Business & Technology

Wal-Mart, mining companies team up to trace path of jewelry supply chain

Retail giant Wal-Mart is joining with Conservation International as well as mining companies Rio Tinto and Newmont Mining to launch a pilot project that lets customers trace the path of their jewelry from mine to mega-store. Marketed as Wal-Mart’s “Love, Earth” brand jewelry, the items stand out from others in that once they’re purchased, customers can go to the Love, Earth website, plug in the tag number from their jewelry item and see what mine it came out of and the path it traveled from refiner to manufacturer to retailer. Wal-Mart has been marketing Love, Earth items as more eco-friendly, …

New business coalition wants cheaper energy, stat

A group of businesses has kicked off a new campaign with the goal of making energy cheaper by whatever means possible. The new Coalition for Affordable American Energy — not to be confused with, ahem, the existing Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy or Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Energy — is backed by various business associations, including the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It is not our intention to enter the debate on specific policies at the ‘micro’ level in great detail,” said a letter sent to business associations last week. But the group …

Some school fundraisers start hawking greener products

Some school and nonprofit fundraisers recently have turned to greener options to generate needed cash. Instead of sending youngsters out into the community to hawk items of questionable greenness like candy, magazines, and virgin-forest wrapping paper, some schools have instead turned to greener wares such as fair-trade coffee, metal water bottles, hand-made soaps, and recycled-content wrapping paper. The trend is not just about having kids sell items their parents might actually want to buy (though that’s part of it), it’s also aimed at avoiding contradictory messages to impressionable minds. “We’re telling the kids about obesity and selling cookie dough,” said …

Nuke-power company Exelon announces big emissions cuts by 2020

Nuclear-power company Exelon today launched a program it says will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by over 16 million tons a year by 2020 — more than the company’s current total annual emissions. The company’s plan calls for buying renewable-energy credits to offset some of its emissions, generating a small amount of electricity from alternative sources such as landfill gas, wood, or crop waste, and complying with recently passed legislation in Illinois requiring the company to help customers reduce their electricity consumption through smart-metering and other measures. The company’s largest emissions reductions would come from making some of its natural-gas-burning power plants …

Rental-car companies struggling to meet demand for smaller cars

Consumer demand for smaller cars is putting car-rental companies in a bit of a bind. Until recently, American automakers were glad to unload overstock to Hertz, Avis, and Thrifty at a discount, then guarantee a price to buy the cars back used. But with demand for hulking American cars dropping, Detroit has cut back production and is finding the arrangement with Big Rental less to its liking. Car-rental companies are now paying as much as 40 percent more for cars, and finding it more difficult to unload the used ones. And rental lots full o’ SUVs aren’t meeting customers’ needs: …

Big Oil CEOs are drinking our milkshake

Paychecks growing fatter for Big Oil execs

Everyone is acutely aware that the price of oil is surging and gas prices break a new record almost daily. Less well-reported -- yet completely unsurprising -- is that the paychecks of Big Oil CEOs are also reaching new heights, according to a report by Equilar, as reported by MSN Money. Median S&P 500 CEO compensation: $9.9 million. Big Oil CEO pay range: $15-$21.7 million (!) Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, raked in an astonishing $21.7 million and is sitting on nearly $78 million of unvested stock options. (Though this is chump change compared to the obscene $500 million golden parachute his predecessor, Lee Raymond, received upon retirement. That is of course also the same amount ExxonMobil will have to pay in punitive damages for the ExxonValdez disaster, thanks to a recent wrongheaded Supreme Court decision.) David O'Reilly, CEO of Chevron, made $15.7 million and is sitting on $26.3 million in unvested options. James Mulva of ConocoPhillips made $15 million and has a whopping $234 million in options.

As the ground shifts under their feet, food giants experiment with new strategies

When you smile, the food world smiles with you … maybe. Photo: Original by heatkernel For more than a generation, the major corporations that process and sell the vast bulk of our food have had it pretty easy. They’ve had access to cheap energy to ship food over globe-spanning distances and run giant food-processing plants; reveled in cheap inputs like corn and soy, transforming them into everything from breakfast cereal to chicken nuggets; and relied on low-paid, abundant, and politically disenfranchised workers to do the dirty jobs. Together, these elements formed a kind of tripod propping up the industry’s enormous …

Companies knew about high formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers, Dems say

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said RV trailer manufacturers knew that the trailers they sold to the government had excessively high levels of formaldehyde but didn’t disclose the information for fear of bad press. The trailers, which were used to house hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast, have been a touchy subject at FEMA ever since occupants began reporting headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, and shortness of breath. The agency has since asked many families to move out of the trailers. One trailer-company chairman told the Oversight Committee he thought the results of tests showing high levels of …

Insurance co. offers green-rebuilding coverage

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. has rolled out a home-insurance policy that covers the cost of rebuilding a home to green standards. The new coverage — which can only be added to Fireman’s top-tier insurance policy — covers the cost of reconstruction with sustainably harvested wood, efficient lighting and plumbing, nontoxic paints and carpeting, and more. The coverage runs an additional $70 a year for a home insured at $1 million, and can be purchased regardless of the greenness of the original dwelling, though owners of previously green-certified homes get a 5 percent discount on their premiums. Fireman’s, a division of …

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