Rainforest Alliance Announces 2012 Gala Honorees, Recognizing Leadership in Sustainability

28 May 2012

New York, NY - The Rainforest Alliance, an international sustainability nonprofit, is proud to announce the companies that will receive Sustainable Standard-Setter awards on May 16 at a gala event in New York City. The awards honor businesses and individuals that champion conservation, protect the environment and support local communities.

“For the past 25 years, the Rainforest Alliance has worked hard to transform land, lives and livelihoods across the globe, and we are very proud of our accomplishments,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “Our anniversary gala awards ceremony provides us with the opportunity to recognize companies that have worked hard alongside us to promote environmental and social responsibility.”

The 2012 Sustainable Standard-Setter honorees are:

  • Blommer Chocolate Company
  • Bloomberg
  • Fazendas Reunidas Vale do Juliana SA
  • Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal
  • Global Environment Facility
  • La Arboleda Community Mill
  • Marks and Spencer Group plc
  • The Nabob Coffee Company
  • Posada Amazonas Lodge by Rainforest Expeditions
  • Staples
2012 Gala Co-chairs:

Ecom Group

Mars, Incorporated

2012 Gala Special Guests:

Chris Noth, who will also serve as the host of the gala awards dinner

Martha Stewart, entrepreneur and founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, (MSLO)

The honorees and co-chairs will gather on May 16 with other business leaders and representatives from the Rainforest Alliance for a day-long workshop on the impacts of sustainability certification. Following the workshop, they will join other Rainforest Alliance supporters for an awards dinner, dancing and a silent auction at the American Museum of Natural History. Gala proceeds benefit the Rainforest Alliance’s work in sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism and climate change.

Achievements of the 2012 gala honorees:

Blommer Chocolate Company

Founded in 1939, family-owned and -operated Blommer Chocolate Company is one of the world’s premiere authorities on cocoa. As the largest cocoa processor and chocolate ingredient supplier in North America, Blommer handles nearly half of the continent’s cocoa. Four years ago, the company began offering a line of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa and chocolate products made with certified beans.

Blommer’s sustainability endeavors don’t end with sourcing or sales. The company played an integral role in the formation of the World Cocoa Foundation -- a nonprofit that promotes social, environmental and economic sustainability throughout cocoa-producing regions. And through its on-the-ground work, Blommer has developed a sustainability network working with more than 50,000 farmers in Indonesia, Ecuador and Cote d’Ivoire.


Like the Rainforest Alliance, global business and financial information leader Bloomberg L.P. recognizes that the benefits of sustainable business extend beyond obvious social and environmental rewards. Bloomberg believes that integrating sustainability into business decisions provides a competitive edge and improved performance. In 2007, the company launched a global sustainability program, BGREEN, which has since spearheaded waste, water, energy and consumption campaigns, conducted lifecycle analyses on assorted products, and created 13 global, volunteer-staffed “Green Squads” to work on a variety of sustainability projects. Bloomberg has also teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance to obtain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification for its in-house print facility, Bloomberg Ink. Today, 97 percent of the company’s office paper inventory is FSC-certified and its three magazines --Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg Markets and Bloomberg Pursuits -- are all printed on FSC-certified paper.

Fazendas Reunidas Vale do Juliana SA

Founded in 1965, Rainforest Alliance Certified Fazendas Reunidas Vale do Juliana is a model of socially, environmentally and economically sustainable farming. The 12,000-acre (5,000-hectare) estate -- on which cocoa and peach palm are grown and tilapia is raised -- has set aside 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of the Atlantic Rainforest for protection. In addition to helping to ensure the conservation of its diverse forest and the marmosets, sloths and lion tamarinds that call it home, Vale du Juliana has invested in renewable energy and other environmentally-friendly measures. The farm has also built a primary school and high school on its premises where each year, nearly 1,000 students from the local community are educated.

Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN)

While Nepal is one of the world’s poorest nations, its awe-inspiring mountains and expansive desert plains support a wealth of biodiversity and important conservation work. Through the Rainforest Alliance’s work with the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), 22 community forest user groups managing a total of 35,000 acres (14,145 hectares) of forestland have earned FSC certification for their responsible management of non-timber forest products -- including plants, seeds and leaves that are processed into paper, essential oils and herbs for medicines and teas. The certification means that 35,000 individuals are benefiting from the resolution of tenure and territory disputes; increased fiscal transparency; more effective conservation; the protection of rare, threatened and endangered species; and access to new markets for their essential oils and handmade paper.

Global Environment Facility

Working in over 182 countries, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the largest public funder of projects designed to improve the global environment. GEF supports initiatives that safeguard biodiversity, curb climate change, avoid land degradation, protect the ozone layer and combat persistent organic pollutants.

Last year, when the Rainforest Alliance and the United Nations Environment Programme launched Greening the Cocoa Industry -- a project that will benefit 1.85 million acres (750,000 hectares) of cocoa lands and bring sustainability to 10 percent of the world’s cocoa production -- it was the GEF that provided the funding. Through this project, cocoa growers in 10 countries are adopting improved farm practices that conserve the environment, increase their incomes, benefit their families and communities, and provide long-term stability for the cocoa industry.

La Arboleda Community Mill

For the community behind La Arboleda Community Mill, the decision to build a small central coffee mill -- where all local farmers could process their beans -- was ground-breaking. Traditionally, smallholder farmers in Colombia carry out their post-harvest processing on their farms, usually leaving residual waste water untreated, which can lead to the contamination of local water resources. Naturally, Rainforest Alliance certification prohibits such a practice -- but installing a water treatment system (necessary for certification) is prohibitively expensive for most smallholder farmers. Together with Nestlé Nespresso, USAID and other stakeholders, the community -- which produces coffee for Nespresso -- has invested in a centralized coffee processing mill that spreads the cost of water treatment across the whole community. As a result, environmental contamination has been minimized, coffee quality has been significantly improved and a 63 percent reduction in water use is expected.

Marks and Spencer Group plc

Five years ago, Marks and Spencer launched an ambitious plan to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015. Since then the company has lowered its energy use by 23 percent, reduced use of food carrier bags by 80 percent and reduced packaging by 25 percent.

In addition, all of the coffee Marks and Spencer sells in its 300 cafes is now Rainforest Alliance Certified, and 76 percent of the wood used in its business -- from the furniture it sells to the paper it uses in store mailings -- is from a sustainable origin. Marks and Spencer also stocks its shelves with 100 percent free-range eggs and sustainable tea, and 90 percent of the fish it purchases comes from sustainable sources.

The Nabob Coffee Company

Since 1896, the Nabob Coffee Company has been providing Canadians with great tasting, premium quality coffee. In 2008, Nabob teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance to source its coffee beans from farms focused on social, environmental and economically sustainable growing practices and today, Nabob sources 60 percent of its beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Nabob knows that sustainability goes beyond responsible farming. The company is working to improve its environmental footprint along every step of the supply chain, using the chaff from its beans to produce renewable energy in its manufacturing facilities, shrinking its transportation miles, optimizing its packaging, earning LEED certification for one of its coffee roasting facilities, and continuing to focus on smart, sustainable solutions to reduce Nabob’s footprint.

Posada Amazonas Lodge by Rainforest Expeditions

Teeming with monkeys and more than 850 species of birds, the Madre de Dios region of Peru is a popular destination for adventurers. It is also home to the community-owned Posadas Amazonas Lodge -- a rustic, comfortable inn with spacious, airy rooms and biodiversity-rich surroundings. The Rainforest Alliance Verified™ lodge hires from within the community, and sources locally produced goods whenever possible. Since joining our verification program, the lodge has implemented a biodegradable sanitation system, reduced air and water pollution by purchasing eco-friendly boats, improved waste management, and conducted extensive training in sustainable management.


When Staples -- the world’s largest office products company (and the world’s second largest e-commerce company) -- made a formal commitment to sustainability, the decision reverberated throughout the industry. Launched in 2002, Staples’ Environmental Paper Procurement Policy prioritizes the development of sustainable products and services, the reduction of internal waste and the creation of consumer recycling solutions while highlighting the importance of energy efficiency, carbon reduction and renewable energy innovation.

To further this forward-thinking policy, the company has teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance to identify areas of concern and encourage its suppliers to improve forest management practices and earn Forest Stewardship Council certification. Staples’ commitment to conservation has not gone unnoticed: the company was recently recognized with a Platts Global Energy Award and was named an EPA ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for the second consecutive year. For eight consecutive years, Staples has been listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and for three consecutive years by Newsweek as a “100 Greenest Corporation.”

Gala sponsors: Domtar, Nespresso and National Geographic Traveler.