Top Stories

September 02, 2013


Biofuel project threatens livelihoods

According to the UK international poverty charity ActionAid, rural livelihoods in Sierra Leone are under threat because of a biofuels project by the Swiss company Addax Bioenergy.  The firm’s sugar cane plantation has been promoted as an example of an environmental and socially responsible biofuels project. However, following project visits and 100 interviews with local people, ActionAid claims that the company is harming the livelihoods of 13,000 people across 60 villages.  Of those surveyed, 90 percent attributed lower food production to be the result of losing farmland to the Addax project. The project is funded by a number of development banks and Government backed funds, including the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), which received £97 million from the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) in 2012-2013. (The Independent)

Supply Chain

Supply chain disruptions “significantly hurt” bottom line

According to a report from the US entrepreneur organisation MIT Enterprise Forum and UK firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), more than 90 percent of companies said that supply chain disruptions have a significant impact on a company’s business and financial performance.  The report follows the 2013 Global Supply Chain and Risk Management Survey conducted by the two organisations.  209 global companies completed the survey, which asked participants their views on how key supply chain complexity drivers have evolved over the past three years. 95 percent of respondents said that dependencies between supply chain entities have increased and 94 percent stated that changes in the extended supply chain network configuration occur more frequently.  The founder of MIT Enterprise Forum, David Simchi-Levi, said that given the impact of supply chain disruptions, companies that invest in supply chain flexibility are more resilient to disruptions such as labour strikes and resource volatility. (Environmental Leader)

CSR Management

Companies reap benefits of product sustainability initiatives

A new report from the UK analyst firm Verdantix, Product Sustainability: The Dos, Don’ts and Business Benefits, companies such as Adidas, GSK and Jaguar Land Rover are investing in product sustainability and benefits through improved consumer trust, reduced logistics costs and lower exposure to supply risks.  The report draws on data from a survey of 250 heads of sustainability in 13 countries as well as interviews with product sustainability experts. 69 percent of those surveyed said that it was important or very important to improve performance on sustainable product innovation in the next 12 months. 80 percent of participants reported achieving cost savings on logistics and materials, while 67 percent mitigated resource scarcity risks and regulatory risks. Only 7 percent stated that they had achieved a price premium for their sustainable products.  (Environmental Leader)


TUC says loophole means UK agency workers lose £135 a week

According to the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC), agency workers are being paid up to £135 a week less than permanent staff for doing the same job, despite European Union (EU) rules stating that they are entitled to equal pay.  Today the TUC will lodge a formal complaint with the European Commission against the UK Government for failing to enforce European rules that are meant to guarantee equal treatment for temporary staff.  The TUC said employers are increasingly using a legal loophole which allows agency workers to be paid less than direct employees, provided agencies agree to continue paying workers for at least four weeks when they are unable to find people work.  The chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, Kevin Green, said that the issue was not a loophole but a "legitimate part of the legislation” and that “agency workers have benefitted since these rules came in.”  (The Guardian; BBC)


npower: UK households know how to be green, but many can’t afford it

According to a study by the UK energy supplier npower, the majority of UK householders know about the importance of energy efficiency, but either cannot afford green measures or do not care enough to change their lifestyle.  The majority of respondents said that they thought energy efficiency simply means to save energy and only five percent said they understood that it was also to combat climate change. 89 percent of participants said that they were motivated to become more energy efficient primarily in order to reduce energy bills.  However, 40 percent said that they could not afford to be energy efficient.  David Titterton, Green Deal and Obligations Director at Npower, said that “cost should not be a barrier for households looking to improve their energy efficiency.”  (Blue and Green Tomorrow)