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Posts Tagged ‘supply chain’

Growing Clean Water at the ACES Conference

December 14th, 2016

There’s been a lot happening in Environmental Initiative’s Agriculture and Environment program lately—I mean a lot. Field Stewards continues to build momentum and we’ve been hard at work bringing together agricultural interests to talk about and collaborate on creating new opportunities to improve water quality.

ACESBecause of Environmental Initiative’s work to promote market solutions for clean water through Field Stewards, I was asked to speak at the ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services conference in Jacksonville, Florida, which was held last week. Besides having the opportunity to share our work with an exciting, growing community of practitioners, I got to learn from others around the country on how to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making in ecosystem services. (The term “ecosystem services” is meant to describe the ways humans benefit from functioning ecosystems. Pollination is an example of an ecosystem service).

ACES 2016 brought together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American tribes, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in environmental decision making and practice.

MY THREE TAKEAWAYS

1. The science is there (mostly). Ecosystem services is a way of looking at how natural processes and landscapes contribute human health, economy, and quality of life. In recent years, the science and tools available for estimating ecosystem services have gotten much better and there is more confidence in how we are using them.

2. Agriculture has a huge role to play. If you want to have an impact, go work with farmers. But be ready to listen.download film Mother’s Day

3. Ecosystem services is a new way to make money. I heard from a speaker about how a custom made municipal bond that funded the creation of green landscapes in DC was bought by Goldman Sachs. Goldman didn’t invest because it looked good on their corporate sustainability report, they bought it because it made them money (sort of a big part of their business model).

Along with Paul Helgeson from GNP Company, I shared information about our Field Stewards program, particularly how the idea of a whole-farm, holistic approach to water quality protection is good for farmers, good for food companies, and good for the environment. We are doing things a little different with Field Stewards, and there is a lot of interest in how our approach can crack the nut of untraceable commodity crop supply chains. You can learn more about the ACES conference here »

Greg Bohrer

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

An Interview With Paul Helgeson: Sustainability Manager, GNP Company

April 19th, 2016

Environmental Initiative has a network of environmental leaders across all sectors of the economy – from businesses, all levels of government, nonprofits, academia, and more. In a new series, we’ll be interviewing environmental and sustainability leaders from our diverse community to share their passions and how they lead.

I’m kicking off the series with sustainability leader and Environmental Initiative board member, Paul Helgeson. Paul is currently the Sustainability Manager with GNP Company and is the founder and visionary behind the Field Stewards program.Greg interviewing Paul

To start us off, can you tell us a little bit about how you became sustainability manager at GNP Company?

I grew up in central Minnesota surrounded by the agricultural industry. My great-grandfather started what became Gold n’ Plump as one of hundreds of small hatcheries in Minnesota in the 1920’s.  For most of my life my dad was CEO and he, along with our team members, worked very hard to grow the company into the largest chicken company in the Upper Midwest.

This inspired me to pursue a business education and during my undergrad days I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. There I visited Carlsberg, the big beer company. This was my first exposure to a large company advocating for sustainability. Beverage companies had worked with the Danish government to put a high deposit on bottles. So those bottles were getting turned back in and Carlsberg was reusing them to bottle beer. This reduced litter, saving the government money, and saved Carlsberg from having to buy expensive new bottles. Seeing this win-win for business, government, and the people of Denmark sparked my interest in harnessing the profit motive of business to achieve social and environmental goals.

I remained interested in sustainability while earning my MBA from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota and working outside the company. When I joined GNP Company in 2010 I helped my family’s business to consider sustainability and together we developed the 4 P Framework: people, poultry, progress, and planet. We set aggressive planet goals for improving the resource efficiency of our operations and made a commitment to working with our supply chain.  During this time, I also helped develop the Field Stewards idea and I’m the liaison from GNP Company on the project.

For folks who haven’t heard about it before, how would you describe the Field Stewards project?

At the core, it’s a way to connect consumers and farmers who care about water quality.fieldstewards

Functionally, it is a certification and market system that recognizes and rewards farmers for their environmental protection efforts.  Food companies can buy certificates to offset some of the environmental impacts of their commodity crop inputs. The market system allows us to support farmers in our local area who have gone above and beyond the norm to protect water quality on their farms.

Consumers increasingly care about their food and how it was produced. The underlying sentiment is “Do the people creating my food share my values?” However, the commodity crop system isn’t set up for food companies to track sustainability at the farm level. Like a lot of food companies, we buy the grain used in our feed off of what is essentially an international commodity market.  The grain markets and the commodity crop systems are not designed for food companies or consumers to track on-farm sustainability practices.  So, we have no way to know what practices were used in the fields that our grain came from.

This is the opportunity for Field Stewards. It is a program that gives food-marketing companies like GNP Company the ability to create a more sustainable supply chain for their most critical inputs. (more…)

Greg Bohrer

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

It’s Not Just About Minnesota Anymore

June 27th, 2013

On July 17-18 the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) will host its annual Environmental Health and Safety Compliance Excellence conference at General Mills Inc.’s headquarters in Minneapolis. As part of this event, the members of NAEM’s Upper Midwest chapter will take the opportunity to discuss how local, regional and global compliance issues affect Minnesota business. Here are a few of the issues I expect we’ll address at the chapter meeting next month:

Karen Yeadon

POSTED BY:

Manager – Environment, Health, & Safety at Emerson Process Management

Business & Environment Session Recap: Closing the Loop

November 8th, 2012

Whether through cradle-to-cradle design, zero waste commitments, or simply trying to toss out a little less each week, Minnesota companies continue to seek new ways to reduce their waste, and maybe save some money and make their processes more efficient in the meantime. This was the focus of our recent event, “Closing the Loop: Managing Downstream Waste,” the third and final session of the 2012 Business & Environment Series.

Over sixty individuals including sustainability practitioners, facilities managers, and communications experts from Minnesota businesses, state, county, and city governments, nonprofits, and educational institutions, came together at Medtronic World Headquarters in Fridley to discuss why downstream waste matters, what the challenges are to managing it, and how we can find solutions.

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Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

A Preview: Managing Downstream Waste

October 12th, 2012

Even more than the recent chilly mornings and dark evenings, here’s something even more telling that the end of 2012 is creeping up on us: in two weeks, we’ll hold our last Business & Environment Session of the year! On Thursday, October 25th, at Medtronic, we’ll gather with business partners, sustainability practitioners, and issue experts from nonprofits, academia, and government, to discuss downstream waste – a topic that’s been getting a lot of attention in sustainability circles.

More and more organizations are taking a supply chain-wide approach to waste reduction, looking both up and downstream and working with both suppliers and consumers to minimize waste. This makes waste management decisions more complex and sometimes more difficult, but also creates new and exciting opportunities for finding innovative ways to reduce waste. We opted to cover this big topic in two sessions: the upcoming downstream waste event complements our August conversation on upstream waste. (more…)

Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

Event Recap: Reducing Waste, From Cradle to Gate

August 22nd, 2012

In the sustainability world, waste management may not be quite as glamorous as some of its cousins – solar panels and raingardens are a little sexier than dumpsters! You never would have guessed it, though, at last Thursday’s Business & Environment Session, From Cradle to Gate: Managing Upstream Waste. The engaging speakers, reports on the effective waste reduction work of local Twin Cities businesses, and the buzz of small group discussions suggested that waste continues to be one of the biggest sustainability challenges – and areas of opportunity – for organizations today.

Many companies have specific waste reduction goals that are part of their sustainability initiatives, and often find that efforts to reduce waste can result in both environmental benefits and greater efficiency and cost savings. As they seek to maximize these benefits, organizations have recognized opportunities for waste reduction extending far beyond efforts taken within their four walls, and are focusing on minimizing waste throughout their supply chains.

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Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

Announcing the 2012 Business and Environment Series

March 30th, 2012

A few months ago here on the Initiative blog, I kicked off the fifth year of our Business & Environment Series by asking for your help – in shaping our ongoing sustainability work, and in planning this year’s three Business & Environment Sessions. And in the true collaborative spirit, help us you did! Through conversations with stakeholders, a planning meeting with a group of dedicated partners, an online survey, and a fun, informative evening with about 50 of our friends at Summit Brewery, we heard from you.

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Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

2012 Business & Environment Series: We Need Your Help!

January 23rd, 2012

It’s hard to believe, but 2012 will be the fifth year of Environmental Initiative’s Business & Environment Series.

Over the past four years, the Business & Environment Series has brought business leaders together with nonprofit and government partners to share resources, hear case studies, and discuss issues related to sustainability, business and environment. It’s inspiring to look back and see how far we’ve come. From our 2008 discussions on energy and carbon management, to more recent sessions focused on energy efficiency, water resources or product stewardship, we’ve seen Minnesota companies leading these efforts, continuously seeking additional resources, new information, and opportunities for collaboration. We’ve seen trends shift, and the conversation among our partners and session attendees has moved from whether to practice sustainability to how to do it most effectively. (more…)

Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

Practicing Product Stewardship: Business & Environment Session Recap

November 3rd, 2011

Last Tuesday, about 70 business leaders, sustainability practitioners, representatives from nonprofits and local and state government, and others joined Environmental Initiative for the third and final session of our 2011 Business & Environment Series. We were lucky to be hosted at Best Buy Co, Inc. headquarters – which we learned is the largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified corporate office, the biggest composter in Minnesota, AND houses the busiest Caribou Coffee!

Besides the sustainability features of their corporate campus, Best Buy has worked hard to become a leader in electronics recycling, pledging to collect one billion pounds of used electronics (or e-waste) over the next five years – and making their location ideal to discuss the topic of last week’s Business & Environment Session, product stewardship.

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Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

Supply Chain Standards Bring Clarity, Focus for Companies

October 13th, 2011

It’s safe to say that the majority of supply chain professionals did not enter the field to become environmental decision makers.  Yet more and more they are the lynchpin of sustainability strategies in leading companies.

Still, the question arises – why would a company want to add environment to the existing safety, quality, reliability, and cost issues they already manage in their supply chains?

Like with other business metrics, the numbers tell part of the story:

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Holly Lahd

POSTED BY:

Graduate Research Fellow, University of Minnesota Northstar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise

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