CVS gets serious on health, how farmers can measure emissions and cleaner laundry from P&G

US pharmacy chain quits tobacco

CVS Caremark is the first national pharmacy chain in the US to commit to ending the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Pharmacy chains in America are different from most across Europe, commonly serving as a hybrid convenience store and drugstore. But as pharmacy chains such as CVS are increasingly positioning themselves as a healthcare destination by introducing services such as on-site counselling and treatments, the sale of cigarettes is increasingly at odds with their mission. “Tobacco products have no place in a setting where care is delivered,” says CVS chief executive Larry Merlo.

The move is precedent-setting in the US, made all the more clear by the president’s public statement of support. “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and [the company’s] decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer and heart disease, as well as bring down healthcare costs – ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” says Barack Obama.

While the company anticipates it will lose about $2bn a year in revenue as a result of quitting tobacco, CVS has identified “incremental opportunities” that it believes will offset the loss, though the company remains coy as to what it has in store.

CVS will stop selling tobacco products across its 7,600 stores by October 2014, and plans to launch a smoking cessation programme around the same time.

New tool helps farmers cut emissions

A host of big name brands and organisations have launched a new online greenhouse gas calculator to help farmers better analyse and manage their carbon emissions.

The Cool Farm Tool is the first product developed by the Cool Farm Institute (CFI), created by Unilever, the University of Aberdeen and the Sustainable Food Lab, and supported by partners including Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Heineken and Oxfam, to arm farmers with simple systems to measure and reduce their environmental impact.

The tool has been tested in farms of all sizes and various regions around the world, from smallholder cotton and coffee farmers in India and Kenya to egg and potato producers in the US and UK.

But agricultural sustainability management cannot be tackled by a select few. Recent studies show that the agricultural sector alone accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. CFI members are thus calling on other companies and organisations to join the initiative to provoke industry-wide transformation.

“It’s exciting to see the results of what happens when you combine a willingness to collaborate and an enabling technology,” says Carmel McQuaid, head of sustainable business at Marks & Spencer. “I’m hopeful this will transform the business of reducing farm emissions from being a burden on farmers to being a valuable decision support tool.”

P&G removes phosphates from detergents

Multinational consumer goods company Procter & Gamble has pledged to remove phosphates from all its laundry detergent brands including Tide, Ariel, Ace and Bonux over the next two years.

Phosphates are used in detergents to soften hard water, which keeps the dirt in the water and not on your clothes. But when released into waterways, phosphates can have adverse environmental effects, creating algae blooms and harming fish.

P&G has been working on a widespread alternative to phosphates since 2005, and the company has previously removed phosphates from its detergents in the US and later in Europe, where European regulations ban phosphates in consumer laundry detergents. P&G’s new pledge will therefore have the greatest impact in developing countries, which lack such regulations.

“By the time [our] laundry reformulations are fully implemented, P&G will have eliminated close to half a million metric tonnes [of phosphate] per year compared to its peak consumption during calendar year 2005,” says Gianni Ciserani, group president of global fabric and home care at P&G.

L’Oréal boosts sustainability pledge

L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, has committed to sourcing 100% of its raw materials from sustainable sourcesand achieving zero deforestation throughout its supply chain by 2020.

The beauty brand is tackling its ambitious objectives by augmenting its current commitment to sustainably source palm oil, soy oil and wood fibre. In 2012 the company achieved 97% certified-sustainable board for packaging and extended its policy to point of sale, and now aims to use 100% certified board and paper by 2020.

L’Oréal uses small volumes of soy oil in its skincare products, and has developed its own Community Fair Trade programme, which, the company says, enables it to buy primarily from small soy oil producers in Brazil. L’Oréal’s new goal is to procure 100% of its soy from sustainable sources, and help its suppliers improve traceability to point of origin.

The company already buys 100% of its palm oil according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil standard, and has also certified palm oil derivatives “as a workable interim solution while waiting for a critical mass of certified materials to become accessible on the market”.

But as part of its new commitment, L’Oréal will give preference to suppliers that are fully compliant with the laws of their operating country and respect and protect the local communities; that conserve and restore high conservation value and high carbon stocks areas when expanding palm plantations; that renounce peat clearance for new plantations, and conserve peatlands that make up existing palm plantations. By 2015, L’Oréal aims to source 100% of its palm oil and major palm derivatives from traceable sources.

These initiatives are an extension of the company’s existing sustainability programme, Sharing Beauty With All, which it launched in October 2013.

GMO labelling petition in the US

More than 200 companies and organisations have signed a petition to the US president, Barack Obama, urging him to pursue a mandatory national labelling system for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

According to several recent national polls by ABC News and the New York Times, 93% of Americans believe the federal government should require labels on genetically modified foods. The idea is not new, as 64 countries have already enacted such laws.

“The Federal Drug Administration [FDA] has a duty to act when the absence of labelling would leave consumers confused about the foods they buy,” the petition says. “It’s been more than a decade since FDA approved voluntary GM labelling, and consumers are more confused than ever. Allowing responsible companies to voluntarily disclose the presence of GM ingredients is simply not enough.”

Petition signatories include well-known brands and activist groups such as Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, As You Sow and Greenpeace.

In response, FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eiseman says the FDA is considering citizen petitions to label genetically engineered foods.

“FDA’s role is to ensure that foods under its purview meet applicable safety, labelling, and other regulatory requirements,” says Eisenman. “Foods derived from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as other foods, such as foods derived from traditionally bred plants.”

Green Power leaders

Intel, Microsoft, Kohls Department Stores, Whole Foods Market and Wal-Mart are the largest consumers of renewable energy in the US, according to the latest data published by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary programme of more than 1,400 American companies, universities and local, state and federal governments that aims to promote the use of renewable energy by helping members procure electricity from US-based renewable resources, and ranks members’ annual use of green power throughout their domestic operations. Electricity suppliers or providers of green power products are not eligible to participate.

The National Top 100 ranking identifies the largest green power users across all sectors in the partnership. Tech giants Intel and Microsoft took the top two spots respectively, with Intel consuming over 3.1bn kilowatt-hours of green energy a year and generating 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. Microsoft generated 80% of its electricity from green power, totalling 1.9bn kWh per year.

The US Department of Energy was the government organisation to use the most renewable energy, taking the sixth spot with 700m kWh a year. The City of Houston in Texas – more widely known for its rich oil supply – followed as the second largest government member to harness alternative energy sources, taking the ninth spot with 623m kWh of green power, or 50% of its total electricity usage.

“Houston is already known as the energy capital of the world, but we are committed to becoming the alternative energy capital of the world as well,” says Houston’s mayor, Annise Parker. “Purchasing green power reduces the environmental impacts of electricity use, decreases the cost of renewable power over time, and supports the development of new renewable generation.”

BrandWatch  GHG  GMO  L’Oréal  Procter & Gamble  tobacco 

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