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Top 10 Global Sustainable Brands


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 changeYears 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 Interbrand50 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.

10) Dell

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.

9) Nokia

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.

8) Danone

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.

7) Volkswagen

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.

6) Johnson & Johnson

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.

5) Nissan

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’.

4) Panasonic

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.

3) Honda

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.

2) Ford

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.

1) Toyota

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.

Been inspired by the EcoChem blog? Want to make a contribution of your won? We are now taking submissions!

Fill in your details below and someone will be in touch with more information.

How Sustainable Product Design Can Give Consumers What They Want

By Sam Benjamin

Consumers increasingly care about social impact was the conclusion given by the Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility. Over 29,000 internet users in 58 countries completed the survey, which illustrated that an increasing number of people are willing to pay more for sustainable consumer products.

Consumers increasingly care about social impact

This has resulted in an entire market of goods – based on the principles of Green Chemistry – has flourished, driven mostly by this rising awareness amongst customers and other end users of the toxicological impacts on health and the environment that consumerist behaviour can have.

The ingenuity and innovation borne out of this want for sustainable product design has been nothing short of astounding

The ingenuity and innovation borne out of this want for sustainable product design has been nothing short of astounding, and as businesses begin to understand the need for sustainability, the further they are able to push the boundaries and really apply the concepts of Green Chemistry and Engineering to their products.

sustainable product design

According to Replenish, only seven percent of the 60 billion pounds of plastic that is thrown away every year is recycled – they want to improve this percentage by providing a sustainably-designed alternative for surface-cleaner spray bottles.

A Cleaner that’s Cleaner

One piece of very impressive sustainable design is that of the Replenish multi-surface cleaner.

The designers of the Replenish cleaner managed to incorporate many of the 12 principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering that were applicable to their product.

Not only does the consumer reduce their plastic waste going to landfill by up to 90% when using this product, but they are also using plant-based and pH-neutral cleaner fluid.

The designers of the Replenish cleaner managed to incorporate many of the 12 principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering that were applicable to their product.

The bottle spray head contains no metal springs and is designed for 10,000 sprays, whilst the ingenious replaceable pods of cleaner concentrate allow the consumer to re-use the product, thus reducing waste to landfill and saving transportation fuel (there is no water added in production, making it lighter to transport).

All of this, coupled with the entire supply chain being 200 miles wide and the product being 100% PET (and therefore easier to recycle), it is no wonder that the Replenish multi-surface cleaner received a gold certificate from the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Savvy & Sustainable

Of the global respondents involved in the Nielsen survey, 43% claimed that they had intentionally paid more money for products or services that are linked to companies actively involved in sustainability.

This is only 7% lower than the number of people who said they would be simply willing to pay, demonstrating that the majority of people that now claim to demand sustainable product design will actually purchase these items.

Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact, but which ones, how much and how to appeal to them

Nic Covey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Nielsen, said: “Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact, but which ones, how much and how to appeal to them. The answer isn’t necessarily a traditional cause-marketing campaign – general responsibility, sustainable innovation and purpose messaging might also engage these consumers. No matter the approach, savvy brands are figuring out how to hit this nerve.”

Companies such as Replenish could be considered one of these savvy brands – this is not just because of their brilliantly designed and functional product that saves the consumer money, but also their genuine interest in meeting consumers’ environmental requirements.

Replenish’s aim of eliminating 1 billion bottles from landfills, 1 billion miles off our roads and 1 billion pounds of chemicals out of the environment rings well with their customers, and has the sustainably-considered product to back up this ambition.

The Replenish multi-surface cleaner is one product that takes advantage of the growing buyer-led drive toward sustainability.

Providing any consumer-goods market with alternative products designed with minimal human health and environmental impacts in mind will improve a business’s customer base.

Many consumer-goods retailers and manufacturers – as well as some of the world’s largest chemical companies – will be attending the Ecochem event in Switzerland in November to share innovative new products, present novel ‘greener’ processes and discuss how to incorporate sustainability into business.

If you would like to learn more about  ’The Business Case for Green & Sustainable Chemistry’ , you can also read Ecochem’s latest report. Please download the full report and discover more about the business case for Green Chemistry.


Four Top-line Benefits of Green Chemistry

by Sam Benjamin

The top-line benefits of Green Chemistry can greatly improve a company’s competitive advantage over rival firms, as was seen with NatureWorks.

But how exactly does Green Chemistry create these benefits? Here we explore four ways in which Green Chemistry can benefit the top-line income and improve a business’s competitive advantage, taken from our recently-published report ‘The Business Case for Green and Sustainable Chemistry‘.

1. New and Improved Products

Those companies that are ahead of the game in terms of incorporating Green Chemistry into new products – or improving existing ones – will give themselves a competitive edge within that particular market.

Green Chemistry can lead to the discovery of materials with better properties, as well as higher intended-use and environmental performance.

Products that perform better for their intended purposes are more marketable, and are therefore more saleable – this in turn increases the company’s top-line income.

2. New Markets

top line benefits green chemistry pecking order

A company that is able to differentiate its products from competitors’ using Green Chemistry has the capability of jumping to the top of the pecking order.

Opening up to new markets through Green Chemistry is an obvious way to improve a business’s top-line income.

Novel materials, processes, technologies and products that arise from following the principles of sustainability may allow a business to venture into a completely new sector, broadening its client base.

A wider range of customers can greatly increase sales, driving the top-line income higher.

3. Competitive Differentiation

A company that is able to differentiate its products from competitors’ using Green Chemistry has the capability of jumping to the top of the pecking order.

The public are increasingly demanding green solutions to manufacturing and consumer products, and are more likely to purchase items that have truly been designed with sustainability at their core.

With customers more likely to buy more sustainable products, the top-line benefits of Green Chemistry through competitive differentiation are clear.

4. Expanded Production Capacity and Lower Costs

Green Chemistry can enhance yield and improve the efficiency of a process.

This in turn increases the process’s output capacity, allowing a higher volume of desired end product to be generated.

Not only does this expanded output increase the amount of saleable product, it also lowers the cost per item produced – the product can then be sold slightly cheaper, with the result of increased sales.

The potential benefits that employing Green Chemistry brings to a company’s top-line income are hard to ignore.

By incorporating the concept into the design and manufacture of materials and products, the implications for a company’s sales – and therefore turnover – are huge.

The four top-line benefits outlined in this blog were based on extracts from ’The Business Case for Green & Sustainable Chemistry‘ – download the full report and learn more about the top-line benefits of Green Chemistry.

More Innovative about Innovation – Interview with Bart Sayle

By Sam Benjamin

When it comes to business growth and human performance, Dr. Bart Sayle‘s expertise makes him a truly innovative thinker.

Over two decades ago Dr. Sayle founded The Breakthrough Group – an organisation specialising in corporate culture change, leadership coaching and transforming business environments – all with the intention of helping their clients to grow their businesses organically and successfully.


His holistic approach to business removes barriers around innovation and invests in people at every level of a company.

Wrigley’s, Danone, P&G, Mars, Avon and Bayer are just some clients past and present that have experienced Breakthrough and successfully made the transformations necessary to grow their respective businesses.

We at Ecochem are hugely excited that Dr. Sayle will be leading proceedings for The Breakthrough Group’s workshop at our Conference in November.

Dr. Sayle kindly agreed to an interview to discuss his own background, the ways in which Breakthrough operates and what he wants to achieve at the Ecochem workshop.

Dr. Sayle thank you for speaking to us. What are you hoping to achieve from the Breakthrough workshop at the Ecochem Conference in November?
Bart Sayle:

“We’re very excited at Breakthrough because we’ve never done something like this before in this way.”

“Whether the people who come want to work with us in the future is neither here nor there: I want everyone to leave with something that they wouldn’t have had before coming to the workshop.”

“I’m hoping this workshop will have the promise of allowing people to go back to their businesses with new eyes for a day or two, to help them see where they need to act for change to happen.”

As there will be many different sorts of businesses and organisations attending the workshop at Ecochem, will you alter the style of the workshop to suit the participants?

“The way I run the workshop is not in a formulaic pattern.”

“I’m not an expert in the content: what I am an expert in is human performance, whether that be the individual or in a system.”

“That applies to every one of those companies [that will participate at the Ecochem workshop].”

With the examples of Breakthrough’s clients being mostly from the food processing or chemical industries, I was interested to know whether these were the industries that Breakthrough worked mostly with.

“It’s not about the industry itself, it’s about the rate of change of that particular industry.”

“Businesses from the food processing or chemical industries tend to produce fast moving consumer goods, meaning their rate of change and innovation is faster.”


Business growth is relative – some industries experience it faster than others, says Bart.

“Einstein was right with relativity: the actual perception of time is different within different types of companies. What is fast change for one company is very slow change for another.”

“One client we work with at Breakthrough is a Russian steel company: their idea of change is very slow when compared with another company we work with such as T-mobile.”

“Think of it like time horizons. Some businesses have very long time horizons and others have short ones.”

How have the ways in which businesses grow changed since starting with Breakthrough?

“Looking at the early nineties, the amount of change that was going to happen in the next five years was much less than the amount of change that’s going to happen in the next five years from now.”

“To stay ahead of the competition it’s now about growing a business organically and innovating rapidly and successfully.”

With image being such a vital part of almost all businesses today, I asked Dr. Sayle whether innovation was more important to branding than to process and technology.

“It’s everything. If you look back at innovation ten years ago, say, it was more about the products, the technology, the processes. Now innovation is seen across the whole business system.”

“Some businesses are actually more innovative about innovation, by working on the synergy between process and brand image.”

“If you look at how Apple stands out from others in the electronics industry, it innovates across its whole system.”


Apple’s innovation across its whole business model – not just the technology – is what Bart Sayle believes is its secret to success.

Some businesses are actually more innovative about innovation

“You can walk into an Apple store and see innovation there, in how the products are presented and used, and simply just the fact that there is a store at all. It’s incredible.”

“The old idea of brand image could be considered as slightly out-of-date now, as almost everything is about brand image. It’s at the centre of everything.”

How is contact initiated between you and your clients, are they coming to you seeking your expertise or are you offering your services to them?

“Often it’s people who experienced Breakthrough at one company and have moved on to another company, and either persuade the boss or are now the boss at their new company.”

“We have a number of evangelists that recommend us when they see a potential opportunity – that’s nice because that shows that people know it works.”

People who are working in the business find it very difficult to see the business and work on it from the outside

“Some companies try to transform their businesses themselves and for the majority of the time it doesn’t work. If I can use a metaphor then it’s like a fish in water; the fish doesn’t know it’s in water until it’s pulled out.”

“People who are working in the business find it very difficult to see the business and work on it from the outside.”

“It sounds simple but there’s a big distinction to working in the business and working on the business – most people end up working in the business, and because of that they find it hard to change.”

“Also very often when you’re working in the business, you tend to go for the symptoms rather than the causes.”

Does Breakthrough work with businesses that are in some sort of financial trouble, or they’ve tried to change and it hasn’t worked for them, or simply businesses who are secure and looking to change?

“We get some that are successful and who now want to build on that success. Then there are some who really are in a turnaround situation.”

“Generally the clients that find it difficult are the ones that are doing okay, because they’re worried they’ll lose that success.”

“We get lots of companies at different stages: start-ups, successful businesses, those on a plateau, newly-acquired companies.”

One idea from Breakthrough that caught my eye and that might ring true for many businesses is intention without intentionality: can you explain exactly what this means?

“People can have the intention of changing but not the intentionality to follow it through.”

“Intentionality is all about achieving the desired result no matter what, and that’s a mindset.”

And so how does Breakthrough help these businesses to be intentional with intentionality?

“We give them the distinction. Within the Breakthrough process we allow them to experience what it would be like to be fully intentional about following through their actions”

“Breakthrough is a lot about looking at what’s working, what’s not working, what’s missing.”

By working with Bill Wrigley, Breakthrough managed to increase the Wrigley’s organisation’s sales from $2 billion to $5 billion in just a few years.

“That’s probably one of our best case studies,” says Bart. “They went from $2 billion in sales to $5 billion in under 6 years, in an industry that at the time didn’t grow that fast.”

“In the seventh year the company was sold for $23 billion once the enterprise value was massively increased.”

How was this accomplished?


Bart Sayle worked with the Wrigley Company – the world’s largest producer of chewing gum – to help the organisation grow its sales from $2 billion to $5 billion in under 6 years.

“The first thing they did was commit themselves.”

“We put a lot of investment into the leadership, to transform the way they thought about the business, the ways that they led.”

“The aspiration wasn’t to simply make $5 billion. The aspiration was to build a company that would effortlessly generate these sales.”

“This aspiration meant that for some people the number was exciting, for others it was the people to work with, for others it was the possible brands that could be launched, and for others it was the innovation that it would generate.”

“Everybody had a way of making that aspiration meaningful to them.”

“We also trained 400 facilitators and touched everyone within the company, even the factories.”

“That’s the model: leadership, then senior management, then facilitators that will go out and touch everybody else.”

In the past Dr. Sayle has worked for ICI, Shell, PwC, and for many years, Unilever – where Breakthrough began.

“The Unilever system meant there was a lot of variety in business and science areas and so it kept me interested.”

“That’s where Breakthrough began: my last assignment was looking at how to increase the innovative capacity of the organisation.”

Culture puts a glass ceiling on our ability to be more innovative, and we need to break through that glass ceiling

“The insight I had at the time was that innovation is a cultural phenomenon. Culture puts a glass ceiling on our ability to be more innovative, and we need to break through that glass ceiling: that’s where the name Breakthrough comes from.”

“I ran the first version of Breakthrough at Unilever for Unilever, and it worked out great. Not all were receptive at first, but those were the ones that we needed to work with.”

Bart Sayle will be heading a Breakthrough workshop at the inaugural Ecochem Conference between 19-21 November 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.

The Ecochem Conference & Exhibition will be providing a platform for many companies involved in, or looking to become involved, in Green and Sustainable Chemistry to present, network and share insight into new ways of thinking, new technologies, new products and new materials - all with the potential to improve competitive advantage and market value.

If you’d like to learn more about the Ecochem event and find out who will be attending, speaking and exhibiting please  download our event brochure.

You can also read an Ecochem blog written by Bart Sayle, Response Ability: Business and Bears.

You can also read Ecochem’s latest report – ‘The Business Case for Green & Sustainable Chemistry’ to further your interest - please click on the image below to download the full version for free and discover more about the business case for Green Chemistry.

Eight Significant Impacts of Green Chemistry on Bottom-line Income: Enhancing Profit through Sustainability

impacts of green chemistry on bottom line income

Businesses globally are beginning to realise the potential of Green Chemistry in benefitting their bottom-line income and therefore boosting profits.

By Sam Benjamin

By following the principles of Green Chemistry, a company can significantly boost its bottom-line income.

New sustainable technologies, chemicals, solvents, catalysts and processing methods have led to improved efficiencies, better yields, lower costs and ultimately higher profits, as is detailed in our latest report.

Below we list eight benefits that applying sustainability practices can have on the bottom-line and a business’s competitive advantage, in order to demonstrate the growing business case for Green and Sustainable Chemistry.

Better manufacturing capacity

‘Greening’ a chemical process can make it more efficient leading to an increased product output per unit time, reduced running costs and therefore an improved bottom-line.

Improved E-factor

A higher E-factor means more of the input material ends up in the final product when following Green Chemistry practices, improving yield and minimising waste.

Lower energy and water consumption

waste water and energy impacts on bottom line income

Reducing water and energy usage has long been a way for minimising costs. Green Chemistry provides new ways to reduce this usage that benefits bottom-line income further.

Green Chemistry provides alternative processes, reagents, catalysts or materials that help to reduce overall energy and water consumption throughout the production of a chemical product.

As mentioned previously, following ‘good housekeeping’ rules for saving energy and water can only be taken so far; minimising the waste of these expensive commodities through regular practices becomes uneconomical past a certain point.

Applying Green Chemistry can markedly improve water- and energy-use beyond what is achievable from simple good practices.

Hazardous waste elimination

By designing out the need for or generation of hazardous materials and chemicals from any given process, the costs of handling, storing and dumping – as well as the costs of installing and maintaining safety equipment – are completely avoided.

Waste disposal fee avoidance

Disposal fees are hefty and extremely undesirable – the bottom-line can be much improved by employing Green Chemistry to reduce or eliminate waste and avoid these costs all together.

Lower material procurement costs

New or re-designed processes that incorporate the concepts of Green Chemistry can reduce the amount of required feedstock or process materials, in turn bringing down costs.

Not only can it reduce the feedstock volume, but the use of Green Chemistry can also lead to the discovery of new feeds for a process that are cheaper to source, easier to process and more environmentally benign.

Lower inventory costs

Due to the need for fewer material inputs, employing Green Chemistry can also reduce the costs of material storage, maintenance of storage facilities, and material transfer on site.

Fewer environment, health and safety overheads

Costs are lowered through Green Chemistry relating to handling risks, safety equipment, monitoring, data gathering and reporting, as the effects of the process on the environment, health and worker safety become less severe.

The ability to enhance profit through sustainability is fast being realised by the chemical industry, with benefits to a business’s bottom-line income an obvious but effective method for improving competitive advantage.

Just as ‘good housekeeping’ strategies are now considered vital and necessary in keeping the costs of a modern chemical process down, the principles of Green Chemistry are becoming desirable and consequently more prevalent within the industry.

The Ecochem Conference & Exhibition will be providing a platform for many companies involved in Green and Sustainable Chemistry to present, network and share insight into new ways of thinking, new technologies, new products and new materials - all with the potential to improve competitive advantage and market value.

Parts of this blog are extracts taken from Ecochem‘s report ’The Business Case for Green & Sustainable Chemistry‘: click below and download your free copy now.

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