World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 06 January 2022
  • Author: Susan McCarthy and Lorin Hancock

For the first time we, the editors of Sustainability Works, want to step out from behind the curtain and talk a little about some of the incredible content we’ve had the pleasure to work on this past year.

As every other year-end wrap up has noted, 2021 was… a challenge. But one thing we are truly grateful for is the fact that environmental sustainability hasn’t fallen off the radar. In fact, it feels like this topic is more top-of-mind than ever before. As the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation are felt more and more each day, there’s plenty to be concerned about and it’s easy to get discouraged. Therefore, it’s a relief to us—and hopefully you as well—to be able to discuss some of the solutions on this blog. We are truly seeing remarkable action from all sectors, with strong leaders emerging to help tackle our greatest challenges.

Here are a few of our favorite posts from 2021:

Continue reading
  • Date: 20 December 2021
  • Author: Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement, WWF

With 2021 coming to a close, I want to reflect on the conservation impact we’ve made throughout the year. Thanks to our supporters and partners in conservation, we’ve turned another unprecedented and challenging year into one fueled with progress toward a more sustainable world.

Scroll through the photos below to see just a few of our successes in 2021:

Continue reading
  • Date: 16 December 2021
  • Author: Amy Smith, Director, Forests, Sustainable Natural Rubber, WWF

Major commodity sectors, such as palm oil and pulp and paper, have been tackling sustainability and deforestation challenges for decades. The natural rubber sector is newer to the sustainability race. It only started addressing these issues over the last five years.

Despite the opportunity to learn from other sectors, the natural rubber sector still lags far behind in supply chain transparency and sustainability. While there’s been some recent progress, we are calling on industry leaders to fully join the race. They must disclose where their rubber comes from and the conditions under which it’s produced.

Continue reading
  • Date: 10 December 2021
  • Author: Jason Clay, SVP, Markets & Executive Director, WWF Markets Institute

The elephants in the room these days appear to be credible traceability and transparency. Downstream buyers want to know more and more about where and how their food is produced. To date, this has generally been left to food manufacturers and government agencies to ensure, but in the age of social media and infinite cloud-based information that’s changing.

Companies can no longer set up their own verification programs and expect them to be considered credible. ‘Trust but verify’ is increasingly the norm—and for good reason. The more we find out about global supply chains the less comfortable we are. Most companies are relatively good about knowing their direct suppliers, but it’s clear the trust and expectations can’t be extended further upstream. A piece this week on açaí illustrates the point—companies cannot depend on certification programs to credibly verify conditions of isolated producers. And where there is chatter on social media about problems, companies cannot hide behind systems, they need data. Much can be done to fix this issue, some listed below, but it will be interesting to see what exporters actually do.

To be clear, the goal is not de-commodifying the trade of all food products. That would create chaos. The goal is to maintain the efficiency of the commodity trading system but to add additional data about where and how it was produced. Changing the rules about commodities is not uncommon—the color of #2 “yellow” corn was not officially agreed upon until the late 1960s, and GMO-free commodities are traded to the EU where the market requires that information. So, the system is flexible enough to change and robust enough to incorporate new data.

Still, it’s surprising that systems to eliminate slave, bonded, and child labor, as well as deforestation and other habitat and biodiversity loss and GHG impacts, are so prevalent in supply chains, but apparently are not always working. Traders have said that rules of commodity trading should be left to them, but to date, they have been unwilling or at least unable to address these issues. With regard to labor abuses, we have seen governments (e.g., the US and EU) take much tougher positions for anyone who touches a product produced with illegal labor (with the notable exception of illegal farmworkers in the US). We have not seen the same response for key environmental impacts—though countries are in discussions about deforestation. Perhaps the way to address that is for everyone who touches products with embedded GHG emissions to “own” those emissions until they are mitigated. That would speed up change. Think about it.

This post is an excerpt from the WWF Markets Institute's Rethink Food weekly newsletter containing analysis of emerging issues and commentary on recent news stories. Subscribe here.

  • Date: 08 December 2021
  • Author: Erin Simon, Head of Plastic Waste and Business

Transparency is a critical piece to any corporate sustainability journey, as it raises the bar for accountability which in turn accelerates action. And for the plastic waste crisis, when corporate transparency is paired with cross-sector collaboration, we break down silos and unlock access to new data that sheds light into where and how companies can make the most impact on plastic pollution.

That’s why in 2019, WWF set out to find a way to expand transparency around plastic waste by launching ReSource: Plastic to ask – how can companies really make a difference on plastic waste? With the release of Transparent 2021, our second annual report from the ReSource program, we’re starting to be able to answer that question and it’s helping us fill in that “how” gap.

Continue reading
  • Date: 23 November 2021
  • Author: Melissa D. Ho, Senior Vice President, Fresh Water and Food, WWF

“When will leaders lead?” Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados asked on the opening day of COP 26. As this “Super Year” of global events, including the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of Parties (COP), and the Climate COP 26, concludes, I ask myself, did leaders lead?

Continue reading
  • Date: 23 November 2021
  • Author: Alex Nichols-Vinueza, Program Manager, Food Loss and Waste

For most of us, Thanksgiving is all about the food. And for those looking to have a more environmentally-friendly Thanksgiving this year, the number one thing we can do is take steps to value the food we’re serving. This starts with us recognizing all of the resources that go into producing our Thanksgiving meal (long before we purchase our ingredients at the supermarket), and it ends with us doing our part to make sure none of it goes to waste.

Continue reading
  • Date: 17 November 2021

Can plastic made from plants solve the plastic pollution crisis? The answer is no, not exactly; but, plant-based plastic (also known as bio-based plastic or bioplastic) will play a role in charting a path towards circularity.

Plastic production and pollution have been growing for decades, with lasting impacts to ecosystems around the world, with no end in sight unless we change course today. Fortunately, we can, by transforming our broken linear systems into circular ones. This will require a multi-faceted approach, including a combination of strategies focused on plastic reduction, reuse, and recycling. One of the key outcomes we'll need to see is the shift away from fossil-based plastic which has been a key feature of the take-make-waste linear economy fueling the environmental crisis today.

Currently, 99% of new plastic is made from fossil fuels, meaning the plastic that we use today starts trashing our planet long before it becomes trash. From the moment they’re made, these conventional plastics are contributing to climate change, degrading habitats, and threatening communities around the world.

But, even the most functional of circular economies will still require some new plastic to meet our most critical needs, like keeping our foods fresh and our medications safe.

The good news is that there is a better path forward. Sustainable inputs – primarily, post-consumer recycled content and responsibly sourced plant-based plastic – will power circular economies. They can supply the material we need, but without relying on fossil fuels to produce new (or virgin) plastic. A strong supply of post-consumer recycled plastic in combination with responsibly sourced plant-based plastic, means we will no longer need to rely on fossil fuels to meet our remaining need for new plastic.

Plastic made from seaweed, sugar beets, or other plants can be an important part of the solution.

However, not all plant-based plastic is good for the environment. In order to serve as a truly sustainable alternative, the material must be thoughtfully designed to build environmental, social, and economic resilience across ecosystems and communities. WWF convenes the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, a multi-stakeholder working group formed by some of the world's leading companies to advance knowledge of bioplastics and their potential social and environmental impacts. The BFA has developed a shared sustainability assessment for plant-based plastics to help actors make thoughtful decisions about biobased plastic sourcing, and drive change at scale.

Responsibly sourced plant-based plastic must also look beyond the benefits at the point of sourcing, to consider what will happen to the plant-based plastic after it has been used. Waste management practices, including collection, recycling, and composting, must be in place to ensure that this type of plastic can be effectively recovered and recirculated through the plastic system, and not end up as waste.

WWF continues to lead the charge to help reimagine how we source, design, and reuse the plastic materials communities most depend upon. Plant-based plastics represent an opportunity to reduce the negative impacts associated with the traditional sourcing of plastic from fossil fuels, and perhaps even contribute to the local economies, ecosystems, and resilience of communities in which they're grown. But plant-based or fossil-based, plastic has no place in nature.

For more information, visit the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance website here or check out WWF's Position on Biobased and Biodegradable Plastic.

  • Date: 28 October 2021
  • Author: Martha Kauffman, Vice President, WWF’s Northern Great Plains Program

It is impossible to gain a real understanding of a grassland until you’ve spent a great deal of time in one, watching, listening, and returning time and again to observe seasonal changes, or how the rise and fall of moisture influences wildlife and wildflower blooms. The first lesson that we’re often taught is just how deeply complicated these ecosystems are.

Continue reading
  • Date: 26 October 2021
  • Author: Linda Walker, Senior Director, Corporate Engagement, Forests

Today, HP announced an $80 million expansion of its forest conservation partnership with WWF to help restore, protect, and improve the management of nearly 1 million acres of forest around the world by 2030. With this next step in our decades-long relationship, HP now becomes WWF’s largest U.S. corporate partner.

There is an urgent need for business leaders to set and implement rigorous nature and climate targets and to meet them by investing in high-integrity nature-based solutions that put people and communities at the center. This move from HP raises the bar for what leadership looks like for corporate climate and nature commitments. As part of the company’s sustainability and climate strategy, HP is pledging to address the downstream impacts of its business on nature by taking action for forests at a level that considers all the paper that runs through its printers and print services by 2030, even if it’s not HP branded.

Continue reading

Archive