Sustainability Blog

Der WHU Sustainability Blog bietet eine zentrale Plattform für konstruktiven und kollaborativen Austausch zum Thema Nachhaltigkeit. Hier werden Herausforderungen der sozialen, ökologischen und ökonomischen Nachhaltigkeit präsentiert und diskutiert.

Zusätzlich bietet der WHU Sustainability Blog zeitnah Informationen zur Lehrveranstaltung „Sustainability Lab“: Hier analysieren WHU Studierende reale Problemstellungen zum Thema Nachhaltigkeit mit Partnerunternehmen aus der Industrie.

WHU Nachhaltigkeitsstudie

In Zusammenarbeit mit dem IPV - Industrieverband Papier- und Folienverpackung, Frankfurt - hat die WHU eine umfassende Studie zur Nachhaltigkeit am Beispiel der Verpackung erstellt. Die Ergebnisse wurden im Rahmen des Master-Kurses Sustainability Lab ermittelt. Dabei wurde Nachhaltigkeit in der Verpackungsindustrie von 17 Studententeams unter ökologischen, ökonomischen und sozialen Aspekten beleuchtet. Die Ergebnisse des Sustainability Labs verdeutlichen zunächst das Vorhandensein von Informationsasymmetrien, die insbesondere die Konsumenten betreffen [...]

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The Ethical Consumer 2.0 – Is it time to demand a distinction between marketing and certification logos on packaging?

A company’s business model strongly reacts to two broad factors relevant to this topic. The first major driver is regulation and this can be used to align the interests of a company with those of society as a whole. However, regulatory changes are often slow to be implemented and the most successful companies normally find ways to work around the regulations to meet their customers’ needs. The second and more important driver for business model change is customer demand. Meeting customer demand is the cornerstone of a business and it is from this perspective that we assess the rise of the ethical consumers and how they have led a revolution in the way companies operate [...]

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(Secondary/Tertiary) packaging and waste management: Quantitative insights on its significance for ecological sustainability

In order to develop a first broad impression of sustainability within the packaging industry and especially the importance of secondary and tertiary packaging, the following insights are to provide some quantitative data on market developments and customer needs that explain the increasing importance of (ecological) sustainability in the industry.

Packaging companies “have historically been slow to engage in the wider debate around sustainable packaging” (PwC, 2010), even though sustainability is marked as the top challenge within the packaging industry even before innovation and cost optimization.

In this context, waste management does play an important role [...]

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Critical Consumerism

When planning to buy a new technical advice, many consumers consult numerous information sources. Compared to this, most consumers have relatively little knowledge of their food, even less of the accompanying packaging of the food. While people might use well-known labels like bio as a short cut to get a quick overview over the product itself, labelling is scarcely done for packaging.
The reason for this lack of knowledge, however, is not the lack of information. Label-online.de for example is Europe’s largest database on eco- and quality labels providing interested stakeholder with background information on more than 400 different eco-labels and certification standards. 
The institution behind label-online is “Verbraucher Initiative e.V.”, a German-based non-profit organization promoting “critical consumerism”.
To further investigate critical consumerism with respect to packaging, the “Verbraucher Initiative” spoke with passers-by in Berlin as part of the project “Verpackungsbarometer” [...]

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Bio Futura and Sustainable Packaging

Coffee to go, the plastic-wrapped vegetables, bought lunch. Without even noticing, we consume products that have to be packaged or need some sort of container. In the US for example, food packaging accounts for about one third of solid waste production annually. While consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable products, actually existing, more sustainable packaging alternatives often remain unknown. 
A company example offering a more sustainable solution for packaging and disposable items is Bio Futura. In order to get a more detailed insight into the problems they are facing as well as into their marketing strategies, I conducted an interview with a representative of Bio Futura [...]

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Why aren't people acting?

Climate change is the one scenario humanity is most aware of with regard to sustainability. It took many years to convince mankind that climate change is one of the pressing issues both in the present and the future. However, while people are aware of the dangers of climate change, many are still not taking it into account with regard to for example transport.

The same phenomenon of increased awareness and of a lack of acting is also evident in the packaging sector [...]

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Ingredient Marketing - Communication as Method to Create Customer Demand Using the Example of Intel Inside

In a world of high product variety and competitive markets, companies are struggling to set foot in markets and establish themselves as market players, much more so, if the companies in question are not active in the consumer business.

Packaging producers face the problem many Business-to-Business companies do: They act as mere suppliers of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or consumer goods producers and have little connection to the final end consumer, thus little impact on demand generation and a high risk of being replaced by less costly or more differentiated competitors.

To avoid being pushed out of the market, companies can generate demand for their product [...]

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Values That Impact Social Sustainability

In my previous blog post titled “Stakeholders That Impact Social Sustainability” dated in December 3, 2013, I looked into different stakeholders that played a vital role in shaping social sustainability within firms. These stakeholders including the customers, employees, and the government, impose unique forms of pressures on companies to improve social sustainability. Despite the strong influence these key stakeholders have on firms, it is still up to the firm to decide how to implement sustainability measures. Thus, this boils down to the question how firms manage the inputs the stakeholders provide, to come out with meaningful sustainability measures.

The next step was to investigate how firms can benefit from the implementation of social sustainability measures [...]

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Why information exchange is important

A critical question to ask is why companies and firms should lay emphasis on their supply chain management. It is statistically proven that a lack of managing the supply chain leads to costs of hundreds of billions of dollars each year. A study by Marshall Fisher illustrates that only in the food industry there is a loss of $30 billion due to ineffective supplier and supply chain management and coordination. [1]

Along with the globalization process, the risk in global supply chains has increased steadily which leads to the need of supplier compliance, performance and risk management. [2]

These are the main reasons why an absence of harmonized supplier management leads to increased costs. Consequently, also a firm’s profitability may be negatively affected as the supply chain exerts a major impact [...]

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Tetra Pak - Schützt, was gut ist

Mit Tetra Pak werden zuerst abgepackte Getränke assoziiert; dass diese Verpackungen jedoch auch nachhaltig und ökologisch sind, ist auf den ersten Blick nicht unbedingt ersichtlich.

Schon der Slogan „Schützt, was gut ist“ schließt die gesamte Wertschöpfungskette ein – vom Lieferanten über Kunden, Distribution, Mitarbeiter, Verbraucher bis hin zur Gesellschaft. 
Tetra Pak schützt Lebensmittel in den Verpackungen und gleichzeitig die Umwelt. [1] Jedoch widmet sich Tetra Pak nicht nur selbst dem Thema Nachhaltigkeit, sondern geht diesbezüglich auch auf seine Kunden ein [...]

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The Environmental Impact of Secondary and Tertiary Packaging

There are three main packaging types: Primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.
Primary packaging is the material that first envelops the product and holds it. This usually is the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package which is in direct contact with the contents. Secondary packaging is outside the primary packaging, often used to group primary packages together. Tertiary packaging is used for bulk handling, warehouse storage and transport shipping. The most common form is a palletized unit load that packs tightly into containers.
In order for packaging to be optimized, primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging must be considered as a total packaging system [...]

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Stakeholders That Impact Social Sustainability

Social sustainability, compared to the other realms of sustainability such as ecological and managerial sustainability, has been least investigated. This is because it is difficult to quantify, difficult to project future outcomes, may be subjective, and includes rather sensitive topics, such as ethics and morals in the discussion. However, it plays an essential role to achieve sustainability across the board, thus I wish to look into the social aspect more deeply.

Recently I came across an article in the Journal of Business Ethics called the “Social Sustainability in Selecting Emerging Economy Suppliers” by Matthias Ehrgott, Felix Reimann, Lutz Kaufmann, and Craig R. Carter [...]

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Lavazza – Edible cappuccino cups as innovative trend in the food packaging industry

The morning coffee represents an essential milestone to many of the employees, especially in the large cities. In this context, an innovation by the baker Enrique Luis Sardi and the Italian coffee producer Lavazza has the potential to contribute largely to the establishment of edible packaging in the Italian coffee drinking culture.
The coffee packaging innovation is no advanced biotechnological invention, but rather a quite simple concept with fruitful results. Its outer layer consists of a special Italian biscuit, the Amarettini, which bestows the cup stability and insulation. The inner layer of it is sugar glazing that prevents soaking through and gradually sweetens the espresso the longer it is in the cup. This is supposed to enable the optimal espresso experience [...]

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Measuring Sustainability - The Need for Precise Metrics

Measuring sustainability is a difficult topic. Sustainability itself is so wide-ranging and affecting virtually all stakeholders of a company, that it is hard to agree on a common, generally applicable measurement method. Suppliers need certainty regarding the judgment of their deliveries; consumers get lost in the jungle of green certificates and thus lose the ability to compare. 
Using precise metrics, sustainability efforts could be perceived as a major indicator for the health, stability and long-term prospects of a company [...]

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Eben Bayer – Are Mushrooms the New Plastic?

For many years, ted.com has, over and over again, inspired greatness in people by providing a platform, where technical and social evolutions can be shared with a broad audience. The TED conference invites speakers ranging from Michael Porter over Jamie Oliver to Eben Bayer; economists, chefs and product designers.

In October 2010, Eben Bayer presented MycoBond, an organic adhesive that turns agricultural waste into foam-like material, strong composite materials really, for packaging and insulation [...]

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Conflict between social and ecological sustainable goals

Plastic waste is increasingly polluting the environment. As most plastic is made from oil, plastic pollutes the environment on both ends of its life circle. A plastic patch of the size of Texas is for instance floating in the Pacific Ocean. This accumulation of small plastic fragments is blocking the sunlight from the organisms within the water.

Considering this immense negative impact of plastic waste, plastic reduction seems like a reasonable idea. With over 55% of fizzy drinks being sold in plastic bottles, a reduction of the plastic used within the beverage industry would make a great difference. [1] One possible way to achieve this would be the packaging of beverages in larger plastic bottles.

However, there is a downside regarding this way of reducing the environmental impact. Some plastic bottles, especially the larger ones, contain beverages that are unhealthy for the consumer [...]

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Sustainable Procurement Charter - The Example of Umicore

Umicore N.V. is a large multinational materials technology company from Belgium. At the beginning, they were a mining company, but then shifted to recycling of precious metals and the manufacture of specialized products from precious metals. The main fields of business are catalysis, energy materials, performance materials and recycling. Most prominently, Umicore is one of the most sustainable firms in the world.

According to the Forbes Ranking of the most sustainable firms in the world, Umicore even was number one in the year 2013. What makes them sustainable – according to Forbes – is that the corporation’s long-term interests are intellectually and financially consistent with resource efficiency, proactive health and safety practices, and responsible leadership [...]

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Unilever: Embedding Sustainability in Multi-Million-Dollar Brands

In 2012, Unilever generated a revenue of €52.13 billion. The Anglo-Dutch company is the third-largest consumer goods manufacturer and producer following Procter & Gamble and Nestlé. Currently, Unilever owns more than 400 brands, 25 of which account for 70% of total sales.

In 1998, Unilever established a sustainable agriculture program. From 2007 on, Unilever has dedicated itself to sourcing tea in a sustainable manner only, being the first large-scale company to do so. Now, sustainability has long turned into one of the core values of the firm [...]

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The 7 Billion Effect: How companies can help consumers live more sustainably

We all know that more than 7 billion people live on the earth. If every consumer is included in the process of advancing sustainability, there will be a giant effect.

This topic was discussed on the yearly conference “Fortune Brainstorm Green” [1] which brings together CEOs, senior executives, investors, policy makers, and environmentalists to discuss und develop sustainable solutions for global issues. However, the most important person was missing – the consumer [...]

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TerraCycle – A triple-bottom line company

TerraCycle is a private U.S. company headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey. The company was founded by Tom Szaky in 2001, who – at that time – was a 20-year-old Princeton freshman. Szaky was named a pioneer in recycling; his company has turned into the world’s leader in collection and reuse of non-recyclable, post-consumer waste and is regarded as one of the fastest-growing green companies in the world.

Working with over 100 major U.S. brands and others from 22 overseas countries, the company collects used packaging waste and repurposes them into new, innovative products [...]

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Michael Porter: Why business can be good at solving social problems

“Issue by issue we start to learn that there is actually no trade-off between social progress and economic efficiency.” – Michael Porter

For the stage of yet another TED conference, Michael Porter steps out of his usual area of expertise and talks about solving social problems through business:

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_porter_why_business_can_be_good_at_solving_social_problems.html?embed=true

There is an alarming number of social and environmental issues out there. For the first time, mass media and social networks have created such great awareness for these issues [...]

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Environmental Sustainability Impacting Supply Chain Organizations

The packaging industry, like many other industries, requires sourcing of raw materials to produce its products. According to information from Ernst & Young, “major raw materials usually comprise more than half of the total cost base of a packaging manufacturer” (Ernst & Young 3). Thus, the supply chain plays a significant and vital role in determining the success of the packaging industry. In connection to my previous findings on Sustainable Value Analysis, I would like to further investigate how supply chain organization impacts environmental sustainability, and how the packaging industry can alter its supply chain to promote environmental sustainability [...]

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Sustainable Value Analysis

Achieving sustainability requires concerted effort in the whole production process, and the supply chain plays a preliminary yet critical role in achieving sustainability. Being the initial step of production, not only does the supply chain determine the costs of your products, it also has a significant impact on environmental and social implications of the production process. I have recently come across an article, called “Don’t Let Your Supply Chain Control Your Business” by Thomas Choi and Tom Linton on the Harvard Business Review, that addresses new developments of supply chain control for companies. The article has allowed me to reflect on sustainability in the purchasing processes.

An increasing number of Original Equipment Manufacturers, known as OEMs, is focusing on value analysis of its suppliers [...]

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Empowering Responsible Supply Chains – Demand for More Transparency in the Supply Chain

Making the supply chain more transparent is a crucial goal to aim at in these days of globalization and easy information exchange worldwide. Especially in the context of the recent scandal of horsemeat-lasagna, consumers really get suspicious regarding the origin and process of their food. I recently read an interesting article in The Guardian talking about the consequences of this giant horsemeat scandal. “More than 5,430 Food Standards Agency tests have so far revealed 44 UK products containing horsemeat, putting retailers including Tesco, Aldi, Ikea and Asda under serious pressure to clean up their supply chains.” [1]

Considering living in a world in which information exchange is as easy as possible, it is hard to believe that all these grand retailers did not know what their suppliers were actually doing. [...]

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The Social Impact of Recycling

Germany is proud to recycle more than other countries in Europe. In 2010, Germany recycled some 50 %, whereas the European average amounted to 25 %. Other countries, like for instance the UK, have unleashed regulations to make recycling more systematically applied. [1]

Yet, there are regions where the recycling percentage is much higher than in Europe. This is due to the fact that “in the West, we recycle because of our understanding that in doing so, it is essential for conserving the planet’s resources. However, for some of the poorest people in the developing world, recycling often isn’t a choice, but a necessity of life.“ [2] 

Dharavi is one of Asia’s biggest slums situated in Mumbai. [3] It is sometimes called the ecological lunge of Mumbai as some 80 % of Mumbai’s garbage, mainly plastic, gets recycled here.

In May 2013, I had the chance to get an insight into the business processes in Dharavi [...]

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Was bedeutet Nachhaltigkeit für… Hettmannsperger & Löchner GmbH & Co. KG?

Durch sorgfältige Auswahl von Materialien, die nachwachsen und/oder für den Wertstoffkreislauf geeignet sind, versuchen wir, Produkte herzustellen, die durch angepassten Rohstoffeinsatz für Natur und Mensch verträglich sind [...]

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Was bedeutet Nachhaltigkeit für…Weber Verpackungen GmbH & Co. KG – Die Tütenmacher?

Nachhaltigkeit bedeutet für Weber Verpackungen, das Unternehmen durch verantwortungsvollen Umgang mit allen Ressourcen zukunftsfähig zu erhalten.

Ressourcenschonende Rohstoffe und deren Verarbeitung sehen wir als gesellschaftspolitische Verantwortung und wirtschaftliche Notwendigkeit. Neuentwickelte Produkte durchlaufen einen Ressourcencheck [...]

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Was bedeutet Nachhaltigkeit für…Meyer Stemmle AG & Co. KG?

Aktuell ist bei uns der Begriff Nachhaltigkeit nur umweltmäßig geprägt. Wir verbinden damit den sparsamen Gebrauch von Ressourcen (FSC) sowie eine möglichst schonende Behandlung der Umwelt bei der Produktion unserer Produkte (CO2-neutral) [...]

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The Short Chain

Avoiding the production of waste at its source has become the principle of the ‘Zero Waste’ movement around the world.[1] In recent years, Italian retailers and farmers have cooperated to reduce the amount of waste created in the final sourcing steps to the customers. Cities such as Naplas have signed up to become a ‘Zero Waste City’ by 2020, making initiatives such as Detersfuso’s refill detergent stores vital to achieve this goal.

Detersfuso’s founder – Carmine Manna – experienced the dramatic breakdown of the waste collection system in his hometown: Naplas. He was then inspired to create a new way of selling detergent products [...]

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Why Sustainable Packaging Matters

Speaking of sustainability in times of global warming and climate change is a common and logical thing to do, for governments as well as for companies. Sustainability is a fixed term in almost every conversation about our planet, but it is difficult to understand what exactly is meant by this word with a diversity of meanings.  Therefore, it is important to state a precise definition of the term sustainability. “Sustainability is the capacity to endure (…). For humans, sustainability is the potential of long-term maintenance for well-being, which has ecological, economic, political, and cultural dimensions.” [1]

Companies are led by human beings who start to think about a way to source and produce their products in a way which makes sure that [...]

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Different Facets and Effective Measurement of Sustainability in Emerging Economy Contexts

Sustainable Management has a social, an environmental and an economic perspective that are closely interconnected – In their project “Sustainable Management in Emerging Economy Contexts”, Prof. Lutz Kaufmann and Prof. Craig Carter put emphasis on a) how sustainable management pays off, b) what the most effective sustainability measures are and c) what managers can learn from industry best-practice [...]

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Sustainability Lab in Kooperation mit Industrieverband Papier- und Folienverpackung (IPV)

Im Fokus der Lehrveranstaltung "Sustainability Lab" stehen die Erfassung, Diskussion und Lösung realer Problemstellungen in enger Zusammenarbeit mit Partnerunternehmen.  Mit dem IPV - Industrieverband Papier- und Folienverpackung e.V. konnten wir einen wertvollen Industriepartner gewinnen. Studierende werden in Teams einer zentralen Fragestellung nachgehen:

Was bedeutet Nachhaltigkeit in der Verpackung und wie kann Nachhaltigkeit gemessen werden? [...]

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