The GSB Interview: Emily Davis, Sustainability Director at DHL North America, on Logistics, Formula-E

DHL is the largest logistics and express delivery company in the world (yes, they are bigger than FedEx and UPS). Given the German-based company’s size and the businesses they’re in, it’s not surprising that their carbon emissions are massive. But those emissions have declined substantively as compared to nine years ago and those reductions will be tiny compared to what DHL will achieve over the next three to 33 years, if their aggressive projections are realized. GreenSportsBlog spoke to Emily Davis, Sustainability Program Manager at DHL North America’s Supply Chain unit, to understand how the largest logistics company in the world will go about achieving its net zero emissions goal by 2050 and how sports fits into those plans. 

 

GreenSportsBlog: I did not realize DHL was the biggest logistics company in the world. With that being the case, I am fascinated by the commitment of a company that big to get to “net zero” on carbon emissions by 2050. Before we get to the particulars of what DHL might do to get from here to there and where sports fits in, I’d like to find out how you got to DHL and its sustainability team.

Emily Davis: I have a scientific background, specifically the biological sciences. Even though I went to Notre Dame, don’t tell anybody but I’m not that big of a sports fan.

 

EmilyDavisheadshot2

Emily Davis, Sustainability Program Manager at DHL North America’s Supply Chain unit (Photo credit: Summer Safrit)

 

GSB: Oh, your secret is safe with me!

ED: I won’t hold my breath on that one. I’m more of an outdoor sports person—caving, mountaineering, paddling, that sort of thing. I started my career in the clinical medicine space and decided to make the transition to sustainability while out in Denver.

 

Emily spelunking new cave passage

Emily Davis, exploring virgin passage of a cave in Tennessee (Photo credit: Elliot Stahl)

 

GSB: Great place for outdoor sports…

ED: Exactly…And I could blend my dual passions for the environment and biology. I went back to school, getting my MBA from Vanderbilt in Nashville in environmental management to build a new skill set in this area.

GSB: What was the coursework like for an environmental management MBA?

ED: Good question. Some of it involved things like the business of forest certification standards and marketing. And that, in part, led to my getting a job at International Paper in forest resources in Savannah and then with their sustainability department in Memphis.

GSB: What was it like to work in corporate sustainability there back in the mid-to-late 2000s?

ED: Sustainability was important to a paper and packaging company as trees, the main raw material input, are a very finite resource if not appropriately managed. But not too many companies were talking about sustainability, ESG, life cycle assessment and climate change in those days. Even though sustainability was important to the culture at International Paper, I still wanted to make more of a difference. So I took a sabbatical and traveled. At some point, I decided that I needed to work for a company that believed in environmental protection at the top of the food chain and that had size and scale such that, when environmental improvements were made, the impacts would be significant.

GSB: And that company was…DHL? A company that ships stuff all over the world and, thus, must have a, sorry, yuuuugge carbon footprint?

ED: Yes, DHL North America it was. In 2011, they were looking for someone to run their North American supply chain and sustainability departments. And yes, we have a massive footprint. But that means, with a strong commitment, they—and I—could make a difference. At the time, I didn’t know much about the company. They were/are based overseas—headquartered in Germany. But I came to find out that they had ambitious sustainability goals. They believe deeply in environmental protection—it’s core to their DNA. And I thought to myself, “this is a company that has a chance to really make a positive impact on climate change.”

GSB: So what did your job entail?

ED: Many things. Meeting the company’s energy and fuel efficiency goals. Which meant accounting for and improving the efficiency of warehousing, heavy-duty trucking, aviation, express shipping and supply chain operations.

GSB: That is a BIG JOB. Seems to me like express delivery, which is what I thought was DHL’s main business, plays a smaller part in the US. So let’s go to a big part—supply chain. How does the company handle supply chain from a sustainability point of view?

ED: DHL, which tracks Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, is the first logistics company to report CO2 emissions and to set targets, with 2007 as the base year. Our primary goal was to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020. We achieved this in 2016, almost four years early, which we announced on March 8 of this year.

 

DHL Truck Windmills

Environmental protection is core to DHL’s DNA, according to Emily Davis (Photo credit: DHL)

 

GSB: Somehow I don’t imagine you and DHL are going to rest on your laurels…

ED: You’re right. We announced a new goal and that is to be a Zero Emissions Logistics company by 2050.

GSB: That seems impossible for a company that depends on flying and driving for a good chunk of its business. There have to be some assumptions of some serious technological advances over the next 30 or so years in terms of Zero Emissions fuels…

ED: It’s a huge target, no doubt about it. I mean, we’re committing to making no contribution to climate change by 2050. So, yes, we are assuming there will be wide adoption of Zero Emission fuels and equipment by that time and DHL is working on that right now.

GSB: Are there any interim targets? I mean 2050 seems like it’s a long way away—although I know, in terms of climate change, it really isn’t—but it feels like a company could put a commitment like that out there and then let things slide a bit, you know?

ED: I hear you. And we do have four interim sub-targets for 2025: 1. Make a 50 percent improvement on CO2 efficiency over the 2007 base. 2. Improve local quality of life…that will involve delivering 70% of our own first and last mile services with clean pick-up and delivery solutions like EVs. 3. An economic target: 50 percent of DHL sales will incorporate “Green Solutions,” including carbon neutral parcel delivery.

GSB: What is that percentage now?

ED: About 10 percent. Finally, #4 is a “people target.” DHL is one of the largest employers in the world, with approximately 454,000, including about 29,000 in North America. By 2025 we commit to having trained and certified 80 percent of our employees worldwide to be GoGreen specialists. Every division has a program, from express delivery to supply chain. And we have a target to plant 1 million trees each year by 2025. We’ve found, by the way, that our GoGreen initiative helps with employee retention.

GSB: I always believed that would be the case. DHL’s current sustainability and climate change actions are exemplary; its future plans even more so. My only nagging doubt is this: Many corporations take incredible sustainable actions but, when it comes to lobbying and political actions—i.e. lobbying for a price on carbon—they’re silent or in opposition. DHL is walking the climate/green walk. Is it talking the talk where it counts?

ED: It’s both. DHL is certainly talking the talk, sharing how we’re using scientific targets to do our part to keep global temperature increase to 2°C or less vs. pre-industrial levels, we report our emissions to CDP, have been a longstanding partner of the UN and promoter of Sustainable Development Goals, part of the UNEP and vigorously support the Paris Climate Agreement.

GSB: OK, let’s talk Green-Sports, specifically DHL’s involvement with Formula-E, the EV racing series.

ED: DHL has been the Official Logistics Provider for Formula 1 since 2012 and for Formula-E since its 2014 launch. Among other things, we are responsible for getting the vehicles and tires to the race venues in a timely, economical, environmentally responsible fashion. Formula-E is a perfect fit for us, especially with our push on “E-mobility” and electric vehicles (EVs). And, to be clear, our push is not limited to electric cars. We’re working on electric trucks within our own operations…

 

DHL Form-E

DHL has been a sponsor of Formula-E, the EV racing circuit, since its founding in 2014. (Photo credit: DHL)

 

GSB: Not surprising…

ED: And also electric vans, electric scooters. So promoting the electrification of racing is a natural fit. To our way of thinking, eventually—say before 2050—we hope that F-1 will move transition towards all-electric…

GSB: And so Formula E would no longer need to exist.

ED: That is our goal. And, also in the sporting world, I should tell you that one of our customers in Brazil was a sponsor of the Rio Olympics in 2016—we weren’t but they were. Anyway our EVs were used by the sponsor at the Olympics—they were one of the first ever EVs to be used at an Olympics and certainly a pioneering event for Brazil.

GSB: And, if DHL has anything to say about it, not the last.

 

 


 

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The GSB Interview: Alexandra Rickham, Paralympic Sailor and Eco-Warrior

British Paralympic medal-winning sailor and Green-Sports eco-warrior Alexandra Rickham’s story is one of the most compelling GreenSportsBlog has had the good fortune to tell. So our introduction today is extremely short. Enjoy!

 

GreenSportsBlog: Paralympic sailor and now Green-Sports leader. I can’t wait to hear this story. How did it all begin? 

Alexandra Rickham: Not a Green-Sports leader yet but I hope to get there. Well, I was born in Jamaica to a British dad and a Jamaican mum. I was very active and was inspired to love sports watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics—I rode horses, swam, played tennis. Lived in Jamaica until I was 12, went to boarding school in the U.K, came back to Jamaica for my summer holidays after a year and then had a diving accident that left me a quadriplegic.

GSB: Oh my God! Was this from the neck down?

AR: Actually it’s from the chest down…

GSB: So what did you do?

 

Team GBR Sailors June 2013

Alexandra Rickham, British Paralympic sailor and eco-athlete. (Photo credit: Paul Wyeth)

 

AR: Well, I rehabbed in a lot of places including Miami at Jackson Memorial…

GSB: Is that related to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and former American football player Marc Buoniconti?

AR: Exactly. And, while my main focus turned to education more than sport, I wasn’t going to give up sport altogether. First thing, sport-wise, post injury was try sailing through Shake A Leg, a Biscayne, FL nonprofit that gets people with disabilities to try sailing.

GSB: Had you sailed before the accident?

AR: Yes but only a couple of times. Sailing, despite Jamaica being an island nation, was not a big sport there.

GSB: How is that possible? Jamaica has bobsledders but not sailors?

AR: You would think, wouldn’t you? But it’s true, we have a small competitive sailing scene. I also tried skiing through a great group called Backup Trust.

 

SKI

Alexandra Rickham tries her hand at para-skiing, thanks to the assistance of the Backup Trust. (Photo credit: Alexandra Rickham)

 

GSB: OK, forgive me, but how do you sail and ski when you are paralyzed from the chest down? 

AR: Well, in sailing, the boats are designed for this purpose. The seat I sit in is fixed and I am strapped in. There is a push-pull system that allows me to steer even with my limited muscle control. My biceps are functional but my triceps are pretty much useless. As for para-skiing, it’s big in the nordic countries with the use of ski carts and a push pull system. 

GSB: This seems incredibly…risky. I would think you would’ve been extra careful.

AR: Oh that definitely wasn’t me! But, as I said, education came first so sailing was put on the back burner. I went to the University of Bath to study Natural Sciences with an initial focus on biology but then I switched to environmental studies. After graduation I looked for a job for about a year in the environmental field but had no luck. It was the first time my disability really came into play.

GSB: How so?

AR: Some of the interview questions were quite unsuitable. Anyway I then went back to get a Master’s degree in environmental technology at the Imperial College in London…

GSB: What is environmental technology, anyway?

AR: Well, it’s not as “tech-y” as one might think. The focus was really on global environmental policy, which actually was quite interesting. My Master’s dissertation was Carbon Neutrality on the Isle of Man as an Example of an Island State. While there, one of the British sailing developmental squad members approached me. He was looking for someone to helm for him and challenge for a spot at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Lets just say there was more sailing than dissertation writing.

GSB: How did he find you?

AR: The Backup Trust folks knew I had an interest in sailing and got them in touch. Plus, and this is unique to Paralympic Games, but they needed a woman with my level of disability. The boat was designed for that.

GSB: What are the levels of disability and where did you fit in?

AR: Great questions. I am considered a 1.0, the highest level of disability as laid out by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). My partner was a 2.0— a paraplegic. I trained with the guy and due to funding the partnership fell apart but I knew I wanted to pursue sailing at the Paralympics. My parents sort of rolled their eyes. But I didn’t know if the opportunity would become real. So in the summer of 2007 I got a job as an environmental technology assistant at BP.

GSB: That was an interesting time. If memory serves that’s when BP was branding itself as Beyond Petroleum. Were you concerned about being part of a greenwash?

AR: Not really. I mean I understand the question. But I looked at it differently. My role as an environmental technology assistant gave me a great opportunity to learn about all the aspects of the environment and business from a company in a dirty business that, at the time, knew that it would have to diversify its energy mix in some way. Of course I wasn’t naive but I loved the job, the people I worked with and learnt loads. So sailing was on the back burner again.

GSB: Somehow, I have a feeling sailing was about to move to the front burner again…

AR: You are good! I got a call from the Royal Yachting Association; they said, “we have someone for you to sail with.” I told ’em, “I’ve got a good job…” but they sold hard—said they had an up and coming partner, Niki Birrell, a 7.0 with cerebral palsy. We would be funded, which was a huge issue. So I went to my boss at BP—a sailor herself…

GSB: What are the odds of THAT?!

AR: Exactly! Anyway so I asked for leave, she said yes, and I said “LET’S DO THIS!”

GSB: When was this?

AR: October, 2007. Niki and I were sailing a month later as the boat was packed up and we went to Miami.

GSB: How did you guys get along?

AR: We were an interesting pairing. We are very different people plus he’s five years younger than I am. So I needed to look after him a bit. He hadn’t traveled but was a sailing veteran. I had been all over the place but was a sailing rookie. In our first regatta, we beat the incumbent British boat that was the favorite for the GB Beijing spot. It was a surprise, really, as I think we were viewed as potential for London 2012, not Beijing. We were younger than the incumbent. So that allowed me to leave BP and train full time.

GSB: How did you get paid?

AR: We were paid a grant by the U.K. High Performance Programme. And we trained like crazy in a nine-month sprint to Beijing. Which was insanely short; most teams are together for several years. But we went to Qingdao in May, 2008 where Paralympic Sailing would take place and won the Test Event. Incredible!

GSB: Incredible indeed! You were ready for the Paralympics…

AR: Yes, but it gave us a bit too much confidence and, at the Paralympic Games, the weather didn’t favor us and we ended up coming in fifth place.

GSB: Still, to even make it to Beijing in such a short period of time…

AR: I guess, but Niki and I were disappointed. We took a few months off and then decided to go for it in London 2012. Only thing was, since we didn’t medal in Beijing, we got less money for training. Still, on a shoestring budget, we went off to Miami in January 2009 to start prepping for London. Raised some more money. Raced in Newport and Marblehead and elsewhere in New England. Kept getting beaten by a U.S. team but we got better. Went to the World Championships in Greece in October, 2009 and won it!

GSB: Congratulations!

AR: Thanks! In fact, that was the first of five straight World Championship wins for us. In 2011, the Worlds were held at Weymouth, England, in advance of London 2012. We won at Weymouth…

GSB: But I bet there was no overconfidence…

AR: Exactly right. By this time, the Aussies were our main competition and it was tight. They’d win one, we’d win one, that kind of thing. But when it came time for London 2012, even though we had the right mental attitude, we made some mistakes in boat preparation and in tactics and we ended up with a Bronze. We were happy to medal, especially at a home country Olympics but still, we had another sour taste in our mouths.

 

2012 Paralympic Games

Alexandra Rickham and teammate Niki Birrell with their bronze medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. (Photo credit: OnEdition)

 

GSB: So…did you try to go for Rio 2016? 

AR: Yes. But by this time the partnership was struggling. Issues wouldn’t go away and I think we patched things as we went along but were never a complete unit. Still, we stuck it out, won our last World Championship in 2013, got silvers after that.

GSB: So what happened in Brazil?? 

AR: Well, we went into that Paralympics as one of the favorites again…The pressure was intense because sailing was taken off the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games docket. We knew this was our last shot at Paralympic gold, this my last Games and, after Rio, it was back to the real world. Again, things went wrong. We came away with our second straight bronze, behind the Aussies (gold) and the Canadians (silver). Really, losing to the Aussies wasn’t the thing that bugged me but the Canadians? We hadn’t lost an event to them for years. Not good, but they sailed better and that’s sports.

GSB: Still, medals in two Paralympics. Not too shabby in my book. Now, speaking of Rio, much was said and written, including in GreenSportsBlog, about the horrible environmental conditions of the sailing, rowing and outdoor swim venues. What was your experience?

AR: Another difference between me and my partner Niki is that he’s not environmentally conscious. So it was quite something to me that he was very sad about the state of the water in Rio, both for the competitors and, more so, for the residents. He had never seen anything like it and neither had I.

GSB: What did you see? 

AR: Lots and lots of rubbish. This was a problem because it would get caught on the keels and I couldn’t clear it, and then we’d be stuck. There were dead fish as well. We were very careful about hygiene, doing whatever we could to keep the water off of us. Luckily for us, we didn’t get ill while there. But, the state of play of the water did improve from when we first went down to Rio to train in 2014 until 2016.

GSB: Did you think the sailing competition should’ve been moved from the polluted Guanabara Bay to a cleaner venue some miles away from Rio? There was a great deal of controversy about this, with the Rio organizers and TV networks pushing to keep the sailing at the Guanabara because of the spectacular vistas while some athletes, activists, doctors and sailing officials wanted to move the event to cleaner waters. Where did you stand? 

AR: Ahhh, that’s a difficult question. I mean all of us in sailing want more visibility for our sport. Seeing the Union Jack on the spinnaker with Sugarloaf in the background was just amazing. The underreported part of this story was that the Guanabara is perhaps the most difficult venue for sailors, the ultimate test. So we wanted to sail there for sure. But, from solely an environmental perspective, the question is easy: Move the sailing to a clean venue. In the end of the day, it was probably a good thing that they kept sailing at the Guanabara because it highlighted the problems—the rubbish, the water quality, and the conditions for the people of Rio. The rubbish definitely improved some; hopefully the water quality did, too.

 

Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition

Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell sail for Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in the Guanabara Bay, with Sugarloaf in the background. “The Guanabara” was a source of controversy in the run-up to the Olympics and Paralympics, owing to its significant pollution levels. (Photo credit: Richard Langdon)

 

GSB: It is crucial for the sailing world and other sports governing bodies to keep attention focused on Rio’s environmental progress—or lack thereof. So, after Rio, you said you had to get back to the real world. What does that look like for you?

AR: I’m working for PCSG within their sustainability consultancy arm, headed by Susie Tomson, formerly sustainability director for Land Rover BAR, Britain’s entry in the 2017 America’s Cup…

GSB: Susie Tomson? GreenSportsBlog interviewed her! She’s terrific! What are you doing with PCSG?

AR: I’m there to work with Susie on sustainability in sport. We are doing some reporting for London 2017 Para-World Athletics and IAAF World Championships. I’m also looking at the big picture of the sporting environment, collating information and putting together a comprehensive database about what teams, leagues, venues and other governing bodies are putting in place, sustainability-wise. And from there, we will hopefully be able to use the database to clearly demonstrate the value of sustainability in sport and really drive its further adoption.

GSB: This sounds like the perfect transition for you—from Paralympic athlete to the real “Green-Sports” world. Please keep us informed as to your progress. And thank you for sharing your amazing story with us. All the best!

 

 

 

 


 

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GreenSportsBlog Featured on GreenTHINK Radio Program

Tracy Thomas, host of GreenTHINK Radio on KCOD-FM in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs, CA area) interviewed yours truly recently about all things Green-Sports.

 

Tracy Thomas’ GreenTHINK Radio program on KCOD-FM, is devoted to all things green. In the first 11 episodes of her half hour interview show, she covered a wide variety of topics, from water—a very big deal for listeners of the radio station of the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA near Palm Springs—to solar to green jobs to eco-innovations and more.

 

Tracy Thomas

Tracy Thomas, host of GreenTHINK on KCOD-FM in the Coachella Valley. (Photo credit: Tracy Thomas)

 

The last 15 minutes or so of Episode 12, which went live just recently, was devoted to #greensports as Tracy interviewed me about how I came to be involved in the Green-Sports world, why I started GreenSportsBlog, and the early history of the Green-Sports movement. Click here to listen (my segment starts at around the 14:30 mark).

This was the first part of a two-part interview. The second 15 minute segment, which focuses on the current state of play of the Green-Sports movement as well as where it might go from here, will air in about a week.

Thank you for taking a listen—any constructive feedback is welcome—and thanks to Tracy and KCOD-FM for the opportunity to share the GreenSportsBlog story and why Green-Sports can and must play an important role in getting us to a sustainable future.

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Soccer Sponsor Carlsberg Beer to Decarbonize by 2030; Pocono Raceway Issues Sustainability Report; College Baseball World Series Fans Turn Previously Non-Recyclable Plastics into Energy

Soccer, auto racing and baseball make up our summer solstice GSB News & Notes column. The Carlsberg Group, a leading sponsor of soccer/football clubs across Europe and elsewhere, is leading on decarbonization as well. The Danish brewing giant has committed to completely eliminate carbon emissions from its factories by 2030. Pocono Raceway becomes the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series track to issue a sustainability report. And fans visiting TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE for the College Baseball World Series have a new way to not only recycle their garbage, but to turn it into energy. 

 

CARLSBERG TO MAKE ZERO CARBON BEER BY 2030

Carlsberg Group of Copenhagen, Denmark, pledged last week to eliminate carbon emissions and halve water usage at its breweries worldwide by 2030, as part of its new Together Towards ZERO (TTZ), sustainability drive. According to a story in Sustainable Brands by Maxine Perella, the world’s fifth largest beer maker also intends to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity for its breweries by 2022 as one of several intermediate goals. Zero tolerance for irresponsible drinking and accidents are non-environmental facets of TTZ.

Carlsberg has a great opportunity to communicate TTZ to consumers through its sports sponsorships, which are concentrated in soccer/football. It is the official beer sponsor of several iconic European club teams as well as national squads, including:

  • Arsenal of the English Premier League—already active in Green-Sports with its solar partner, Octopus Energy.
  • Danish Superliga powerhouse F.C. Copenhagen, arguably, the most successful club in Danish football.
  • UEFA’s European (or Euro) Championships. Euro 2016, contested in France, is generally regarded as one of the most sustainable mega-sports events ever held.
  • National teams of Bulgaria, Denmark, and Serbia.

Carlsberg has set some aggressive targets for TTZ, aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) protocol. By 2022, it expects to achieve 50 percent reduction in brewery carbon emissions and to have eliminated the use of coal at its factories. It is also targeting a 15 percent reduction in Scope 3 (i.e. supply chain) emissions by the same date, working in partnership with 30 suppliers.

Carlsberg’s sustainability director, Simon Hoffmeyer Boas, speaking to Ms. Perella in Sustainable Brands, suggested that meeting the TTZ goals will, “require changes in the way we buy our products, in the way we produce our beer and the machinery we use.” On-site renewables will also play a key role in getting the company “towards zero.”

Carlsberg’s Dali brewery in China, for instance, has installed over 8,000 rooftop solar panels; the energy generated from these panels is meeting roughly 20 percent of the brewery’s electricity needs.

Turning to water, the beer maker is already working to get its H2O-to-beer ratios down. As of 2015, Mr. Boas says the company’s average ratio stood at 3.4 liters of water per liter of beer. The intention is to get down to 2.7 liters by 2022, and then to 1.7 liters by 2030. Those breweries sited in high-risk areas of water scarcity will look to reduce its water-to-beer ratio even further.

 

Carlsberg

Infographic detailing Carlsberg’s Together Towards ZERO program (Courtesy: Carlsberg)

 

As strong as Carlsberg’s decarbonization and water efficiency roadmap appears to be, it is, in the main, a B-to-B effort. If the company is undertaking these sustainability efforts, as it says on its website, in response to “increasing consumer (MY ITALICS) demand for sustainable products in a time of global challenges such as climate change, water scarcity and public health issues,” then it needs to promote TTZ to those consumers. Existing sports sponsorships—and the massive audiences that go with them—give Carlsberg a powerful platform for TTZ-themed TV/mobile ads, signage, promotions, and more. Let’s see if the company chooses to use it.

 

POCONO RACEWAY ISSUES ITS FIRST SUSTAINABILITY REPORT

June 8 is now a red-letter day in NASCAR history.

On that day, Pocono Raceway become the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race track to release a Sustainability Report touting its sustainability and green efforts. Pocono Raceway President and CEO Brandon Igdalsky, a 2016 GreenSportsBlog interviewee, issued the report just days before the NASCAR XFINITY Series Pocono Green 250 race, won by Kyle Larson.

 

Brandon_Image (002)

Brandon Igdalsky, President and CEO of Pocono Raceway. (Photo credit: Pocono Raceway)

 

“We are very proud to make this report available to the public,” said Igdalsky in a statement. “We had a lot of help from NASCAR Green, the Green Sports Alliance and Penn State among many others and we are grateful for their assistance. This report showcases our diversion efforts as well recycling, food donation and much more as we try to do all we can at Pocono Raceway.”

The report highlights Pocono Raceway’s:

  • Status as the first major sports venue in the country to be powered entirely by solar power. Made up of 39,960 American made, ground mounted thin film photovoltaic modules, the raceway’s three megawatt solar farm covers an area of 25 acres adjacent to the track, and generates enough electricity to fully power the track during events, meeting the increased power demand from NASCAR operations during races.
  • Commitment to diverting 75 percent of all waste generated at the racetrack from landfills by 2018.
  • Partnership with NASCAR Green and Safety-Kleen to collect and process automotive fluids for reuse. In 2016, Safety-Kleen recycled and repurposed 1,040 gallons of waste oil, 199 gallons of cleaning compounds, 270 pounds of absorbent, 150 pounds of used oil filters, and more.

Click here to read the entire sustainability report in PDF form.

 

COLLEGE WORLD SERIES FANS CAN NOW TURN PREVIOUSLY NON-RECYCLABLE PLASTICS INTO ENERGY

Since 1950, Omaha, NE has hosted the College Baseball World Series (CWS). Friends who have been to the 11-day baseball fest tell me it is an exciting, fan-friendly, if under the radar, “bucket list” type of event.

And, given the College World Series’ adoption of a state-of-the-art recycling program that turns plastic waste into energy, I need to move it into the Wimbledon, Notre Dame home football game range on my own personal sports bucket list .

Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park annually plays host to upwards of 300,000 college baseball fans during 11 mid-to-late June days and nights. Starting this past Saturday and running through June 28, CWS fans have a new way to make sure their garbage does not end up in landfill: The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program.

 

TD Ameritrade

A packed and jammed TD Ameritrade Park, the Omaha, NE home of of the College World Series. (Photo credit: College Baseball 360)

 

Throughout the ballpark, fans will see bright orange Hefty® EnergyBag™ bags from Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics (“Dow”). If they’re not among the select Omaha households who’ve been using the orange bags since September, they likely don’t realize the bags are the entry point to a unique, four-step, waste management process that will convert previously landfill-bound plastics into energy.

STEP 1: Fans dispose of previously non-recyclable plastics – including chip bags, candy bar wrappers and peanut bags – into bins containing the aforementioned bright orange bags.

STEP 2: Stadium staff and local haulers collect the bright orange bags from regular recycling bins and carts.

STEP 3: A local First Star Recycling facility sorts the bags and sends them to Systech Environmental Corporation. 

STEP 4: Systech Environmental then converts the bags and their contents into energy used to produce cement.

The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program, which launched in Omaha homes last September, recently expanded its rollout from 6,000 to 8,500 households and to TD Ameritrade Park for the CWS. As of June 2017, the program has collected more than 12,000 bags, diverting more than six tons of plastic previously destined for landfills.

 


 

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Green-Sports Startups: Nube 9 and The Circular Economy

Universally known, global corporations, from BASF to Nike to Tesla, have dipped their toes in the Green-Sports waters. While it makes sense from PR and mission points of view, Green-Sports, for now, represents a small aspect of those companies’ businesses. At the other end of the spectrum are startups for whom Green-Sports is everything, or close to it. GreenSportsBlog is launching an occasional series, Green-Sports Startups. It will focus on these small (for now) companies that see the Greening of Sports as existential to their businesses’ prospects for success. Our first such startup is Nube9, a Seattle-based circular economy company that is committed to making recyclable sports uniforms—and to making them in the U.S.A, from American fabric. We spoke to CEO Ruth True to get the Nube9 story.

 

For Ruth True, it all started on an art trip to China.

“I took a trip in 2008 with a group from the Seattle Art Museum to China. We visited four provinces and seven cities—it was fascinating—but above it all, I could not look past the fact that we rarely saw the sky. In fact, we saw blue sky only half of one day during our two weeks in China. The Chinese had gone from not being able to eat to not being able to breathe, in large part due to the mass consumption in the U.S and elsewhere in the developed world. ”

So Ms. True, a serial entrepreneur who’d worked in the food and catering businesses; came back to Seattle, determined to self-fund something new that would have a positive environmental impact. But what to do?

 

Ruth True Make Good Collective

Ruth True, CEO of Nube9 (Photo credit: Make Good Collective)

 

She went shopping.

With her five kids, four of them girls.

Two answers started to appear—GO LOCAL and NO NEW STUFF.

Ms. True noticed she could find little, in the way of apparel and toys that were made in the U.S, despite searching local shops and big chains like Whole Foods Market. So, in 2009, she opened a little shop and called it Nube Green. She decided on the name Nube because of feeling like a traditional “newbie” in the green/environmental world, but liked the aesthetics of the spelling Nube for her brand. The shop featured only US made and sourced gift and apparel items. This would, she reasoned, reduce carbon emissions and also appeal to folks’ patriotic and help-the-economy impulses. Still, with the massive cost advantages from manufacturing in China and, even more so, in Southeast Asia, people told her it couldn’t be done. And, truth be told, it’s been a struggle. “In our first five years or so, we were able to survive but people had a hard time finding us and the amount of U.S sourced goods was limited.”

But Ms. True was, for the most part, undaunted. And she was about to get a second bolt of green business inspiration, this time from her basketball-playing daughters.

You see, she couldn’t find U.S made girls basketball uniforms. And on top of that, at a Las Vegas youth basketball tournament, Ms. True noticed thousands of kids buying one-time use plastic water bottles, which all ended up in the trash. The LED light bulb went on above her head and she decided to start a company that would work to solve both concerns: She would manufacture basketball uniforms in the U.S. made from recycled plastic bottles.

And so Nube9 was born.

She kept the brand Nube from her store, and added “9” because of the initial estimate that it takes nine plastic water bottles to make one jersey. “I did a ton of research on manufacturers who used recycled product—and settled on Repreve, a company based in North Carolina which makes yarn from recycled bottles. We then found a great knitter, a great seamstress in Los Angeles, conducted more R & D, secured some space in L.A., and off to work we went.”

The Nube9 team developed five of its own recycled poly fabrics but purposefully didn’t patent them. “We want to expand the category,” offered Ms. True. “So we went with an ‘Open Source’ business model.” They started with basketball uniforms, for obvious familial reasons, but by growing their team and responding to the players’ feedback, Nube9 began to refine the product and expand their line to many sports.

Youth sports (i.e. younger than high school) started as Nube9’s key target market. In part, this was due to the dominance of Nike and other big players in the high school sports market. But an even bigger reason was one of influence:

“The idea was to get cool uniforms on the bodies of our youth, the key influencers of popular culture, and create ‘aha moments’ that will spread the word about the unis virally,” said Ms. True. “When the kids try them on, they are blown away by the idea of uniforms being made from plastic water bottles and love the custom look of the jerseys.”

 

Nube9 Hoops Jersey Ruth True

Nube9 basketball uniform made in the U.S. from recycled plastic bottles. (Photo credit: Ruth True)

 

Nube9 has found that, once it gets one team on board, word then spreads among the basketball community about the environmental benefits, competitive pricing, and custom looks and the other teams follow. Or, as Ms. True puts it, “Who wouldn’t want to look great on the court and help save the environment at the same time?” Meanwhile, coaches are bullish on the Nube9 uniforms from an efficacious perspective as they respond to the quality, durability, wicking, and softness of the fabric.

Trying to think two moves ahead, Nube9 recently launched a streetwear line. “This greatly broadens our potential market beyond youth to include daily wear, the yoga world, as well as the growing ‘athleisure’ segment,” Ms. True said. “This is a higher-priced/better margin segment for us, but we’re still managing to stay lower than companies like Lululemon.”

The company is taking a unique, cutting edge, “telling stories through apparel” approach: Per Ms. True, “We took a picture from the New York Times of plastic ocean waste and turned it into a design on our leggings in one day!” And there is a brilliant, powerful social responsibility element embedded in the purchase price: Buy a pair of leggings and fund the work of a climate scientist.

 

3 minute 53 second video tells the Nube9 story

 

2016, Nube9’s first year on the market, saw the company get off to a modest start but they were able to divert 795,000 plastic bottles from the landfill. 2017 finds the company at a tipping point of sorts: sales are conservatively estimated at $1 million, and, according to Ms. True, the company is ready to handle larger orders.

 

Plastic Bottles Ruth True

Crushed plastic bottles, the feedstock for Nube9 sports uniforms, all made in the U.S.A. (Photo credit: Ruth True)

 

And it also has a plan to handle the uniforms’ end-of-life.

The company urges teams to send uniforms, which would otherwise be discarded, back to Nube9. “The closed-loop recycling approach of Nube9 uniforms is critical and we are using companies on the cutting edge of the technology” related Ms. True. “We simply cannot put more micro-fiber into the oceans. Most high schools put old uniforms into storage or, worse, send them to the landfill”.

 

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Innovative Run For The Oceans on World Oceans Day; DC’s Verizon Center Adds Solar; Cooper Helfet, Oakland Raiders Eco-Athlete, Helps Launch The Nature Project

Adidas, along with nonprofit partner Parley for the Oceans and Runtastic, sponsors Run For The Oceans, a series of digital runs across the globe and an actual 5K in NYC on World Oceans Day (June 8) to bring attention to the plastic ocean waste and ocean health crises. Washington, DC, a city that can use some sensible sustainability news these days, sees the Verizon Center, home to the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals, add solar power to its energy mix. And Cooper Helfet, tight end for the Oakland Raiders, enters the ranks of eco-athletes by co-founding The Nature Project, bringing underserved youth in Washington State. Enjoy your cool News & Notes column on a hot (in New York City at least) Tuesday.

 

ADIDAS, PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS, RUNTASTIC TEAM UP TO SPONSOR DIGITAL + IN PERSON RUNS FOR THE OCEANS

59,136, and 358,150.

Those two numbers represent the total runners and the aggregate miles run in the first #RunForTheOceans during World Oceans Week, June 5-11 and, in particular, on World Oceans Day, June 8. Sponsored by adidas and nonprofit partner Parley for the Oceans, and fitness tracking app Runtastic, the event aggregated the efforts of runners all over the world to raise awareness of the plastic ocean waste issue and other environmental problems plaguing our waterways.

“Digital runners,” no matter their location, logged their mileage on Runtastic. While they ran, they listened to a dedicated playlist to learn more about ocean ecosystems, which are enduring plastic pollution, oil spills and the effects of climate change, including bleached coral reefs and species-threatening acidification.

On World Oceans Day, June 8, the focus was New York City as adidas and Parley hosted an evening in-person 5K run and after-party. The streets along the route were illuminated with blue lights to reflect undersea tones.

 

Manhattan Bridge

The Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge, illuminated in blue for the Run for the Oceans 5K on World Oceans Day, June 8, sponsored by adidas, Parley for the Oceans and Runtastic. (Photo credit: adidas/Parley for the Oceans/Runtastic)

 

Run for the Oceans

Runners gather for the Run for the Oceans 5K in New York City. (Photo credit: adidas/Parley for the Oceans/Runtastic)

 

The adidas-Parley for the Oceans partnership should be familiar to GSB readers: In March, we reported on the launch of the company’s UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneaker, made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste dredged from the ocean around the Maldives, an archipelago that is existentially threatened by climate change off the southern coast of India. Parley for the Oceans, an environmental nonprofit that draws much-needed attention to ocean pollution and waste, has worked with adidas in the design and marketing of the shoe, on a swimwear line and, now, on Run for the Oceans.

 

Parley

Some of the Run for the Oceans runners wore the adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley shoe, made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste. (Photo credit: adidas/Parley for the Oceans)

 

The 2017 edition of Run for the Oceans is just the start. Plans are being developed for a bigger and better 2018—the host city for the in person run is, at present, TBD.

No matter the location, adidas clearly sees the transformative power of Green-Sports. Eric Liedtke, the adidas executive board member responsible for global brands, said in a statement that “At the heart of our brand is the belief that through sport, we have the power to change lives. With the Run for the Oceans, we’re using this power of sport to inspire action.”

 

SOLAR POWER COMES TO VERIZON CENTER

Verizon Center, the downtown Washington, D.C. home of the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA’s Mystics, NHL’s Capitals, and Georgetown Hoyas basketball, is greening. Team and venue owner Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced a partnership last week with Virginia-based WGL Energy Services that will enable the Verizon Center to operate using 25 percent solar energy.

 

Verizon Center

Verizon Center during a Wizards game (Photo credit: Clark Construction)

 

“Sustainability is at the core of our operations across all of Monumental Sports & Entertainment,” Dave Touhey, its president of venues, said in a statement. “We are excited to expand our energy relationship with WGL Energy by entering into this new partnership to bring more renewable energy to Verizon Center.”

Monumental Sports & Entertainment will purchase solar electricity from a third-party-owned solar facility in Frederick County, Md. (about halfway between Washington and Harrisburg, PA), and receive about 4.7 million kWh per year of energy beginning in late 2017 as part of a long-term contract.

“Offsite renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors within the energy industry,” WGL VP and chief revenue officer Louis J. Hutchinson III said in a statement. “As renewable energy offerings continue to mature, it’s exciting to see the sports industry play a major role in sourcing offsite renewable energy.”

The impact for now will be small but meaningful: WGL Energy reports that the carbon emissions avoided as a result of the new arrangement are equivalent to taking nearly 700 cars off the road for one year. It says here that, as the price of solar power continues to drop, Monumental Sports & Entertainment and WGL will up the percentage of Verizon Center electricity generated directly from the sun.

WGL has been the official energy partner of Verizon Center since 2015 and, according to a June 8 story by Scott Allen in The Washington Post, the partnership has reaped some early environmental benefits: “Later this month, Monumental Sports & Entertainment will be honored as one of the Green Sports Alliance’s Innovators of the Year for counterbalancing ‘more than 3,123 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from 201 events’ at Verizon Center in 2016 with carbon offsets.”

While the Trump Administration and other sectors of the federal government are moving backwards with appalling alacrity on climate change and the environment, D.C. area teams, in addition to those housed in the Verizon Center, are moving forward. Nationals Park, home of MLB’s Washington Nationals, was the first professional sports stadium to receive LEED Silver certification when it opened in 2008. The NFL’s Washington Redskins, in a partnership with NRG, installed 8,000 solar panels in a FedEx Field parking lot in 2011. And Audi Field, the future home to Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, is expected to receive LEED Gold certification soon after it opens in 2018.

 

COOPER HELFET & THE NATURE PROJECT

Eco-athletes, to this point a relatively rare breed, are starting to grow in number. Add Cooper Helfet, tight end with the Oakland Raiders, to the list, with The Nature Project.

The brainchild of Helfet and high school pal Charles Post, The Nature Project aims to bring underserved urban youth, starting in Washington State, into nature so that they can learn to love the outdoors and experience the benefits of time spent in nature. You see, both Helfet and Post were raised by families that appreciated the value of nature, the joys of hiking, and exploring in the spectacular forests native to that part of the world.

 

Cooper Helfet

Cooper Helfet (Photo credit: The Nature Project)

 

Cooper, a top lacrosse, football and basketball player in high school, played tight end for Duke and, since 2013, has occupied the fringes of NFL rosters, mostly with the Seattle Seahawks and, as of midway through last season, the hometown Oakland Raiders. While with Seattle, Helfet helped roommate and Seahawks legend, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, with his community based non-profit, Fam First. After a one year retirement, Lynch signed with his hometown Raiders this offseason so he and Helfet will again be teammates.

One day in the spring of 2014, Charles and Cooper were hiking through Olympic National Park in Washington. Cooper was telling Charles about his experiences working with Fam First, and in particular his understanding that these kids, many of whom had few resources or support, may never have the opportunity to spend a day on the trail or camping under the starts. He talked about wanting to create an opportunity to bring these and other underserved youth into nature so that they too could learn to love the outdoors and experience the benefits of time spent in nature. Charles, who received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Ecology from the University of California, Berkeley and taught courses in field biology and American environmental history as a graduate student instructor, was quick to build upon Cooper’s ideas.

It took three years and $70,000 to put The Nature Project’s vision into motion. Per Charles Post’s June 9 blog post, The Nature Project earlier this spring “brought 200 4th and 5th graders into nature so that they could experience a three day, three night stay at Islandwood—an award winning outdoor education retreat on Bainbridge Island west of Seattle. Joining them, in addition to Helfet, were Seattle Seahawks players Sidney Rice, DeShawn Shed, Jermaine Kerse, Olympic swimmer Emily Silver, mountain athlete and artist Rachel Pohl and members of the University of Washington basketball team.”

 

Sidney Rice

Sidney Rice of the Seattle Seahawks and 4th and 5th graders enjoy a day in the woods through The Nature Project. (Photo credit: The Nature Project)

 

Helfet reacted to the first The Nature Project event as though he had won a Super Bowl, which he did as a member of the Seahawks in 2014^: “The radiant smiles spread across the faces of [the] boys and girls spending their first days in the outdoors gave me an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for getting to share those moments with them. Sometimes it seems as though I forget how magical our natural world can be until you see those wonders through a kid’s eyes experiencing the natural world for the first time…I found myself brimming with joy as I watched kids planted in nature as they climbed trees, ate stinging nettle, saw owls and bald eagles for the first time—all within a few hours of their home communities. Being in the presence of these transformative moments impacted me and the other athletes deeply. ”

 

^ The Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8, over the Denver Broncos at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey

 

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GreenBiz Runs GreenSportsBlog Interview w/ Allen Hershkowitz on Trump Pull Out of U.S from Paris Agreement

Today’s issue of GreenBiz features last week’s GSB Interview with Dr. Allen Hershkowitz. The Founding Director of Sports and Sustainability International (SandSI) and the founder and former President of the Green Sports Alliance gave his reaction, almost in real time, to President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

GreenBiz, the must-read publication for those interested in news from the intersection of business, technology and sustainability, occasionally runs GreenSportsBlog content. Thank you, GreenBiz!

They did so today, posting our June 1 interview with Dr. Allen Hershkowitz in which Hershkowitz gave his take on #Prexit, President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.

Click here to link to the GreenBiz story.

And here are links to two other GSB, #Prexit-related statements.

 


 

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