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McDonald’s Australia will sell certified-sustainable coffee

Starting next year, all coffee sold at McDonald's in Australia will be certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance. The country's 484 so-called McCafés make 5,000 cups of joe per hour; Mickey D's pockets 20 percent of the more than $1 billion that Aussies spend on away-from-home coffee. The Rainforest Alliance certifies coffee farms that reduce pesticide use and treat farmers decently. Enthuses Catriona Noble, chief operating officer of McDonald's Australia, "For our customers, the decision means they can feel even better about the great tasting McCafé coffee they love, while for our business it marks another important step forward in …

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Swedish company will vend verified sustainable ethanol

Swedish biofuel company SEKAB says it will become the first company to vend ethanol verified to be environmentally and socially sustainable. The company is partnering with Brazilian producers to develop criteria for the full lifecycle of fuel-bound sugarcane, verifying that the fuel was not produced through child or slave labor, was processed in fair working conditions for fair wages, and did not contribute to rainforest destruction. "This initiative is the first of its kind in the world and a major step for speeding up the replacement of gasoline and diesel," says Anders Fredriksson of SEKAB. "The criteria will gradually be …

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Fortune Brainstorm: Green conference wrap-up site

Remember that Brainstorm: Green conference I went to last month, put on by Fortune magazine? Now Fortune has put together a mini-site devoted to the conference, with tons of pictures, videos, slides, and links to blog posts about the presentations. Notably absent from the latter: a link to my posts on the conference. What am I, chopped liver? Anyway, despite that glaring omission, it's worth checking out.

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Gas at $12-15? Not so fast

But soon we will be mad for $6-7 gas

Normally, I would listen to Robert Hirsch and the legendary Charlie Maxwell, over CNBC's "Mad" Jim Cramer. But Hirsch and Maxwell are making headlines for saying $12-15 gasoline is around the corner, based on Maxwell's projection of oil "reaching $180 a barrel in 2015 and $300 a barrel in 2020." Sorry, guys -- every extra $40 barrel is another dollar a gallon or so at the pump. Don't quite know how they did the math, but they did it wrong. When Mad Money's Jim Cramer is the voice of sanity, you know the energy world is topsy-turvy, but I happened …

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Profit Actually

Monsanto execs make millions off farmers’ backs

Hugh Grant -- Monsanto chair, CEO, and president -- probably won't notice the increased price of a loaf of bread. And if he does, it will be with a smile. Grant is $13-million-and-change wealthier today than he was on Monday, as he choose to exercise stock options -- 116,000 shares worth -- that netted him a profit of over $114 per share. Like many of us, I wouldn't mind paying the extra dollar per loaf of bread if I knew the majority of that dollar was going back into the hands of farmers. Instead, the higher prices at the checkout …

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Recycled Energy on NPR

Castens implement Phase II of global domination plan

On my morning commute, I always listen to music. Maybe two or three times in the last couple of years, I've listened to NPR instead, but it's rare. This morning, though, on a whim, I flipped over to hear if there was any primary news. And what is literally the very first thing I hear? "One Chicago entrepreneur thinks this waste energy can be captured to reduce costs and lower greenhouse gases." Hey, that sounds familiar! Yup, it's Tom Casten, father of our very own Sean Casten and chairman of Recycled Energy. Here's the NPR segment. It's excellent. For more …

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Ray of light

Duke Energy goes (a tiny bit) solar

Yesterday, Duke Energy announced that it will buy the full output of the country's largest PV solar farm, to be built by Sun Edison in 2009, coming online in late 2010 (all modules complete by 2011). According to Duke, the plant will cover between 100-300 acres in an area that enjoys about 60 percent sunny or partly sunny days, and will produce about 16 MW, with a capacity factor of around 20 percent, which translates to around 27 GWh/year in 2011. Sun Edison will build, own, and operate the plant, so there will be no capital costs to Duke ratepayers. …

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Bay Area initiates first-of-its-kind fee on biz greenhouse-gas emissions

Businesses in nine San Francisco Bay Area counties will pay 4.4 cents for every ton of greenhouse gases they spew, after the district air-quality board voted 15-1 Wednesday to approve the fee. Set to take effect July 1, the fee will affect more than 2,500 businesses; the district estimates that perhaps seven power plants and oil refineries will have to pay more than $50,000 a year, but most businesses will pay less than $1. The fee is modest enough that dramatic emissions reductions are unlikely to occur, but proponents laud the precedent. Businesses were, unsurprisingly, less enthusiastic, expressing concerns about …

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Nanotubes: the next asbestos?

Lessons from the asbestos crisis should guide the response to nanotechnology, but will they?

The story of asbestos in this country ought to serve as a cautionary tale: A seemingly miraculous fiber was widely introduced into common consumer products; only after it was already in millions of homes did the general public realize that it causes a particularly terrible form of cancer. Now, treating victims and cleaning up contaminated communities is costing billions of dollars, and thousands of people endure the toll of a debilitating and deadly disease. Nanotechnology is another innovation that promises to bring consumer products to a whole new level -- and, once again, it looks like nano products will become …

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Consumers shunning hefty hybrids

Automakers may have assumed that hybrid SUVs would be a hit with the eco-minded-soccer-mom market, but drivers aren't buying it -- literally. Analysts are seeing a tepid reaction to SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid and hybrid GMC Yukon, both launched in fall 2007. Concern about climate change and fuel prices has attached a stigma to large cars that isn't much lessened by the word "hybrid" plastered all over it, say analysts. Most consumers are flocking to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, though original Tahoes and Yukons have also been selling significantly better than their hybrid counterparts -- likely thanks to …