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$1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief is Now Law   

American Sustainable Business Council applauds passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package on March 11, strongly addressing Covid-19’s devastating harm to Americans’ health and economic survival. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocates resources needed to expand Covid-19 testing and vaccinations, safely reopen schools, support small businesses including farms and restaurants, and provide up to $1400 to individuals making less than $80,000/year. 

“Across the board, the American Rescue Plan is an infusion of life-saving, business-saving support our hardworking people urgently need,” observes ASBC Co-founder/CEO Jeffrey Hollender. “We’re excited to see the revitalizing results and the start of a transformative, fresh approach that will make our country more resilient in every way.” 

Among many other vital provisions, the new law also provides: 

  • $300 in unemployment benefits each week until Labor Day.  
  • $10 billion to develop broadband infrastructure, ensuring that all Americans can access the Internet, now a necessity for everyday life. 
  • $28.6 billion in state grants for struggling bars and restaurants. 
  • $5 billion increase in state grants for childcare services over the next decade. 
  • $5 billion to America’s Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and farmers of color; including $4 billion in direct relief to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes. Separately, the new law also funds development of a new program to aid tribal governments that have suffered from previous federal policies.  
  • $3 billion in support for aviation manufacturers. Separately, the law also includes an insert which prevents large corporations from writing down the compensation of their 10 highest-paid executives. 
  • $130 billion for elementary, middle, and high schools in their reopening efforts.  

While the American Rescue Plan Act passed with no Republican votes, the bill has earned overwhelming bipartisan support from voters. A full 76% of the American people, business leaders, educators, local leaders, and economists across the political spectrum support the Plan.

Paycheck Protection Program Extended to May 31 

As part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) received an additional $7 billion and the deadline to apply for PPP was extended to May 31. President Biden praised bipartisan support for the time-sensitive passage of the PPP Extension Act of 2021. The Act also gives the SBA until June 30 to process applications. Significant monies are still available from this Federal program to help businesses retain employees during the ongoing pandemic.  The House quickly passed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 with an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 415-3 to extend the deadline to May 31 and give the SBA until June 30 to process applications. However, passage of the Senate’s bipartisan matching bill was delayed due to changes requested by Sen. Rubio and other Republicans. Those were resolved and President Biden signed the bill into law this week.


What's New

Register Now: ASBC/SVC Virtual Conference, April 19-21, 2021 

ASBC and our partner Social Venture Circle will host our second virtual conference, “Building a Just & Sustainable Future,” April 19-21, 2021. Taking our successful premier virtual event in 2020 to the next level, the Conference will facilitate valuable peer-to-peer discussions and actions to further shared interests for the many mission-driven members of ASBC-SVC. It will be an energizing, inspiring opportunity for business leaders, entrepreneurs, impact investors, policymakers, and capacity-builders; all engaged in creating an economy that works for all. Learn more about this dynamic virtual conference!


Still Urgently Needed: Paid Leave for All    

The Covid-19 pandemic has added a powerful incentive for smart decisionmakers to recognize that all of us benefit when sick workers can afford to recover at home. While the March 11 American Rescue Plan Act provides tax credits for employers who choose to provide paid leave, many do not. These provisions fall far short of the permanent paid family and sick leave almost every other nation routinely requires. Tens of millions of American workers still do not have paid sick leave. As we continue to cope with the pandemic and its economic fallout, the U.S. must include paid leave in the next recovery package for the millions of Americans who will lose pay if they fall ill or need to care for a family member. We need and value our essential workers on the frontlines of this devastating pandemic, and they need and deserve paid leave without further delay. 

Please sign our letter and help ASBC urge Congress to include paid leave benefits in the next upcoming relief package.


Raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $15

Despite strong House efforts, the American Recovery Plan Act accepted by the Senate and signed into law omitted raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025. The federal minimum wage has been stalled at a poverty-level $7.25 an hour since 2009, and 21 states have not passed their own increases since. Some states have done better and will pass further increases this year, but even states with higher minimum wages lag behind actual minimum needs. Local economies as well as families have felt the chronic, corrosive effects. Low-wage employers are essentially subsidized by taxpayers (including high-road businesses) for impoverished workers’ reliance on public assistance, which still does not close the gap. Economic damage from the pandemic has eroded this already dire situation even further. But there is a solution. 

Now offered as a separate bill, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would benefit about 32 million Americans — many of them the primary family breadwinner, Black or Latinix and 58% of them women. The bill would gradually raise the wage to $15 per hour by 2025; a proposal new Axios polling finds is supported by 75% of Americans. ASBC strongly urges business support for prompt Congressional action on this long-needed improvement

ASBC Urges Prompt Passage of Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act 

March 17, ASBC declared our support for the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021.The Act would help redress the severe gap in U.S. water infrastructure investment by strongly boosting annual authorized funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and increasing funds for several other vital federal water quality programs.  

“To protect our businesses, save our environment, and fuel economic activity, America needs a powerful Federal investment in water infrastructure,” says ASBC President David Levine. “Congress must quickly pass the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act and set aside significant funding for climate-resilient, green infrastructure projects and for low-income and marginalized communities. Along with restoring our deteriorated, essential infrastructure, making the investments called for in the Act will also create needed jobs in the construction, engineering, and planning of water infrastructure, which will create a beneficial ripple effect for American businesses across our whole economy.” 

Experts project that merely maintaining current levels of national water infrastructure investment would lead to a $732 billion in lost business sales by 2029 and a $4.5 trillion loss by 2039 due to pipe ruptures and leaks that disrupt services, raise rates and cause costly flooding damage. Costs of these problems and costs of repairs will only increase over time. In contrast, making the investments needed to restore the nation’s water infrastructure to a state of good repair is projected to increase business sales by $5.6 trillion over the next 20 years.  

Learn more at ASBC’s Clean Water is Good for Business initiative.

New Reports Make the Business Case for Rescuing Our Water Infrastructure 

American Sustainable Business Council has released three compelling new reports to help leaders understand and advocate for essential, long overdue investments in U.S. water infrastructure. These reports, The Business Case for Federal Investment in Water Infrastructure, Green Stormwater Infrastructure Business Case Studies, and Clean Water is Good for Business Case Studies, are available to download now. 

The Business Case for Federal Investment in Water Infrastructure explains, with supporting statistics and examples, why business needs robust investment in America’s water infrastructure now. Green Stormwater Infrastructure Business Case Studies offer detailed examples on how firms successfully incorporate green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) into their business models, and how GSI creates new business opportunities and protects our economy as well as our environment. Clean Water is Good for Business Case Studies demonstrate why clean water is vital to U.S. breweries, tourism, fisheries, outdoor recreation, and many other business sectors. 

To have your ASBC-member firm considered for a case study in upcoming ASBC reports, contact  Policy Manager Colton Fagundes, cfagundes@asbcouncil.org


ASBC Rallies for Reintroducing Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act 

On Thursday, March 25, ASBC hosted a virtual rally with Sen. Merkley, Rep. Lowenthal, ASBC Member Seventh Generation and other activist leaders in support of reintroducing the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act (PFFPPA). 

ASBC understands that the transition from plastics and other hazardous materials will help local businesses and frontline communities thrive and catalyze creation of environmentally sound new jobs at a critical time. The U.S. is the world’s biggest producer of plastic waste, but less than 10 percent of it is recycled. Instead, it is incinerated into the air or dumped into landfills and waterways that flow to the ocean — all of which release toxins that end up in our food and our bodies. What’s more, plastics are produced with fossil fuels, worsening climate change. For all these reasons and more, it’s past time for BFFPP to be made law. 

Originally offered by Sen. Udall and Rep. Lowenthal for discussion in 2019, the Act (H.R. 5845 and S. 3263) was formally introduced on Feb. 11, 2020 but did not make timely progress. Now, Sen. Merkley and Rep. Lowenthal have reintroduced the BFFPPA, and ASBC is among many business and other groups urging prompt passage of this game-changing Act. 

Among many essential features, the BFFPPA Act will: 

  • Require producers of packaging, containers, and food-service products to design, manage, and finance waste and recycling programs. 
  • Bolster recycling rates with a new, nationwide beverage container refund program.  
  • Ban certain non-recyclable, single-use plastic products. 
  • Ban single-use plastic carryout bags and place a fee on the distribution of the remaining carryout bags. 
  • Establish minimum recycled content requirements for beverage containers, packaging, and food-service products. 
  • Make major investments in U.S. domestic recycling and composting infrastructure. 
  • Prohibit shipment of plastic waste to developing countries. 
  • Protect state and local governments that enact more stringent standards. 
  • Require EPA to partner with the National Academies of Science to conduct comprehensive study on the environment and cumulative public health impacts of incinerators and plastic chemical recycling facilities. 
  • Effect a temporary pause on new and expanded plastic production facility permits while the EPA creates and makes any necessary updates to plastic production facility regulations to protect frontline and fence line communities from direct and cumulative public health impacts. 

The updated BFFPPA 2021 will also: 

  • Ban waste exports to countries that may then re-export to developing countries, a loophole that circumvents U.S. BFFPPA prohibition on exporting waste to developing nations.  
  • Include additional language to ensure minimum standards for what bags can be considered “reusable.”  
  • Expand the definition of toxic chemicals and prohibit them from being used in covered products. 
  • Limit microfiber pollution by mandating washing machine filters and require a study on upstream microfiber pollution prevention best practices. 
  • Incentivizes greater reuse through the creation of pilot programs to implement reuse and refill technology. 
  • Expand previous language addressing plastic pellet pollution, microplastic pollution, and wet-wipe labelling standards. 
  • Require provision of professional translation services for non-English-speaking communities and accessibility services for persons with disabilities. 

Women’s History Month Highlight:  

ASBC Honors Historic Appointment of First Native American Cabinet Member

ASBC applauds Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland as the first Native American member of the Cabinet in U.S. history. ASBC takes a coalition-based, co-creative approach to pervasive, systemic challenges in the areas of climate and energy, infrastructure, and fostering a circular and high-road economy; all seen through the collaborative lens of racial justice and equity. We welcome Secretary Haaland’s support for an equitable, sustainable and thriving stakeholder economy; capitalism that works for all.   

“In my experience, Native American women leaders care deeply about the earth and its people and take actions to heal,” says ASBC member Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, CFO of East Bay Community Foundation and CEO of Red-Horse Financial Group. “I am thrilled that Deb Haaland will hold this historic leadership position in our federal government and am excited to embrace and support her work." 

“Secretary Haaland’s appointment is a wonderful, yet poignant, highlight of Women’s History Month,” says ASBC Director of Strategy Carolyn Pincus. “The reality that our society has still not achieved gender or racial equity can be observed in every corner of the business world and in our economy as a whole, in unequal pay, unequal access to opportunity, and more. These inequities are pervasive and systemic. Many of us are still ruminating on the December 2020 jobs report showing that 100% of jobs lost in December had been held by women and of those, 80-90% had been held by women of color.   

“A significant aspect of the current paid-leave and minimum wage increase debates is how disproportionately women, especially women of color, are harmed by the status quo. ASBC believes we must do better to help our businesses and stakeholders drive solutions in our organizations to achieve equity for women, especially women of color. It’s a key metric of a high-road workplace and a high-road economy.” 

Working Group Updates

ASBC’s Climate & Energy Working Group is continuing its work to develop, draft and attain concurrence on the guiding principles which will frame the group’s advocacy and policy perspectives moving forward. The group anticipates having these principles completed by the summer. Stay tuned!

ASBC’s Regenerative Agriculture and Justice Working Group held the first meetings for its three new issue subgroups in March: (1) Climate and Agriculture, (2) Justice and Equity, and (3) Impact Incentives, Outreach, and Education. These groups are meeting separately from the main group to home in on specific policy goals and strategies. Two of the groups are responding to the USDA’s request for comment on how the agency can use “Climate Smart Agriculture” to advance the Biden Administration's goals around climate change. The working group also finalized and published its collectively established shared principles.  

ASBC’s Race & Equity Working Group met in March and heard from featured speaker Allison Hunn, Policy Advisor and Counsel for Sen Jeff Merkley (D-OR), presenting on the For the People Act, S1. Hunn outlined the three main sections of this act: voting, campaign finance, and ethics. She also highlighted the critical and timely nature of this Act in protecting the voting process and sanctity of our democracy, and strongly urged business leaders to pressure their senators to support S1.

Look for the latest information from ASBC Working Groups on our website and in upcoming issues of Policy Update

Always Open: Problem-Solving Resources  

You can count on ASBC sending you timely action tips on legislative issues affecting your business, but we also offer busy leaders a wealth of in-depth guidance you can access any time on our website. Want the details on how famous companies of all sizes provide a high-road workplace – and how it boosts their business? Need to make a big media impression (or lots of them) with your firm’s sustainability news? Want to persuade your market why safer, greener products matter? Need to make your responsible business case for better laws to your elected officials at local, state and national levels? ASBC’s online library of resources can help with these and more. Check out the Research & Data and Policy & Action sections on the ASBC website and contact us with your questions or suggestions.  

Media, Blogs & More

  • Sanders and colleagues introduce legislation to combat corporate greed and end outrageous CEO - A March 17 article in VT Digger (vtdigger.org) reported that American Sustainable Business Council was among a broad range of organizations including Americans for Financial Reform, National Council of Churches, Patriotic Millionaires and many more that support The Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act, new legislation that would impose tax rate increases on companies with CEO (or highest-paid executive) wage ratios of 50-to-1 or more above their firm’s median worker wage. The highest penalty would kick in for companies that pay top executives over 500 times worker pay. The article noted that in the 1970s, CEO wage was 20 to 30 times that of the median worker; today, it is 200 to 300 times greater. 
  • Food for Thought: What Contributes to a Pet's Healthy Diet - An article in Pet Age reported that Nature’s Logic recently become the first pet food company to join the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), a leading business organization advancing the power of business for a just and sustainable world. Named as a Top-20 Sustainable Brand by the Pet Sustainability Coalition, Nature’s Logic is among leading companies that integrate environmental and social practices. The article quoted CEO David Yaskulka’s statement that, “As a proud member of the American Sustainable Business Council, Nature’s Logic can now more broadly fulfill our role in advancing our mission – to apply the logic of nature to everything we touch.” 

Welcome New Members

Please note: For details about membership levels, benefits and more, visit https://www.asbcouncil.org/membership

Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed (Business Impact Member) 

Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed believes regenerative agriculture is a broad set of holistic land management and grazing practices that builds soil health, reduces erosion and runoff, increases biodiversity, maximizes photosynthesis, sequesters carbon, re-establishes diverse grasslands, benefits pollinators and wildlife, eliminates dependence on chemical herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, and improves nutrient density in meat, while benefiting rural economies. Thousand Hills Regenerative Renegade producers are currently managing a total of 600,000 acres with regenerative practices to raise our Lifetime Grazed Grass Fed Beef.

West Paw (Business Impact Member)

West Paw is a family-owned, Bozeman, Montana-based company founded in 1996. A Certified B Corp, West Paw envisions a world where business success is friendly to people and the planet. It sustainably manufactures zero-waste dog toys, leashes and collars made with recycled polyester webbing, beds and plush toys stuffed with fill or batting from recycled plastic bottles, and sustainably-sourced proteins for dog treats. West Paw products are sold in over 6,000 pet specialty stores across the US and distributed worldwide. West Paw is Montana’s first Benefit Corporation and a founding member of the Pet Sustainability Coalition.  

Wendy Emrich (Individual Core Member)

Ms. Emrich is a Colorado-based member who has been a philanthropist and impact investor for nearly 40 years with the hope that her work and monies have helped make the world more equitable and regenerative. Her policy interests include climate and energy, race and equity, and regenerative agriculture, among others.   

Fountainhead (Business Community Member) 

Fountainhead is a digital agency committed to building sustainable tourism in the Caribbean and Latin America by helping hotels, resorts, villas, attractions, and destinations that share this mission to grow by attracting, engaging and delighting guests and visitors who also share this philosophy. 

Clearya (Business Community Member)

Clearya is a technology platform designed to accelerate a demand-driven, health-first market shift. Its free Internet browser plug-in and mobile apps empower people to effortlessly make healthy choices and discover safer products by automatically screening ingredients for chemicals of concern while shopping online. Parallel to empowering consumers, Clearya aims to support the environmental health ecosystem by providing data-driven insights.  

Long Life Information and Referral Network (Association Member) 

LLIRN is a Brooklyn community-based organization committed to working with people who self-identify as living with disabilities. It helps people navigate around systemic barriers that interfere with them enjoying equal justice, achieving financial independence and engaging in meaningful work. 

Member & Staff News

  • AMP Robotics

AMP Robotics installs technology in Boulder County center, across the country. The Denver News reported that “Sorty McSortface” and “Sir Sorts-a-Lot” are part of Colorado robotics company’s quest to modernize recycling.

  • Lime

     Lime unveiled a new e-bike it will take to 25 new cities this year in a $50 million expansion. 

  • Michael Neuwirth Appointed ASBC Chief Communications Officer 

    ASBC is pleased to welcome Michael Neuwirth as Chief Communications Officer. He brings more than 25 years of growth-focused business communications to ASBC, having led communications at organizations ranging from Danone’s $6-billion North American businesses to a fledgling organic food company he helped lead earlier in his career. Neuwirth combines his expert communications skills with an operator’s understanding of how businesses work best when they consider the interests of all stakeholders rather than solely those of shareholders. Citing Michael’s “unmatched track record as a leading voice advocating for stakeholder capitalism,” ASBC Co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Hollender said that “Michael has a unique track record helping to build campaigns that change the direction of industry, whether it be the creation of the market for probiotics, encouraging more plant-based diets, healthy hydration choices, and more recently, corporate adoption of benefit corporation status and B Corp Certification.” Michael said that “The American Sustainable Business Council is the only national business advocacy organization that will land on the right side of history when it comes to corporate governance reform and finally replacing shareholder primacy with stakeholder capitalism,” and that his goal is to “increase ASBC’s visibility and efficacy among thought-leaders and policy influencers to advance stakeholder capitalism.” 

ASBC Members, Let Us Help You Share Your News! 

Your ASBC membership is a valuable networking opportunity to share your news with other mission-driven companies and supporters nationwide. Please send us your product and service introductions, personnel and facility changes, awards, charitable events and other news in your press releases, blogs, captioned photos and videos. We’ll include them in ASBC’s monthly Policy Update newsletter and social media outlets. 

AND....Show your customers, prospects and vendors your values right upfront:  display the “Proud Member of ASBC” logo on your website and marketing materials.  

ASBC appreciates your support for our work and we’re proud to support you all the way! 

Upcoming Events

ASBC/SVC Spring Conference: “Building a Just & Sustainable Future”  
Virtual Event | April 19-21, 2021 
See the story in this issue of ASBC’s Policy Update and find full details on the conference website.

Next Economy Webinars 
Webinar | Watch when you want
ASBC and SVC co-sponsor this line-up of thought-provoking discussions and case histories from businesses around the globe on today’s challenging problems, important missions and innovative solutions: building resilience, community investment, finance and social justice, BIPOC access to capital, customer engagement, mentoring, demographics in a digital world, and much more.


American Sustainable Business Council
712 H Street, NE, PMB 42, | Washington, District of Columbia 20002
202-660-1455 | replies@asbcouncil.org

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