Archive for March, 2011

NAT Enters in Short-Term Agreement with Georgia Pacific

We are pleased to announce that we’ve entered into a short term CRAiLAR® Flax fiber supply agreement with Georgia-Pacific LLC (GP) beginning April 2011 to support evaluation of processing CRAiLAR flax fiber in formed materials.

Recently completing product-forming trials using CRAiLAR flax fibers,  the supply agreement will allow for GP to purchase CRAiLAR flax fiber from NAT for additional product testing.

“We are excited to explore this aspect of possible development,” said Ken Barker, CEO of NAT.  “Our partnership with GP has proven to be a truly collaborative effort.  We believe this step is important to identifying potential applications of our technology beyond those we are already exploring.”

Georgia-Pacific is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging and building products . They have approximately 300 manufacturing facilities across North America, South America and Europe, ranging from large pulp, paper and tissue operations to gypsum plants, box plants and building products complexes.

 

31/03/2011 at 5:58 am Leave a comment

The World Changing

Introducing the new and improved edition of WorldChanging!  With more than 160 new entries including up-to-the-minute information on the locavore movement, carbon-neutral homes, novel transportation solutions, the growing trend of ecotourism, the concept of food justice and much more.

Additional new sections focus on the role of cities as the catalyst for change in our society.  With 50 percent new content, this overhauled edition incorporates the most recent studies and projects being implemented worldwide.  The result is a guided tour through the most exciting new tools, models, and ideas for building a better future.

Five years after the initial publication of Worldchanging, the landscape of environmentalism and sustainability has changed dramatically.  The average reader is now well-versed – even inundated – with green lifestyle advice.  In 2011, green is the starting point, not the destination.  This second edition of the bestselling book is extensively revised to include the latest trends, technologies, and solutions in sustainable living.

29/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Corporations Commit to Both Profits and People

For-profit corporations have become known over the past two decades for layoffs, outsourcing, and determination to maximize profits for investors—no matter the cost to employees, consumers, or the economy.  But such practices may be waning:  States across the U.S. are considering laws to enable entrepreneurs to create corporations that do as much for society as they do for their shareholders.

Maryland was the first state to pass Benefit Corporations (“B-Corps”) legislation.  The law, which went into effect in October 2010, creates a new class of corporation committed to having a positive impact on the environment and society.  Vermont and New York passed similar legislation in June.  Legislators in other states including California, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, are also considering the issue.

Businesses incorporated under B-Corps laws have social goals and commitments written into company bylaws.  This ensures that companies will no longer face the hard choice of sacrificing their socially beneficial goals in order to fulfill their responsibility to investors when, for example, an acquisition offer is on the table.  Under traditional corporate law, company heads can’t refuse such an offer for fear of a lawsuit from shareholders.

“There have been a number of socially conscious companies that have been forced to sell out to large corporations and end up sacrificing the public side of the equation,” explains Raskin.  “Ben & Jerry’s is an excellent example.  The directors of the corporation were required to accept a handsome buyout offer even though they knew the business would lose its soul.”

B-Corps may choose any goals that will have a measurable “general public benefit.”  They can go totally “green,” offer worker training or literacy programs, or host activities that promote the arts and sciences.  Companies incorporated under the law will have to submit an annual report detailing not only their finances but also their good works.

The Benefit Corp movement should bring a change in mindset to the business world and entrepreneurs.  The two will be able to acknowledge the vital role business can play in making the world a better place.

24/03/2011 at 5:30 am Leave a comment

The Future of Farmland

“Betting the Farm – and Winning”, an article I recently read in McLeans magazine, got me to thinking about the future of farming.  Farmland is a “forever asset”, investors are buying it up and it’s making traditionalists nervous.

Investment of private equity in farmland has been ongoing for several years in the U.K., Ukraine, New Zealand and Australia.  (In fact, the Alberta pension fund is reported to have purchased land in Australia that will be developed into a timber plantation and farm.)  The governments of land-poor countries such as Saudi Arabia and Korea, as well as corporations and hedge funds, are buying huge swaths of farmland in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, in what many call a land grab.  A World Bank report on the issue described how farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, displaced after land was sold to a foreign buyer, had to pay guards at a national park to let them grow their crops there.

According to Wayne Caldwell, professor of rural planning and development at the University of Guelph, allowing private equity companies to purchase farmland can be problematic.  “We have a legacy of farms being places where people live and make a living.  It’s a romantic view, but it’s also a reality,” he said.  “We’re in uncharted territory and we’re not sure what the implications will be.”

To get the full story, click here.

22/03/2011 at 5:30 am Leave a comment

NAT Signs 10 Year CRAiLAR Fibre Supply Agreement with Hanesbrands Inc.

Today, we are pleased to announce the signing of a ten-year CRAiLAR® Fibre supply agreement with Hanesbrands Inc. that will commercialize our proprietary fibres.  This represents our initial commercialization agreement for CRAiLAR® and establishes the foundation for continued adoption of its proprietary flax-based fibre.

Our all-natural CRAiLAR® process is the first to remove the binding agents from flax that contribute to its stiff texture by bathing it in a proprietary enzyme wash.  The result is a textile fibre that merges the strength and durability of flax with the most desirable attributes of cotton.  Yarns made from CRAiLAR® fibres can be used in knit, woven or non-woven fabrics alone, or blended with other natural fibers used to manufacture apparel products similar to those marketed by Hanesbrands, a leading basic apparel company based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“This agreement is a strong validation of our CRAiLAR® technology and a demonstration of its ability to perform within the Hanesbrands family,” said Ken Barker, CEO of NAT.  “The Company has been working toward this agreement since the collaborative partnership with Hanesbrands began in August 2009, and we expect to begin shipping to our full existing capacity beginning next month.  Hanesbrands has been an invaluable partner to our proof of concept and we look forward to expanding our relationship with them and others as we move forward.”

CRAiLAR® Flax is soft like cotton, has a similar color, possesses similar performance traitsand is comfortable to wear year-round.  CRAiLAR® Flax and cotton look the same, fit the same and wash the same.  Yet CRAiLAR® Flax fibres shrink less than cotton fibres, wick moisture better, and have increased dye uptake, meaning they require fewer chemicals to achieve the same depth of colour.

The agreement is the culmination of a multiphase joint development agreement announced in August 2009 with the intent to commercialize CRAiLAR®.  Hanesbrands made its first purchase of 10,000 lbs of CRAiLAR® in the first quarter of 2010 and, after successful spinning trials, announced a final evaluation phase in Q2 2010.  In December 2010, the companies announced additional product testing that called for Hanesbrands to purchase up to $375,000 of CRAiLAR® Flax fibre between December 1, 2010 and early 2011.

18/03/2011 at 4:30 am Leave a comment

Buy a Song, Better the Environment

Patagonia, the California-based outdoor clothing company,  announced the launch of a new music initiative, and is partnering with like-minded musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Jack Johnson and Zac Brown Band.

The new program is called Patagonia Music and will offer exclusive tracks through iTunes that will help support various environmental groups.

In a press release, Patagonia states their program will be “perpetually evolving” and the company hopes it will bring about a greater dialogue between environmentally-conscious fans and artists.

In the first volume, called Patagonia Music Collective, Vol. 1, Patagonia has put together a compilation including live versions of Bonnie Raitt and Jon Cleary’s “So Damn Good,” Zac Brown Band’s “Cold Hearted,” Jack Johnson’s “To The Sea,” as well new recordings by Ben Sollee, Abigail Washburn, and Blitzen Trapper.  Each of the 11 tracks on the compilation are being sold through iTunes for 99 cents.

Each artist chooses a different environmental group to benefit.  Zac Brown Band will benefit Urban Farming, while Johnson’s track will support the Kōkua Hawai’i Foundation.

With Volume 2 boasting tracks from Pearl Jam, Ziggy Marley, and Ra Ra Riot among others, Patagonia’s music initiative succeeds in bringing together a broad range of talented artists under one common cause.

17/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Levi’s Makes the Cut

Having always been a fan of Levi’s, I was happy to find yet another article on their mindful and progressive ways.

GoodGuide, a US based consumer watchdog has ranked Levi Strauss & Co. top of a league table of denim brands for environmentally sound production practices and social performance.

GoodGuide, a privately funded organization that measures the health, environmental and social impacts of a range of consumer items rated Levi’s as a 7.4 on a 10 pt. scale.  The criteria used by GoodGuide to determine the rankings cover a range of environmental and ethical standards including: sustainable product design, including whether the brand integrates life cycle assessment principles into product design and participates in sustainable supply chain organizations; and green production practices such as whether the brand publishes a Restricted Substances List which limits use of hazardous chemicals and sources at least some of its fibre from sustainable producers.

The assessment also covered consumer education initiatives, including whether the brand designs products to reduce the environmental impacts of owning its products or educates consumers about the steps they can take to reduce the amounts of energy or water used to clean and dry clothing; and a ‘commitment’ to transparency criteria, including whether the brand publicly discloses a list of its suppliers and provides consumers with life cycle impact data on its operations or its products.

“Our highest rated apparel brands work closely with their supply chains to improve working conditions and minimize environmental impacts,” GoodGuide said.  “The best brands disclose the identity of their suppliers, audit how they perform on labor issues and make public the steps they take to respond to violations.  They also design their products using life cycle principles and educate consumers about how to reduce impacts.”

In particular, the GoodGuide noted that Levi’s scored particularly well on water use.  Last year, the company introduced its Water Less Jeans method which removes the water from the stone washing process and instead, uses an ozone bleaching formula in the garment washing.  In addition, Levi’s said it has also reduced the number of washing machine cycles by combining multiple wet cycle processes into a single wet process.

15/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

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