Friday, March 23, 2012

Methane is it the Future?

With the worlds energy advances focusing on sustainability methane gas is the naturally occurring energy few pay attention to. Methane gas fills are sewer systems, landfills and farms. Animal waste as well as decay produces methane gas, this gas can be harnessed through a methane combustion style engine, which then powers a generator to create electricity. A setup like this at a small landfill costs between 350 and 400 thousand dollars but can produce 265 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 100 homes. So the question is why are more landfills, farms and sewage plants using this technology? Most landfills are run on a municipal level as well as waste control, so this becomes an issue where the government must stand up and install this sort of apparatus across Canada. Methane gas isn’t just used to produce electricity it can also be gathered and stored as a gas until used for heating or even in vehicles. Burning methane gas is better for the environment and ozone than letting it escape. Once escaped into the atmosphere methane gas is a big contributor to global warming causing the suns rays to be caught inside the ozone opposed to being bounced back out. We are letting a potentially unlimited energy source escape and in turn hurt ourselves in the end. There must more done specifically by government to harness this wasted energy source.

By: James Coulas

Why You Shouldn't Buy a Hybrid Car

In 1870 a man named David Salomon used an electric motor powered by early batteries to propel his carriage. This was the first electric car. Since many have made attempts but none have had any great success in the market, until the release of the Honda Insight in 1999. The Insight boasted a highway gas mileage of 61mpg making it the most fuel efficient car on the market until now. With the release of the 100% gasoline powered 2012 Mazda 2, which reports highway fuel usage at up to 70 mpg, hybrid technology can't keep up. Not only are hybrids falling behind newer gas technologies in fuel efficiency but also put much less strain on the planet as well as humanity to produce. Extracting the raw materials used to make the batteries which power electric cars mainly nickel, copper and lithium cause great problems mainly in China. Recently China has become a monopolist supplier of lithium. This has not come without great hardship, in the Bayan Obo region of China miners removed topsoil and extracted the metals using acids that entered the groundwater destroying nearby agricultural land. Producing a gas powered vehicle has less ecologic impact than producing a hybrid and now that gas technology is surpassing that of hybrid they are more economical to drive. With 95% of the vehicles on the road being gas or diesel powered and projections showing only a 5% decrease in that number by 2020 it is not in your best interest or the planets to purchase a hybrid car.

By: James Coulas

Growth of Electric Vehicles

When the internal combustion engine was first invented it changed our entire way of life. People started to live further out in the suburbs and other newly opened regions. As well it created new economical opportunities as both people and goods could move across area far more efficiently. However, the cost of all this is starting to cost us today. Vehicles running on fossil fuels are largely responsible for negative effects on the environment, and effects on human health. While electric vehicles are viewed as a new technology that is just coming into the market today, the technology has actually been around for quit sometime. In the early 1900s many manufacturers were experimenting with electric vehicles. In fact in 1900 28% of the cars on the road in the United States were electric. However, electric vehicles were quickly dropped as most companies began focusing only on fossil fuel technology. There have always been many theories of the oil companies having a controlling interest in discouraging electric vehicles. For example in the 1930s a partnership between General Motors, Firestone, and Standard Oil of California purchased a lot of electric street cars networks across America only to take them off the road, and replace them with GM buses. Electric vehicles offered a lot of advantages over gasoline ones. They were quitter, did not produce any emissions, and were easier to start. In 1912 the New York Times commented that electric was the “ideal” technology for cars. However, with advances in internal combustion technology especially the introduction of the electric starter shifted almost all production away from electric cars.

Demand for electric cars began to increase again in the early 1990s as there was a growing concern over green house gas emissions. The California Air Resources Board began to push for lower emission vehicles. Automakers responded, one example was the induction of an all-electric car called the EV1 by GM. This vehicle was initially only available by lease to customers only. The vehicle was very popular and it is believed that there was even a waiting list of customers. However, in 2002 GM announced that it would be taking all EV1 off the road. This came much to the dismay of customers who could not understand why they were being discontinued. Despite the popularity GM claimed it did not see a strong enough customer base for the vehicle to be sustainable. Most of the cars were crushed, while some were sent to museums with the powertrain removed so that they could never run again. Some theories suggest that oil companies were behind the effort to take the car off the road. As well GM may have feared that electric cars may cut into their profitable spare parts market, as electric vehicles have far less moving parts.

Demand increased even more in the late 2000s with the increase the global economic recession and increase in fuel prices. While there has been an increase in electric vehicles offered, the majority of cars still run on fossil fuels today. Even taking into account the emission produced to generate the electricity for these vehicles, a study done in the UK concluded that these vehicles can cut down carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas by as much as 40%.

The major challenge for electric vehicles is to outperform the cost of development, production, and operation compared to vehicles power by an internal combustion engine. Currently they are still generally more expensive than gasoline cars.

Growing technology often takes time and encouragement. As this technology is still relatively new and expensive, it should be the government’s responsibility to encourage growth in this area. Currently as people’s incomes are rising especially in developing countries more and more people are demanding cars and why should they be. In the West we have enjoyed this luxury for decades and they to want the same privileges. However, at the same time we are trying to fight the increase in pollutants, which conflicts this growing demand. I feel that it is more essential than ever now, as there has never been a greater demand for vehicles worldwide.

By Jeff Dallard

Tobacco Manufacturers Targeting Developing Countries

As cigarette sales continue to decline in developed countries, cigarette manufacturers are beginning to focus more on developing countries. Currently only 21% of cigarettes in the world are sold in developed countries, while developing countries make up 71% of the sales.

Developed countries have made a lot of progress over the last twenty years in reducing the amount of smoker, but many developing countries seem to be going in the opposite direction. The smoking rates are only expected to rise in developing countries.

The large multi-national tobacco companies mostly located in Britain and the United States are largely responsible for this increase. When a large tobacco company enters a new country, they usually develop a sophisticated marketing strategy, that is often not legal in developed countries. This often forces the domestic brands of the country to step up their marketing, which leads to a large increase in tobacco consumption and major impact on human health.

The Far East has been heavily targeted by manufacturers over the years and is expected to be responsible for 80% of the increased demand in developing countries. Currently China is home to one third of all smokers in the world.

Essentially developing countries are going through the same cycle that the West went through decades ago with tobacco. Similar to what happened in these countries there needs to be more knowledge spread about the health effects of tobacco.

The societal view is still quite accepting of smoking, just like it was decades ago in the West. While it is a well known fact in developed countries that smoking is linked to numerous health risks, many citizens in developing countries are not as aware. In China only 68% of smokers are aware that smoking causes lung cancer compared to over 90% in Western countries. There is a perception in many developing countries that smoking is often related to masculine identity. That being said smoking among women is significantly lower in many developing counties such as China, where only 1 on 25 women smoke. While this may sound like a positive stat it may not last, as manufacturers have began to directly target women. It is believed that few women currently smoke based on the particular culture and gender attitudes of the region. However, manufacturers are hoping to change that view. They have realized that many Chinese women are developing more feministic views. Therefore, they want women to feel as though smoking makes them empowered . They are designing cigarettes just for women and even distributing free samples to them in areas. This is very similar to tobacco companies targeting women in developed countries during the 1960 and 70s with the introduction of Virginia Slims, a cigarette marketed just for women. I feel that governments in these countries need to act quickly before rates among women start to rise.

Essentially developing countries are going through the same cycle that the West went through decades ago with tobacco. Similar to what happened in these countries there needs to be more knowledge spread about the health effects of tobacco. Governments need to step in by putting greater restriction and spread more information about the health effects of tobacco. It is not that surprising that China has the highest rate of smokers, as the country also has some of the most lenient laws. While they have recently banned smoking in many public places, such as government offices, schools, and hospitals. However, many still smoke in these buildings without any consequences. There also seems to be little support to help smokers quite. Smoking cessation is very low as most smokers only quite due to a chronic illness. Most often it is because they are unaware of the true risks and therefore have little motivation to stop. There is no reason why developing countries need to repeat the same cycle that the West did. We now have far better information on tobacco and it is just a matter of effectively informing citizens.

By Jeff Dallard

Coca-Cola Sustainable Packaging

Coca-Cola Sustainable

Coca-Cola has put out a 2010/2011 sustainability report
and has many reasons why you should believe them.
One part of the report they
are striving to achieve having zero-waste by:
Designing consumer-preferred, resource-efficient
Eliminating waste to landfills
Using recycled and/or renewable materials
According to the report 85%
of their products delivered are in recyclable bottles and cans, and those packages
are the ones that can make the greatest difference. So they are going to focus
most of their effort on the recyclable bottles and cans. They said to improve
their packaging; they will have to balance environmental concerns with their
need to protect product quality and manufacturing. They are going to start
transporting their products economically. I found it interesting how not a lot of
people think about business rick when it comes to a beverage container but Coca-Cola
does. Their packaging helps them meet their strict quality requirements and
deliver their products safely to their consumers. Apparently if their packaging
is not energy efficient to make, they could lost profit. For any business if
the price of any materials needed to produce anything it means potential harm
for the business. Also, if laws and regulations change for beverage bottles
that could increase their cost and lower demand for their products. Which I found
interesting because I didn’t really think about laws and regulations for
beverage bottle could increase costs so much it could lower demand. They don’t want
to be viewed as a company that contributes to global pollution because more consumers
are coming more environmentally friendly and only want to buy products that don’t
produce a ton of pollution. Coca-Cola has a ton of goals the want to meet.
As Coca-Cola continues to
lightweighting their packaging it has proven to reduce costs, materials and
resources. Apparently, in 2010 they had saved $90 million by reducing packaging
launched a
10.5-gram Damla 500-ml PET bottle in Turkey
In the
Philippines they reduced the use of glass material by 20 percent
Trimmed the weight of our 20-ounce PET plastic
bottle by more than 25 percent
Shaved 30 percent from the weight of our 12-ounce
aluminum can
Lightened our 8-ounce glass bottle by more than 50

Goal: Coca-Cola wants to improve packaging material
efficiency per liter of product sold by 7 percent compared with a 2008 baseline
by 2015. (I find this goal they set out
to be attainable but it all depends on Coca-Cola if they can make it happen.)
Coca-Cola plans on supporting the
RPET market and helping to clean up the oceans. I find helping cleaning up
the ocean is a good move on their part because a ton of their product ends up
in the ocean each year. It will also make their company look better in the
public eye which could gain them more consumers. They plan on implementing
their new packaging management system slow but steady.
Goal: They plan on recovering 50% of the equivalent bottles and cans used per
year by 2015 and so far they have recovered 36% of the cans and bottles that
make it to the market.

Coca-Cola’s research and
development team has created PlantBottleTM packaging. PlantBottleTM is the first-ever
recyclable PET bottle made partially from plants. That move on their part is a
good move on their part. I like knowing that the products that I am consuming
are more environmentally friendly it makes me feel better about buying them. PlantBottleTM packaging will be available
in 16 markets, and 7 billion PlantBottleTM packages will be
distributed by the end of 2011. Another good thing I find really good for any
company to do is support recycling systems around the world and investmenting in bottle-to-bottle recycling

By 2015, Coca-Cola wants to source 25% of their PET
plastic from recycled or renewable material

I really like the things Coca-Cola is doing to
improve their company. IN the report there are many more things they plan to
do. This is just one section I choose it seemed the most interesting for me.

By: Marissa Hanrahan

Benfits of CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility Benefits
knew Corporate Social Responsibility had benefits if you were to get a CSR department
in your company but I never realize how many benefits there were if you were to
take on CSR practices. I found a couple articles online that describes many benefits
for a company if they took on CSR. I find
it interesting how doing some simple things can change your reputation of your
company and gain new customers. Some of the things a company will gain from
taking on CSR practices can be
getting a good reputation which then will make it easier to recruit employees.
So then employees may stay longer which will reduce cost and disruption of
recruitment/retraining. Also, if a company changes its ways and starts using
sustainable energy, employees will feel better about it, and be more
motivated/productive. Which I agree with totally, if I knew the company I was
working for was doing good things for the environment, it would make me feel I was
doing something good, and make me work more productive for the company. I found
it interesting that involvement with the local community has ideal
opportunities to generate positive
press coverage: which then could gain more reliable customers depending
on the type of business. Trying to generate good relationships with local
authorities makes doing business easier. For example, some
local authorities prefer to award contracts to businesses with a record of
community involvement. (Work with Local Community ) There are many ways
you can contribute to the community you could choose to support a local
charity, or sponsor a local event. It would make sense to get involved in an
activity related to your product. For
example, some restaurants provide food to local homeless groups, while builders
may give free labour and materials to community projects. (Work with Local Community ) There is just so
many things a business can do to improve their company, and gain so much. I
never fully understand what CSR is, but now I can see so much can come from it.

By Marissa Hanrahan


This is great documentary I found on Here is the ling This film is very inspirational. It's about how business can become environmentally friendly. The film is about an American design architect named William McDonough and a German chemist named Michael Braungrant. They are the two people who invented cradle to cradle.

The design products to be what they call tecknocyclable. This is different from recyclable since in the recycling process of the product none of it is lost so 100% of the product is reused. Also everything in the product is environmentally friendly. it's an amazing way for companies to become more environmentally friendly and increase profits. Since all their products can be made into new ones they significantly reduce raw material purchases. It's a way for companies to be sustainable and better their CSR practices. They also design products to be biodegradable.

There version of biodegradable is much more effective then what we know. Since the products they design to be biodegradable are actually full of nutrients that can enrich soil. Therefore the products can be composted instead of taken to a landfill. One textile company made there textiles environmentally friendly. Before they had a large amount of waste which was considered toxic and very expensive to dispose of. Now that there product was made of environmentally friendly material there waste was actually converted into a felt by-product that was sold to farmers to cover strawberry plants in the winter and would bio degrade in the spring and feed the plants. therefore they took an expensive toxic waste and converted it in a profitable by-product.

There is a lot of money to be made in these kinds of ideas. Going green can actually reduce a companies cost and increase their profits from creating products to be cradle to cradle.

Another thing the film details is how factories can be built to not only reduce environmental impact, but actually contribute to making it healthier. The factories are built LEED certified and are completely sustainable. But it's not just good for the environment it's good for profits a s well.

Companies in the film that have these sustainable factories have increased employee health, employee productivity, reduced operating costs, and increased revenue. These sustainable practices show how it's can be good for the environment, society, and profits. it's a great way to incorporate great CSR practices in a business and will have a positive impact on all three parts of the triple bottom line. So it's a win for everyone. It also can be done to any type of business no matter what size or industry. I highly recommend that people watch this video, it's an example of how business could be done and should be done. Imagine a world without landfills. That's one of the possibilities and huge benefits by adopting the cradle to cradle practices.

John Martin

Thursday, March 22, 2012

CEOs Overpaid?

In this article they are debating whether or not CEOs are overpaid or not? The answer in 99.9% of the population is yes. But if the CEOs are not making the money who should? Where should the millions of dollars earned every year by large corporations go? Well there are lots of ways to benefit the environment and civilization. I believe that CEOs should earn more than the average Joe because somehow someway they managed to be a CEO of a company. The way they see it in the article is that if a CEO can earn the company 3 million extra dollars should he be worth that extra 3 million? I think that he should be entitled to some part of the company’s profits that he helped earn over his time period. But what about all of the bonus and shares that CEOs receive, I think they are ridiculous. Who should earn 5 million extra a year in bonuses most people in the world would never make 5 million in their life time but CEOs earn it in a bonus. There is also great debate whether Pro athletes deserve to make what they earn and comparing it to CEOs whether or not it’s fair. CEOs defiantly get more bad publicity than pro athletes when they make less than the average pro athlete would make, why is that? Is it because people idolize pro athletes and think CEOs just sit on the butts all day doing nothing? I believe that some CEOs such as Enron’s executives did the bad thing and defiantly gave CEOs a bad reputation but I feel that some actually deserve what they earn if they did it legitimately. When it comes to pro athletes I think they do get paid excessive amounts of dollars but if they don’t get the money who does because the people running the clubs and organizations already make tons of money so who should get all of this money? I think CSR would defiantly solve the problem there.

Dave Armstrong

Nike at it again!!

In the article “Nike Spends $25 Million on CSR Annually; Refuses to Pay $2.2 Million in Severance to Honduran Garment Workers” Nike refuses to pay its Honduran Garment Workers 2.2 million dollars after shutting down 2 sweatshops. They refused to pay there severance and legally required benefits which was a mere $1300 for each of the 1800 employees, in America this would be 15000-20000$ per worker.

Is Nike really that cheap to not pay 2.2 million dollars when they spend 100s of millions on athletes and sponsorships? Why does Nike even have a CSR department if they can’t even start to begin practicing CSR with their employees who make them the millions of dollars? The people who work for Nike in Honduran work under the worst conditions, very poor wages and ridiculously long shifts. They work to survive; if they don’t work overtime they might not eat one day of the week. Nike being the giant company that it is couldn’t afford to give these workers respectable wages and working environments.

After watching Behind the Swoosh it really puts into perspective what is actually going on in these sweatshops and what it’s like to live and work for Nike in 3rd world countries. What Jim Keady started has sparked a public view on how Nike operates and runs its company. When he got fired for standing up to Nike and refusing to wear their products when coaching the university soccer team, I am glad to see that other universities are stepping up and refusing to wear their products. The University of Wisconsin-Madison became the first college in the country to cut its Nike contract over sweatshop abuses. I’m sure many Universities will one day look beyond the greed and stand up for what is right and to not promote such a greed powered company. I would like to see Nike step up and do what’s right because the amount of money that they make is astronomical. They need to “Just Do It”.

Dave Armstrong