Coral rescue mission, Dell uses ocean plastics, Indian solar, Singapore carbon tax, sustainable Mango, Co-op Fairtrade cocoa, charities squeezed, California to go fossil-fuel free, Walgreens Boots CSR

Rescue mission to save vanishing coral

An initiative to save the most at-risk coral reefs from eradication was launched last week at the annual World Ocean Summit. The 50 reefs initiative seeks to protect reefs threatened by climate change by using a data-driven approach, led by Bloomberg Philanthropies with the Tiffany & Co foundation and the Paul G Allen Family Foundation. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the increasing severity of climate change and catalyse the action and investment required to protect reefs for the future.

The 50 reefs initiative builds on the work of The Ocean Agency, an Australian not-for-profit, and the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, which have carried out the most comprehensive global survey of coral reefs and coral bleaching ever recorded. The aim is to identify a list of high priority coral reefs that have the best chance of surviving climate change.


Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency, said: “This initiative was developed after witnessing unimaginable loss of reefs over the last two years. Even if the targets set by the Paris climate agreement are met, we will lose about 90% of our reefs by mid-century. 50 Reefs gives us hope that we can save enough of these surviving reefs to ensure they can bounce back over time.”

The initiative employs a three-pronged strategy: collaboration to agree on the criteria among world’s top scientists using global data sets; identification of key science needs and regional solutions by scientists and conservation experts; and a worldwide coral conservation and climate change communications campaign.

Dell pioneers use of ocean plastics in IT packaging

Credit: Dell


Dell has announced a commercial-scale pilot programme to make the packaging used to ship products to its consumers out of 25% recycled ocean plastic. The technology giant has worked with partners to recover plastic waste from waterways, shorelines and beaches, intercepting it before it gets into the oceans. From April this year the recovered plastic will be refined and mixed with other recycled plastic before being molded into new packaging trays for its XPS 13 2-in-1 computer.

The project is part of the company’s Legacy of Good goal to achieve 100% sustainable packaging by 2020. To raise consumer awareness, the company will also include educational information about ocean ecosystem health solutions on its packaging. 

The company says it is the only company to offer computers and monitors that contain e-waste plastics and recycled carbon fiber. It reached its 2020 goal of using 50 million pounds of recycled materials in its products three years early, in January this year.

“This new packaging initiative demonstrates that there are real global business applications for ocean plastics that deliver positive results for our business and planet,” said. Kevin Brown, chief supply chain Officer at Dell. “We look forward to working across industries for broader impact.”

India’s 7,000 railway stations to go solar

Credit: Matyas Rehak


India has embarked on an ambitious plan to power all of its railway stations with solar panels. The project is part of Indian Railways’ aim to harness 1,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Stations will be fitted with rooftop solar power systems, with developers signing long-term power purchase agreement with the railways.

India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the project “is proposed to feed at least 7,000 stations with solar power in the medium term.” He said a start has already been made in 300 stations, with the number expected to increase to 2000 soon.

The move comes after India signed up to the Paris Agreement, and committed to producing 40% of electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030. Speaking at the Paris climate summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi grandly declared that “the world must turn to the sun to power its future”.

See India turns its face to the sun, part of Ethical Corporation’s five-part briefing on sustainable business in India, published this week.

Singapore to adopt carbon tax to curb emissions

Credit: Nattee Chalermtiragool


Singapore is set to introduce a new carbon tax in 2019, with initial prices set between US$7 and $14 per tonne.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced plans for South-east Asia’s first carbon tax this week, a move that will affect more than 30 of Singapore’s largest polluters. The tax will add pressure on international oil companies as Singapore is one of Asia’s biggest refining centres.

Shell issued a statement supporting a government-led carbon price, but said that the plans "must ensure companies can compete effectively with others in the region who are not subject to the same levels of carbon dioxide costs".

As part of the Paris Agreement, Singapore has committed to reduce its emissions intensity by 36% by 2030. Swee Keat said that the tax is the fairest and most efficient way to curb emissions.

Mango launches sustainable fashion line

Credit: Mango

Mango, the Spanish clothing brand, is launching a collection of garments manufactured with sustainable materials as part of its Take Action sustainability project.

The men’s and women’s clothing line, Mango Committed, is part of this initiative, which was launched last year. A collection of 25 women’s  and 20 men’s garments will be made from environmentally friendly organic and recycled cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel, a sustainable fabric regenerated from wood cellulose. The fabrics are also dyed with environmentally friendly inks in a neutral colour palette.

All the items in the collection are manufactured in factories in Portugal, Turkey and Morocco, and have international certificates guaranteeing their sustainable origin.

Mango also participates in the Greenpeace Detox Project, analysing the water from wet processes in the supply chain. It has offset programmes for its CO2 emissions and eco-efficiency criteria to reduce the environmental impact of its stores.

One in five charities ‘struggling to survive’

Credit: Martin Good


One in five charity CEOs believes his or her organisation is struggling to survive, rising to one in four among charities with an annual income of less than £1m, according to the Charities Aid Foundation.

The survey, published in The Social Landscape Report, reveals that rising demand and an increasingly tough financial environment may be pushing some organisations to breaking point.

The research, carried out with charity leaders network ACEVO, reveals that charity leaders’ biggest challenges this year are achieving financial sustainability, meeting demand for services and cuts in public and government funding.

Despite increasing demand for charities’ services, only one in seven chief executives expressed confidence of being able to cope with growing demand, while over a quarter saying they had little or no confidence their organisation would be able to do so.

Co-op to source 100% Fairtrade cocoa

Credit: No Borders - Brayden Howie


The Co-op marked the start of the UK’s annual Fairtrade fortnight by announcing it will only sell and use 100% Fairtrade cocoa in its products from May.

The retailer said its sourcing of Fairtrade cocoa will increase five-fold to 2,848 tonnes, generating £450,000 in Fairtrade premiums for cocoa communities, which are suffering from low market prices.

“The UK is the world's biggest Fairtrade market and the world’s fourth-biggest consumer of chocolate, but our manufacturers and retailers still only source a tiny amount on Fairtrade terms,” Co-op’s Fairtrade strategy manager Brad Hill said.

“When we consider that demand for cocoa is set to rise by 30% over the next three years alone, it’s imperative that we keep moving forward with sustainability initiatives in order to shape this industry. We must help to improve the lives of farming communities, who are still suffering a raw deal.”

Overall sales of Fairtrade produce in the UK have increased for the first time since 2013. The Fairtrade Foundation said sales of bananas and coffee outweighed a decline in cocoa and sugar to boost revenues by 2% to £1.64bn in the UK last year.

California bill targets 100% renewable energy

Credit: You Touch Pix of EuToch


A bill requiring California to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045 has been introduced in the state senate.

The bill, introduced by Senate leader Kevin de León, is thought to have a high likelihood of being passed as both houses of the state assembly are controlled by Democrats. California’s current target is to reach 50% renewable energy use by 2030. Last year it got to 27%. León’s bill would require California, the world’s sixth-largest economy, to hit 50% renewable energy use by 2025 and phase out fossil fuels entirely by 2045.

Jim Woodruff, president of the Large-scale Solar Association, told the Desert Sun: "Whether it’s a direct response to what’s happening in Washington, I don't know, but it's certainly an indication that California will continue to lead in this area.”

Hawaii, the only US state with a 100% renewable energy target, has also set a deadline of 2045 to be fossil-fuel free. And earlier this month three legislators in Massachusetts filed a bill requiring all electricity in the state to be generated by renewable sources by 2035, and for fossil fuels to be eliminated for heat and transport by 2050.

Walgreens Boots Alliance maps CSR goals to SDGs

Credit: Settawat Udom


Walgreens Boots Alliance maps its CSR goals to the Sustainable Development Goals in its latest corporate social responsibility report, released this week.

“We have integrated the SDGs into our activities, communicated them to our people, and will use them to report progress,” the company said.

It also set out 12 ambitious CSR goals that it said would shape its CSR approach going forward. These are grouped into key focus areas of community, environment, marketplace and workplace.

On energy in the UK, the company reported that it had upgraded 600 Boots stores to LED lighting, equating to 24% of Boots’ UK footprint. The company said it was on track to reach its goal, set in 2007, or cutting emissions by 30% by 2020 compared to 2005.

Walgreens, the group's retail stores in the US, and Boots in the UK made their first-ever joint submission to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in fiscal 2016, and achieved a rating of B. “Compared to the market and to the individual Walgreens submission a year earlier, which received a D rating, this represents substantial progress,” the company said.

Main image credit: Brian Kinney
coral  reef  global warming  Dell  ocean plastics  India  solar power  Singapore  carbon tax  Mango  sustainable clothing  Co-op  fairtrade cocoa  charities  California  fossil fuels  Walgreens  Alliance Boots 

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