“Issues that until now have been ‘soft’ for business, such as environment, diversity and human rights–are now hard; hard to ignore, hard to manage and very hard to control if they go wrong.” Adrian Hodges and David Grayson, Everybody’s Business, 2001. “If I had to guess, I would say that… the challenges… of the Internet, of globalization, of creating trust in the face of rapid change, of putting forward a bold vision and executing it exquisitely, of balancing shareholders and stakeholders, and of understanding the need for broader vision and leadership in society ― these challenges will be assessed by historians as having been too difficult for most CEOs to successfully handle at once.” Jeffrey E. Garten, The Mind of the C.E.O., 2000, pp. 277-278.
Responses by corporations to global environmental concerns since 1960 have occurred in three distinct phases (for more information, go to the Environmental History Timeline):
(1)The “Limits to Growth” Era, 1960-1987. Corporations were under pressure to operate in an environmentally friendly way but because of the lack of standards the problem could be dealt with in many cases as a problem simply of public relations.
(2)The Green Wave Decade, 1988-1997. Corporations made more of an effort to internalize the environmental externalities, but in which corporate responsibility was defined narrowly, as compliance with law. Companies that were willing to accept that their responsibilities go beyond the law settled for mission statements and codes of conduct that were tailored to what the companies could do with minimal effort.
(3)The Anti-Globalization Era, since 1998. Corporations protected themselves by creating codes of conduct. This was confusing for stakeholders – especially consumers, investors and suppliers. So companies went beyond first-party review (i.e., self-review) to second-party review (by selected stakeholders) and finally to third-party independent certification of compliance with multi-stakeholder standards. It is interesting to note that political and corporate action oftentimes occurred when the public spotlight is directed elsewhere.The Rainforest Alliance has been a leader in this third wave of response. It and related environmental groups are actively engaged in setting standards for, certifying and accrediting corporate environmental reports. The accreditation groups are part of ISEAL, a global equivalent of ISO, which is an association of national standard-setting bodies.
By the early 1960’s, the effects on the environment from industrialization were drawing attention from both the U.S. and European public. In 1960, the U.S. Congress passed the first Clean Water Act and commissioned a two-year study on air pollution caused by automobiles. In Europe, the World Wildlife Fund was founded to pool limited resources to help conservation efforts. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) drew the attention of the American public to the use of pesticides.
Environmental issues were viewed as the purview of government regulatory bodies during this period. Solutions were seen in terms of lawsuits and fines by environmental bodies – NGOs and government agencies. A blazing oil slick on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio in 1969 served as a catalyst. Within three years, Congress had created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and had passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Ocean Dumping Act. Some of these laws were enacted over President Nixon’s veto.
The oil shock of 1973-1974 validated the concerns of the environmentalists but shifted the debate to inflation and economic stagnation. In the second Nixon administration, Watergate crowded out other concerns; although political movement on behalf of the environment was strong while the public’s attention was diverted.
The years of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s were punctuated with scary environmental news – the Love Canal toxic waste dump, the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, the Union Carbide chemical leak in Bhopal, India, and the Chernobyl nuclear-reactor explosion. In 1982, the U.N. passed the World Charter for Nature which recognized the need for international cooperation to protect nature. The U.S. vote against it was the only negative vote, with 111 countries in favor.
The Reagan Administration, especially in its first term, showed less interest in environmental issues than the Carter Administration. However, many environmental initiatives were passed by the Congress anyway. The “Low-Income/Sustainable Agriculture Program (LISA), passed in 1985, with the objective of reducing use of chemicals and increasing recycling. Two years later, the Bruntland Commission’s Our Common Future (1987) popularized the term “sustainable development.” Lack of legislative interest in the environment in the 1980’s encouraged growth of environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace, WWF, Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.
Case 3-1: The Earliest Corporate Environmental Reports
The first attempts by companies to report on environmental issues in the early 1970s were widely considered to be defensive PR efforts that did not necessarily reflect any commitment to disclosure or improvement on the company’s part. Many companies didn’t know what else to do. Those preparing the reports had few standards against which to measure themselves. Many corporate reports were labeled "green-wash" and "eco-pornography." An annual report of Potlatch Corporation showed a photo of a pristine lake with a caption that falsely implied that the lake was next to a Potlatch paper plant that had been cleaned up. On the other hand, a few corporations took some interesting initiatives. Abt & Associates, an independent research and consulting firm, made a serious effort to add a performance-based environmental report to its annual financial statements in 1972. The Abt report was detailed and innovative, but from today’s vantage point it seems odd that they called it a “social” report when it was about air and water pollution. Its financial auditor disclaimed any responsibility for the data on the basis that no standards had been introduced for such audits. It attempted to reduce everything to a dollar bottom line, a bold attempt that does not seem to have been emulated since. An article in the inaugural issue of Business and Society Review in 1972 suggested how International Paper could have and should have handled environmental issues in its annual report. An article published in The Journal of Accountancy soon afterwards suggested ways in which pollution could be accounted for separately with a model environmental report, and even provided a hypothetical Auditor's Opinion. This article gives a good feeling for the state of the art of pollution control and environmental reporting in 1973, and the idea – even then – that the future lay in the development of better standards and in the certification of corporate reports. Of five paper companies’ annual reports: “One provides no information at all to support its statement that it is doing its share of pollution control. “Two others cite overall expenditures on pollution control. However, a statement of expenditure by itself tells us nothing about how much of a job had to be done and how much pollution remained after it was completed. Expenditures are also misleading because they often refer to total costs of new equipment, … even though the equipment may serve other purposes (such as recycling of chemicals) besides pollution control. “The remaining two reports cite information on the legal status of a company’s plants, which is also better than rhetoric alone. … But regulations and enforcement vary widely among states… Compliance is therefore not a good … standard of performance.”
The article ends with a hypothetical summary table and a recommendation for a summary report:
The “report would be part of a longer narrative in which Ideal Paper would describe its spending on pollution control and the reasons for selecting one mill over another for earlier upgrading. The report would show the additional operating expenses attributable to the new equipment as well as the capital cost. The report would disclose governmental actions against the company and private law suits.”
The issues in 1973 were very similar to the issues in 2008. Corporations need credibility and that requires good reporting on what was called in 1973 pollution or emissions and in 2008 is called the carbon footprint. The difference is in the degree of sophistication achieved from 30 years of pioneering by some leading corporations as well as NGOs and governments.
The Green Wave started in 1988. The consumer movement sought information on whether products were safe, economical, reliable, honestly labeled, and not damaging to the environment. The Council on Economic Priorities issued Shopping for a Better World as a consumer version of its investor-oriented Rating America’s Corporate Conscience (Addison-Wesley, 1987); over several years the book sold a million copies. A key innovation in the first edition of Shopping for a Better World was that the ratings of large and small companies were translated to the product brands of these companies. The companies were rated on ten main categories of social concern, the tenth of which was Environmental Protection (more protection was rated better than less). Environmental ratings were based on the extent to which companies use recycling, their use of alternative energy sources, their handling of waste and their record of major regulatory violations. Harmful corporate practices were also noted, such as use of forest clearcutting, entrapment of dolphins by tuna nets or contribution to the greenhouse effect.
After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, a group of environmental leaders and corporate monitors (notably including public-employee pension funds) created the Valdez Principles. The group, based in Boston, called itself the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES, pronounced “series” and referencing Ceres, the Greek goddess of grain). The Valdez Principles was renamed the CERES Principles. The first Fortune 500 company to sign on was the Sun Company. The first U.S. steelmaker to endorse them was Bethlehem Steel. Now many companies have adopted the principles.Modeled on the Sullivan Principles, which were monitored by Arthur D. Little, the CERES Principles differ in that they are statements of intent with provision for internal annual self-evaluation but without external verification.
The Ten CERES Principles:
1.Protection of the Biosphere 2.Sustainable Use of Natural Resources 3.Reduction and Disposal of Wastes 4.Energy Conservation 5.Risk Reduction 6.Safe Products and Services 7.Environmental Restoration 8.Informing the Public 9.Management Commitment
10.Audits and Reports
The administration of President George H. W. Bush saw new concerns about the U.S. environment being despoiled. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union uncovered even worse environmental problems there. Global issuesincluded energy conservation, chemical use (such as CFC’s and ozone depletion), pollution control, and protection of wildlife, rainforests and old-growth forests.
During this period internal environmental audits became more common. The International Chamber of Commerce in 1989 viewed the internal environmental audit as a way of “(1) facilitating management and control of environmental practices and (2) assessing compliance with company policies, which includes meeting regulatory requirements.”
Although Ben & Jerry’s subjected itself to an external social auditor starting with in 1989 (reporting on the year 1988), this was a new idea. Companies improved their internal environmental auditing largely to stay out of trouble with the government. Corporate environmental standards were a response to regulatory requirements. Companies measured their efforts in the reduction of pollutants. In the early 1990’s, Dupont famously announced its goal of “Zero” meaning it sought to have zero injuries, illnesses, incidents, wastes and emissions.
But external verification of corporate environmental claims and management systems was slow to take hold. The International Standards Organization (ISO, the international association of national accreditation bodies) released the ISO 9000 series of quality management standards in 1987. Not until1996 did it extend these standards to the ISO 14000 series of environmental management system standards, which guides companies on how to manage their processes to guard against harmful environmental effects.
The Battle of Seattle began a new wave of activity centering on anti-globalization protests against the World Trade Organization. High-profile protests leveled charges of environmental pillage against the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, G8 and World Economic Forum. The U.S. government angered many global environmental leaders when early in the presidency of George W. Bush, it pulled out of the Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change. The U.S. Government also opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
At the same time, many corporations showed surprising initiative. As automakers were lobbying against the Kyoto Protocol, they were hedging their bets, working together to develop more efficient technologies such as hybrid vehicles. In a major shift for the oil industry, BP CEO Lord John Browne announced, “The time to consider the policy decisions of climate change is not when the link between greenhouse gases and climate change is conclusively proven, but when the possibility cannot be discounted by the society of which we are a part. We in BP have reached that point.” In 2006 a new CEO at ExxonMobil announced the company was undertaking new environmental programs.
Even Wal-Mart, which has resisted demands for better pay or benefits for its workers, has announced it will be adopting more environmentally friendly policies, noting that these policies would also save the company money. Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott said that his company will in future seek to be “a good steward for the environment,” ultimately using only renewable energy sources and producing zero waste. He added that many of the issues where the company had been on the defensive represented opportunities. Wal-Mart seeks to double the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet within 10 years, cut solid waste by 25 percent within 3 years, and invest $500 million per year in efficient-energy technologies.
Corporate attempts to link environmental responsibility to cost savings are helpful in rebuilding consensus. The environmental movement has been blamed for a breakdown in this consensus. “Modern environmentalism is no longer capable of dealing with the world’s most serious ecological crisis” [global warming] and “modern environmentalism, with all of its unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts and exhausted strategies, must die so that something new can live,” say Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, in “The Death of Environmentalism,” their September 2004 article based on research supported by the Cummings Foundation in New York City. They argue that the environmental community needs to reexamine its past failures to determine how it can best succeed in the future.
One possible direction for the future is continued voluntary action by corporations. The interesting development is that corporations are voluntarily submitting their processes to independent certification against environmental standards. The certifiers are firms accredited by environmental accreditation bodies. Consumers in turn use the certification as evidence that the company that it is buying from is behaving responsibly. The oldest standard-setting and certification bodies are the organic agriculture certification agencies, although the concept of certification agencies being accredited is new. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was originally a global association working on behalf of organic agriculture, and has become an accreditation agency. New-model accreditation agencies that have arisen in the 1990s are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for forest management, Geo Ecolabels Network (GEO) for environmental labels, the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) for fish in captivity, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for fish as food, and the Sustainability Agriculture Network (SAN) for sustainable agriculture. These agencies accredit certification bodies who certify according to the standards that have been established. Pioneers in environmental accreditation were the Forest Stewardship Council, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and the Dutch Max Havelaar Foundation, now better-known by its brand, FairTrade. Along with social responsibility groups (like Social Accountability International, discussed in Chapter 4), these groups have formed the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling, the ISEAL alliance. Prior to the formation of ISEAL, accreditation bodies were all national. This meant that multinational corporations have had to comply with standards that may differ widely among countries in which they do business. ISEAL’s membership in ISO was originally opposed by the International Auditing Federation board on the basis that ISEAL members were engaged in alternative activities such as accreditation of auditors against labor and environmental standards. But in 2006 it was clear at the IAF meetings in Rome that ISO was itself interested in labor and environmental standards and that the objection to ISEAL is that it is not comprised of governmental representatives. Ironically, ISEAL – although having its origins in NGOs – can make a stronger case for its efficiency than ISO or the IAF.
The UN 2002 Revision of the World Population Prospects projected the population in developed countries to grow by 0.25% annually but the population in less developed regions 1.46% annually, six times faster. Population grew 150 percent from 1950 to 2000, and is projected to grow another 45 percent by 2050. Technological progress has enabled the earth to support this many people, but access to food, clean water and other resources is limited for many.
Global Warming/Climate Change
Although global warming is an area of dispute, panels of scientists have concluded that average world temperature is rising and that human activity (especially the burning of fuel) is contributing to the trend. Climate change has occurred several times throughout the course of history. However, previous periods of warming have occurred over several thousands of years, enabling species to evolve and adapt to the new environment. This time, warming brought about by human activity rather than natural climatic changes has been more rapid. The effects have been evident in the increased number and severity of droughts, floods, storms, and other extreme weather conditions around the world in recent years. In addition, the oceans and seas are warming putting at risk many marine environments and creatures and melting glaciers are causing soil erosion and rising river and sea levels. At the same time, water tables are falling. Western U.S. states have engaged in non-violent “water wars” but potentially deadly struggles over water for drinking, agriculture and industry may be inevitable in several parts of the world, especially if climate change creates new deserts.
Overfishing and pollution have already significantly impacted marine-based industries. The East End of Long Island declared a moratorium on clamming and other shellfish harvesting; the so-called “Minimata disease” in Japan set off a wave of environmental laws passed by the “Pollution Diet.”
Forests are disappearing around the world, from redwoods in California to rainforests in Brazil and Indonesia. The consequences have been both species loss and serious erosion of valuable topsoil, reducing vibrant agricultural economies and displacing rural inhabitants.
A special problem occurs with the extraction industries. Mines and oil wells can be operate with different degrees of concern for the environment. In developing countries, multinational mining or oil companies can have a cosy relationship with the government in power and not show concern for the environment (or workers or people displaced by their activities – but this is a topic for Chapter 4). This has become a consumer issue. The diamond industry has been under pressure not to buy raw diamonds from areas where money from the diamonds has been used to buy weapons. No a “no dirty gold” campaign has been undertaken to encourage buyers of gold jewelry to pay attention to the provenance of the gold they buy and to shun gold from mines where the companies close their eyes to environmental (or human) abuse.
Waste disposal, sewage, chemical and oil releases, pesticide run-off and uncontrolled air emissions have caused damage to land, air, rivers and seas, in many cases rendering them dangerous to humans, animals and marine life. Most developed countries now have regulations in place to control toxic waste and are undertaking efforts to clean up the contaminated lands and rivers that already exist.
But in many parts of the world environmental regulations are not enacted or are not enforced. Because of the large costs often associated with complying with stringent regulations in the developed world, some companies have chosen to operate in countries where the regulations are weaker or to ship their wastes to these countries where disposal costs are significantly less. For example, huge volumes of electronic wastes, such as used computer equipment and monitors which contain toxic heavy metals, have been shipped from the United States to China and other developing nations such as India in recent years. The result has been that the rivers, air and land in many parts of southern China have become severely polluted, toxic to aquatic life and hazardous to the people who live there. Although the detrimental effects of mishandling electronic waste is known, cost-containment pressures have often overridden concern about pollution.
Environmental Responsibility and Sustainability
For businesses seeking to comply with laws and do more than the law requires, environmental stewardship means detailed examination of domestic operations and of the supply chain. It means complying with environmental regulations and voluntary standards; considering policies on reducing reliance on non-renewable fuels and using renewable resources wherever possible; replacing hazardous materials with less toxic inputs; instituting careful maintenance policies directed toward ensuring sustainability — such as recycling and re-circling (closed-loop technologies); and designing processes, products and services for sustainability. The issues and challenges vary widely by industry sector and geographic location.
A different perspective is held by businesses that feel they should be held responsible for doing more than the law requires – or more than the law enforces. From their point of view, it is the government’s job to enact and enforce laws to protect the environment.
Monsanto executives, for example, have argued their company is not responsible to anyone other that its shareholders. The company introduced a new Terminator seed that is genetically designed to render the seed of one year’s crop sterile, so that farmers using it cannot save the seed for use the following year and must purchase new seed every year. The problem with the seed is that it could prove to limit species diversity and create the potential for a blight to wipe out an entire species for a season. The seed could also have severe and devastating effects on farming practices around the world as its pollen could infect the crops of neighboring farms, rendering their seed sterile. Responding to these issues, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, said:“Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food…Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”
Other companies see benefits in addressing and limiting the environmental impact of their activities and in working towards more sustainable practices. The introduction, and increased adoption, of environmental standards has helped promote better practices, as companies are not only becoming certified against these standards themselves but are also requiring certification of their suppliers and customers. The following section highlights and discusses these standards and the trends in their use and adoption.
In May 2005, Tiffany & Co. and other sellers of diamond and gold jewelry came together to do something about the threats to their brands from the “conflict diamonds” and “No Dirty Gold” campaigns. Their goal was to create an industry-wide organization to promote responsible ethical, social and environmental practices throughout the diamond and gold jewelry supply chain. They formed the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices, which created a mission, membership and Statement of Principles. Their objective is to “maintaining consumer confidence in the diamond and gold jewelry supply chain.” The Council then recruited two activists and created a draft Code of Practices.
Discussion Question 3-2: Responsible Jewelry
1. If the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP) is an industry-wide mechanism for protecting jewelry brands, what is its major challenge? How would you summarize the Council’s strategy for addressing this challenge and how well is it being implemented so far?
2. What do you foresee as the Council’s main substantive challenges down the road, say in two years? What suggestions would you give to the Council to address these problems?
An issue for corporations as well as their stakeholders is the variety of different principles and standards that are available in the marketplace. The first Sustainable Development Principles were the CERES principles that developed from the Valdez Principles in 1989. The UN Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 generated another set of conventions. In 1996, ISO developed and released its standard for Environmental Management Systems, a framework for use by an organization to control the environmental impact of its activities, products and services, and to continually improve its environmental performance. The Kyoto Protocol, generated in 1997, is a treaty that, like the League of Nations, the United States worked on but never signed. The annual “State of the World” reports published by The Worldwatch Institute and as well as the U.N. Global Compact programs generate additional benchmarks.
Environmental standards are more specific guidelines that indicate what sustainability means in different industries and locations. Various corporate standards, some industry or geographically specific while others more general and applicable to any industry in any area, have been pioneered by various groups. Some of the first standards developed were (links to the organizations’ websites appear at the end of this chapter):
EMAS: Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, a European environmental standard, somewhat stricter and more transparent than ISO 14000.
IFOAM: The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements has harmonized many of the long-standing organic farming standards.
ISO 14000: The International Organization for Standardization developed the global environmental management system standard, ISO 14000, an extension of the quality standard ISO 9000 Quality Standard.
MAC: Marine Aquarium Council standard, for harvesting, transport and sale of tropical fish.
MSC : Marine Stewardship Council standard for sustainable fisheries.
The Forest Stewardship Council: A sustainable timber management standard.
These organizations and their standards and verification processes are discussed in more detail under “Areas of Accreditation” later in this section.
Many organizations issue Ecolabels to designate to the consumer that a corporation is certified by the organization. Examples of Ecolabels include Nordic Seal, Blue Angel (German), Green Seal (U.S.), and GEN which is an international association of Ecolabels. While labels have been created to help corporations market products based on their environmental benefits, the public remains confused on what exactly those labels represent. Many corporations also issue reports highlighting their environmental performance but, as discussed previously in this chapter, these reports often omit critical information needed to fully evaluate the information reported.
Transparency means clearly stated and readily understandable reports that relate to measurable outcomes. Well-chosen indicators (standards) and third-party verification can provide assurance that elaborate graphics and expensive public relations may not. Effective measurement and communication of a company’s commitment and performance have become key components of successful social accountability. Stakeholders no longer simply trust company claims. They demand evidence, transparency and verification. This leads to the need for third-party verification, with the “environmental report” becoming, or being certified by, an “environmental audit.”
To verify corporate environmental claims, environmental certification systems were developed in the 1990s. These systems provided for organizations to be accredited by accreditation agencies (usually the agency or organization which developed the standards to be certified), to verify and certify to their standards or guidelines. The accredited organizations, mostly NGOs and consulting firms, could then audit companies and issue certificates to those who complied with the standards set for the by the accreditation body.
The Rainforest Alliance was one of the first accredited organizations (accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council) to certify responsible rainforest management. It then extended its reach to include sustainable agriculture and is now working to develop standards for certifying ecotourism agencies’ environmentally friendly tourism practices.
Standards, Certification and Reporting are discussed further in Chapter 5 of this text. Some of the key environmental standards and their respective certification and accreditation bodies are discussed below by industry or focus.
The problem of clear-cutting and deforestation was one of the criteria against which Shopping for a Better World evaluated corporations in its first (1988) edition. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has established Principles and Criteria (P&C) that are the basis for ten “generic guidelines” for certifying lumber and pulpwood companies and their buyers as complying with Natural Forest Management. These guidelines are used as standards for certifying companies and their products. FSC accredits the Rainforest Alliance SmartWood certification program.
The scope of the ten FSC guidelines may be seen from their titles (details may be found on the FSC website):
National Envelope has become the first envelope company in the United States to be certified to FSC standards. To qualify for the FSC mark, the company had to demonstrate that the paper vendors supplying National Envelope were adhering to the FSC standards in their acquisition of wood. This required careful attention to the provenance of all National Envelope’s paper and an investigation into the practices of the suppliers of paper.
National Envelope now includes the FSC mark on envelopes sold to customers who are likely to recognize and approve of the social commitment and environmental stewardship represented by the seal. National Envelope is featured on the FSC web site.
Discussion Question for Case 3.3
What do you think it cost National Envelope to comply with the FSC standards?
What benefits to the National Envelope brand have followed, do you think?
The certification process for organic agriculture is decades old, but accreditation of certification bodies is something new. A large group of organizations, either national or regional, have been in the business of certifying farms and their produce for growing their produce in an “organic” way, essentially without high-concentration chemical pesticides. In the case of organic livestock breeding, “organic” means breeding without hormones or other unnatural breeding methods. Examples of certification bodies in North America are the California Certified Organic Farmers, Canadian Organic Growers, Demeter Association (Bio-Dynamic Farming), Farm Verified Organic, Florida Organic Growers, the Natural Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), Oregon Tilth, Organic Crop Improvement Association, Washington Tilth.
Two states have been in the forefront of creating organic food standards – California and Texas. The certification bodies have lobbied for state laws as a fast track toward moving agriculture in the direction they believe it should go. Vermont passed an organic food law that delegates monitoring to the Vermont NOFA.
The international accreditation body is the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which is a member, as previously discussed, of ISEAL. The U.S.-Canadian affiliate of IFOAM is the Organic Foods Production Association of North America. A difficulty being faced by IFOAM is its role in a world where (mostly less-strict) government organic standards are being created. Is the public becoming confused about which standards to pay attention to? Do government standards harmonize or conflict with existing voluntary standards?
The Marine Stewardship Council promotes responsible and sustainable fishing practices. Their intent is to recognize, through certification, well-managed fisheries and to promote the MSC label in order to make consumers aware of, and develop a preference for, responsibly harvested seafood products.
The MSC Principles and Criteria (P&Cs), which were developed through extensive and international consultation between various stakeholders, acknowledge the basis for sustainable fishing including:
•The maintenance and re-establishment of healthy populations of targeted species;
•The maintenance of the integrity of ecosystems;
•The development and maintenance of effective fisheries management systems, taking into account all relevant biological, technological, economic, social, environmental and commercial aspects; and
•Compliance with relevant local and national local laws and standards and international understandings and agreements
The Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) is an international, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve coral reefs and other marine ecosystems by creating standards and certification for those engaged in the collection and care of ornamental marine life such as marine aquarium animal collectors, exporters, importers, retailers, and aquarium keepers or public aquariums.
MAC has developed three MAC Core Standards which cover the “reef to retail” supply chain and outline the requirements for third-party certification of quality and sustainability. The Core Standards are accompanied by Best Practice Guidance documents to assist industry operators in complying with the standards. The Core Standards are:
•The Ecosystem and Fishery Management (EFM) Core Standard •The Collection, Fishing and Holding (CFH) Core Standard, and
•The Handling, Husbandry and Transport Core Standard
The MAC Full Standards, which are under development, will also include standards for mariculture and aquaculture.
General Industry Environmental Management System Standard, ISO 14000
ISO 14000 is a family of standards which provide a company with a structure for environmental compliance management in order to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities, products and services, and to achieve continual improvement of its environmental performance. The family is divided into six main categories: Environmental Management Systems (EMSs), Auditing, Labeling, Performance Evaluations, Life Cycle Assessment, and Environmental Aspects of Product Standards. The main standard to which organizations can become certified is ISO 14001, Environmental Management Systems, Specification with Guidance for Use. The other standards are more like guidelines, designed to assist organizations set up, audit, and improve their environmental management systems. ISO itself does not carry out certification but rather works with accreditation bodies in a number of countries and the accreditation bodies in turn accredit assessment bodies to perform the verification and certification.
ISO 14000 is neither industry- nor product-specific and is designed to be flexible enough to be applied to any sized organization. In November 2004, ISO published a revised and improved version of the ISO 14001 and 14004 standards to make it easier for more organizations to adopt the standard. Being an internationally recognized standard, ISO 14000 has enabled multinational organizations to implement a single environmental management system wherever they operate. The number of organizations gaining certification has grown steadily. According to ISO, “up to the end of December 2003, at least 66,070 certificates to ISO 14001:1996 had been issued in 113 countries and economies, over 34% more than the previous year and the largest annual increase so far recorded by The ISO Survey.” As more organizations become certified, they in turn are requiring certification from their suppliers. The business case for adoption of this standard is to streamline and simplify environmental management, increasing efficiencies and creating new opportunities for organizations being recognized as good environmental citizens and leaders. Increasingly it is becoming a requirement of doing business rather than a competitive advantage.
Corporate-Brand Benefits and Costs of Certification
Environmental certification strengthens the corporate brand by providing a contributing element of environmental stewardship, providing a competitive edge in appealing to clients or consumers. Benefits can be quantified by identifying potential environmental risks that are reduced, improved access to financing and insurance, and cost savings from reduced resource use, waste disposal and waste treatment. Companies may also benefit from government incentives. Costs of certification include the need for consultants, internal coordination and staff time to track and document various indicators. Time is also required to meet with stakeholder groups and NGOs and to develop and disseminate communications materials. Once standards are set and expectations are made, additional expenses may be needed to make improvements to infrastructure (such as energy and water saving equipment) or to train employees in new procedures. Intel’s 2002 report is not unusual in claiming that “for many companies seeking ISO 14001 international environmental management certification, the effort can easily last a year and a half and cost $100,000 per factory.” But Intel reported that “within eight months, Intel had successfully certified all of its semiconductor manufacturing facilities at a total cost of $60,000.” The result in many cases can mean significant long-term cost-savings. Chartered Semiconductor was able to realize major savings from implementing ISO-14001 guidelines. They used less energy, water and raw materials, and produced less waste. “In the past six months alone, [Chartered's] cost savings have amounted to nearly US $1.2 million by using reclaimed test wafers, recycling materials, and conserving water.” A report prepared for the Rainforest Alliance by a Columbia University team in 2004 concluded: “Interviews with executives from Rainforest Alliance partners support the assertion that businesses achieve financial benefits through participation in certification programs. Secondary research further supports the achievement of such benefits. Benefits cited include: • Improved corporate reputation and positive brand impact • Strong corporate governance • Improved regulatory relationships • Risk mitigation and management ....... o Crisis avoidance ....... o Defense of existing markets ....... o Reduced risk of business disruption • Managing food safety risks • Competitive advantage • Access to new markets • Cost reductions ....... o Reduced employee turnover ....... o Lower chemical application costs/lower risk associated with chemical use ....... o Savings realized through reductions in water and electricity use and implementation of recycling programs ....... o Lower insurance premiums ....... o Reduced cost of capital Some of these benefits are quantifiable and generate immediate measurable impact on financial performance. Others are more difficult to quantify and support longer term impact on financial performance.”
Many of the organizations mentioned above issue labels to those companies or products that gain certification under their programs in order to both promote the standards, thus encouraging the demand and supply of these products, and to acknowledge the achievements of the organizations. Green Seal is a non-profit organization that issues a “Green Seal” to products that have been shown to have a lesser impact on the environment but which still perform well. The Seal can provide a competitive marketing advantage to the company receiving it since it provides an independent, third-party acknowledgement that the product is more environmentally friendly. Green Seal follows the ISO 14024 standard for environmental labeling when setting standards for different products and determining if a product should be awarded the Green Seal.
Several organizations concerned with environmental labeling have joined the previously mentioned ISEAL Alliance. ISEAL supports the development of labeling standards to increase efficiency and reduce overlap. ISEAL advocates on behalf of the members and helps provide legitimacy to their programs. Through the establishment of objective criteria for how standards are set (Code of Good Practice) and through direct capacity-building of members to meet those criteria, ISEAL is improving the quality of the standard-setting process. In addition, ISEAL members strive for performance standards that are more easily understood and measured, and that are consistent across different certification programs.
Chiquita features its corporate responsibility program on the home page of its web site. “Our global business strategy,” it says, “commits us to operate in a socially responsible way everywhere we do business, fairly balancing the needs and concerns of our various stakeholders - all those who impact, are impacted by, or have a legitimate interest in the Company's actions and performance. A comprehensive assessment of our environmental, social and financial performance, focusing on our banana sourcing operations in Latin America, is available in our corporate responsibility reports…Our Core Values provide the foundation for Chiquita's business conduct, in every location in which we operate around the world. Our Core Values are translated into action through our Company's Code of Conduct, which establishes clear standards for behavior that is ethical, legal, socially responsible, and in accordance with Company policy. Both our Core Values and Code of Conduct are available online… “Chiquita's commitment to the environment is also reflected in our having achieved 100% certification of our owned farms to the environmental and social standards of the Rainforest Alliance, the international standard for environmental protection and for worker health and safety in our banana farms. “Chiquita is also a member of the UK-based Ethical Trading Initiative. The ETI is a unique alliance of companies, nongovernmental organizations and labor unions working together to advance good practice in business ethics, corporate responsibility and human rights.”
To gain better access to European markets, where retailers are highly conscious of consumer sentiment in favor of producers engaging in environmentally sound agricultural practices, Chiquita has co-branded with the Rainforest Alliance. A highly effective television ad campaign was prepared with an amusing Rainforest Frog jumping around a star-shaped banana peel.
Discussion Question 3-4
1.Go to Chiquita’s 2002 (or later) corporate responsibility report and read the environmental section covering Latin American banana plantations. In 250 words, comment on whether and why you think it convinces the banana consumer that the company is treating the environment well.
2.What recommendation would you make for the next Chiquita environmental report?
On January 1, 2005 the European market was opened up to more banana imports. In 2006 the Common Market Organisation (CMO, founded 1993) that regulates aid to European banana producers was given an independent evaluation. The steering group presented four options to a meeting with banana companies:
“Decoupling”: supposes that aid to banana producers will be integrated into the decoupled single payment scheme introduced by the last CAP reform.
“Memorandum” option, close to that tabled by the Member State banana producers.
“POSEI”: envisages that banana CMO funds will be transferred to the POSEI program established to support agriculture in the outermost regions of the Union.
The group is also studying various aspects of the banana production chain in the outermost regions, the influence of commercial chains on supply and competition on the European market, how to improve the impact banana production has on the environment, and the outlook for organic and fair-trade bananas, as well as the potential for synergies between European and ACP banana producers and how they can be built.
Discussion Question for Case 3-5
What are the implications for corporate brands of the organic, fairtrade and environmental issues in Europe? Prepare a 250-word comment for European policy-makers from the perspective of a Chiquita or Dole executive who has been working on these issues for the past few years.
 The SustainAbility analysis was in its Media Report, February 2002, following an earlier exercise in 1995 when the company predicted a third wave of sustainability issues.
 When public attention moves on, corporate and political initiatives are often easier, says Good News & Bad: The Media, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development, jointly produced by SustainAbility Ltd, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ketchum, 2002.
 In 2007, this objective is being pursued by alonovo, which is working with Amazon to bring information on the social responsibility of corporations and their brands to the point at which consumers make their decisions, which in theory makes the information more useful than the information in book form.
 Rainforest Alliance also certifies in other areas without accreditation and itself accredits other certification bodies. ISO Standard 61 for accreditation agencies requires that this function be free of conflict of interest and this is increasingly interpreted as requiring separation of accreditation from certification and standard-setting.
 Rainforest Alliance, “Profiles in Sustainable Development Partnerships,” September 2001. The Rainforest Alliance worked through the Sustainable Agriculture Network.
“Economic Benefits of Certification Programs: Producers, Resellers and End Consumers,” prepared for the Rainforest Alliance in June 2004, a project for the Workshop of the Economics, Management and Finance of Environmental Conservation Track, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University.