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: 29 November 2023
  • Author: Jason Clay, WWF Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Markets Institute

Most of my career I’ve tried to anticipate issues, or at least identify them as they unfold, build awareness, and encourage others to work on them and share their results with others. Being early gives one the ability not just to watch things evolve but to shape them directionally. Recruiting key actors with skin in the game allows them to “own” issues and solutions. It is much quicker, not to mention cheaper, to create change before investments are made in a wide range of different, often competing strategies.

In December 2011, Ban Ki-moon convened a side event at COP17 in Durban, South Africa that focused on halting deforestation. The event identified the global food system as a key driver of deforestation and habitat conversion. Christina Figueres, Jane Goodall, Richard Branson, Achim Steiner, and two or three others including myself participated in the discussion. There was resistance, including in WWF, to opening the climate tent to include food.

A dozen years later, concerns remain about adding complex issues like food production to the climate debate, as some feel it might slow or even derail efforts to move from fossil fuels to low-carbon alternatives for energy and transport. There has been much progress for energy and transport, but we still need strategies that make the transition cheaper, faster, and scalable by sharing knowledge, methodologies, experiences about what works and doesn’t, and technologies. As this critical five-year “stocktake” begins at COP28, are we reaching our goals?

Continue reading
  • Date: 20 November 2023
  • Author: Katherine Devine, WWF

It started when my three-year-old was around 18 months. I would make my way downstairs to begin one of the most important morning rituals: preparing my coffee. I say my coffee because, while it is for me and my spouse, I’m the one that downs more than half our pot most days.

I open the cabinet, take out a bag of locally roasted beans, and pour it in the burr grinder. My kid then begins what we’ve now dubbed “The Coffee Dance,” where they like to dance to the rhythm of the coffee grinder. I don’t think I will ever stop doing The Coffee Dance, even when my kid loses interest, which I’m sure will be sooner than I’d like.

While the coffee is grinding, I fill up my electric tea kettle to warm the water. I get out one of my (three) French presses or, if I’m feeling fancy, my Chemex. I pour in the ground up beans, followed by a little water to let them bloom briefly, then the rest of the water.

Continue reading
  • Date: 20 November 2023
  • Author: Erin Simon, Vice President and Head of Plastic Waste & Business

I traveled to Nairobi this past week, where representatives from nearly every country in the world gathered to continue the negotiations on the UN Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution, a landmark blueprint for ensuring that plastic never contaminates the places we love most. Walking into the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme, I felt nothing but hope and optimism. Through the ups and downs of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I knew we might have a long week ahead of us but my faith in the UN process to work was still very much intact.

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) was supposed to be a critical moment for countries to agree on how to end plastic pollution through concrete commitments and decisive action. If done right, the framework being negotiated represents the best shot to work with businesses and governments to dramatically reduce the level of unmanaged plastic waste, particularly in nature, and to create a more sustainable and efficient economy.

At the beginning of the week, WWF set a clear vision for what a successful treaty looks like. This includes global, binding, and collaborative rules, not individual commitments from each of the 175 UN Member Nations. Specifically, WWF is advocating for:

  • A clear path to ban, phase out or reduce production of single-use plastic and the most damaging plastic chemicals currently used in manufacturing and packaging.
  • A defined set of requirements for product and systems designs that reflects the innovation we need to manage plastic waste and support a global economy based on sustainability, not disposability.
  • Proven financial measures and policies that provide the incentives for businesses to transition from single-use plastic products to more innovative, sustainable options.

However, early in the week, a handful of like-minded states—including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Bahrain, and India—rejected the Zero Draft prepared by the chair and demanded a new one that they felt better suited their own interests, but clearly did not reflect all the views of the majority of Member States.

As the week went on, as an observer, it felt harder and harder to watch these few countries become successful in their deployment of tactics to slow the process down. I understand the vision of the UN -- the need for the equality of voices and perspectives. I wholeheartedly agree that complex world problems need a collective and collaborative approach to solve them. But it feels like while trying to preserve that ideal we lost touch of the purpose. It becomes hard to defend the process and its value when a few agendas continued to dominate and delay while they advocated for their sovereignty of resources over human health and ecosystems.

When countries unanimously agreed to negotiate a treaty to END plastic pollution, I believed them. And this treaty is our best bet, but only if we find the most common ground possible to create a world where humans and species are not suffering. In the end, the majority of Member states fought for a high level of ambition, with more than 100 countries supporting global bans and phase-outs of the most harmful and avoidable plastics, and 140 countries calling to establish global binding rules as opposed to voluntary actions, but to get the job done, it will require a strong political will we did not see in Nairobi. The will to stand up and speak up not for country or economic agendas but for the people and planet who depend on these world leaders to do their part.

When we said everyone has a role to play, we meant it. WWF will continue to fight for this future - will companies and policymakers do the same? We can’t afford to let this moment slip by us.

Read Erin Simon's reflections from INC-2 in Paris, here.

  • Date: 09 November 2023
  • Author: Cihang Yuan

Low-carbon fuels such as green hydrogen and renewable natural gas (RNG) are critical for decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors such as industry and transportation. Green hydrogen is produced with renewable electricity through electrolysis that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. RNG is methane produced from anaerobic digestion of organic matter like animal manure or food waste, which is processed and can then be used to replace conventional natural gas.

According to the Renewable Thermal Vision Report published by the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC), clean hydrogen can supply approximately 13% of the heat used in industrial processes in the US by 2050. While RNG is likely to have a smaller role in the overall energy mix due to supply constraints, it can help mitigate methane emissions that would otherwise be emitted from manures or food waste.

An increasing number of companies are looking to clean fuel solutions like green hydrogen and RNG to address their thermal energy footprints by decarbonizing industrial process heat. As always, early success stories are essential to accelerating the growth of new technologies and nascent markets—and we heard many of them at the RTC’s recent Annual Summit in Washington, D.C.

Large industrial energy buyers and fuel producers shared early success stories about their on-the-ground experiences deploying these decarbonized fuels on the panel “Deploying Decarbonized Fuels: Case Studies and Infrastructure Opportunities.”

Continue reading
  • Date: 09 November 2023
  • Author: Erin Simon, WWF Vice President and Head, Plastic Waste and Business
Plastics on the Hill

WWF 's Erin Simon testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee.

WWF recently had a packed day on Capitol Hill showcasing how consumers, policymakers and businesses can work together to achieve our goal of no new plastics in nature.

On Oct. 26, the day began with a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight, where I testified about alternatives to single-use plastics.

Hours later in the same hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, WWF convened a congressional briefing with the OneSource Coalition and the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty about advancing solutions to plastic pollution. Key members of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee participated, including Chairman Tom Carper, Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, along with representatives from The Coca-Cola Company, Walmart and Mars, Inc.

Identifying Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics

As WWF’s Vice President and Head of Plastic Waste and Business, I explained at the Senate hearing why it is no longer economically, socially or environmentally sustainable to produce single-use plastics. Much of the estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic waste that enters our oceans every year – the equivalent of one dump truck per minute – is from these products.

Some new plastics will still be needed to meet critical health and safety needs. But we don’t need to make them from fossil fuels. Instead, we can turn to alternatives like paper, metal, recycled materials, or biobased plastic derived from plants and sustainable sources.

“It is critical that we take necessary steps to source and use alternatives that have stronger environmental and social benefits when compared to conventional plastic,” I testified. When evaluating any alternatives, we need to ensure that the right policies and infrastructure are in place to ensure circularity.

  • Sen Carper

    Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper speaks at the congressional briefing convened by WWF with the OneSource Coalition and the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty.

  • Sen WH

    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, speaks at the congressional briefing convened by WWF with the OneSource Coalition and the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty.

  • one source

    Peter Rowan, vice president of U.S. public affairs at Mars, Inc., speaks at the congressional briefing convened by WWF with the OneSource Coalition and the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty alongside Alex Schenck, director of global environmental policy at Walmart.

  • Testimony on hill

    Erin Simon, vice president and head of plastic waste and business at WWF, speaks at the briefing speaks at the congressional briefing alongside Shaun Garrison, senior manager of federal and diplomatic government relations at The Coca-Cola Company and Alex Schenck, director of global environmental policy at Walmart.

How Policymakers and Business Leaders Can Help

We’re already seeing strong action in Colorado and California to enact extended producer responsibility legislation that ensures plastic packaging sold in these states is recyclable or compostable.

At the federal level, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included funding to boost recycling programs and public education campaigns. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have also introduced bills to reduce plastic production and consumption, such as the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act.

“Bipartisan solutions are lasting solutions,” Carper said.

Capito said that “we have to realize the reality of where we are, and try to give a solution that is scalable but also is achievable.”

Businesses have an important role in reducing plastic pollution, too. Some major companies are already taking steps on their own while urging federal action to establish more consistency in how people reuse and recycle plastic.

Peter Rowan, vice president of U.S. public affairs at Mars, Inc., noted that the candy and food manufacturer has linked compensation for its top 300 executives to sustainability targets. And Shaun Garrison, senior manager of federal and diplomatic government relations at The Coca-Cola Company, said that the beverage brand supports policies that encourage recycling of its bottles so that they can be used for future packaging.

Alex Schenck, director of global environmental policy at Walmart, said that it’s important for stakeholders not to inadvertently make the perfect the enemy of the good.

“Every year that we don't get something done, millions of metric tons of recyclable materials are piling up in landfills,” Schenck said.

Lasting solutions to reduce plastic waste will take all of us working together. That’s why WWF is committed to convening more of these conversations about how to sustain our environment and economy for generations to come.

  • Date: 07 November 2023

In the absence of global rules, regulations and coordinated action, the transboundary plastic pollution crisis is worsening. Despite a number of national and voluntary measures, the absence of common global rules to combat plastic pollution impacts all countries. However, it is low- and middle-income countries, especially low-income countries and small island developing states that are bearing the brunt of the problem. This report reveals for the first time the scale of these disparities. It estimates that the true full lifetime cost of plastic is 8 times higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. For low-income countries in particular, the full lifetime cost of plastic rises to 10 times that of high income countries

The distinct challenges faced by many of these countries are a symptom of three key structural inequities in the plastic value chain. As a result of these inequities, the burden of plastic pollution is unevenly distributed across countries around the world.

Continue reading
  • Date: 03 November 2023
  • Author: Fernando Bellese, Senior Director for Beef and Leather Supply Chains, WWF

Leather is a byproduct of beef production, but increasingly consumers of leather are calling for leather manufacturers to help ensure that hides they process are sustainably sourced — not coming from cattle raised on land that was deforested and converted to pasture, but rather supporting biodiversity and reduction in food sector emissions.

Cattle ranching is the major driver of deforestation in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, where millions of hectares of forest are cleared each year to make way for new pastures. The beef (and therefore leather) industry also contributes indirectly to deforestation through its supply chain.

Leather companies have begun to organize their efforts and manage their supply chains to combat deforestation. Last week, at the annual Textile Exchange conference in London, World Wildlife Fund, Textile Exchange and Leather Working Group launched the Call to Action Working Group, a collection of consumer brands, including fashion, retail, and automobile companies, that are striving to eliminate leather from their supply chains that is produced from cattle raised on recently deforested areas.

Continue reading
  • Date: 31 October 2023
  • Author: Matthew Slovik, Head of Global Sustainable Finance, Morgan Stanley

People and economies cannot thrive without nature, including the living and non-living components of the atmosphere, land, ocean and freshwater, and biodiversity, which is the variability of organisms within nature. Nature and its contributions to human wellbeing and quality of life generate more than $44 trillion in economic value—more than half of the world’s GDP.¹

Yet, for the past several decades, nature has experienced unprecedented degradation. Since 1970, wildlife populations have declined by an average of 69%.2 Today, more than one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction.3 The potential loss of entire ecosystems, including wild pollinators, marine fisheries and timber from forests—just a fraction of nature’s ecosystem—could result in a $2.7 trillion decline in global GDP annually.4

With critical resources such as food and fresh water supply at risk, investment in nature may provide help to better protect societies and businesses from the collapse of ecosystems. In particular, some investors are especially keen to understand how their investments can be detrimental or positive for nature, in the same way that they assess holdings with respect to their impact on climate change and the transition to clean energy in their climate investing.

Continue reading
  • Date: 24 October 2023
  • Author: Katherine Devine

While I may have visited my first coffee farm in Costa Rica while studying abroad, I fell in love with coffee production a few years later in the Dominican Republic. Assigned by the Peace Corps to a small town, Juncalito, I was fortunate to be placed with extremely kind people, in a stunning landscape with a perfect climate, and given the pleasure of working with the Juncalito Coffee Producers’ Association. At this formative time in my life, I was privileged to experience firsthand the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and their tenacity, love for the earth, and truly delicious coffee.

Katherine Devine

When I learned last year that my team at WWF would be working on a series of papers on measuring and mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across key commodities, and that coffee would be one of them, I jumped at the chance to work on the project.

During my time in the DR, I saw firsthand how climate conditions can affect productivity and quality, making the difference between earning more for specialty coffee and selling for rock bottom commodity prices. I was curious to dive into WWF’s research to learn more about GHG emissions in coffee production, and what could be done to support farmers facing the direct impacts of climate change.

Continue reading
  • Date: 20 October 2023
  • Author: Tara Doyle, WWF

I had the opportunity to talk to the award-winning filmmaker and scientist Valerie Weiss, who has directed popular shows including Outer Banks and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Dr. Weiss received a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard, and says this scientific background has influenced her approach to storytelling. Her interest in human behavior and cause-and-effect relationships compels her to dig deeper into the characters’ motivations, making stories more emotionally rich and resonant. Dr. Weiss is also passionate about promoting sustainability on set and weaving environmental messages through her work.

Continue reading