Sustainablog

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

12.11.04

IBM's recycling program goes global

IBM's recycling program goes global
Published: November 9, 2004, 12:03 PM PST
By CNET News.com Staff

Big Blue is going worldwide with an electronics recycling initiative that
had been limited to the Americas.
The company's Asset Recovery Solutions program is now available to
business customers throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and
Asia-Pacific. The program is available to businesses of all sizes, from
large enterprises to one-person shops, IBM said Monday.
Under the program, IBM will pay participants for their outdated computer
hardware based on current market values or will sell the returned
equipment on their behalf. Products are eligible whether they are made by
IBM or a competitor. If a business has at least 25 units in good working
order, Big Blue will handle the gear at no cost to the customer.
"Many customers do not realize that their surplus equipment can be
remarketed. Nor are they fully aware of the risks of not retiring obsolete
equipment properly," Daniel Ransdell, IBM's general manager for global
asset recovery services, said in a statement.
In the last few years, PC makers have been stepping up their recycling
efforts. It's partly a goodwill exercise that shows an environmentally
friendly face to counter reports of old gear cluttering developing nations
and threatening the environment. It's also a response to pressure from
state and national governments, as well as activist groups, to take more
responsibility for how "e-waste" is disposed.
In addition to IBM, other PC makers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard,
offer similar recycling deals.
For customers worried that privacy and data security could be breached
when their old machines get reused, IBM says it will clean data from disk
drives with a "three-times overwrite process," making the old information
virtually impossible to recover.
In 2003, IBM said, its asset recovery facilities processed more than
22,000 machines each week, and the company sold more than $1.5 billion of
used equipment.
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11.11.04

Al Gore starts sustainable growth firm

US' Al Gore starts sustainable growth firm
Mail this story to a friend | Printer friendly version
UK: November 10, 2004

LONDON - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and a previous chief executive
at Goldman Sachs Asset Management have launched an investment firm to seek
out companies taking a responsible stance on big global issues like
climate change.

London-based Generation Investment Management has been set up to tap
growing demand for an investment style which can generate returns by
blending traditional equity research with a focus on more intangible
non-financial factors such as social and environmental responsibility and
corporate governance.
"This new approach is designed to serve people who want to integrate
sustainable returns with traditional equity analysis," Gore said in a
telephone interview with Reuters.
Gore will be chairman of Generation, with David Blood - previously chief
executive at Goldman's fund arm - as managing partner.
Generation's other founders include Mark Ferguson, a former co-head of
pan-European research also at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, who will be
chief operating officer, and Peter Knight, a former campaign manager to
ex-U.S. President Bill Clinton, who will be president of Generation in the
United States.
The founders intend to contribute an unspecified amount to the fund's
start-up capital and have pledged to contribute five percent of its
profits to a charitable foundation focused on exploring issues of
sustainable economic growth.
Climate change is rising rapidly up investors' agendas, underscored by
last week's decision by Russia to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to
curb global warming, Gore said.
He added it is impossible to analyse auto company stocks properly, for
example, without taking the issue of vehicle emission standards into
account, particularly for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
"The carbon intensity of profits is an approach that needs to be adopted,"
he said, referring to the practice of measuring how much carbon is used in
producing energy. Gore, the former Democrat Party challenger for the U.S.
Presidency in 2000, has been a long-standing campaigner on environmental
issues such as vehicle emissions.
He intends to get involved in helping drive Generation's investment
process, although he added he would not directly choose investments. "I'm
not a stock picker," he said.
START-UP IN 2005
The firm, established as a private partnership, will be based in London
and also has offices in Washington DC. It is due to start running client
money by the second half of next year.
Generation has already signed up to a recent initiative by four major
European investment groups called the Enhanced Analytics Initiative (EAI),
which will devote five percent of brokerage commissions to companies that
take a longer-term and more rounded view of corporate performance.
The time is right to launch Generation because clients with years of
future liabilities like pension schemes increasingly want fund managers to
grasp long-term issues facing the firms they invest in, David Blood said
in the same interview.
"If you are going to invest with a five-year or even three-year time
horizon, it is crucial that you think about a broad spectrum of issues in
your analysis."
Generation will launch a fund holding global equities, but initially
targeted at developed markets, to be marketed to clients such as pension
funds and charitable foundations, as well as wealthy private investors, he
said.
Clients will be able to compare the fund's performance with a benchmark
index such as the MSCI World Index. The firm will levy a fee linked to
investment performance on a rolling three-year basis.

Story by Tom Burroughes


US Companies Help Drive Non-Financial Reporting to New Heights

US Companies Help Drive Non-Financial Reporting to New Heights

Despite major progress in corporate sustainability reporting, new report
reveals need for further work


(CSRwire) WASHINGTON, D.C. - Risk & Opportunity: Best Practice in
Non-Financial Reporting, a new publication from SustainAbility, the United
Nations Environment Programme and Standard & Poor's, finds a significant
improvement in corporate efforts to build trust with shareholders,
consumers and other stakeholders through voluntary disclosure of
non-financial performance.

The survey is SustainAbility and UNEP's sixth international review of
corporate environmental and sustainability reports, and their first with
S&P. Over 350 reports were submitted and 50 were selected by an
international independent expert committee for a full analysis. The top
three overall are Cooperative Financial Services (UK), Novo Nordisk
(Denmark) and BP (UK). The top three US companies in the ranking are HP,
Ford Motor Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb. General Motors, Chiquita,
Baxter, Starbucks Coffee Company, and GAP also placed in the Top 50. The
dynamism of the field is shown by the fact that 52% of the Top 50
reporters are new entrants.

Partially in response to the accounting scandals of recent years, most
companies have corporate governance at the center of their reporting
agenda. The best companies use their reports to fully explore their total
social, economic, and environmental (or ?triple bottom line') impact. The
authors say the trend to more comprehensive disclosure is evidence of
increasing interest in understanding all triple bottom line factors
influencing the risks and opportunities facing companies.

The research reveals that financial analysts, ratings agencies and
insurance companies who rely on corporate data to establish credit ratings
and to evaluate the more qualitative aspects of company performance still
find it difficult to separate feel-good reporting from reliable data. In
particular, Risk and Opportunity finds that companies still need to do
more to explain how non-financial performance impacts the financial bottom
line.

"Corporate governance is the hottest topic" says SustainAbility Chairman
John Elkington, "but recent scandals mean most boards are focused on
financial integrity issues - to the detriment of the bigger picture of
non-financial risks and opportunities. The good news is that the overall
quality of non-financial reporting has improved dramatically since our
first benchmark survey in 1994. Now the challenge is to ensure that
leading companies integrate their financial and non-financial accounting
and reporting in ways that help analysts and rating agencies do their job
properly."

Sustainability is a strategy consultancy and independent think-tank
specializing in the business risks and market opportunities related to
corporate responsibility and sustainable development. Risk & Opportunity:
Best Practice in Non-Financial Reporting is free to download at
www.sustainability.com.


Wireless Rapidly Replacing Landline, Survey Finds

Wireless Rapidly Replacing Landline, Survey Finds





By Mobile Pipeline News
Mobile Pipeline


Consumers are increasingly making their long distance calls with wireless
phones instead of landline phones, according to a survey released Monday
by Yankee Group.
The survey found that 60 percent of long distance calls that once were
made by landline phones are now being made on wireless phones, the market
research firm said in a statement. The survey covered so-called 'wireless
households' that have wireless phones.
In addition, almost half of U.S. households are interested in bundles of
wireless and other communications services from a single provider, the
survey found.
"Consumers are increasingly drawn to multiproduct bundles for simplicity,
time savings and potential discounts," Kate Griffin, Yankee Group's
consumer technologies and services senior analyst, said in a statement.
She noted this trend provides a challenge to telecom operators.
"To protect against wireless displacement and other competitive threats,
telephony providers must deliver on the promise of the bundle--with real
time savings and dollar savings--to capture bundled customers," Griffin
said.


9.11.04

A business case for responsible oil: Oil and gas firms that work on ethical issues are worth more

A business case for responsible oil
Ethical Corporation, 3 November 2004 - Oil and gas firms that work on
ethical issues are worth more, apparently. Beleaguered oil major Royal
Dutch/Shell received some unexpected good news this month. According to
independent investment research firm, Innovest, the company remains one of
the most socially responsible companies in its sector.
Innovest is producing a series of research papers, looking at a sector at
a time and in September produced its view of the oil and gas sector.
It investigated 33 companies and ranked them all against a series of
indicators based on corporate responsibility.
The precise rankings and evaluation of individual companies is only
available to paying customers, but Innovest is prepared to say that Norsk
Hydro, BP, Suncor and Royal Dutch Shell were in the leading group and that
Yukos, PetroChina, Marathon, and Surgutneftegas were the sector laggards.
Innovest?s assessment uses two proprietary analytical models: the
EcoValue?21 and Intangible Value Assessment (IVA). Both take into account
the level of risk and the company?s capability to manage that risk
strategically and profitably in the future.
EcoValue?21 looks at the company?s historical liabilities, operating risk,
and sustainability risk. The latter is a projection of likely future risk
exposure.
The IVA model uses over 80 different performance metrics to assess
companies across sustainable governance, human capital, stakeholder
capital, products and services, and emerging markets.
The information for both is gathered from several sources, including
company literature, NGOs, industry associations, government databases,
periodical searches and financial analysts? reports. Innovest analysts
also usually interview senior executives.
Given the depth and breadth of this research, Shell can perhaps take
comfort from the fact that Innovest rates it as above the sector average
in every single area apart from the health and safety of employees and of
course, corporate governance.
Investment managers who read the report will though bear in mind that,
despite the complicated algorithms and confusing terminology in which
these reports are couched, in the end they contain little more than
subjective assessments and projections made by Innovest executives.
The report also suggests that there is a business case for responsible
corporate behaviour, with the higher-rated companies outperforming
lower-rated ones by 38.6 percentage points between 1996 and 2004.
If indeed this is the case, and Innovest?s assessments and projections are
correct, then Shell can look forward to seeing its share price pick up in
the not too distant future.


Michelin Going Green: Environmental protection has emerged as the key to opening doors in the market of the next generation.

Michelin Going Green
Korea Times, 3 November 2004 - Environmental protection has emerged as the
key to opening doors in the market of the next generation.
The automobile industry is not an exception to the trend, as the world's
leading automakers, in accordance with tightening of emission-related
regulations and draining of energy resources, have stepped on the gas to
develop vehicles that are friendly to environment, including fuel cell
vehicles and hybrid cars.
However, it has not been known how tire manufacturers have been
participating in the eco-friendly trend.
World leader in tire manufacturing, Michelin, which celebrated its 100th
anniversary in 1998, has been pioneering the greener products movements.
It has focused on the concept of ''sustainable mobility,'' mobility that
is cleaner and more respectful of the environment, natural resources and
people, based on renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels.
Michelin a few months earlier introduced its new corporate signature ''A
better way forward,'' to express its dedication to the movement.
In the same vein, Michelin has aggressively invested in research and
developments (R&D). ''In 2003, it spent money on R&D equivalent to some 5
percent of 15.4 billion euro,'' a Michelin Korea official said.
The investment has been projected to improve performance of its tires by
reducing rolling resistance, extending tire life and reducing road contact
noise _ the three major criteria to diminish environmental impacts of tire
use.
''Road transportation is responsible for roughly 17 percent of man-made
carbon dioxide emissions, 98 percent of which are attributable to oil,''
the official said.
He added one of the primary causes of carbon dioxide emissions is rolling
resistance, as higher resistance requires more fuel, resulting in more
carbon dioxide emissions. Rolling resistance is believed to account for
roughly 20 percent of carbon dioxide from cars and 30-40 percent from
trucks.
As a result of R&D activities, Michelin was able to introduce Proxima, an
environmentally friendly concept tire, at the Challenge Bibendum 2004 in
Shanghai mid October.
'''Proxima' weighs 20 percent less than 'Energy' green tires and has 25
percent less rolling resistance,'' the official said.
Michelin launched a low rolling resistance tire called Green X in 1992,
which uses a silica based compound instead of carbon black, and has sold
500 million units.
The Challenge Bibendum, created in 1998 and organized by Michelin, clearly
demonstrates the company's direction in management, the official said. It
has been the venue for presenting development of possible solutions to
energy demand, urban pollution and CO2 emissions from vehicles and road
safety.
The annual international clean car event took place for the first time in
Asia last month with participation of some 57 global companies in car
related industries such as General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Bosch, as the
significance of the Chinese car market has rapidly increased in accordance
with growth of its economy.
Michelin also unveiled a concept car, Hy-Light, developed in partnership
with the Paul Scherrer Institut, to showcase its new active wheel
technology. It is propelled by a fuel cell, providing a glimpse what cars
may be like in the future.
Better fuel efficiency and a variety of alternative fuel vehicles will be
the key to consumer demand and a crucial element in making greener fuels
and technologies more marketable.
Michelin sticks to the notion of environment friendly for its products and
for its operations of global manufacturing bases. As of 2003, 90 percent
of finished Michelin products were manufactured in plants whose
Environmental Management System (EMS) had been certified to meet ISO 14001
standards.
Michelin takes part in environmental responsibility. For instance, it
launched a program to preserve more than 3,000 hectares of Brazil's
Atlantic Forest, intending to create an ecological corridor that links
remaining forest areas from coastal mangroves to inland hill forests for
171 of Brazil's 202 endangered animal species.
Copyright 2004 Hankook Ilbo


Short-term Kyoto pact pain could yield long-term gains

Short-term Kyoto pact pain could yield long-term gains
The Nikkei Weekly, 1 November 2004 - Greater efficiency, lower energy
costs already boosting profits for industry. The Kyoto Protocol is now
expected to come into effect at the start of next year, so Japanese
companies will have to reduce their emissions of so-called "greenhouse
gases," such as carbon dioxide.
But the pact also presents an opportunity for companies to devise ways of
conserving energy and expand into alternative energy sources, such as
solar and wind power.
The international accord aimed at curbing global warming got the green
light after Russia's decision last week to ratify it. Japan has pledged to
cut greenhouse-gas emissions in the 2008-2012 period by an average 6% from
1990 levels.
Major materials manufacturers, including Nippon Steel Corp. and Mitsubishi
Chemical Corp., are bolstering voluntary efforts to conserve energy. In
addition, with soaring crude oil prices weighing down profits, firms are
looking to save energy for both environmental and profit reasons.
Nippon Steel plans to spend 10 billion yen ($93.5 million) to install
seven heat-recovering burners at three of its domestic mills. The devices
will recover and reuse heat from furnaces, slashing energy consumption by
30%.
Mitsubishi Chemical plans to replace the cooling mechanism used in
ethylene production at its Ibaraki Prefecture plant. As well, it will
introduce a machine that efficiently recovers the steam generated in the
plant as a source of energy. The company is expected to save 15,000kl of
crude oil annually, 1.6% of its total energy consumption.
Nippon Oil Corp. has installed an exhaust heat exchanger at its refinery
in Okayama Prefecture. By using steam to generate power, the company saves
17,000kl of oil each year, or about 2% of its entire consumption.
Energy alternatives
The companies are also eyeing increasing business opportunities in
developing alternative energy sources.
Wind power generation began showing breakneck growth after legislation
requiring power companies to use some alternative energy sources took
effect in April of last year. Output from wind power generation jumped 47%
in fiscal 2003 to 684,000kw.
Facilities have been growing larger, as exemplified in plans by Electric
Power Development Co., known as J-Power, to build a wind power generation
site in Fukushima Prefecture with an output of some 66,000kw.
Solar power is expanding as well. Shipments of solar cells jumped about
20% year on year to about 215Mw in fiscal 2003, thanks to subsidies for
households adopting solar power and heightened interest from corporations
and government agencies.
Sharp Corp. and Kyocera Corp., the leaders in the domestic market, also
rank within the top three in the global market.
Fuel cells are starting to see activity that may help them to spread.
Tokyo Gas Co. is set to release a 1kw-class household-use fuel cell unit
in February 2005.
Ebara Corp., Toshiba Corp. and others established this year a joint
consulting company for biomass generation, which uses plant materials and
animal waste to generate electricity.
In its 2002 plan to promote global-warming countermeasures, the government
announced a target to boost use of alternative energy to an amount
equivalent to 19.1 million kiloliters of crude oil in fiscal 2010.
Efforts to use alternative energy by households and the transport sector
have been limited compared with the industrial sector.
However, greater use of alternative energy in homes and cars will likely
lead to reductions in emissions by both lagging sectors.
Fear of burden
Although Japanese businesses have been making energy conservation efforts
for years, their earnings could be affected substantially by the
introduction of an environment tax on fossil fuels.
In addition, the Environment Ministry and other government bodies are
considering requiring major companies to release their greenhouse-gas
emission figures to the public.
The materials industry has opposed such measures, claiming that they will
impose an additional burden on industry. By accelerating voluntary energy
conservation efforts, the sector may be trying to convince the government
not to impose restrictions.
According to a survey conducted last year by Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc.,
the costs of reducing 1 metric ton of CO2 emissions through voluntary
efforts range from 10,300 yen to 187,600 yen, averaging 90,900 yen among
206 polled companies based on fiscal 2003 emissions. Assuming a minimum
reduction cost of 10,000 yen per ton, this would total nearly 1.7 trillion
yen for Japan as a whole.
According to the Environment Ministry figures for emissions in fiscal
2002, Japan must eliminate some 168 million tons of CO2 emissions to
achieve its target under the Kyoto pact.
Also, the firms are working to create a clean development mechanism that
would let companies acquire greenhouse-gas emission rights in exchange for
efforts to reduce such emissions in developing countries. Nippon Steel is
considering CDM operations in India.
Also, at an oil field of a Vietnamese affiliate, Nippon Oil has launched a
project to derive energy from waste gases that it used to dispose of by
burning.
Copyright 2004 Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc.
The Nikkei Weekly (Japan)


Arctic ice to melt in summer this century unless greenhouse gases curbed

Arctic ice to melt in summer this century unless greenhouse gases curbed
Agence France Presse, 2 November 2004 - The Arctic ice cover will
completely disappear in summer by the end of this century unless carbon
dioxide emissions are significantly reduced, according to a scientific
study to be released next week.
"The big melt has begun," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the Climate
Change Campaign for the environmental organisation WWF, which published
excerpts of the upcoming Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report.
The Arctic ice melt will cause sea levels to rise and could lead to the
extinction of some species, such as polar bears, it said.
Commissioned by the Arctic Council and compiled by more than 250
scientists, the report concludes that "climate change is happening in the
Arctic and that it will get worse unless emissions of carbon dioxide are
cut."
"Industrial countries are carrying out an uncontrolled experiment to study
the effects of climate change and the Arctic is their first guinea pig.
This is unethical and wrong. They must cut emissions of CO2 now," Morgan
said.
The report presents several potential scenarios which would occur if the
Arctic ice were to disappear in summertime by the end of the 21st century.
It said sea levels could rise by one meter (3.3 feet), noting that there
are currently 17 million people living less than one meter above sea level
in Bangladesh. It said places like Florida and Louisiana in the United
States, and the Asian cities of Bangkok, Calcutta, Dhaka and Manila were
also at risk.
However, on the positive side, rising sea levels would create a "northern
passage" for shipping between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and would
open up new areas for fishing, mining and oil and gas exploration.
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which is expected to take hundreds
of years, could ultimately lead to a seven-meter rise in sea levels, it
said.
Several fish and mammal species could also succumb to climate change.
"Polar bears could become extinct by the end of this century. They are
unlikely to survive as a species if there is an almost complete loss of
summer sea ice cover," the WWF said.
Polar bears feed mainly off of seals living under the ice, which the large
mammals break to catch their prey.
The ACIA report is to be published in its entirety on November 8.
The WWF welcomed the report, but stressed the "hypocrisy" of the eight
members of the Arctic Council -- the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan,
Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway -- which sponsored it, noting that
they emit more than 30 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
While Russia decided last month to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which
commits industrialised countries to trim output of six greenhouse gases,
the United States, the world's largest polluter, still refuses to do so.


Nokia Plans 40 Handset Launches in 2005

Nokia Plans 40 Handset Launches in 2005


By Robin Arnfield
Wireless NewsFactor
November 5, 2004 1:22PM

Cell phone maker Nokia says it plans a major new-product push in 2005,
launching as many as 40 new handsets in an effort to regain market share.
The Finnish company has struggled against competition from Motorola,
Samsung, Sony Ericcson and others.


Nokia , the world's largest cell phone manufacturer, plans to launch 40
new handsets in 2005 in a bid to enlarge its already-dominant market share
and fend off growing competition from Motorola , Samsung and Sony Ericsson
.
The Finnish company is hitting back, after holes in its product range
allowed its competitors to erode its lead in the mid- to high-end handset
market.
Investor Update
In a presentation to investors on Thursday in New York, Nokia said that it
intends to increase its competitiveness by widening its product portfolio.

Next year, about two-thirds of Nokia's mobile device launches will contain
cameras, while more than 50 percent are expected to be clamshell, slide
and other non-bar designs, the company said. In addition, Nokia plans to
include MP3 music players in half of the models it ships next year.
Earlier this year, Nokia had admitted that it was losing market share to
competitors due to intense competition and said it had been late to react
to new trends and introduce products such as clamshell handsets.
Market Growth
Nokia executives also told the New York meeting that the company sees the
handset market growing by around 10 percent in 2005 from the 630 million
units it expects to be sold in 2004.
While unit sales will continue to show strong growth, prices will fall and
the value of the market will increase at a slower pace as a result, Nokia
said.
Outpacing the Industry

Nokia forecast that its growth would be faster than the market, and said
its goal was to win a 40 percent market share, up from around 30 percent
at present.
In the third quarter, Nokia had a market share of 32.5 percent, which was
higher than in the first and second quarters, but down from 37.4 percent
in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Nokia is trying to cut its development expenses to below 10 percent of net
sales within two years, while accelerating its product development cycles
and cutting its overall operating expenses.
Demand for Customization
"Globally, operators are demanding more and more customization of devices
that allow them to not only offer an exclusive handset, but to tailor the
software and experience to the data services that are so important to
their ability to drive additional revenue," Forrester Research analyst
Charles Golvin told NewsFactor.
"Nokia has been slower than other providers to respond to this demand. Its
ability to do a better job of this will be a key determinant of its
ultimate market share standing."
The majority of Nokia's models -- and all of its high-end models -- are
GSM, which means that in the US they do not reach the entire market,
Golvin noted. While the company does have CDMA handsets for large carriers
like Verizon and Sprint , the number and range of models is much more
limited than on the GSM side. For example, there are no CDMA Symbian
phones that could compete with devices like the Treo .
"To expand its share in the US, Nokia will need to produce a broader range
of CDMA devices," Golvin said.