Q&A with Sheila Bonini

Sheila Bonini, WWF

SVP Private Sector Engagement at WWF

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

What is your very first memory of TSC?

When I first came into contact with TSC, it was focused on using LCAs to provide sustainability ratings of products. It was an ambitious undertaking that would have taken hundreds of millions of dollars, and many years to ever be able to cover all the products in your average retailer. Fortunately, they had another scheme up their sleeves, and created the current sustainability measurement and reporting system (so elegantly named – SMRS), which I think of as ‘LCA light’. It still uses the best science, but it translates that science into something that is affordable, and able to scale quickly.

How do you feel TSC has evolved over the past few years?

TSC has always had impressive technical expertise, and an incredible system of gathering stakeholder input, but what it has accomplished in the past few years is to move from a focus on making the best metrics to a focus on impact. The metrics help us identify the thorniest issues or ‘hot spots’, and TSC is now able to leverage the data coming from the metrics to work on solving those challenging issues.

During the years you were CEO of TSC, what do you think one of the breakout strategies during that time was that is still propelling TSC today?

While there are important breakthrough strategies (such as the development of the SMRS described above), the most important thing propelling TSC is the strong basis in science and the incredible technical expertise. This has helped TSC propel its core work on metrics work, but also the work around chemicals, agricultural metrics and commodity mapping. During my tenure, TSC developed its first Impact Report – which was an effort to focus on and communicate the impact of TSC’s tremendous science-based work.

What does the future of sustainable consumer goods look like?

Today we consume more than the earth can maintain, at the same time we have a growing population. In order to meet the future demand for consumer goods, we need to find ways to significantly reduce the Impact of those goods to ensure a healthy planet for future generations. We already see younger consumers caring more and more about the sustainability of the products they purchase – I imagine a future where we have radical transparency around the sustainability of consumer goods, and we have companies competing to provide the most sustainable products – and these products will have a fraction of the environmental impact of what we consume today.

About Sheila Bonini

Sheila Bonini has joined WWF as our new senior vice president of Private Sector Engagement (PSE).

Most recently, Sheila served as the chief executive officer of The Sustainability Consortium, a global organization focused on making consumer products more sustainable. In that capacity, she helped develop more sustainable consumer products across the full product lifecycle.

Prior to joining TSC, Sheila spent more than 15 years with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Europe, South America, and the US. Sheila served as senior expert consultant and co-leader of McKinsey’s Sustainability Transformation Service, and her work at the company focused on the link between social and environmental impact and financial value creation. Prior experience includes investment banking at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, as well as positions with the Hewlett Foundation and Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation.

Sheila has a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard University and an MBA from Stanford University. She’s a frequent speaker and writer on sustainability, and has a strong network of corporate leaders in this field.

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Q&A with Mengtao Pete He, PhD

Pete He

Q&A with Mengtao Pete He, PhD

Managing Partner, New Ventures Dev. | Business and Technology Consulting

What was your first memory of TSC?

In the summer of 2007, I visited in Dr. Jay Golden’s office in ASU discussing a potential way to truly measure a product’s overall sustainability and objectively compare different products for decision-making. Jay told me that there were a few colleagues from UARK and Walmart who shared similar interests, and Jay suggested that we should meet with them to further discuss.  This little conversation led to Henkel’s involvement in TSC’s creation process from the very beginning.  A year later, TSC’s kickoff meeting was jointly held at ASU and Henkel’s NA HQ in Arizona.

As the former Home and Personal Care co-chair: What was the most important thing TSC did for the HPC sector in those years?

TSC provided a science-based roadmap and tools for HPC sector to develop very important but challenging hot topics, such as chemical ingredients of environmental and human safety concerns.  TSC also strategically designed and provided a platform where leaders from companies in competitive fields, NGOs, universities and government agencies can discuss and debate on those hot topics based not only on science but also on common sense and public interests.

Why is it important that home and personal care goods become more sustainable?

Around 60-70% of our GDP is consumer product related.  Home and personal care product categories are very significant in people’s everyday lives.  The amount of product consumption for the HPC categories are huge. So the manufacturing activities and consumer use of those products are having critical impacts, e.g., product packaging wastes and chemical toxicity, to the environment and human health.

What do you think is the future of more sustainable consumer goods?

Creative technology innovation and product design will gradually switch consumer behavior from the current status quo (e.g., heavily rely on plastic-based product packaging and petroleum-based chemical ingredients and energy for transportations).

About Mengtao Pete He

Pete is currently a managing partner of his own businesses, working with partners and investors on forming new ventures, and providing consulting services to global strategic clients. In 2016, Pete was the Vice President of Product Innovation at Tatcha LLC, a premium cosmetic / skin care startup based in SF Bay Area. He helped the company redesigned its innovation strategy and 3-year product pipeline, launched key new products including The Water Cream, one of the best sellers at Sephora, and built new external partnerships and internal business processes. Between 2008 and 2015, Pete was the Senior Research Fellow / Head of Sustainability at Henkel North America and led the company’s sustainability initiatives in Home and Personal Care (HPC) categories. Pete’s responsibilities and contributions in this role included delivering sustainability advantages through product innovations and supply chains, building alliances with external business partners, and directly engaging with consumers to promote sustainable consumption behaviors. Pete made significant contributions to the creation and expansion of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC). He was an elected TSC Board of Director and Co-chair of HPC Sector. Between 1999 and 2008, Pete served as the platform manager of new product development and technology acquisition at Henkel and Dial Corporation. Between 1993-1999, Pete served 6 years at Unilever PLC as principal processing engineer, group leader and senior scientist in skin care product. Pete holds more than 50 US patents. Many of his inventions turned into successful new products in the market. He successfully led many multidisciplinary new product development projects, from early strategy mapping and conceptual stages to final market launches, all while managing internal and external resources. Pete received his PhD in chemical engineering and MS in chemistry from University of Minnesota, and BS in chemistry from Peking University.

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Patrick Beary – The Nature Conservancy

Beary has been with The Nature Conservancy and TSC since our founding. He talks about the impact of the early Walmart meetings where TSC members determined how to make the biggest impact in consumer goods sustainability.

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Rob Melnick – Arizona State University

Melnick was one of our founding pioneers, and current board member, during the signing of the MOU between ASU and the University of Arkansas, creating TSC in 2009. 

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Christy Slay – The Sustainability Consortium

In 2018, TSC staff published a paper in Science called Classifying Drivers in Global Forest Loss. This paper studied the causes of forest loss worldwide and was written along with WRI and the University of Maryland. 

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