9 Benefits Provided by Forests


Thailand is not the only country in the world losing forestsDeforestation is also happening in our backyard. The real estate booming back in the day is to blame.

According to a recent map released by World Resources Institute, the top 10 Counties Losing Forest to Development in the US South. These counties “converted approximately123,000 acres of forest to development over 5 years.”

The 10 counties that are mostly located in the South, are prone to drought and putting forest at risk: Harris (Houston), Gwinnett (Atlanta), Fulton (Atlanta), Wake (Raleigh), Montgomery (Houston), Meckleburg (Charlotte), Bexar (San Antonio), Duval (Jacksonville), Jefferson (Birmingham), Cobb (Atlanta).

Forests provide so many benefits to humanity.

Just to revisit some of the benefits provided by forests, here are the 9 benefits, via CBD: 

1. Forests provide food and a vast array of materials for medicinal, cultural and spiritual purposes, as well as building materials and firewood.

2. They store and purify drinking water.

3. Protect watershed.

4. Mitigate natural disasters.

5. Control erosion.

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Flooding and Impact on Businesses

CLIMATE SKEPTICS need to pay attention here. This man, Richard Han, CEO of Hana Microelectronics talks to CNN how the floods impacting businesses. The water is 2 meter (about 2.18 yards) high and you have to get to the industrial park – by boat!

There’s a correlation between deforestation, climate, rainfall. When we talk about Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century, look at the impact on people and business.

Half a century ago, Thailand was not as populated as today. Probably few manufacturing companies set up shops here.

Now is a different story.

Down the chain line, since the beginning of this month Toyota, Nissan and Honda combined are losing 6,000 units/cars a day! If you add this to the overall Thailand’s exports. And calculate its impact deeper down the chain line – how it impacted their businesses around the world – the  number could be really huge!

Check this out.

Deforestation, Thailand Floods and Supply Chain

You think deforestation has something to do with “Thailand worst” floods? Because rainforests affect local weather conditions by creating rainfall.

Between 1945 and 1975 forest cover in Thailand declined from 61% to 34% of the country’s land area. Over the next 11 years, Thailand lost close to 28% of all of its remaining forests. This means that the country lost 3.1% of its forest cover each year over that period.

What happened now is Thailand going through the worst floods in half a century. The floods have disrupted the supply chain of some of the big names, i.e. Toyota, Apple, Ford, etc. For example, Toyota, Honda and Nissan – combined – they’re losing 6,000 units of car production daily since early this month.

Thailand is a big regional hub for the world’s car makers and most are suffering disruption, either because their plants are flooded or, more often, because parts makers have had to close and the supply chain has been disrupted.

The output of Japanese car makers has fallen by about 6,000 units a day because of the flooding. Germany’s Daimler AG said late on Thursday it had halted car production because of the threat of flooding. (emphasis added)

via Reuters

Moreover, Bloomberg reports that “Thailand is the world’s largest producer of hard-disk drives, the biggest exporter of rice and rubber and the second- largest supplier of sugar, according to government data.” So if you total domestic productivity, exports and its global impact down the supply chain – the impact from the floods could be huge. Really huge!

I remember when we were still a kid in Jakarta. Our house got flooded few times. When the city gets flooded, it is like snow days for us. It’s fun when it’s not too much and go on for days. Because we can play around in the thick of water! But things can get messy and people got sick after a few days of continuous rain. So enuf of it.

This flood should be a wake up call for everyone.  There is a price to everything (in life and business). That when you disrupt nature’s natural cycle of cooling system this is what could happen.

Sure by now the Japanese conglomerates may already have learned the lessons from this experience. That there’s correlation between deforestation, climate and rain fall. They do learn pretty quick. It’s about risk management and Kaizen!

The chain is disrupted (in pictures)

Pictures worth a thousands words. My friend sent me pictures of Rojana industrial park, where Toyota and other manufacturers have their plants under water siege – that you can see below the fold..

Continue reading “Deforestation, Thailand Floods and Supply Chain”

DuPont Packaging Awards Show Sustainability Drives Innovation

DuPont made the announcement of the winners for their 23rd packaging awards yesterday. DuPont packaging awards dates back to 1986. “The awards is the industry’s longest running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.”

And welcome to social media! Because I learned about it via @DuPont_ability (their witter account for their sustainability news) and the winners was announced through a global webcast.

DuPont made the announcement of the winners for their 23rd packaging awards yesterday. DuPont packaging awards dates back to 1986. “The awards is the industry’s longest running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.”

And welcome to social media! Because I learned about it via @DuPont_ability (their witter account for their sustainability news) and the winners was announced through a global webcast.

Continue reading “DuPont Packaging Awards Show Sustainability Drives Innovation”

BW: Subaru’s Sustainable Drive

Who knew? All these years, we heard the success of Toyota. But Subaru we hardly hear anything about their success and how they embrace (more like embedded) sustainability to their core of their business.


Who knew? All these years, we heard the success of Toyota. But Subaru we hardly hear anything about their success and how they embrace (more like embedded) sustainability to their core of their business.

In a nutshell, Subaru has zero layoffs (despite recession), zero paycuts and zero waste. Practicing sustainability must be good for their business!

Continue reading “BW: Subaru’s Sustainable Drive”

Guangzhou’s (China) Innovative Transportation System

Check out this city of Guangzhou, the economic hub of China’s eastern coast, for its transit systems. In a country that have more than 1 billion people, even a city the size of Guangzhou has population in the 10 to 15 million range that equal population of probably some of the big cities in Asia. It is “the fastest growing city in the fastest growing province in the fastest growing country.”

With the kind of population like they have, the city have to offer an integrated transportation system. They’ve got too. Traffic jams is common problems in many of cities in Asia. The streets there are not like here, which is wide and have 4-6 lanes. Over there, you’ll be lucky to find cities that have more than 4 lanes.


4 Ways the Cleaning Product Industry Measured Sustainability and Lessons Learned

The American Cleaning Institute (formerly soap and detergent Association) recently published its first, 2011 Sustainability Report. Didn’t know much about the organization and the work they do. So I interview Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Communication and Membership, for Ecotwist.

In our conversation, we chat about variety of topics related to the industry’s sustainability efforts. We also touched on the history of the organization, lessons learned, product/design/packaging innovation, consumer education and outreach. (We’ll talk more about their consumer education and outreach in another post. Their programs deserve an in-depth look).

According to Brian, the Soap and Detergent Association became “The American Cleaning Institute,” in 2010. Because they want to expand their reach to include ingredient suppliers. In short, ACI is a trade industry association representing producers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products, their ingredients and finished packaging, oleochemical producers and chemical distributors to the cleaning product industry.

Many of us might not know that this organization was founded in 1926. They’ve been working on advancing public understanding of the safety and benefits of cleaning products, and protecting the the ability of its members to formulate products that best meet consumer needs – since then. In fact, sustainability has already been at the core (of the Institute) long before “the term” became popular and corporate social responsibility was invented.

In addition, ACI do a lot of work on regulatory, technical, advocacy and outreach work.

Some the household names members, include Amway, BASF, the Clorox Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Unilever, SC Johnson, Seventh Generation and more.

Sustainability metrics

ACI realized as there are more groups of people, government interested on how industries operate sustainability, they realized as an organization they needed to put a spotlight on what their industry is doing on sustainability front. Many of the members have been putting up their sustainability operations in and around the companies.

So in 2009, ACI and its members started a pilot project to report on a common set of sustainability-related metrics relevant to the industry for both its consumer packaged goods and raw material supplier members.

Over the course of three years, 20 companies supply data that includes not only companies that make the end products (detergent, household cleaning products) but also companies that supply them with cleaning agents (chemical, enzymes, fragances) – the supply chain. They worked with Environmental Resources Management to device an initial system so companies can track metrics in four different areas that are associated with the U.S. production of cleaning products.

The project was an initial effort to see how they’re doing and to develop some ways for companies large and small to be able to track this kind of data. It was not an easy thing to do because a lot of companies produce and supply products besides cleaning products. So they have to separate out data – just data associated with cleaning products. It was a learning process.

The cleaning product industry measured its sustainability efforts in 4 different areas:

1. Energy use (electricity, steam, and on-site operations).

2. Greenhouse gas emission (CO2 equivalent) from all sources owned or controlled by the company.

3. Water use and conservation.

4. Waste generation.

1. Energy use

The energy metric data includes electricity use, generated offsite; purchase steam use, coal use, kerosene use, fuel oil use, gasoline use, natural gas (liquid and gas form) use, biogas/ landfill gas used as fuel, other ‘green’ energy sources, and energy use from distribution.


>> Result: The total energy use (in gigajoules) for participating members decreased from ’07 to ’09 by approximately 18% per ton of production.

2. Greenhouse gas emissions

Member companies reported on greenhouse gas emissions from all sources owned or controlled by the company, including indirect GHG emissions resulting from the off-site generation of purchased electricity, heat or steam; on-site generation of electricity, heat or steam; other combustion process; physical or chemical processing; venting and fugitive emissions.


>> Result: The greenhouse gas emissions for participating members also decreased by 25% in ’07 to ’09.

3. Water use and conservation

Water is one of the key resources used across in the full-cycle of production from the water used upstream for raw material production to the manufacturing process to consumers when they use their products. The water metric tracks not only the water amount use but also water saved through conservation measures.

The water use data includes: water in product, purchased water, withdrawn from wells, surface water at plants, collected rain water, gray or reused water, steam.


>> Result: Water use decreased by 10% for participating members from ’07 to ’09.

4. Waste generation

Members of the Institute generates both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The waste metric tracks the amount of solid waste generated, reused, recycled and disposed by each company.


>> Result: Waste generation decreased between ’08 and ’09, but increased by approximately by 2% from ’07 to ’09.

Lessons learned

Learning is part of the process, afterall sustainability is a journey:

– The data helps them understand industry’s environmental performance and the effectiveness of the policies that these companies have in place as well as other programs and their manufacturing process.

– Overtime as companies look to see where the trend is going for their particular line of business, they would put new practices or improved practices in place so they can certainly cut down on energy use and water use.

– For companies during this time of economic challenge the past couple of years, that’s a big expense when you’re paying for fuel, energy to keep the processes moving to formulate products.

– Companies are taking a number of different steps to decrease energy use, make it more efficient that varies per company depending on what they make.

– More and more companies are looking at the practices certainly to get to a point because they are responsible to their stakeholders, customers and employees to put all of these processes in place, make sure that they’re safe and effective as possible.

Innovation.. in the process 

In many cases, through R&D innovation, companies tested and put out products that require less water. For example, liquid laundry detergent. If you go a store right now, you’ll find that liquid laundry detergent are all concentrated. By concentrating and compacting this liquid laundry detergent, consumers could still wash the same number of loads, but the package doesn’t need to be as big. For companies, they don’t need as many fleet of trucks to deliver to the store. So it saves money on transportation. Less packaging means you’re not using much water anymore. And less space needed at the retail level.

You can listen to the full interview here.


Check Out Environment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dewita Soeharjono on BlogTalkRadio

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