Collaborative Action

Microsoft Sustainability Strategy - Rolling Sustainability Initiatives out to global subsidiaries


•Microsoft had committed to rolling out a series of sustainability initiatives to its global network of field offices, including ambitious global carbon footprint reductions for each of the next three years. To be successful, the company needed to enable the local markets to effectively execute on these initiatives. Our role was to help empower their global team of environmental sustainability leads, some of whom had minimal experience with sustainability and reducing carbon emissions, to deliver against company targets.

Our Role:


•Our goal was to create a group of energized leaders, equipped with the tools to successfully execute the sustainability initiatives and achieve ambitious carbon reduction targets. 

•Together with Microsoft, we created a three-pronged approach to reach this goal:

1.Establish a governance and reporting structure

2.Provide the necessary tools and training

3.Create momentum by fostering leadership skills and strong connections within the group


•Helped Microsoft establish a structure to provide ongoing guidance and support to the global team

•Co-created a three-day training summit for the environmental sustainability leads. This summit, which we co-led and facilitated, received outstanding feedback: 91% of participants rated it as “highly successful” in preparing them to execute against the company-wide targets.

Designing A Voluntary National Program For Battery Recycling


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.


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.


  • 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 (, 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


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.


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.


  • 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

Creating a Sustainable Apparel Index


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.


  • 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


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


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.


  • 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