The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Strategic CSR - Plastic

I knew the level of pollution in our oceans was a problem. The article in the url below, however, demonstrates just how much of a problem it has become:
"The world is awash in plastic. It's in our cars and our carpets, we wrap it around the food we eat and virtually every other product we consume; it has become a key lubricant of globalization — but it's choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware."
Two facts, in particular, stood out. First:
"Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet's ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth."
And, second:
"In a 2010 study of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, my colleagues and I estimated that some 2.3 billion pieces of plastic — from polystyrene foam to tiny fragments and pellets — had flowed from Southern California's urban centers into its coastal waters in just three days of sampling."
To repeat, that is 2.3 billion pieces in 3 days! As a result:
"We suspect that more animals are killed by vagrant plastic waste than by even climate change."
One solution, of course, is to incorporate the true costs associated with the consumption of these plastics into the price paid for the product (see, Chapter 8: Case-study – Lifecycle Pricing, p473). This will reduce consumption and would make recycling a more cost-effective option. Most importantly, it would incentivize businesses to innovate and develop a more environmentally efficient (and, in a lifecycle pricing model, less costly) alternative.
I will be travelling for the rest of this week, so there will be no Newsletters on Wednesday and Friday this week.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you here in the U.S.
David Chandler & Bill Werther
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
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Choking the Oceans With Plastic
By Charles J. Moore
August 26, 2014
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final