Top Stories

August 27, 2013


UK public anger at tax dodgers grows

According to a study by the international development charity Christian Aid, UK public opinion has hardened over tax dodging and corporate secrecy.  This comes two months after a G8 summit chaired by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron promised to tackle corporate abuse of the UK tax system.  84 percent of those participating in the UK wide survey expressed anger on tax avoidance by multinational companies, while 34 percent of participants said that they are still boycotting the products or services of companies who are known to have not paid sufficient tax in the UK. Christian Aid is aiming to secure maximum transparency on the ultimate ownership of UK companies and has called on members of the public to contact the UK Business Secretary Vince Cable, “to ensure public registers are created, which reveal who owns what, where, and for whose benefit.”  (Financial Times*; This is Money)


Supply Chain

US companies detail Bangladeshi worker safety coalition plan

US retailers, including Walmart and Gap, have implemented their independent Bangladesh factory safety plan, which was developed after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013, which killed more than 1,100 workers.  The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which includes 20 US clothing companies and retailers, industry associations and non-governmental organisations, has pledged to have safety standards in place by the 10th September 2013.  The five year voluntary plan aims to train workers and inspect factories while requiring Bangladesh factory owners to pay for safety renovations.  To help factories meet the costs, the Alliance will provide $100 million of funding through low cost loans.  The Alliance has faced high levels of criticism from members of the European-led Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which includes over 70 European brands.  The Accord has criticised the Alliance’s absence of labour representatives on its board and its emphasis on voluntary action rather than legally binding mandates. (Sustainable Brands)


Rush for solar power sparks local protests

Following recent protests against fracking, protests have emerged across the southern half of the UK over what one UK MP, Jeremy Browne, said is the “monstrous desecration” of the countryside by “ugly and brutal” solar farms.  The industry is working to contain the opposition in collaboration with the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change.  This follows the recent publication of solar farm construction guidelines by solar power groups, which encourages developers to build large farms out of sight, preferably on disused industrial or brownfield sites, in a way that does not affect “natural beauty” or cause “undue impact to nearby domestic properties or roads.” There are currently an estimated 65 large solar farms in the UK but there are expected to be between 150 and 200 by the end of March 2014, when a solar subsidy takes effect under the UK Renewables Obligation programme, which requires electricity suppliers to buy an amount of renewable energy.  (Financial Times*)

Technology and Innovation

First bio-wool suitcase extends the value of discarded wool

A New Zealand industrial designer, Daniel McLaughlin, has developed a hard case sustainable suitcase, the Terracase, which made from discarded wool in old carpets and bio-resin, which offers farmers added value to their supply chain. Mr McLaughlin was recently awarded £5,000 by the international James Dyson Foundation for his creation.  Currently, wool waste is generally ‘downcycled’ into insulation due to the material’s good thermal properties. But the Terracase ‘upcycles’ the discarded wool as it increases its value and provides new functionality.  Steven Parsons, market development and innovation manager at Wools of New Zealand, said that “by moving into new product categories where there are no preconceived ideas about how wool is used and what its value might be, we can design more exciting products.” (Eco Business)

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