Category: Sustainability

  • Can The Circular Economy Really Make The World More Sustainable?

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    Filed in Sustainability , Waste Management & Recycling , on by Worldwatch Institute

    Imagine that 100 percent of the recyclable materials that are currently headed for landfills are captured and re-processed into new products. This dreamy vision of the future is often referred to as “the circular economy,” and we aren’t there yet. Today, most countries with robust recycling programs have reached only around a 30 percent recycling rate (34.6 percent in the United States).

    But let’s say it could be done. Would it really help the world become more sustainable? Johann Fellner and his team at the Technical University of Wien in Austria are skeptical. They calculate that even if the world achieved 100 percent recycling, our total carbon footprint would be reduced by less than 1.6 percent (from 9,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per person annually to 8,856 kilograms). Considering that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “safe” scenario for 2050 requires a more than 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions, this can seem like a drop in the bucket.

     

    Other researchers have similar doubts about the success of the circular economy. Nancy Bocken, a professor at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, mined 10 years’ worth of press releases from 101 companies listed on the S&P 500 stock index to identify ... Read More

  • Reflections from a Field Builder: The Next 25 Years of Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing

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    Filed in Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy , Sustainability , on by GreenMoney Journal

    While offering the standard disclaimer that past performance is no guarantee of the future, I nevertheless offer some predictions for, and reflections about, the future of sustainable and impact investing.

    The field has grown from $639 billion in assets in 1995 to $8.72 trillion in 2016. It will be very surprising if the next decade does not bring continued expansion in assets and in the types of investors who control those assets, as well as further growth in the products and services available.

    High net worth individuals, on their own or as part of a family office or foundation, will increasingly drive their assets into this space. Foundations, historically slow movers in changing their investment process, will feel increasing pressure from the leadership shown by many smaller foundations and several large ones in connecting their mission to their endowments. Pension funds, including private sector funds that might be motivated by recent ERISA changes, will take their time, but more will offer sustainable investment options, especially if plan participants demand this.

    Our sector should spend less energy debating terminology and whether one asset class is superior to another.

    There is no winner in these debates. This field has been around for more than 30 years ... Read More