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UK food and drinks industry posts positive progress
UK food and drinks companies have reduced their CO2 emissions by 35% (against a 1990 baseline) since 2007, with emissions dropping by 664,000 tonnes of CO2, a new study by the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) finds. Over the same period, FDF members have cut their water use by 15.6% and delivered a 4.5% reduction in the carbon impact of packaging. In addition, food and packaging waste sent to landfill by FDF members is now just 3%, compared with 16.5% in 2006. More than one quarter of waste is dealt with through recycling, increasing to 96% when considering only used packaging. The UK’s food chain is now worth £103bn and employs almost 13% of the UK workforce.
According to a study by the British Retail Consortium, the UK’s seven largest supermarkets, which have 87% market share, only contribute around 200,000 tonnes (1.3%) of the food thrown away every year. The retailers have also reduced the proportion of waste sent to landfill to 7%, down from 43% in 2005. Since 2005, meanwhile, the supermarket chains have reduced absolute carbon emissions from stores and transport by 13%.
Environmental ‘externalities’ near $3tn globally
The costs of pollution, ecosystem depletion and health impacts have grown steadily over the past five years and now approach $3tn a year for global companies, exceeding their total profits, according to a new report by GreenBiz and data analysis firm Trucost. In the US alone, these environmental “externalities” cost companies more than $1tn a year, or the equivalent of 6.2% of the national GDP.
Meanwhile, an estimated $300bn is needed each year to meet the world’s environmental conservation challenges, according to the Global Canopy Programme. On the bright side, 2014 saw an increase in the flow of capital towards more sustainable business models in Europe and the US. The report cites data by the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment showing that money managers and community investing institutions with combined $2.9tn in assets now explicitly incorporate environmental issues into their investment decisions.
Gender bias at work carries a $9tn price tag
Gender inequality in work costs women in developing countries a whopping $9tn each year in lower pay and limited access to paid jobs, more than the combined GDPs of Britain, France and Germany, according to analysis by development agency ActionAid. Women comprise 60% of the world’s working poor. The findings follow a recent report by the World Bank showing that, on average, female workers earn 10%-30% less than men for comparable work. According to the World Bank, women are only half as likely as men to have full-time-wage jobs and spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, such as caring and housework.
CEOs ignoring climate change, PwC finds
Only 6% of chief executives interviewed in PwC’s 18th annual global CEO survey listed reducing climate change as a priority risk, putting it at the bottom of the list. More than three-quarters of the 1,322 CEOs interviewed in 77 countries, meanwhile, say that over-regulation is a major risk for their business. Other high-priority concerns include the lack of key skills in the talent pool, government responses to fiscal deficit and debt burden, geopolitical uncertainty, cyber security and social instability.
Bankers’ better side
The banking industry has an image problem, but recent statistics from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) cast it in a warmer light. According to a recent study by the BBA, which represents 200 banks operating in more than 180 jurisdictions – equivalent to about 80% of the world’s biggest banks – major financial institutions annually donate more than £1bn to charity. The study, which focuses on 2013 giving figures, finds that the six largest UK retail banks collectively donated £366m. The four largest US banks, meanwhile, topped this with donations of £968m. The study also shows a commitment to employee volunteering, with UK banks clocking up 1.1m volunteering hours on social projects, distributed among 181,000 employee volunteers.
Freight’s carbon footprint set to soar
International freight transport is expected to more than quadruple by 2050, driving up freight-related CO2 emissions 290% in the same period, according to the OECD-backed International Transport Forum (ITF). The study also finds that the average transport distance across all modes will increase 12% by the middle of the century. Domestic transport of international freight flows accounts for 10% of trade-related international freight but 30% of CO2 emissions, the research reveals. The study also finds that big cities in China, India and Latin America will generate more than a third (38%) of the growth in passenger transport emissions by 2050. Policies to avoid urban traffic and shift to public transport could reduce this growth by 30-40%, according to ITF estimates.
Water-efficient agriculture judged most untapped opportunity
Some 37% of private sector leaders identify developments in water-efficient agriculture as an untapped and profitable business opportunity, according to a survey by the UN Global Compact, advisory firm DNV GL and the Monday Morning Global Institute. The study ranks a total of 15 sustainability opportunities. At an industry level, meanwhile, the finance and service sectors selected “everyday health enablers” as their top opportunity, while manufacturers chose “green consumer choices”. The findings show considerable geographical variation. China and India emerge as the most optimistic regions, with 48% and 44% of respondents, respectively, giving a score of five or above (on a scale of 10). Respondents from Europe are the most pessimistic, with only 23% giving a score of 5 or above, compared with 33% globally. Responses also vary by age, with under-30s the most optimistic (37%), followed by those aged 30-49 (34%) and those aged 50 or above (27%).
Illicit financial flows top $1tn in Africa
African countries have lost more than $1tn in illicit financial flows (IFFs) over the past half-century, a study by the UN Economic Commission for Africa finds. Currently, the continent is losing an estimated $50bn annually in IFFs, although the figure could be higher as accurate data do not exist for all African countries. IFFs, which primarily comprise tax avoidance schemes and money laundering, are blamed for impeding developmental outcomes in African countries. Though African economies have been growing at an average of 5% a year since 2000, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day on the continent has increased, from 290 million in 1990 to 414 million in 2010, according to the United Nations.
IKEA nudges closer to ‘net positive’ energy goal
In 2015, Swedish flat-pack furniture group IKEA will develop 87 wind turbines and 150,000 solar panels in an effort to meet its “net positive” energy goal by 2020. The investments will bring the company’s total turbine and solar panel numbers up to 224 and 700,000, respectively. If it completes its targets, IKEA will have invested more than €1.5bn in renewable energy projects by the end of 2015. IKEA’s sales of energy-efficient products amounted to more than €1bn in 2014 – a 58% increase on 2013 sales, according to the company’s latest sustainability report. About 75% of all lighting products that IKEA sold used LEDs or were compatible with LEDs, which use 15% of the energy of traditional bulbs. In 2014, IKEA saved €66m through energy-efficiency measures; reached procurement from more sustainable sources of cotton and wood of 76% and 41%, respectively; and spent a total of €104m on charitable activities through the IKEA Foundation, the report says.
Novo Nordisk takes anti-diabetes fight forward
Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk has reached 24.4 million people with its diabetes care products, in which it controls a 27% global market share, according to the firm’s 2014 integrated annual report. Sales of its insulin products and other anti-diabetic products increased 7% in 2014, generating sales revenue of 70bn Danish Krone (£7bn). Other highlights in the report include a 1% decrease in energy consumption compared with 2013 and a 45% reduction in energy-related carbon emissions since 2004. On the downside, the company’s water use increased 10% in 2014.
Unilever clocks waste-related savings
Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever has saved more than €220m in costs through its zero-waste programme, the company said in a press release. The firm has achieved its target of zero landfill waste in 240 factories in 67 countries. The programme was added as a Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) target in 2012. One alternative destination for its factory waste is as energy in the cement-making process, which currently accounts for 6% of global CO2 emissions.
agriculture Carbon emissions climate change CR Cheat Sheet ecosystem food and drink gender inequality pollution