BY ELLY SMITH
This year we are introducing a ‘Sustainable Brands’ Summit to our Congress programme, therefore this week our blog will take a look at the most sustainable consumer-facing and B2B brands in the world today. As sustainability issues are increasingly talked about in the public sphere, more pressure is put on high profile brands and goods manufacturers and retailers to meet the sustainability demands of customers.
As James Clark previously said in an interview with EcoChem about ‘Green Chemistry’ and sustainability, ‘It’s gone from being a fringe topic associated with environmentalists and eccentric academics to a more widely appreciated one.’ Even celebrities are getting involved with projects that promote a more sensitive approach to the environment when manufacturing clothing and products. Earlier this year, the singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams announced a denim line in collaboration with G-Star Raw made from recycled ocean plastic ‘bionic yarn’. Another singer-songwriter and philanthropist, Will.i.am, joined efforts with The Coca-Cola Company to launch EKOCYCLE™ to ‘inspire new things made in part from recycled materials’. Since starting they have also collaborated with many other well-known brands who are now producing a variety of lifestyle goods made from re-purposed items like plastic bottles.
An awareness of how branded manufacturers are affecting the environment is slowly translating from a detached concern about the state of ice caps melting and sea levels rising in countries far away from our own, to a real concern about the affect it has on our lives and the environment around us. Another way in which this awareness has manifested in popular culture, filmmaker James Cameron‘s 9 part documentary on climate change ‘Years of Living Dangerously‘ with celebrities as correspondents. He is quoted as saying ‘everyone thinks that this is about melting glaciers and polar bears…this is 100% a people story’. This shows how far public understanding has come but there is, of course, still a way to go.
With this in mind, we take a look at the Top 10 Sustainable Brands as based on the Interbrand ‘50 Best Global Green Brands 2013’ list. Interbrand not only looks at a company’s performance when it comes to sustainability, but also their customer’s perception of their sustainability initiatives and messaging when compiling the list.
Click the logo of each company for more information on their sustainability programmes.
Dell claim to design all products and solutions ‘with the environment in mind and without sacrificing performance or reliability’ and are committed to minimising the impact of their operations and those of their supply chain, too. They continue to use green packaging and shipping solutions (including making packaging out of bamboo and mushrooms) and encourage customers to recycle their equipment with them for free.
Nowadays all parts of Nokia phones are recyclable and each phone has an ‘Eco profile’. Nokia also claims to have set up the largest voluntary recycling network in the world and uses renewable energy whilst reducing waste in the manufacturing process. Nokia features on Dow Jones’ Sustainability Indexes, Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, the Carbon Disclosure Project, Forbes’ list of the “World’s Most Sustainable Companies,” and Enough Project’s 2012 “Taking Conflict Out of Consumer Gadgets: Company Rankings on Conflict Minerals” report.
Their four main aims when it comes to sustainability are to reduce carbon emissions, reduce their ground water usage, give priority to sustainable materials (such as reducing the weight of packaging and opting for recycled or bio-sourced materials), and lastly have a sustainable agriculture approach.
Volkswagen has the declared goal of becoming an economic and environmental leader in the global automotive industry by 2018. Their ‘Think Blue’ initiative covers both the factory and engineering processes, so not only do they produce efficient vehicles, but these vehicles also originate from efficient production line.
The company is focusing its efforts on four main areas: water conservation, sustainable packaging, renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. In 2011 they launched ‘Healthy Future 2015’, a five-year strategic roadmap for its citizenship and sustainability priorities. J&J also pledged to remove potentially harmful ingredients from its Aveeno, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, and Lubriderm product lines.
According to Interbrand, Nissan is the biggest riser on this list. Its website described its environmental philosophy as ‘a Symbiosis of People, Vehicles and Nature’ and its priorities as ‘Zero-Emission Vehicle Penetration, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Expansion, Corporate Carbon Footprint Minimization, New Natural Resource Use Minimization and Environmental Management Promotion’.
With its ‘A Better Life. A Better World’ concept, Panasonic has committed to improving lives through a variety of products and services. This includes products at initiatives that promise to reduce energy consumption at home, energy solutions for retail stores and energy solutions for cities and towns.
Since introducing the innovative CVCC engine in the early 1970s, Honda has been ‘a leader in sustainable mobility’. As well as a commitment to delivering some of the world’s greenest vehicles as well as alternative fuel vehicles, Honda has ambitious clean energy plans including solar panels and wind farms at their sites.
Ford say they structure their ‘core business model around using resources responsibly to create long-term value as a corporate citizen and global competitor. They have worked on both the actual vehicles and the manufacturing process impact on the environment, as well as being involved in public initiatives to raise awareness.
Voted by Interbrand as the top Best Global Green Brand for the third year in a row, Toyota leads the automotives in sustainability due to its sub-brand Prius’ perceived performance and has plans for 20 new hybrid models in the next three years. Partnerships such as TogetherGreen with the US National Audubon Society also help the brands reputation amongst customers.
These brands have demonstrated their dedication and commitment to sustainability as a long-term project, and can inspire other businesses in helping in the global drive towards a greener future. Some of these brands, as well as other leaders in the sustainability domain, will be showcased in our Sustainable Brands Summit on the 12th and 13th of November.
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