P&G's plastics solution, Europe's circular economy, Unilever recycling target, HSBC slammed, Ikea zero waste pledge, UK urged on SDGs, sustainable Siemens, blood diamonds, Waitrose food waste push, and Divine Chocolate

P&G makes first recyclable shampoo bottle with beach plastic

Procter & Gamble announced this week that the hair care brand Head & Shoulders will produce the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from up to 25% recycled beach plastic.

In partnership with recycling experts TerraCycle and Suez, the new packaging will be available this summer as a limited-edition bottle in French supermarket Carrefour. It will be the world’s largest production run of recyclable bottles made with post-consumer recycled beach plastic, involving the support of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of NGOs collecting plastic waste found on beaches.

Lisa Jennings, vice president, Head & Shoulders, said: "We felt that the leading shampoo brand in sales should lead in sustainability innovation … it encourages the entire industry to do the same.”

P&G also says that by the end of 2018, more than half a billion bottles will include up to 25% post-consumer recycled plastic, representing more than 90% of its hair care bottles sold in Europe. The project will use 2,600 tonnes of recycled plastic every year – the same weight as eight fully loaded Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, said: “Creating the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle with beach plastics is a start of an important journey. With the circular economy gaining more traction, we hope that other global brands will work with green suppliers and use their influence to drive change for the benefit of the environment.”

Jean Marc Boursier, Suez’s Group’s senior executive vice-president, told a press conference at the World Economic Forum that using one tonne of recovered plastic in products in place of virgin materials saves five barrels of oil, uses 90% less energy and 1.6t of CO2. “It is good for the environment and it is good for business.”

Europe’s circular economy worth €320bn

Credit: inter reality


A new report produced by SYSTEMIQ in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and sponsored by SUN, reveals that scaling the circular economy in Europe offers investment opportunities of €320bn (£276bn).

The EMF report, Achieving Growth Within, announced at Davos, details the benefits to businesses and governments from a circular economy transition. The report identifies priority investments in Europe that could provide regenerative growth and unlock economic, social and environmental benefits, as well as mitigating risks.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the EMF, said: “Building on the analysis of our 2015 report, Growth Within, which demonstrated the additional €0.9tr benefit for Europe by 2030 from shifting to circular economy practices, this latest report outlines the first steps needed by businesses and governments to realise these benefits.”

With a focus on the sectors of mobility, food and the built environment, Achieving Growth Within identifies investment “hot spots” that would, by 2025, create an additional 7% GDP growth. They could also reduce raw material consumption by 10%, and annual CO2 emissions by 17%.

Dr. Martin R. Stuchtey, co-founder of SYSTEMIQ, said: “In our study we asked a very fundamental question: what would it take to make Europe attractive to industrial investors? With the help of 50 plus experts from the private and public sector, we found that the potential for growth is high and the risk of stranded assets is low.”


Unilever commits to 100% recyclable plastic packaging

Credit: Mohamed Abdulraheem


Unilever announced this week that all of its plastic packaging will be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 and called on the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry to accelerate progress towards the circular economy.

Unilever said the commitment was key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and moving away from a “take-make-dispose” model of consumption.

Unilever, which is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, said it would invest in a technical solution to recycle multi-layered sachets to reduce ocean plastic and help create a plastics protocol for the industry. CEO Paul Polman said: “To address the challenge of ocean plastic waste we need to work on systemic solutions - ones which stop plastics entering our waterways in the first place.”

The British-Dutch multinational has already committed to reduce the weight of its packaging this decade by one third by 2020, and increase its use of recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025 against a 2015 baseline as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever’s announcement came as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced an action plan to crack down on plastic waste, backed by 40 major companies including Unilever, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and the Coca-Cola Company. The report says 20% of global plastics packaging could be economically reused, while a further 50% could be profitably recycled through concerted efforts on design and after-use.

Ellen MacArthur said: "By committing to ambitious circular economy goals for plastic packaging, Unilever is contributing to tangible system change and sends a strong signal to the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry."

Last week Ethical Corporation reported that Unilever signed a contract to use biomethane at five of its sites in UK and Ireland, making them carbon-neutral.


HSBC ‘funding rainforest destruction’

Credit: Rich Carey

HSBC, the UK’s biggest lender, has been involved in arranging $16.3bn in loans and credit facilities for six companies responsible for “some of the most unsustainable aspects of palm oil development” in Indonesia, according to a new Greenpeace report.

The Dirty Bankers report says this was in breach of HSBC’s deforestation policy, which prohibits the financing of operations that are illegal, damage high conservation value forests or violate the rights of workers and local people.

The palm oil companies named in the report are Salim Group, Posco Daewoo, Noble Group, IOI Group, GoodHope Asia Holding, and Bumitama Agri. Greenpeace said all had been subject to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) complaints or suspension, been cited by the Indonesian government for unrestrained fires and/or been the subject of critical reports from social and environmental non-governmental organisations.

Greenpeace acknowledges that HSBC’s policies have been ranked highly compared to those of other banks, but says it relies solely on RSPO membership and certification instead of more rigorous “no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation” commitments made by companies like Wilmar. “Not only are HSBC’s policies inadequate, but it is providing services to companies that breach them. Its links to some of the most damaging companies in the sector leave HSBC exposed to serious reputational risk, in addition to the financial risks associated with the palm oil industry.”

Brendan McNamara, head of global NGO engagement at HSBC, questioned some of the data in the report in an interview with the Financial Times: “HSBC does not knowingly provide financial services which directly support palm oil companies which do not comply with our policy,” he said. McNamara said the bank dropped 104 clients after it revised its policy in 2014 to bring it in line with the principles of the RSPO.

Ikea UK achieves zero waste to landfill

Credit: Tanasan Sungkaew


Ikea UK revealed that it has achieved zero waste to landfill and recycled 90.6% of the waste it produced in the last financial year.

These achievements follow a €3bn (£2.6bn) investment in sustainability by Ikea Group as part of its People & Planet positive strategy. The UK operations to the Swedish retailer continued to produce 43.4% of its energy from renewable sources in the last financial year, contributing towards the group’s 2020 goal of producing as much energy from renewable sources as it consumes worldwide. Ikea UK has seen a 13.3% growth in sales of its ‘sustainable life at home’ brand products, including items made from recycled materials.

Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for the UK and Ireland, told The Huffington Post UK that waste is now a revenue stream. “A few years ago when we had something like half the number of stores we had today, waste cost us around £1m a year,” she said. “We now have 20 stores and five pickup points and we actually make a small profit on waste. We’ve turned waste from a cost to a resource. The next step is not just about recycling, but it’s about using waste in our own operations.”

Businesses urge UK to develop SDG delivery plan

Credit: UNIDO

More than 80 leading companies have signed an open letter calling on the UK government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The letter, organised by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development group and signed by companies including Diageo, BT, Coca Cola, Vodafone and Unilever, urges the Government to create a framework that will allow them to help deliver the goals both at home and abroad, including a transparent reporting framework and clear benchmarks. They also urge the government to “require all departments, not only the Department for International Development, to work with business and other stakeholders to develop an SDG delivery plan”.

The letter was published on the same day that the Business and Sustainable Development Commission publishes its flagship Better Business, Better World report arguing that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth at least $12 trillion and up to 380 million jobs by 2030.

The commission, which was launched at last year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, includes 35 CEOs and civil society leaders and is chaired by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown. Malloch-Brown said: “This report is a call to action to business leaders. We are on the edge and business as usual will drive more political opposition and land us with an economy that simply doesn't work for enough people. We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth.”

Siemens tops Corporate Knights sustainability ranking

Credit: Wallix

German industrial conglomerate Siemens leads the rankings in Corporate Knights’ annul survey of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations. Siemens was recognised for its growing use of renewable energy and ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, scoring more than 90% in categories pertaining to energy, innovation and human resources.

“As well as ensuring accountability for sustainability at the board level, Siemens has taken its brand claim ‘ingenuity for life’ as the inspiration for what it calls a Business to Society approach. As part of this philosophy and under its sustainability programme, it is systematically carrying out studies of each country where it is active to identify the priorities for that country, with a methodology in alignment with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development,” the Toronto-based sustainability ranking company said.

Corporate Knights described Siemens’ performance in energy productivity as “outstanding”, with a score of 94%, driven in part by client demand for energy efficiency and clean energy, but also internal targets, including cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2020.

Norwegian pension and insurance company Storebrand, known for its aggressive focus on sustainable investing, ranked second, while third place went to US tech company Cisco, which is increasingly focused on providing smart city and energy management IT solutions to governments and companies alike. Almost 20% of firms hailed from the US this year, followed by 12 French corporations and 11 from the UK.

‘Flawed diamond scheme failing to stop widespread abuse’

Image: USAID


An investigation by Swedish NGO Swedwatch has found serious failings in the diamond industry’s scrutiny of its supply chain, saying it is ignoring serious rights abuses at mines across Africa by focusing on sourcing conflict-free diamonds.

The report Childhood Lost, looks at conditions in small-scale mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world’s third-largest diamond producer, and found thousands of children working illegally – mainly to pay for food and school fees – with girls particularly exposed to sexual violations and forced marriage.

Swedwatch said the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the main sustainability framework for diamonds, classifies less than 0.1% of the world's diamonds as untradeable for ethical reasons because they are in conflict zones. It does not cover diamond extraction elsewhere in Africa, where human rights violations are widespread.

“Diamonds originating from western and central Africa are of particular concern, and it is to date not possible to guarantee that they are excluded from European supply chains,” the report says.

“The KPCS must be restructured or replaced in order to protect the people who are bearing the true cost of the diamond trade.”

Waitrose to trial food surplus donations to cut waste


UK retailer Waitrose is strengthening its commitment to reducing food waste by launching a trial with FareShare FoodCloud this month, which works to ensure no food safe for human consumption goes to waste in supermarkets.

Waitrose is the second retailer to sign up to the programme, which was developed in collaboration with Tesco in 2015. The FoodCloud technology scheme has been rolled out to 800 Tesco stores and has redistributed more than five million meals to people in need.

The FareShare Food Cloud programme will enable branches of Waitrose to inform local charities of surplus food that is available for collection at the end of each day. After trialling the scheme in 25 Waitrose branches, it will be expanded over 12 months to all UK stores, if successful.

Waitrose’s head of sustainability Tor Harris said: “This will help food get to those who need it quickly and make a real difference in helping feed vulnerable people. Reducing food waste is a top priority for us, as is supporting local communities, and this trial will help our branches focus their resources even more effectively. We look forward to evaluating the success of the trial.”

Divine Chocolate is awarded B Corp certification

Credit: Divine Chocolate

Leading social enterprise company Divine Chocolate has been awarded B Corp certification, having met rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, as well as accountability and transparency.

All Divine Chocolate products are certified with the Fairtrade mark and the company has been the recipient of numerous business awards for its development of a unique farmer-owned business model. CEO Sophi Tranchell said: “We are delighted to have achieved B Corp status. It has involved a thorough assessment of our business, and we are proud to be amongst the 2,000 companies worldwide who have so far made the same commitment as us to change the way business benefits the world.”

Main image credit: Michael Piccaya

circular economy  P&G  plastics  Unilever  HSBC  deforestation  Ikea  waste  SDGs  Siemens  diamonds  Waitrose  food waste  Divine Chocolate  B corp 

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