Avon Aims to End Deforestation & BMW Joins with Peugeot for Electric Cars
When people think of the company Avon, they may conjure images of door-to-door make-up saleswomen, or they may even recall the company’s efforts to fight breast cancer. But Tod Arbogast, vice president of sustainability and corporate responsibility says he wants Avon to be known as the company that helped end deforestation. Meanwhile, electric car market fever is gaining traction. BMW and Peugeot PSA have joined forces to produce electric cars, fuelling speculation of a full-blown Franco-German merger.
By Tilde Herrera, an editor at GreenBiz Group (3 February 2011):
When people think of the company Avon, they may conjure images of door-to-door make-up saleswomen, or they may even recall the company’s efforts to fight breast cancer.
Tod Arbogast, vice president of sustainability and corporate responsibility at Avon Cosmetics, hopes the company gains a different type of reputation.
“We want to be known as the company that is going to help end deforestation,” Arbogast said.
In a workshop at the State of Green Business Forum, Arbogast offered a look at how chief sustainability officers can identify and manage potential environmental and social business risks before a crisis requires immediate action. A range of tools exist to help chief sustainability officers get in front of issues voluntarily, before it becomes mandatory.
“As sustainability practitioners, the earlier we can get visibility into an issue, the better informed we are to make a choice,” Arbogast said.
Arbogast took this approach with forestry, a material business issue for a company that is a major publisher of product catalogs. “Our ‘storefront’ is our brochure, our catalog,” Arbogast said.
It was a highly relevant issue for Avon that was growing in attention and concern, but the company had no position or sourcing policy for pulp used in its catalogs. The company utilized a range of tools to help it decide how and when to address deforestation, which eventually led to the formation of what it calls the “Avon Paper Promise.”
The Promise aims to promote sustainable forest use through the purchase of 100 percent of its paper from certified and/or post-consumer recycled content sources by 2020, with a preference for pulp certified through the Forest Stewardship Council (the company is now at about 70 percent, about 30 percent of which is FSC); protecting forests, old growth, high conservation or endangered forests and ecosystems; reducing demand on forests; promoting clean production practices; and promoting continuous improvement and transparency.
To identify potential business risks like forestry, Avon regularly maps issues by weighing both their relevancy and maturity or societal awareness to guide the organization in how they might react.
“If it’s very relevant to your organization, but no one in society really knows about the issue, you should probably execute against it, but do so quietly. No point in being outspoken about it if no one really knows about it,” Arbogast said. “If it’s very relevant and it’s an issue that well known, you should be very strategic with it.”
Is it a less-relevant issue that’s not well-known? Be responsive based on risk, Arbogast said, but don’t allocate a lot of resources. Not relevant, but well-known in society? Be concerned and monitor in case it eventually requires action.
Avon also uses another tool to determine the level of action the company should take on issues, and figure out where it wants to be on issues, based on five stages ranging from Elementary (Stage 1) to Transformational (Stage 5).
“Because of forestry’s relevance to Avon, the last place we want to be in terms of our implementation strategy to address the issue is at the elementary level,” Arbogast said. “What we really want to be seen as, based on our actions, is transformational.”
Robert Lea in The Times (3 February 2011):
BMW and Peugeot PSA have joined forces to produce electric cars, fuelling speculation of a full-blown Franco-German merger.
The prospects of a marriage combining steely German success with French panache has long been the subject of saloon car chatter.
But while the big day may still be some way off, the relationship has been getting stronger.
The companies have been working together on conventional engine development for five years and agreed last year to produce a four-cylinder petrol engine.
Now they are setting up a 50-50 joint venture to produce hybrid vehicles powered by a combination of electricity and petrol or diesel.
The move binds the companies together in what is generally regarded as the next big automotive market.
“We are sure to develop and expand our expertise and to build a European leader in the field of automotive hybrid innovation,” said Philippe Varin, the chief executive of PSA.
Peugeot has been one of the world leaders in electrification, with the launch last month of the Peugeot iOn in an electric battery and engine collaboration with Mitsubishi of Japan.
This alliance has been the subject of speculation that it may be the precursor to a Franco-Japanese merger.
The tie-up with BMW comes before Peugeot’s industry-leading launch this year of a diesel hybrid that will power its Peugeot 3008 family-sized vehicle.
BMW’s conversion to hybrid and electric production has been significantly slower.
The joint venture with PSA, its most substantial commitment to the market yet, will spark speculation that the Mini could be the ideal model for the new technologies.
A low-key trial of electric Minis is being carried out in Oxfordshire but is understood to be a long way off commercialisation.
Norbert Reithofer, the BMW chairman, said that the creation of BMW Peugeot Citroen Electrification would create big economies of scale in joint research and development, production and component purchasing.
The venture is pitching itself as the standard for hybrid car production in Europe, a platform from which to sell components and technologies to other automotive groups and setting up a head-to-head rivalry with Volkswagen.
BMW and PSA refused to reveal their financial commitments to the project but indicated that detailed information would be published at the Geneva Motor Show, which opens next month.
A full merger of the two companies has always been regarded as difficult because both businesses have controlling family interests – the Peugeots and the Quandt family at BMW.
However, recent comments by Thierry Peugeot have suggested that control of the company in any future corporate structure is no longer a deal-breaker.