Monday, March 29, 2010

Starbucks Shareholder Initiative on Recycling Gets Denied

A couple of years ago I was on the road in Richmond, Virginia and stopped in a Starbucks for access to wi-fi and a fill up of caffeine. While there, I asked the youthful barista, "Do you have recycling?," to which she replied, ", but will you fill out a comment card that tells the company to change that?" This made me smile.

I told them I'd be glad to, and I'd do one better, and write to the company management in charge of sustainability, I happened to have a business card. This was four years ago, and my letters were met with commitments to look into it, and I felt I had gallantly helped a few good kids get the recycling bins they wanted. Recently, I returned to this area and stopped in, and was disheartened to see that there still was not any recycling in this store. Its clear we've still got a lot of work to do to make recycling, including paper recycling, more available, even within the doors of companies with programs which are trying to do the right thing.

And paper coffee cups is a BIG issue. They are on the move and hard to collect, difficult to pulp and recycle, and we use a LOT of them. See this work of art from Chris Jordan. The 410,000 paper cups stacked together in the photo depict the number of disposable cups Americans use every 15 minutes. Jordan added a silhouette of two people as a scale reference.

That's why last week, Environmental Paper Network member organization, As You Sow and shareholders of Starbucks introduced a strong resolution at this years annual investors meeting to accelerate Starbucks' recycling initiatives. According to the Seattle Times...

"The measure lost, as expected, but about 11 percent of Starbucks shareholders voted in favor, which activists hope will get the company's attention.....
Conrad MacKerron, who helped write the measure for the As You Sow Foundation in San Francisco, said he was "happily surprised" at the 11 percent vote.

Similar proposals that the nonprofit put before Coca-Cola and PepsiCo won less than 10 percent. Both companies started negotiations with the group as a result, and have announced major recycling initiatives.

MacKerron wants Starbucks to do the same.

In many ways, he said, Starbucks is "ahead of the game, like paying benefits even to part-time workers, but they're really not in a leadership position on this issue."

A couple of Starbucks officials told him Wednesday they want to keep talking, but were not specific. MacKerron hopes they will, and said, "One incentive is they wouldn't like this to be repeated next year on their proxy statement."

To improve its track record on this issue, Starbucks is partnering with the betacup on an online contest to develop the best idea for redesigning the coffee cup and massively reducing paper cup use. Starbucks is sponsoring the contest as part of its stated aim to serve 100 percent of its hand-crafted beverages in reusable or recyclable cups by 2015.

The contest will take place on the betacup's partner platform, a leading mass collaboration community for innovators and creatives. Anyone can submit an idea on how to reduce paper cup consumption and promote adoption of environmentally-friendly alternatives. Ideas will be open to the public for discussion, and community members and jurors will be able to provide feedback, allowing collaborators to refine and update their submissions through June 15, when the contest comes to a close.

Starbucks has provided $20,000 in cash prizes to be awarded for the most innovative ideas. The participant who submits the best idea, determined by an expert panel, will receive a $10,000 cash prize. In addition, participants whose ideas are among the top five selected by the community of collaborators will each be awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

Betacup from the betacup on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unnecessary and Tragic Death in Bahia Eucalyptus Plantations

This morning we are sharing a statement about the tragic death of Henrique Souza Pereira in Fibria’s eucalyptus plantations from Sócio-Environmental Fórum of the Extreme South of Bahia and the Alert against the Green Desert Network (March 23, 2010).

Armed security force of Fibria (Aracruz) kills local villager in Bahia

With this statement, we express our enormous outrage about the death of 24-years old Henrique Souza Pereira, who was killed on 16 March 2010. According to Fibria´s press release (Fibria is the former Aracruz Celulose and partner of Stora Enso in the Veracel Celulose company), a team of GARRA, the private ‘security’ company of Fibria, shot Henrique, alleging that he was stealing wood and ‘acting aggressively’ when he was requested to leave an area with eucalyptus trees. But the father of Henrique, Osvaldo Pereira Bezerra declared in an interview with a local newspaper, he was accompanying Henrique on a motorcycle going home when the conflict happened. During the incident, the security force broke the arm of Henrique’s father.

Continue reading....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Indonesian NGOs Respond to Asia Pulp and Paper PR Campaign

Recently, the Paper Planet reported on a letter from North American NGO's to printers and other paper buyers warning about environmental risk associated with Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and its cleverly named paper distributor, Eagle Ridge Paper. Today, The Jakarta Post is reporting that as Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) took the podium today at the 12th Annual RISI pulp and paper conference to promote their corporate responsibility and paper products, leading Indonesian NGO’s called on buyers and investors of APP to reject the company’s misinformation and stop purchasing or financing the company until it met conditions articulated in an open letter calling for reforms in Indonesia’s pulp and paper sector. Download a copy of the letter here.

Long a controversial company, APP has recently stepped up its public relations efforts with a series of infomercials touting its environmental and social accomplishments and misleading certification claims. These moves may be an effort to pave the way for the company’s anticipated issuing of bonds and a possible initial public offering (IPO) of its Chinese division, and comes at the same time as new investments in direct sales capacity in Europe and North American paper markets. In the early 2000’s, APP defaulted on a debt of more than U.S. $13 billion and became Asia’s biggest bankruptcy. In the aftermath of the bankruptcy, significant legal, social and environmental risks associated with the company’s pulp production, natural forest clearance and pulpwood sourcing operations emerged.

Despite this, APP continues business as usual, having done little to mitigate the negative impacts of its pulp and paper operations. For example, APP continues to clear large areas of natural forest in Kerumutan’s deep peat and Bukit Tigapuluh in Sumatra despite objections by local communities and NGOs. Destroying these peat forests is impoverishing indigenous communities that have customary ownership of these ecosystems and also causing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions as the forest is cleared and drained peat soils oxidize. Further forest loss in Bukit Tigapuluh threatens the survival of two indigenous tribes and Sumatran tigers, elephants and orangutans.

“We’re trying to set the record straight for APP’s customers and investors who may have been taken in by APP’s misleading advertisements and glossy brochures,” said Teguh Surya Campaign Director of WALHI, the national environmental forum in Indonesia which has over 450 member NGOs. "Being associated with APP poses major reputational risks to companies that do business with it.”

Deforestation in Indonesia is a major contributor to climate change, as carbon stored in natural rainforests and peatlands is released after clearance and drainage. Roughly eighty percent of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation and degradation, which has pushed Indonesia into third place (behind the China and the U.S.) on the list of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. APP/SMG and their affiliates are considered to be one of the largest contributors to these emissions.

Eyes on the Forest today published recent pictures of large amount of natural forest wood waiting to be unloaded at harbor of the APP’s pulp mill in Riau and also pictures showing large area of good natural forest in Bukit Tigapuluh landscape being cleared in a concession of PT. Artelindo Wiratama, an APP associated company.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Arcadia Publishing First on 100% FSC Paper

The nation’s largest local history publisher has expanded its focus on preservation efforts and is now the country’s first major book publisher to achieve the use of 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper across its entire book publishing program.

Arcadia Publishing, creators of the iconic pictorial history books with widely recognized sepia covers, has more than 6,000 titles in print and will publish 700 new titles this year. New releases and reprints now carry the accredited FSC label. Products using the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers the paper comes from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.

Arcadia Publishing CEO, Richard Joseph, views the initiative as a natural next step for the company. “Consistent with our commitment to help communities preserve history through local and regional history books, we have extended our efforts to improve the impact we have on our environment,” Joseph said.

With the implementation of 100 percent FSC certified paper; Arcadia Publishing has surpassed the goals set for industry standards as identified in The Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper Use by 500 percent, and almost two years ahead of schedule. The treaty, developed in 2006 by a wide range of industry stakeholders and coordinated by the Green Press Initiative (GPI), calls for the publishing FSC-US-0146 industry to aim to raise its use of FSC certified paper to a level of 20 percent by 2012.

GPI Director Tyson Miller commends the company for its early success. “Arcadia Publishing’s FSC achievement is quite an accomplishment and is a model for other publishers to consider and follow when it comes to supporting best practices in forest management,” Miller said.