Stakeholder Spotlight: Dan BenaJuly 21, 2022 | BIER
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Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your organization.
Nothing brief about the answer to that! I started my own purpose and ESG consultancy when I left PepsiCo four years ago, I’m blessed to be an Honorary Professor for Glasgow Caledonian University and Trustee of its New York College, and I am fortunate to serve on the Boards for several terrific non-profits. But I think most pertinent for this chat is that I’ve been a Senior Consultant for Antea Group for the past two years, the organization that has facilitated BIER from the very beginning. In addition to providing c-suite purpose and ESG insights to clients, I also Chair their new Strategic Advisory Board, a phenomenal and diverse group of leaders with expertise in their fields.
How has the organization’s sustainability initiatives evolved over the years and what are your priorities for 2022?
Antea Group is a couple of decades old, with the parent company based in The Netherlands. I work specifically for Antea Group USA, so my answer is in that context. For those who might not be familiar, Antea Group has a terrific reputation thanks to its strong technical foundation in Environment, Health, and Safety services. Over the years, we’ve successfully added sustainability to that suite of services and expertise, too. Most recently, which is a clear priority for this year, we’ve begun to amplify the ESG Advisory Services that we provide. Now, I know you’re thinking that ESG covers a ton of ground, and you’re right, so we are being very thoughtful and intentional about building upon that strong technical foundation we’ve established over decades, and applying it to the absolutely explosive interest in ESG.
What continues to amaze me is the depth and breadth of the top-notch expertise we have in-house at Antea Group, but also across the global network of partners that Antea Group helped to establish and facilitate, called the Inogen Alliance. I mean, it represents about 5,000 consultants with completed projects in over 150 countries. My gosh…that is an exciting reservoir of skills and expertise! Very exciting road ahead.
What are your impressions of BIER and what do you feel has been the group’s impact on private sector environmental sustainability? Also, what is one specific area (e.g. topic, work product, etc..) where BIER got your attention and why?
I have very strong impressions of BIER, since I was one of the early members when I was at PepsiCo when Dr. Paul Bowen approached me from Coke to join. At first, it was all about water. Even more specifically, about water efficiency. Paul’s idea was brilliant to form a group that could actually represent the beverage sector as one voice. I know I’ve told this story before, but when I was Chair of the American Beverage Association Water Quality Committee in DC, we had an opportunity to address Congress about water use in the industry. Terrific opportunity, right? Not quite. BIER didn’t exist yet, and no matter how hard we searched, we could not find a single source that could reflect the sector. That’s why the benchmarking reports that BIER does every two years are critical. Long story short, a few years later, we again had an opportunity to address Congress, and we were ready, thanks to BIER.
Today, I am so humbled to see how they have expanded…way beyond water, with great—really world-class—guidance documents. Still today, I am working with the Water Stewardship Team at Antea Group, through BIER, on cutting-edge guidance on water circularity with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Part of what is so impressive, and I think in some ways the key to longevity—not unlike for people—is to stay current, relevant, and engaged!
Share a recent accomplishment of your organization’s sustainability
Well, I already mentioned one…the Water Circularity work that we are doing. It builds upon work that was done a few years ago with BIER and WBCSD, and supports the circular economy approach that many feel is a “must-do” if we are to truly address the global challenges we face.
The other accomplishment that comes to mind relates to our ability to connect groups for collective action—like we have been doing with BIER. This example involves another collaboration that Antea Group is spearheading, which is called the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council, or HPRC. Here again, current, relevant, and engaged…and certainly a topic more broadly applicable to the beverage industry, too. I mean I never thought I would see the day that 175 members of the UN support the idea of a binding agreement to tackle plastics. Amazing.
If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be and how would you use it!
Well, you did say “superpower,” right? I think I would cast a spell that removed peoples’ egos and prejudices—and maybe even some testosterone—and make everyone more humble and focused on the “we,” not the “me.” I think that would dramatically motivate them to develop, deploy, and sustain lasting solutions to the many big, “hairy” problems we face as a human family…and we would all have the future we want.
The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
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