World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

Better business for a better Earth

At World Wildlife Fund, we believe deeply in the private sector’s ability to drive positive environmental change. WWF Sustainability Works is a forum for discussion around strategies, commitments, technologies and more that will help businesses achieve conservation goals that are good for the planet and their bottom lines. Follow WWF Sustainability Works on twitter at @WWFBetterBiz.

  • Date: 10 March 2024
  • Author: Ellen Dierenfeld, Lead Specialist, Sustainable Feed Innovation

Many years and another lifetime ago, I headed up the Department of Wildlife Nutrition for the St. Louis Zoo. One day I received a call from the head of a group called “Carpbusters,” who organized bow and fishing tournaments throughout the region to rid the rivers of invasive carp. Sportsmen paid fees to join the festivities, enjoyed their luck with feisty fish, and were awarded prizes for various categories of daily catch.

The lack of a proper outlet for the extracted fish, however, bothered the leaders of this conservation effort as thousands of pounds of high-quality protein rotted on the riverbanks after each weekend. Would the zoo be able to utilize carp for feeding fish-eating species? was the query. They could be delivered fresh and intact, as a free donation.

It was an excellent idea. As with most animal operations, feed costs comprised the largest portion of management, and the annual fish budget was high. If we could make a dent in the budget for feeding endangered species, while at the same time contributing to eradication of invasive species that threatened natives and their habitats, it would be a win-win for conservation.

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  • Date: 08 March 2024

Friday March 8th marks International Women’s Day, and we celebrate the many women in conservation whose contributions make WWF’s work possible. Achieving lasting impacts in sustainability requires diversity in ideas, backgrounds, and disciplines. From scientists to marketing experts, the women of WWF bring an array of perspectives and talents. We invite you to take a few minutes to watch some of our most recent video highlights featuring WWF women in sustainability.

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  • Date: 06 March 2024
  • Author: Danny Miller, Lead Specialist, Aquaculture, WWF

You are what you eat – or, more precisely, you are what you’re eating has eaten. Corn, for example, is so present in the diet and processing of the cows, chickens, and other animals eaten by Americans that the author Michael Pollan, in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” quotes one researcher who calls us “corn chips with legs.”

For companies that produce animal proteins – the beef, fish, and fowl that make up so much of our dinner menus – knowing what is in animal feed is a key to knowing whether their animals are getting the right nutrients.

But there’s a surprising little secret in that world: most livestock and aquaculture producers don’t know the sources, much less the practices, associated with the production of ingredients in the feed that they give their animals.

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  • Date: 05 March 2024

In celebration of the newest film in the action-comedy franchise, Kung Fu Panda 4, WWF has teamed up with DreamWorks Animation to raise awareness about the plight of wildlife. The film features animated versions of real animals like giant pandas, snow leopards, red pandas, and pangolins – all species that play a critical role in keeping ecosystems healthy.

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  • Date: 15 February 2024
  • Author: Madalen Howard, WWF

Freshwater fish, often overlooked in conservation initiatives, are essential components of aquatic ecosystems. Despite their vital roles in maintaining biodiversity and supporting human livelihoods, they remain marginalized in the realm of conservation. This oversight is evident in the lack of representation of freshwater migratory species in protective measures.

Currently underway in Uzbekistan, the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) brings together nations, conservation organizations, and experts to address the pressing issues facing migratory species worldwide. One of the most significant highlights of this conference is the release of the inaugural authoritative report on the Status of the World’s Migratory Species, which paints a stark picture of the challenges migratory animals are facing.

Regrettably, its key findings are sobering:

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  • Date: 12 February 2024
  • Author: Sam Wildman, Senior Program Officer, Animal Ag Systems

The US Round Table for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs (US-RSPE) gathered 65 industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders in November 2023 for their annual meeting. This pivotal conference aimed to propel the sector’s sustainability efforts by addressing critical issues within the poultry and egg supply chains and creating a collaborative atmosphere for workshopping shared challenges.

In 2018, WWF was a founding member of the US-RSPE, in part because of the need to encourage market transformation towards sustainable intensification and the need for continuous improvement at speed and scale yet seen. The roundtable has evolved to not only be the thought leader on the sector’s continuous improvement, but to be a space for leaders to collaborate and advance action on shared challenges across the pillars of people, planet, and poultry.

The meeting encouraged and facilitated rich discussion across all three pillars of poultry and egg sustainability – people, planet, and poultry. Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation shared his optimistic perspective of the industry’s progress and opportunities, followed by timely discussions on how to advance the impact each organization has associated with biosecurity and bird health, effective workforce development strategies, and poultry feed sustainability.

Executive Director of US-RSPE, Ryan Bennett, expressed enthusiasm about the outcomes of the meeting, stating, "November was a chance for us to provide the resources and knowledge for the poultry sector to go into 2024 ready to support and change the conversation about poultry sustainability."

The meeting served as a platform to set the course for the organization's growth with the release of a new strategic plan, building on the success of the member-driven metrics framework and its impact on the poultry and egg sector.

A significant achievement highlighted at the conference was the current progress on the Roundtable Framework Tool, the first-ever sustainability assessment tool designed specifically for the poultry and egg industry. With a year of implementation behind them and having met past strategic objectives, US-RSPE is aiming to scale further, supporting the sector's growth and sustainability.

As the Framework continues to be a game changer, Bennett emphasized the organization's commitment to increasing awareness and expanding support to drive positive change within the industry. The US-RSPE annual meeting has proven to be essential for those dedicated to advancing sustainable practices within the poultry and egg sector.

  • Date: 12 February 2024
  • Author: Pete Pearson, Senior Director, Food Loss & Waste

This is a call to all those scrambling to finish their strategies for the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants. Commonly known as CPRG, this EPA program will soon provide $4.6 billion to states, local governments, tribes, and territories to build and unleash ambitious plans for slashing greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollution.

No doubt cities and states nationwide are working in overdrive to drop their Priority Climate Action Plans, or PCAPs, by March 1, gearing up for competitive funding to bring their initiatives to life. Last December, NRDC published a call for action, making a case that adding food waste projects will make the CPRG applications more competitive. Already leading the charge are Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oregon, throwing down the gauntlet with food waste in their playbook. New Jersey held extensive workshops and community building sessions that looked at food waste.

These climate action blueprints are going to be important. Every state and city must tackle food waste. With CPRG grants in play, there’s a rare opportunity for action since waste systems are controlled by city and state governments and typically require policy and government funding to fix. The proposals must show real climate impact and scalability.

Unfortunately, many climate proposals still fail to address the crisis of food waste, the single largest item in trash. In the US alone, growing food that is wasted generates 170 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to those of 42 coal-fired power plants. And that’s not even counting methane emissions from food waste rotting in landfills. Landfills rank third in US methane emissions. Global agriculture devours 40% of the world’s land and 70% of its freshwater and emits one third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But food waste is more than an environmental issue. World Wildlife Fund estimates that 40% of the world’s food is either lost on farms or tossed away in restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and home kitchens while 780 million of us go to bed hungry. We must revolutionize our food systems to feed more people without wrecking the planet. Cutting down on food waste can be a powerhouse for slashing methane, supporting farmers, and boosting local communities.

Thankfully, there are coalitions and state toolkits available today that can be adapted and scaled. For example, California’s Senate Bill 1383 sets methane reduction targets by curbing disposal of organic waste in landfills. It aims to ensure that edible food is recovered, food scraps are composted, compost is purchased by cities, and that inedible food can be used for industries and animal feed.

Climate action plans aren't one-size-fits-all. What works in one state might not cut it in another. But the silver lining lies in the fact that as cities and states work to address food waste, they can tap into a shared treasure trove of best practices and amplify solutions.

So last call. If your PCAP isn’t shouting “Food Waste!” I suggest you add it immediately. Of course, things like energy and transportation are important, but the picture isn’t complete without regenerative and waste-free food systems.

Pete Pearson is senior director of food waste at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, D.C., where WWF works together with the Zero Food Waste Coalition.

  • Date: 07 February 2024

For our Rising Stars series, we're featuring the next generation of leaders who are working toward a more sustainable world. We recently spoke with Jess Zeuner, a Program Specialist on the Plastic & Material Science team at World Wildlife Fund to learn about her role, her inspiration, and advice for those new to the field.

Jess blog

Jess Zeuner, outside WWF's headquarters

Describe your role for your company and what a typical day looks like.

As a Program Specialist on the Plastic & Material Science team at World Wildlife Fund, I support programs and partnerships that advance WWF’s vision of No Plastic in Nature by 2030. A typical day in my role includes collaborating with my colleagues on several projects and planning for upcoming events and workshops to engage stakeholders from across the plastics value chain. I’ve been with WWF for four years now and each day I am challenged to learn and grow in a dynamic environment, and I think that’s the best type of role a young professional could ask for.

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  • Date: 05 February 2024

The black-footed ferret is one of North America’s most endangered mammals, with only around 390 individuals left in the wild. One of the main threats to ferrets is sylvatic plague, a non-native disease against which they have no natural defenses. There is an effective vaccine – but getting it to individual ferrets is much more complex than it sounds.

The black-footed ferret is a mostly nocturnal species which makes its home in prairie dog burrows—the ferret’s primary food source. And with so few individuals spread out across such a large area, locating them is a daunting task. Technological limitations have also been challenging: the equipment used to locate ferrets and power vaccination equipment typically runs on loud, polluting gas generators, which can scare the creatures away.

Thankfully, sustainable technology solutions are catching up to these problems and bringing black-footed conservation into the 21st century. WWF has recently partnered with Jackery to provide a more ecologically friendly method for powering ferret detection and protection equipment. Check out the video below to watch a WWF expert in action during a recent ferret survey and vaccination expedition, implementing these new high-tech solutions like solar generators, drones, and thermal cameras:

  • Date: 01 February 2024
  • Author: Judith Hochhauser Schneider

All those bottles on beaches, fashion garments in landfills, and obsolete tech devices in dumps or incinerators, didn’t have to meet this fate. They became trash because a plan wasn’t put in place at the beginning of the product lifecycle to recapture the waste and use it to make new products and materials. That’s the basic premise of a circular economy. And it takes responding to external factors, collaborating internally, and coordinating across the entire supply chain to accomplish it well.

Having worked at WWF for over eight years leading large corporate partnerships, I saw that the most sustainable companies didn’t have the biggest sustainability teams. On the contrary, these brands effectively embedded sustainability strategy, and personnel, into each functional area: marketing, supply chain, finance, etc. This is an evolution from the often grassroots, isolated sustainability teams of years prior. The strongest companies strive to meet consumers where they are, satisfy shareholders, hold one another accountable, and meet government compliance rules.

As we think about creating a truly circular economy, the level of complexity increases as do calls for new ways to work together to drive change. Internal and external coordination must be ratcheted up. There is no room for siloed thinking; change requires a systems-thinking approach to understand the interdependencies within and outside of an organization. Additional tools are needed, especially in a rapidly changing landscape with circularity expectations from regulators, shareholders, and consumers.

Governments

One significant shift currently underway involves the ways that governments are tackling one of the major challenges in circularity: plastic waste.

Governments at the local, state, and national levels are addressing plastic waste in different ways. Perhaps most significant is the Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution, which is establishing a set of legally binding global agreements that delineate the steps and timelines necessary to change the production and consumption of plastics. Along with domestic and state legislation, initiatives like this will lead to regulatory measures. Encouraging creative thinking requires internal collaboration among stakeholders and countless others to make that shift from a voluntary to a regulatory landscape.

Companies

As Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Business change as critical as circularity requires implementing a change in corporate culture. One of the best ways to shift culture is to involve cross-functional teams in designing process change. It ensures collective understanding, clarity in accountability, and personal responsibility. In addition, making a concerted effort to align incentives across functions will encourage internal behavior change, which is especially effective when linked to corporate targets. The result is more employees taking ownership in their respective roles and encouraging the right conversations at the right levels of seniority.

Consumers

Circularity presents a new way of doing business and engaging customers. It is no secret that companies track legions of customer data before, during, and immediately after a sale. But infrequently do they continue to track that product (and its disposal). And most don’t provide guidance to the end user about how to manage or reclaim a product or its materials. Plus customers can feel abandoned when they are left to dispose or recycle the products and packaging on their own, without the help of the company who produced it or the municipality who collects it. This is a missed opportunity for circularity!

Since leaving WWF, I have been working to launch the Global Impact Collective, a new consultancy that uses systems and design thinking to advance sustainability implementation at pace.

Design thinking is an important process, which sometimes requires an expert guide and facilitator to ignite innovative ideas. The process brings together crucial stakeholders who can contribute different perspectives to the same problem. And when used well, it has become a powerful tool to drive alignment, improve collaboration, and surface truly innovative solutions.

At The Collective, we bring together key teams, including product design, sourcing, packaging, marketing, sales, finance, and others – people who don’t often find themselves in the same room at the same time, focused on problem solving. This process gives organizations the space and speed to develop many creative ideas and solutions at once. And because all the stakeholders are in the room, new solutions are socialized and pre-vetted for testing.

Consumers, governments, and companies can’t solve the plastic waste problem on their own. Coordination across sectors will be critical to understanding the perspectives of different stakeholders and making sector-wide progress. But before cross-sector collaboration happens, internal coordination within your organization is key. When you bring design thinking into the equation it invites an expansive, perspective shifting mindset. It allows you to say, “how might we…”, opening the door for broader, more creative solutions that are more inclusive and engage players throughout the value chain.

Join Us!

Come see it in action on February 12 at GreenBiz24 when the Global Impact Collective leads a design thinking workshop called Design Swarm™ for Circularity: Harnessing Our Collective Genius.  Be part of the experience as sustainability leaders unpack how to partner with internal stakeholders to creatively solve the issue of circularity.  This fast-paced, creative session, which will harness the creativity of the minds in the room to generate a large volume of breakthrough ideas at a very rapid speed to address internal coordination in your organization. We will explore circular economy from the perspective of Food & Bev, Technology, Fashion thanks to our esteemed lightning speakers: Erin Simon (WWF), Meghann Glavin (Starbucks), Jim Hanna (Microsoft) and Jennifer DuBuisson (Levi Strauss & Co).

We’d love to see you at Greenbiz24. Please reach out to let us know if you’ll be there so we can send you workshop materials in advance. Please join us!

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.

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