Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Goldman Sachs to Invest US$40 Billion Into Sustainability

Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs Group Inc (Goldman Sachs) has revealed that it will invest US$40 billion into clean energy projects over the next ten years. Reportedly, “[t]he bank plans to finance deals with clients’ money and, to a lesser extent, its own funds”. According to Reuters, in 2011 Goldman Sachs invested US$4.8 billion in renewable energy companies around the world, “and co-invested more than [US]$500 million in that area”. This has reportedly led some analysts to query the US$40 billion plan, which “would average out to [US]$4 billion a year”, almost US$1 billion less than the bank’s 2011 investments into clean energy. Goldman Sachs has also expressed that it aims “to reduce its own net carbon emissions to zero by 2020″, reports Reuters.

Reuters: Goldman sets $40 billion clean energy investment plan (23 May 2012)
(Source: Reuters)

US Gas Company to Pay US$4 Million Over Pollution Allegations

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that QEP Field Services Co. (QEPFS) has arrived at a settlement with the DoJ which involves it paying US$4 million and installing pollution controls “to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at five natural gas compressor stations on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Northeastern Utah”. According to the DoJ, US$350,000 will be allocated to a Tribal Clean Air Trust Fund. Under the settlement, QEPFS must “reduce its emissions by removing certain equipment, installing additional pollution controls, and replacing the natural gas powered instrument control systems with compressed air control systems”. These requirements “will eliminate approximately 210 tons of NOx, 219 tons of carbon monoxide, 17 tons of HAPs and more than 166 tons of VOCs per year”, resulting in a cleaner and safer environment for members of the Ute Indian Tribe, four of which were co-plaintiffs in the case brought by the DoJ.

DoJ’s media release (16 May 2012)
(Source: DoJ; US Environmental Protection Agency)

Walmart Reduces Outdoor Water Use by 39%

Chain Store Age reports that Walmart has announced a 39% reduction in its outdoor water use since 2008, due to its implementation of WeatherTrak smart irrigation controllers in some of its stores. Reportedly, WeatherTrak controllers “are designed to eliminate landscape water waste, harmful run-off and costly hardscape damage” and “use an online tool that gives Walmart remote access to the system”.

Chain Store Age: Walmart cuts outdoor water use with WeatherTrak irrigation controller (15 May 2012)
(Source: Chain Store Age)

Seven American Companies Drop Questionable Sustainability Label

Forest Ethics reports that Phillips Van Heusen, Shutterfly, Pitney Bowes, Allied Electronics, Energizer and US Airways have joined the movement to distance themselves from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), whose reputation for sustainability has been put in question since 2011 when Forest Ethics released a list of key companies that had moved away from the use of SFI’s logo on products or in public communications. SFI reportedly “spends millions of dollars every year to adverti[s]e that it is ‘good for forests’ when it approves large-scale timber operations that impair fish and wildlife habitat, cause landslides and pollute water”. According to Forest Ethics, 21 environmental organisations have joined it “in publicly demonstrating that SFI has no credibility with North America’s leading organizations dedicated to protecting the environment”.

Forest Ethics: More major US brands distance themselves from ‘Sustainable Forestry Initiative’ (SFI) (15 May 2012)
(Source: Forest Ethics)

BSR and Hilton Launch Centre for Sustainable Procurement

Hilton has announced that along with BSR, it has launched the Center for Sustainable Procurement (the Centre), “to help global business procurement managers integrate sustainability into their purchasing decisions – providing a unique set of research and information that will help make sense of the increasingly available product sustainability data”. The Centre will aid buyers in using information of products’ sustainability “alongside existing priorities like price, quality, and delivery”. The Centre will conduct research on key issues affecting the purchasing of products, metrics analysis to incorporate sustainability into existing priorities, education support for companies to share with internal sourcing teams and “[o]ne-on-one and collaborative consulting projects for a small group of BSR members to examine current purchasing processes, develop solutions for integrating sustainability into decisions, and share lessons collectively”. According to Hilton Supply Management senior vice president Bill Kornegay, the Centre will “help … buyers quantify sustainability as part of overall product quality and cost”.

Hilton’s media release (15 May 2012)
(Source: Hilton)