Designing A Voluntary National Program For Battery Recycling

Situation:

In 2010 legislation to mandate the collection and recycling of primary batteries was accelerating, which if enacted would likely lead to higher costs for battery companies and sub-optimal environmental outcomes. It became clear that in order to have a battery recycling system that was economically and environmentally viable, the industry needed to work together with NGOs and regulators to create a national system.

Challenge:

The potential for a patchwork quilt of regulations and collection systems at the state and local level, tensions between stakeholders and the environmental performance and lack of national recycling infrastructure had prevented the creation of a viable national recycling system that battery companies would support. Blu Skye helped the industry create a stakeholder engagement strategy that drove towards a unified vision and a roadmap.

Our Role:

  • Analyze the system: We mapped the recycling system, identified the key stakeholders and value potential for them, and analyzed the environmental and economic impacts of the most compelling models for battery recycling. We summarized the challenges and opportunities in a briefing paper to help shape stakeholder dialogues on how a national system was possible.
  • Convene the system: We designed and facilitated a 3-day “System-In-the-Room” summit with the key stakeholders focused on creating a shared vision and rapid proto-typing action plans for the creation of a national recycling system for household batteries.
  • Build momentum: We have been advising the steering committee to plan, fund and drive implementation of action plans developed at summit.

Results:

  • Aligned participants representing the five major battery manufacturers, NGOs and legislators around a common vision to develop a nationwide system that maximizes reuse of spent batteries with the goal of zero waste.
  • Guided the industry coalition, The Corporation for Battery Recycling (recyclebattery.org), in implementation of action plans developed at the summit.
  • Led the design of the national program for household battery recycling (in process, scheduled for launch in 2013), informed by six existing municipal battery collection programs that we are managing and gathering data from to support the program analytics and modeling.

 

“I continue to be impressed by Blu Skye’s ability to drive alignment and consensus where very little common ground exists.” 

-Charlie Monahan, Panasonic

 

“Nowhere in the in the world has a group of committed individuals such as this come together to start on a such a collective new journey…here today we have paved the way.” 

-Khush Marolia, Procter & Gamble (Duracell)

Recovering the $6 Billion in Materials Sent to Landfills Each Year

Situation:

In the U.S., $1.2 billion worth of aluminum cans goes into landfills each year. Alcoa had been working for many years to recover a higher portion of this value by trying to increase aluminum recycling rates from 58% to 75%, but had experienced only incremental improvements.

Challenge:

Increasing aluminum recycling couldn’t feasibly be addressed without increasing recycling rates for all packaging and printed materials (PPM). While there is an estimated $6 billion of PPM tossed into landfills each year, many efforts to increase recycling rates have failed due to a lack of collaboration among the major players along the value chain, and no clear vision of how the system could work together economically. Asked to search for an unlock to this problem, Blu Skye’s fresh approach to system change involved convening the major stakeholders to create a lasting change in U.S. recycling rates.

Our Role:

  • Analyze the system: We began by analyzing what systems (i.e., types of materials) would need to be engaged to reach the recycling goal for aluminum. We also identified the key levers to overcome historical obstacles to collaboration and innovation.
  • Convene the system: We designed a “System-in-the-Room” summit to catalyze broad-based action from the value chain to increase access to recycling infrastructure, consumer education and incentives.
  • Build momentum: We focused on near-term actions and driving break-through thinking and initiatives across the CPG packaging industry.

Results:

  • Aligned over 90 influential participants from 77 organizations on a goal to increase recycling of all PPM by 20 percentage points by 2015.
  • Initiated four near-term high-potential projects backed by a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Formed an industry-led, voluntary, and action oriented coalition to continue the project momentum (in process).
  • In 2011, the U.S. recycling rate rose by 7 points from 2010.
  • A multi-million dollar funding commitment to Action to Accelerate Recycling was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012.

 

“The Blu Skye team did an outstanding and professional job.  They held the interest of the group through the process and kept the creative juices of the attendee flowing … no easy task!”

-Dennis Sabourin, National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)

 

“In my 23 years in this industry, this is the single most forward step I have seen.”

-Will Sagar, Southeast Recycling Development Council

Commitment to sustainability leadership

Situation:

While a large, leading office supplies retailer had made significant headway on many sustainability initiatives, it lacked commitment from leadership and a cohesive sustainability strategy.

Our Role:

  • Engaged the client’s senior leadership team in exploring what sustainability meant for them, their employees, and the organization as a whole to better understand cultural readiness for sustainability leadership.
  • Led significant internal and external research and analysis to establish a current reality and context for the client’s sustainability performance today and implications for the future.
  • Developed a comprehensive list of sustainability trends driving the need for change, reviewed and analyzed current business and sustainability efforts, and benchmarked 19 other companies on sustainability practices.
  • Supported the initial implementation planning efforts and fully managed four primary workstreams focused on product, packaging, metrics, and associate engagement.
  • Educated and trained the buyer community on key sustainability information and a rollout of the strategy to key vendor partners.
  • Developed a financial model for identifying packaging savings from sustainability improvements.

Results:

  • Developed cohesive sustainability strategy comprised of four strategic pillars relevant to the client’s environmental impacts and two foundational planks necessary for the strategy to be successful in the organization’s culture.
  • Built roadmap with key activities and milestones for company to finalize, adopt, and begin implementing strategy.
  • Identified $100M in savings from sustainable packaging improvements.
  • Co-created business plans with internal teams for major workstreams and led sustainability 101 training.

 

Creating a Sustainable Apparel Index

Situation:

Many apparel companies share portions of their supply chains but lack a standard system for measuring environmental impacts.  Several influential companies believed that a single, standardized index would drive efficiency and innovation and be the most effective approach to lessen environmental impact and supply chain risks.

Our Role:

  • Worked with co-founders Walmart and Patagonia to convene and align recognized sustainability leaders behind a common purpose.
  • Managed the design, development, pilot test, and implementation of an industry-wide Index (Higg Index) to measure the sustainability impacts of apparel products.  
  • Aided in the development of a non-profit organization including incorporation, structure, governance, and initial staffing as well as providing overall program management support.

Results:

  • Formed a 40+ member collaborative multi-stakeholder coalition with over 40% of global market share.
  • Launched the Version 1 Apparel Index prototype scorecard for pilot testing with over 50 brands, retailers, and suppliers
  • The Index is already influencing capital investment decisions, changing behavior on tactical level.
    • A major retailer has integrated SAC’s facilities module into its supplier scorecard for all suppliers and products.
    • A major outdoor retailer was able to reduce material fabric waste and got opportunity to share best practices and continuous improvement.
    • Another company identified a lack of programs related to the “use” and “end of life” phases of its products and is beginning to enhance its focus on these areas and integrate these considerations into its business decisions.
  • The Higg Index is poised to expand to footwear and related product categories.

 

Read the full case study [pdf] written by the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

 

“Through their skills and passion for creating big change through industry collaboration, Blu Skye has played an essential role in the creation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and development of the Apparel Sustainability Index.”

-Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia

 

“I continue to be impressed with Blu Skye’s passion, knowledge and commitment to drive the sustainability efforts of the SAC; their ability to facilitate such a diverse group of companies effectively and efficiently is World Class!!”

-Scott Lercel, Target

Unlocking $250 million of value in the U.S. dairy value chain

Situation:

In 2007, the dairy industry came under increasing pressure from NGOs, retailers and consumers to reduce its carbon emissions. Instead of going on the defensive The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy asserted that using a lens of sustainability the industry could:

  • Identify inefficiencies and therefore cost savings all along the value chain
  • Foster innovations to improve practices, profit margins, and the environment
  • Position the industry as an environmental leader with key stakeholders

Challenge:

Many stakeholders in the dairy value chain, including farmers, viewed sustainability as a potential source of regulation and not part of their core business. In addition, there was little trust between actors in the value chain. Blu Skye saw the opportunity to unify the industry’s leaders around a common vision that emphasized the business value of sustainability. The first step was to create a footprint for U.S. dairy products that provided an objective set of facts around which a desire for action could be created.

Our Role:

  • Measure what matters: we conducted a carbon footprint that identified the sources of carbon emissions from the farm to retail shelf.
  • Identify the opportunities: we found the people, ideas and technologies capable of reducing carbon while creating a potential $250 million of additional business value.

Results:

  • Created a clear vision for sustainability that was adopted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Board. This included an ambitious goal to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by the year 2020.
  • Recognized by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the 2010 Copenhagen Climate Summit as model for how agriculture should address climate change in a way that creates business value and environmental benefits.

 

“Any firm can write a white paper, conduct an environmental impact assessment, or tell you about sustainability and the opportunities, but it is more difficult to find a partner to help you capture stakeholder imagination, enroll them in a common goal, and put change into action. Blu Skye gets system change.”

–Erin Fitzgerald, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

Finding sustainable value for a global retailer

Situation:

Our client's initial request was for an environmental footprint to help them understand their risks. We proposed looking at the environment as a chance to lead, and develop a business strategy using sustainability as a lens to reveal hidden opportunities to create value.

Our Role:

  • Developed high-level footprint for direct operations, supply chain, and products using an input output based model for consumer goods.
  • Developed and facilitated strategic business process planning that included key leaders and a wide range of external stakeholders and resulted in plans to ‘lead’ or ‘compete’ in 14 areas.
  • Created ‘sustainable value networks’ with suppliers, NGOs, academics, and other stakeholders to implement strategies and develop new innovations.

Results:

  • Project implementation has resulted in >$300M in ROI (revenue enhancement and cost reduction).
  • Met or exceeded stretch goals around in-store and truck efficiency (between 2005 & 2008, our client increased trucking efficiency by 38%, with plans to have it doubled by 2015).
  • Drove product innovation and supply chain transformations in fish, jewelry, textiles, electronics, and other categories.  (e.g. our client is working toward making all of its appliances Energy Star-rated).
  • Created a source of competitive advantage to recruit and retain key leaders.  Successfully differentiated our client in the marketplace.

Testimonials

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images

“It would be difficult to overstate the positive impact that Jib Ellison and the Blu Skye team have had on Walmart and our associates.”

- Lee Scott, Chairman to the Executive Committee, Walmart


"Blu Skye provides a level of insight, partnership and commitment to doing the right thing that sets them apart from traditional consultants. It is refreshing, inspiring and a pleasure working with them. They get sustainability, they understand business challenges and they know that companies have to change in order to change the world." 

- Rob Bernard, Chief Sustainability Strategist, Microsoft


"Through their skills and passion for creating big change through industry collaboration, Blu Skye has played an essential role in the creation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and development of the Apparel Sustainability Index."

- Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia


"I continue to be impressed by Blu Skye’s ability to drive alignment and consensus where very little common ground exists." 

- Charlie Monahan, Panasonic


"Blu Skye gets my nod as the best consulting firm in the world in making good on Peter Drucker's premonition that "every social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity" -- given the right conditions for innovation, pragmatism, and an enterprise-wide alignment of strengths. Its a thrill to hit that mutual sweet spot of building a better world and realizing huge new business opportunities. Blu Skye is helping to make history in the field of sustainable value innovation and they are doing it with a humility and collaborative approach that brings out the best in the people and businesses they are working with." 

- David Cooperrider, Professor and Chair, Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University


"The old environmentalism is dead, but there is an emerging post-environmental consensus that is burgeoning through the work of Blu Skye. Their mission is to inspire solutions that match the magnitude of the challenges we face in the 21st Century." 

- Adam Werbach, Chief Sustainability Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi


"Nowhere in the in the world has a group of committed individuals such as this come together to start on a such a collective new journey…here today we have paved the way." 

- Khush Marolia, Procter & Gamble (Duracell)


"The Blu Skye team did an outstanding and professional job.  They held the interest of the group through the process and kept the creative juices of the attendees flowing….  No easy task!"

-Dennis Sabourin, National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)


"I continue to be impressed with Blu Skye’s passion, knowledge and commitment to drive the sustainability efforts of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; their ability to facilitate such a diverse group of companies effectively and efficiently is World Class!!" 

- Scott Lercel, Target


"Blu Skye has assembled a team that provides just what is needed for business leaders seeking to drive a clear sustainability strategy. They brought us a truly unique set of capabilities that helped us build on our legacy of sustainable leadership." 

- John Replogle, CEO, Burt's Bees


"Blu Skye should be required advisors for those seeking to capture these opportunities in ways that turn on customers, employees and the market place."

- Peter Seligmann, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Conservation International


"There are now hundreds of consulting organizations that will help businesses change their internal and external practices towards sustainable outcomes. Sustainability is an "ability," but it cannot be brought about piecemeal, nor is it a fix. It is a fundamental change in business practice and Blu Skye brings deeply honed skills to create this shift. It creates the conditions for systemic change in large organizations and then opens up its considerable networks of possibility. Sustainability represents the only way business will survive; an opportunity exists for those who can grasp it earliest and act with the most understanding. This change can only be brought when people change. It is not a belief, but a perception, and Blu Skye creates a matrix of change better than any group I know."

- Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce


"For me [the system-in-the-room summit] sparked three real new opportunities. I got more done in 2.5 days than I could have accomplished in a couple of years."

–Bruce Brinkmeyer, Dairy Farmers of America


"Any firm can write a white paper, conduct an environmental impact assessment, or tell you about sustainability and the opportunities, but it is more difficult to find a partner to help you capture stakeholder imagination, enroll them in a common goal, and put change into action. Blu Skye gets system change."

–Erin Fitzgerald, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy


"In my 23 years in this industry, this is the single most forward step I have seen. "

-Will Sagar, Southeast Recycling Development Council