Top of the Class: What it Takes to be a Justmeans Social Innovation Awards Winner in the Categories of Products and Performance

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Top of the Class: What it Takes to be a Justmeans Social Innovation Awards Winner in the Categories of Products and Performance

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 3:45pm

Social Innovation often starts at the core of a company: its products, its employees, and its performance. Recognizing the importance of these categories within the social innovation and sustainability spaces, this year the Justmeans Social Innovation Awards honored applicant across all three areas. Here are the descriptions of the winners:

Product: Best Product Design – This award went to the organization that developed best green product. New green products involve innovations in product design and efficiency that help maintain sustainability throughout the product life cycle.

Be Green Packaging, LLC developed in tandem with Gillette (Proctor & Gamble) a plant fiber packaging alternative for Gillette's Fusion ProGlide Razors. While Gillette had previously been using plastic packaging for the razors, the new packaging is made from wild-harvested plant fibers such as bamboo, bagasse, and bulrush and has been certified Cradle to Cradle and recyclable. The tray resulted in a substantial decrease in packaging weight and materials usage while still maintaining Gillette's distinctive design and colors. Previous to this accomplishment, plant fiber packaging was mainly relegated to the food service industry in the form of compostable plates, cups, clamshells, etc. This project pushed the boundaries of what designs are possible with molded pulp while also maintaining distinctive brand identity. Additionally, the success and large scale implementation of this project has demonstrated that custom plant fiber packaging designs are a legitimate, realistic solution to large-scale packaging needs and that plant fiber technology is a viable solution for companies wishing to become more sustainable through packaging innovation. The project resulted in significant advances in the ability to colorize and laminate molded plant fiber pulp. Precision trimming resulting in defined, standardized edges was also brought to new levels for molded plant fiber technology.

Product: Best Incorporation of Ethical Sourcing/Certification - The award went to the company or organization that has made the most integrated and substantial commitment to ethically sourced materials, ingredients, etc. and was open to both companies and particular brands. In this category only did the Judges unanimously agree upon a single applicant: the H.J. Heinz company.

Beginning in 2007, Heinz launched a dedicated program, UTZ Certified Good Inside, to produce Heinz chocolate products with 100% sustainable cacao in 2015 in The Netherlands and Belgium. The program looks to create an open and transparent marketplace for agricultural products and UTZ Certified has already developed sustainability models for the production of cocoa, coffee and tea, and offers traceability services for palm oil. This initiative, in addition to buying certified cacao, continues to work with more than 2,000 local farmers in the Ivory Coast to help speed up the availability of certified cacao by creating sustainable agricultural supply chains in which farmers are trained to be professionals., Furthermore, the program also boasts of a consumer-facing component that aims to educate and explain the importance of improving the cocoa production chain to make lives better for local cocoa farmers.

Operations: Best Sustainability Performance Award - This award went to the company or organization that has made the most substantial gains in reducing its "footprint" over the past twelve months while maintaining financial performance. While an incredibly competitive category, the Judges agreed that Novo Nordisk has set a high standard for future companies in this area.

Sometimes a statistic speaks more clearly to what sustainability is than any anecdote ever could, and Novo Nordisk has some impressive stats. With regards to how sustainability has brought value to their business: Since 2004, the energy savings have realised a total of 24 million USD in cost savings corresponding to a 10% reduction in global energy consumption. Changes made to achieve energy savings from 2004-2009 will continue to yield annual cost savings of approximately 8 million USD in the future, not to mention the intangible value of future risk mitigation, employee engagement, trust and reputation. Looking externally, Novo Nordisk’s sustainability efforts also have added value to society, such as 28,000 tons CO2 reduction achieved by the end of 2009 through the energy savings programme--equivalent to around 4,500 fewer cars on the road every year. Furthermore, Novo Nordisk sourced enough the wind power equivalent of taking a further 8,000 cars off the road every year. With the DONG Energy partnership, Novo Nordisk created a business model brought together stakeholders to overcome challenges and create shared value in such a way that has since inspired some 30 new partnerships outside of this relationship. And the icing on the cake? DONG and Novo Nordisk are collaborating on building the world’s largest off-shore wind farm.

Justmeans will be highlighting video interview with the winners, impressive applications, and more from the 2012 Social Innovation Awards ceremony over the next few weeks. For more information, please visit the website www.socialinnovationawards.com.