Ikea’s solar panel revolution, Adidas helps suppliers cut carbon and why Samsung’s customers’ food lasts longer

Ikea takes solar panels mainstream in UK

Ikea’s stated sustainability vision is clear. The company says it wants to help customers become eco-efficient and live a more sustainable life at home by offering products that help save money, waste and energy. The latest push? Solar panels. Over the next 10 months, the Swedish furniture maker will offer a range of packaged solar panels throughout its 17 stores across Britain.

The Swedish retailer, which meets a third of its total energy consumption through renewable sources and operates 338 stores across the world, is well positioned to make an impact by propagating sustainable living to customers through its products and services. The company has already introduced several energy-saving and resource-efficient products. These include LED light bulbs – which last for up to 20 years – and water-efficient dishwashers.

It was only a few months ago that the Ikea Foundation partnered with the UN High Commission for Refugees to create longer lasting, solar powered refugee shelters. Now, the company is looking to turn solar panels mainstream by making it easier for its customers to buy affordable solar panels for their homes.

However, while Ikea products are celebrated for their affordability, the solar panels are at the upper end of its price spectrum. At £5,700 a pack, the cost seems high for Ikea goods. On the flip side, Ikea experts believe that these home solar systems could deliver a return of up to 14%, with some able to pay off their upfront cost within the first seven years, leaving the customer to enjoy free energy thereafter. This would mean, in terms of the cash savings on energy bills, up to £800 a year.

Joanna Yarrow, Ikea’s head of sustainability, says the company is excited to be able to help customers take positive actions at home for both the environment and their wallets. She says it wants to “make a greener, more sustainable way of life attractive and easy for as many people as possible”.

Unlike most Ikea products, the solar panels are not self-assembly. The cost of the panels includes installation by UK solar energy firm Hanergy.

Coca-Cola to replenish 1bn litres of water

Coca-Cola Americas and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have announced a partnership to restore large-scale natural water supplies.

The project will return the waters to the US National Forest System, which provides drinking water to more than 60 million Americans, and aims to protect the country’s watershed. Bruce Karas, vice-president for environment and sustainability at Coca-Cola North America, says that through this new partnership, the company aims to replenish more than 1bn litres of water to nature by restoring natural resources and wildfire-damaged watersheds. To calculate the volume of water replenished, which would otherwise be lost through runoff or pollution, Karas says the project will use a common long-standing watershed management method.

Coca-Cola North America president Steve Cahillane says Coca-Cola supports more than 100 water projects throughout the US in an effort to balance the water the company uses and help to ensure clean water supplies for communities. Karas says: “Globally, Coca-Cola replenished more than half of the water it used in 2012.” 

For a company that uses the commodity as its main ingredient, environmental degradation in the form of ground water depletion has been a big challenge. In its 2012 sustainability report, however, signs of water use improvement emerged. In 2011, Coca-Cola consumed 9.4m cubic metres of water globally. In 2012 the company managed to bring that figure down to 8.8m cubic metres.

Beyond the use of water in its products, Coca-Cola uses water for its cooling, washing and rinsing needs at its numerous manufacturing plants. Reducing some of its water consumption not only benefits the environment but also brings operational cost savings.

Adidas helps Indonesian suppliers cut CO2

An integrated public-private partnership between Adidas and the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ) has helped 16 of the sportswear company’s suppliers in Indonesia prevent 4,715 tonnes of CO2 release since 2011.

The energy efficiency programme, Greening Global Supply Chains – Focus on Energy in Indonesia, aims to help factories in a country that has become one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases to monitor and analyse their energy consumption, study resource-efficient alternatives, and monitor the impact of new measures taken.

This initiative is one of many undertaken by Adidas to meet its 2015 environmental, social and governance goals. According to the German sportswear giant, this particular initiative is aimed at helping its suppliers make better use of energy so they can achieve better financial and environmental performance.

Silvia Raccagni, sustainability communication manager at Adidas, says no official calculation has been done in terms of monetary savings, and that each supplier is responsible for conducting this type of analysis. On the other hand, Raccagni confirms that according to Adidas’s data “the savings are in terms of hundreds of thousands of euros for this project in total”. She adds: “Our calculation is very conservative as savings depend on the source of energy used such as electricity, gas or others which could be more costly.”

The initiative has resulted in improved supply chain transparency and an increase in sustainable manufacturing processes, including lower energy costs, for the brand and its suppliers.

M&S connects with Asian workers

UK retailer Marks & Spencer has teamed up with social enterprise technology provider Good World Solutions in an innovative effort to establish direct communication links with workers in its south Asia clothing supply chain. Through the use of mobile technology, M&S will collect direct feedback from its workers by conducting surveys covering financial literacy, health training and working conditions

Marks & Spencer spokesman Daniel Himsworth says the retailer has been carrying out direct worker research and evaluation for some time as part of its sustainability programme Plan A. These, however, have so far comprised more traditional surveys and focus groups, he says.

Using mobile technology will enable M&S to increase the number of workers it can reach. Himsworth says that ultimately the company would like to roll this out to the top 10 countries it sources from. For now, and with the support of its suppliers, M&S will present the service to 30 factories and 22,500 workers in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

To link up with the workers, the retailer will use Labor Link technology, a real-time system that returns anonymous, quantitative survey results direct from supply chain workers. Workers can listen to questions on their mobile phones in Hindi, Sinhalese or other local languages, and respond using the touch-tone keypad.

While M&S does not directly employ the workers in the factories, Fiona Sadler, head of ethical sourcing says that, as far as the company is concerned, the workers are directly linked to M&S as they make its products, take part in its training programmes, and have a stake in its brand.

As Himsworth points out, this innovation in the ethical trading and supply chains is part of the M&S Plan A goal to be a fair partner and to ensure good working conditions for everyone involved in the company’s supply chain.

Samsung helping reduce food waste

South Korean electronic powerhouse Samsung is seeing its UK digital appliances division team up with the UK Love Food Hate Wastecampaign in a bid to raise awareness of food wastage across UK households.

Samsung will use its digital and traditional media technology to reach out to consumers by showcasing how to use appliance features and reduce household food waste by storing food efficiently.

The campaign will help shoppers make better use of their fridges and freezers by understanding how the technology can help food last longer by suggesting efficient ways to store foods, such as better suited temperatures for certain produce, resulting in less waste and energy efficiency.

Lana Sanleandro, head of marketing, home appliances, Samsung UK, explains that the initiative will reduce not only the impact on the environment but also the size of a household’s weekly shopping bill. In fact, according to Emma Marsh, head of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, lowering fridge temperature and refrigerating foods that are predominantly stored at room temperature could lead to potential annual UK waste savings of £200m.

The Samsung and Love Food Hate Waste initiative comes after a recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation that global food waste is costing the world economy $750bn a year, while 870 million people still go hungry every day.

Adidas  BrandWatch  coca-cola  Ikea  M&S  Samsung 

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