Mars, Timberland back Earth Day, Chicago goes green, boost to impact investment, Target lifts packaging targets, plant-based coffee cups

US firms rally behind Earth Day as millions march for science

MARS is one of the biggest companies to take part in America's official Earth Day celebrations on Saturday, with its global sustainability heads Kevin Rabinovitch and Kate Wylie appearing in educational videos on climate change and deforestation to support this year’s theme of environmental and climate literacy.

One billion people from are expected to participate in Earth Day, making it the largest civic observance in the world. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet,” the Earth Day Network organisers said. “We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defence of environmental protection.”

In the US, where the First Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, there will be a March for Science and teach-in on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It is expected to be the biggest of more than 400 March for Sciences planned on Saturday in cities around the world. In London #sciencemarchldn, the march will go from the Science Museum to Parliament Square. In the US separate events across the country are celebrating #EarthDay #EarthWeek and even #EarthMonth.  One of the biggest is in New York City, which is ending a week of activities centred on Union Square in Manhattan, sponsored by companies including Toyota, Bausch+Lomb, ConEdison, Enterprise CarShare and Lyft.

Coca-Cola is helping to observe Earth Month by teaming up with River Network, a nonprofit organisation that supports the protection and restoration of rivers and watersheds throughout the US, to expand the National Rain Barrel Programme to more than 40 locations. Coca-Cola donates its used beverage syrup drums, which are repurposed into rain barrels to collect runoff rainwater.

Meanwhile, many companies are using #EarthWeek to engage their employees in sustainability, with UPS offering prized and entreating its staff to “Tweet us a selfie doing something earth-friendly using #UPSCommittedtoMore”.

Timberland is having its second annual Earth Week at its headquarters in New Hampshire, a  five-day effort to encourage employees to reduce their environmental footprints. Each day of the week sees different opportunities to get involved, from learning about carbon emissions and test-driving electric cars to donning Tyvek suits to dive into trash bags to learn about their contents.

Chicago plans 100% renewable energy by 2025

Credit: Robert Ciccetti/Shutterstock Inc.


CHICAGO will be the first major US city to have a 100% clean energy mandate for its public buildings, in a move by the city’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and various public entities.

The plan will move the city’s buildings’ electricity source to 100% renewable by 2025Committed parties include Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority, Facility Management and the City Colleges of Chicago, which collectively used nearly 1.8 billion kWh of electricity in 2016, 8% of the city’s electricity use.

The commitment will be achieved through the use of renewable energy credits and renewable energy procured through the State of Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard, and on-site generation, starting from next year.

Emanuel said: “As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down. By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st century economy here in Chicago.”


Ford Foundation commits $1bn to impact investment

Credit: Sebastien Coell

THE FORD FOUNDATION will invest up to $1bn of its $12bn endowment over the next 10 years in the nascent investment field known as mission-related investing.

The commitment is one of the largest ever made to MRIs, and the largest by a private foundation. The move sends a signal to other investors that perhaps the time has come to consider the potential of impact investing.

The foundation said it will gradually carve out funds from its existing investment portfolio and move them over time into funds seeking to earn not only attractive financial returns but concrete social returns.  Initial investments will focus on affordable housing in the US and access to financial services in emerging markets, areas where the foundation has deep prior experience and sees both significant investment opportunity and alignment with its mission to reduce poverty and injustice. 

“We are making this commitment because we believe MRIs have the potential to become the next great innovation for advancing social good,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We need to expand our imaginations and our tools if we want to tackle the large-scale problems facing the world today.”


Target to eliminate polystyrene by 2022

Credit: Mandritoiu/Shutterstock Inc.

TARGET has announced five new sustainable packaging goals, including eliminating polystyrene from own-brand packaging by 2022, and adding clearer recycling labels to packaging.

The company said the goals are meant to reflect its customers’ expectations, its own business priorities, challenges facing the industry, and areas where Target can drive change. They aim to build on its work making packaging more sustainable since the goal set in in 2013 for at least 50 of its own-brand packages to be more sustainable by 2016.

The goals for its packaging include sourcing from sustainably managed forests by 2022; adding a How2Recycle label to all own-brand packaging by 2020, already found on 1,700 products; supporting The Recycling Partnership, bringing curbside recycling to more undeserved communities; and creating more demand for recycled packaging by creating three new end markets for recycled materials by 2020.

Jennifer Silberman, Target’s chief sustainability officer, said: “We know our guests pay attention to packaging and its impact on the environment. When we provide them with thoughtfully designed, environmentally friendly packaging, we’re able to help them take another step toward sustainable living.”

Pioneering plant-based coffee cups to slash waste

Credit: Biome Bioplastics


BIOME BIOPLASTICS aims to slash coffee cup waste with its recyclable takeaway cups made from plant-based sources.

The pioneering design for the disposable coffee cups and lids are fully compostable and recyclable, while still performing like petroleum-based plastic under heat and stress. The cups were designed over five years from a range of biopolymers based on natural and renewable resources, including plant starches and tree by-products such as cellulose.

The British bioplastics manufacturer has unveiled the range to enable retailers and packaging manufacturers to offer consumers a more sustainable option after consumer research suggested 53% of people would be more likely to buy from shops using plant-based biodegradable cup products.

Biome Bioplastics CEO Paul Mines said: “Our solution is making biopolymers that can be made into fully biodegradable coffee cup and lid combinations. The result being a bio-based takeaway cup disposable either in a paper recycling stream or food waste stream. In appropriate composting conditions our cups and lids will disappear to carbon dioxide and water within three months.”


Main image credit: Washington Post
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