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‘Clean labelling’ confusion

One-third of global consumers do not have any understanding of what “clean labelling” means, according to a survey of 27,185 respondents across 31 countries. The proportion of confused consumers increases to 45% in the US. The term “clean labelling” is increasingly used by the food and drinks industry for labels that declare products free of artificial ingredients, have zero synthetic chemicals and/or are organic. The research was carried out by London-based market analysis firm Canadean, which also finds that only one in 10 consumers would be willing to pay over 5% more for a product claiming to be clean label.

E-waste: avoidable obsolescence

The longevity of modern electrical goods is declining, fuelling claims by environmental groups of intentional obsolescence and unnecessary waste in the electronics industry. The percentage of everyday electrical goods that had to be replaced due to a fault within five years of purchase stood at 8.3% in 2013, more than double (3.5%) the figure in 2004. Even so, the study by the German Federal Environment Agency (in German) finds that around one-third of consumers are satisfied with the durability of their electrical products.

Food giants join partnership to scale up production

Global food companies including Mars and Unilever have signed up to a new partnership headed by WWF, the Markets Institute, to scale up solutions to how food is grown and distributed around the world.
“Global food production has to change at a systemic level over the coming years,” says Jason Clay, senior vice-president of WWF and executive director of the Washington DC-based institute. “To do this all stakeholders, especially companies, need to rethink how they collaborate to increase the speed and scale of this change.”
The institute has identified initiatives to increase investment in sustainable production among smallholder farmers as its first priority. Other areas it will explore this year include how to better understand the risks of illegality on global supply chains, and measuring and reducing waste in food supply chains.

California: leader in utility-scale solar

California exceeds all the other US states put together when it comes to installed utility-scale photovoltaics and solar thermal installed capacity, new figures from the US Energy Information Administration indicate. The “sunshine state” boasts 52% and 73% of the country’s total for the two renewable technologies, respectively. Utility-scale solar accounts for about 5% of California’s energy needs. In late 2015, California passed legislation requiring the state to source half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Californian city San Diego has gone one step further, pledging to source all its electricity from zero-emission sources by 2035.

The US has just over 20,000MW of installed solar capacity, equivalent to 1.9% of total national electric generating capacity. Utility-scale solar is favoured over rooftop, with the national distribution averaging 60% for the former and 40% for the latter. In a handful of states the mix is reversed. In New York and Hawaii, for instance, 87% and 89% of their installed solar energy capacity, respectively, comes from rooftop systems.

Institutional insights

Latin America’s indigenous: on the edge

Indigenous people in Latin America make up 8% of the region’s population yet they represent around 14% of the poor and 17% the extremely poor, a World Bank study finds. Poverty afflicts 43% of the indigenous population in the region. In addition, they are 2.7 times more likely to live in extreme poverty compared with the non-indigenous population. Indigenous peoples’ access to sanitation and electricity is 18% and 15% lower than that of other Latin Americans. One clear conclusion of the report is that urban-based indigenous households (49% of the total) fare better than their rural counterparts, with 1.5 times greater access to electricity and 1.7 times more access to piped. Primary (1.6 times), secondary (3.6 times) and tertiary (7.7 times) education completion is also considerably higher for urban indigenous people compared with their rural counterparts.

2015: year of disaster

An estimated 98.6 million people in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America face food and water shortages and have increased vulnerability to diseases as a consequence of natural disasters in 2015. The majority of these (92%) were related to severe droughts, floods and other climate-related events, many of which were exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon. The number of people affected is more than double the 10-year average, data from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction finds. The analysis finds that the five countries hit by the highest number of disasters were China, with 26; the US (22); India (19); the Philippines (15); and Indonesia (11). Droughts affected 50.5 million people, nearly double the 27.5 million people affected by floods.

Related research from the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs stresses the impact of the 32 major droughts recorded in 2015. Particular attention is given to the ongoing disaster in drought-affected areas of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland, which are experiencing the driest rainy season for 35 years. Food production in Zimbabwe, for example, has halved compared with 2014, and maize is now 53% more expensive. According to USAid’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, set up by the US international development agency, continued below-average rainfall and high temperatures are likely to persist in southern African well into 2016, with the food crisis lasting into 2017. Children’s charity Unicef reports that 2.8 million people in Zimbabwe and the same number in Malawi are facing food and nutrition insecurity.

EU: renewable stats

Finland, Croatia, Italy, Romania and the Czech Republic are now all in line with their 2020 renewable energy targets, bringing the total number of compliant European Union nation states to nine. Under EU goals, members aim to source 20% of their energy from clean sources by the end of the decade. According to the European Commission’s data service Eurostat the EU’s 28 member countries currently source an average of 16% of their total final energy consumption (from electricity, heating and transport) from carbon-free sources. The other countries to have achieved the 20% mark are Sweden, Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania.

When considering solely electricity, the continent’s top performer is Norway, where supply of clean energy outpaces domestic demand by an average of 9.6%, making it a net producer of clean energy. Other member states with impressive records include Iceland (97.1% of energy consumption from renewable sources), Austria (70%) and Sweden (63.3%). Energy consumption from renewables in France and the UK, meanwhile, two of the largest carbon emitters in the EU, stands at 18.3% and 17.8% of total energy consumption, respectively.

The figures, which run up to 2014, indicate that primary production from renewable energies has increased by 174% since 1990, equivalent to an annual growth rate of 4.3%. Primary production is now 29% higher than it was five years ago. At 42% of total electricity production, hydropower plants generate by far the largest share of electricity from renewable energy sources. This is a major decrease on the 1990 market share, however, when hydropower represented 94% of all renewable electricity generation. The shift in the EU’s renewable energy mix is primarily due to the growth of new technologies such as wind (16% of total production), solar (11%), biomass (10%) and bioliquids and biogas (7%).

Company snapshots

MillerCoors: landfill-free breweries

All of MillerCoors’ seven US brewery facilities now send zero waste to landfill, after the company’s Fort Worth facility announced its landfill-free status in February 2016. To achieve the target, the Texas-based brewery reduced waste to landfill by 66% in 2015. Nearly all the company’s brewery waste in the US is now recycled or re-used, with a small amount going to a waste-to-energy facility. MillerCoors committed to landfill-free operations in 2009. Since then the company has reduced its total waste by 89%, equivalent to saving 4,000 tonnes of waste going to landfills. By 2020, the brewer aims to achieve landfill-free operations at all its major manufacturing sites in the US.

Maersk: carbon cutting

Shipping conglomerate Maersk reduced its carbon emissions across all its operations by 2% in 2015, and by 4.5% (per container moved) in its Maersk Line division. Maersk Line contributes more than 80% of the group’s overall emissions. Around 5% of the company’s recent gains came from the introduction of the more energy efficient Triple-E container ships, while a 6.9% reduction in energy use in ports shaved 2.3% off Maersk Tankers’ total emissions output. Ongoing efficiencies mean Maersk Line now averages 44.6 grams of C02 per transported container per kilometre (down from 46.7g in 2014), well below the industry average of 53.4g. According to Maersk’s latest sustainability report, its emissions reductions since 2007 amount to 42%. Its current target is to reduce total emissions by 30% by 2020 (against a 2010 baseline). Its current performance stands at 23%.

Novo Nordisk: addressing diabetes

Drugs produced by Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk helped 26.8 million diabetes sufferers last year, up from 24.4 million in 2014. Of these, 5.5 million received insulin treatment at a cost of $0.19 per day or less. It has set up 108 diabetes clinics in nine countries since the inauguration of its Changing Diabetes in Children programme six years ago. The initiative has also seen more than 6,500 healthcare professionals trained or retrained in diabetes care. Novo Nordisk’s other community-led diabetes programme – Changing Diabetes in Pregnancy, also set up in 2009 – has so far provided screening for more than 33,300 women for gestational diabetes mellitus. The check-ups diagnosed more than 3,800 women with the condition, all of whom have been subsequently treated.


cheat sheet  labelling  e-waste  stakeholders  supply chains  energy  Indigenous People  food shortage  water shortage  renewables  waste  landfill  sustainability report 

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