saskatchewan has concluded
that the geological disposal of carbon dioxide in oil fields can be
practical and safe.
The $30 million investigation was conducted by the Petroleum Technology
Research Center in Regina, Saskatchewan with the sponsorship of the
International Energy Agency greenhouse gas R&D program and dozens of
public and private supporters. Calgary-based oil and gas giant Encana
Corp., which is using CO2 to extract oil from the 50-year old oil field,
also cooperated with the study.
Researchers were able to store an estimated 5 million metric tons of CO2
over the IEA project life.
The IEA GHG Weyburn project is good news for addressing climate change
because it proves that you can safely store 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per
day in the ground rather than venting the greenhouse gas into the
atmosphere, said Malcolm Wilson, a specialist with the PTRC and one of the
project founders.
The CO2 has been supplied by a 203 mile pipeline from the Dakota
Gasification Company s coal-gasification plant at Beulah, N.D. That
project produces methane from coal to supply a natural gas pipeline. The
CO2 is stripped out and sent to Canada. Encana pumped the CO2 into the oil
field where it mixed with oil, allowing greater flow and recovery,
although most CO2 remained sequestered underground. Although there are
many oil recovery operations using CO2 throughout the world, the
comprehensive Weyburn research has been widely considered the key project
proving the practicality of CO2 storage underground.
The innovative project used seismic surveys to produces images of CO2 flow
in geological formations and mixing with oil; created a risk assessment
and predictive model; and performed frequent sampling to determine
chemical reactions occurring deep in the oil reservoir.
Projects funders and supporters included the U.S. Department of Energy,
the European Community, and the Canadian, Albertan and Saskatchewan
governments. Industry participants included SaskPower, TransAlta, BP, and
ChevronTexaco.
Although results were favorable to eventual widespread CO2 disposal
underground, much more research is required. Also, with the cost of
capturing carbon dioxide from power stations estimated at $30 per metric
ton, and the value of carbon credits hovering at only a fraction of that,
the economics of CO2 extraction and underground disposal are currently far
from realistic.