State of Green Business Strong Amid Recession, Says Report


The green economy is thriving despite the economic downturn, according to the State of Green Business 2010 report released Wednesday by Greener World Media.

“Green professionals weren’t among the first to be thrown overboard,” said Joel Makower, report author and Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com, in a statement. “Their budgets were slashed, their headcounts frozen, all while their mandates sometimes increased. But they managed to survive, even thrive, during tough times.”

What top trends are now driving green business? To start, the report says more companies and consumers are embracing “radical transparency.”

For instance, in 2009 Green Seal and Underwriters Laboratories unveiled ambitious plans to rate companies or products. Walmart launched a Sustainability Index of the suppliers stocking its shelves on practices related to energy and climate, material efficiency, natural resources and “people and community.”

And tools are flourishing that place product information in the hands of consumers. GoodGuide and HealthyStuff are just a few that do so literally through Web sites and iPhone apps.

Among the other top green business stories of 2009, according to the report:-

  • Green marketing gets even “murkier” and consumers are unsure what claims to trust.
  • Green innovation is on a roll. For instance, companies are collaborating to improve products through the Eco-Patent Commons.
  • Corporations and institutions are adopting greener fleets, purchasing hybrid, biodiesel and other alternative vehicles.
  • Companies are aiming to ramp up energy efficiency. Software makes it easier to slash waste, and data centers are getting greener.
  • Major IT companies are helping to lead the way with ambitious carbon emissions reduction efforts.
  • Companies respond to pressure by lawsuits, activists and lawmakers to reduce toxicity in product supply chains and manufacturing.
  • Food companies share more about their ingredients and sustainability practices.
  • Packaging companies increasingly reduce waste and use more recycled, low-toxic materials.
  • The green business and clean tech worlds find common purpose. “Clean technology in its many forms is entering the marketplace — occasionally in the form of goods and services that are visible to consumers…but more often embedded in materials, manufacturing systems, public infrastructure, information technology and industrial processes.”

Among the report’s bright, green notes in the business world in 2009:

  • Electronics makers are releasing less-toxic products, while Energy Star and EPEAT consumer labels rate a growing number of goods.
  • More companies boast LEED-certified, greener office spaces.
  • Energy efficiency, water efficiency, and paper recycling are on the upswing.
  • The U.S. Patent Office issued record r1,125 patents for clean-energy technologies.

As for the bad news, the report says:

  • Carbon intensity, the emissions of greenhouse gases per unit of GDP, isn’t improving quickly enough.
  • Employee telecommuting lags and workers continue driving to work.
  • Electronics waste piles aren’t recycled well enough, even though 80 percent of companies with revenue of more than $1 billion have e-waste disposal programs.

The report highlights trends that are “treading water.”

  • The quality of reporting by companies to the Carbon Disclosure Project could be better.
  • Clean tech investments are down but still strong.
  • Most S&P 500 companies don’t disclose enough about sustainability in reports.
  • Toxic emissions are declining, although 20 chemicals that can harm the health of humans and ecosystems are still released in manufacturing each year.

Greener World Media, which publishes GreenBiz.com and other business-themed Web sites, produced the third annual report, which is available as a free download. The release coincides with State of Green Business Forum held in San Francisco and Chicago this month. Greener World Media also publishes a monthly Green Confidence Index of consumer attitudes.

Image: GreenBiz.com



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