Top Stories

June 21, 2013

International Development

IKEA unveils flat-pack refugee shelter

To mark World Refugee Day, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and furniture maker IKEA’s charitable foundation have unveiled an “innovative” shelter which uses solar lighting to offer safety and security to families living in refugee camps. Many of the shelters currently used in refugee camps have a life span of as little as six months before the impact of sun, rain and wind means they need to be replaced. IKEA’s new shelter, which comes flat-packed with instructions and a mallet, is designed to last for several years. The prototype is being tested at a refugee camp in Ethiopia, and currently costs more than £5,000 to produce. The IKEA Foundation said it is hoping the UN will place substantial orders for the new shelters, which would help bring costs down and make them commercially viable. (Daily Telegraph; IKEA; Independent)

Corporate Reputation

Drugs companies accused of colluding to overcharge NHS

According to an undercover investigation by The Daily Telegraph, drugs companies appear to have rigged the prices of more than 20,000 drugs sold to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).  Sales representatives for drug firms were secretly recorded by this newspaper offering to provide apparently falsified invoices allowing pharmacists to bill the NHS for sums far greater than they would spend. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, ordered an investigation into the allegations, which he described as “deeply concerning”.  Two of the firms involved said they had suspended sales representatives and launched investigations into what they said were unauthorised practices. (Daily Telegraph)

Cadbury’s “aggressive” pre-takeover tax avoidance exposed

It has emerged that Cadbury, the British confectionery maker that became a cause célèbre for tax justice campaigners after it was acquired by US food group Kraft in 2010, engaged in aggressive tax avoidance schemes before the takeover designed to slash its UK tax bill by more than a third. A Financial Times investigation into the tax affairs of the company has uncovered tax avoidance schemes former senior executives admit were “highly aggressive”. In the decade before the takeover, Cadbury paid an average of £6.4m a year in current tax on its ongoing UK operations, despite annual British profits of £100m and turnover of more than £1bn. (Financial Times*)


Siemens to develop biofuel from steel industry gases

Siemens will work to develop biofuels from waste industrial gases after signing a 10-year cooperation deal with New Zealand technology company LanzaTech. The two companies will work to commercialise and market the system developed by LanzaTech, which captures carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from steel mills and turns it into fuel and chemicals. The company calculates the CO2 emissions of the technology are between 50 to 70 percent lower than petroleum-based fuels, helping mills to lower operating costs and meet environmental regulations. Dr Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of LanzaTech, said the partnership would “improve the value and environmental footprint” of the global steel industry. (BusinessGreen)

UK catering industry could save £250m a year through energy efficiency

The UK catering industry could save more than £250m in energy costs every year, through optimising and improving kitchen equipment and tailoring menu options, according to analysis from the Carbon Trust. More than 8bn meals are served every year across 260,000 sites in the UK, costing £770m a year in energy, and resulting in 3.9m tonnes of carbon emissions. In order to help the sector save energy, the Carbon Trust has launched a Cut Cost & Carbon Calculator, designed specifically for anyone involved in catering equipment manufacture and supply or the design, specification and operation of a catering site. (Edie)