Last week, Tesla received a profusion of praise for “recycling 100 percent of its lithium-ion batteries.” And since the EV incumbent’s 2020 Impact Report was released last week, this headline has been aggressively stalking me. It has appeared in numerous newsletters, come up on calls and reappeared in my inbox in the form of emails from multiple colleagues, friends and family members. I rarely cover a company’s impact or sustainability report. (The GreenBiz editorial ethos is typically to provide context and look more closely at the “how” and “why” of an initiative, rather than report on the announcement itself). If we’re being honest, I rarely ever read corporate sustainability reports in full. They often have an impossibly optimistic and congratulatory tone that’s a bit too saccharine for even my sweet tooth.
Full article: Sustainability certification as marketisation: Rainforest Alliance in the Sri Lankan tea production industry
Unsustainable production is a root cause of numerous social and ecological problems. Whilst sustainability certifications face criticism for exacerbating greenwashing, comparative studies have identified improvements in social and ecological outcomes on certified farms. In this paper, we investigate the process by which a sustainability certification can enable a production industry to move beyond mere greenwashing. We conceptualise sustainability certification as a process of marketisation, organising economic activities within a production industry in ways that can enable new forms of thought and action. To examine this marketisation process, we study the case of Rainforest Alliance certification in the Sri Lankan tea production industry. We draw on an extensive six-month period of fieldwork, involving 74 semi-structured interviews with people working across the industry. We find that accounting devices deployed in this marketisation process create new visibilities within the industry to distinguish sustainability-certified tea as a marketable economic good, to equip producers to become economic agents capable of participating in markets for sustainability-certified tea, and to construct an economic exchange connecting supplies from certified tea estates with demands from ethically minded consumers. Our findings contribute to research on accounting for sustainable development, shedding light on the process by which, despite ongoing concerns regarding greenwashing, sustainability certifications can bring about positive impacts on social and ecological outcomes.
The LIFE programme – the EU’s funding instrument for environment and climate action – is set to host two virtual events this week and next week. The programme is hosting the events ahead of and during SERE2021, the 12th European Conference on Ecological Restoration. Organised by the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) Europe and the University of Alicante, SERE2021 is taking place from Tuesday, September 7, to Friday, September 10. According to LIFE, the conference will feature discussions on the challenges facing ecological restoration in post-2020 Europe. It will also look at how ecological restoration can benefit damaged, degraded and destroyed socio-ecological systems.