Top Stories

November 11, 2013

Supply Chain

Companies commit to scaling up sustainable forest management

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Forest Solutions Group (FSG), which consists of 26 global companies, including AkzoNobel, SC Johnson and Unilever, has committed to ensuring that the global supply of independently verified sustainable wood and forest products will increase to meet growing demand.  The FSG members have committed to working with stakeholders to spread sustainable forest management, support and promote the expansion of sustainable forest certification, to set 2020 targets to increase the use of certification, and to increase the market for certified sustainable forest products. This announcement coincides with the launch of the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition, which aims to invite states to source wood from sustainable plantations in order to reduce deforestation. The initiative, which involves more than 40 public and private organisations, aims to reach a tipping point for the procurement of sustainable wood through a collaborative commitment across the European timber industry. (Edie; Blue & Green Tomorrow)

Responsible Investment

EIRIS: Stock exchanges at forefront of developing sustainability initiatives

According to a new report by the European environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) research organisation EIRIS, stock exchanges across the world, in both developed and emerging markets, are increasingly at the forefront in developing sustainability initiatives. The report, Sustainability Initiatives: Insights from stock exchanges into motivations and challenges, says that while one of the motivations for sustainability initiatives is to improve the ESG performance of companies listed, key motivators cited by the 11 stock exchanges that were interviewed for the report also included helping investors to engage with companies on sustainability issues and drawing on the latest research to support the link between long-term financial performance and ESG issues. Stephen Hine, the head of responsible investment development at EIRIS, said that through their key position in the financial ecosystem stock exchanges can provide powerful encouragement for companies, and the benefits for their sustainability initiatives will be for companies, investors and society as a whole.” (Blue & Green Tomorrow)


UK campaign aims to stop food waste by 2020

According to a new report by the UK food waste cycling company ReFood and the UK food recycler and manufacturer PDM Group, a national ban on food waste going to landfill could save the UK £17 billion.  The study, Vision 2020: UK Roadmap to Zero Food Waste to Landfill, which is supported by the UK Government, city councils and retailers and is part of the UK-wide Vision 2020 Campaign, sets out the framework for a food waste free UK by 2020.  The report highlights where and why food waste is happening at each stage of the UK supply chain,  what actions are being taken to tackle food waste in each sector and what more can be done in the future to drive the positive environmental, economic and social outcomes.  The report calls for better collaboration at every stage of the supply chain to accelerate the adoption of best practice, improve waste prevention and maximise the value of food waste as a resource. (The Guardian; Blue & Green Tomorrow)

Technology and Innovation

Singapore launches its first tidal turbine system

In a move to enable Singapore to become more energy secure, the Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have introduced a 1000 watt tidal energy generator that will serve as a test bed for future tidal turbine systems.  Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, the executive director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU, said that “apart from proving that tidal energy is feasible in Singapore, the test bed will also provide important research data.”  Most tidal turbines are located in the UK, France and Canada, in areas of fast-flowing waters. However the tidal energy generator built by the NTU features two low flow turbines which were designed especially for low water speeds in the area.  Mike Barclay, the chief executive of SDC, said that the plan was to scale up the technology and install between 150 to 200 tidal turbines across Singapore.  (Eco Business)


UK targets unpaid intern employers

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is targeting 200 UK employers who recently advertised internships to ensure that they are paying the minimum wage to interns.  The move comes as the UK Government outlines new guidance to interns to ensure they are properly paid, following concern that some employers are using unpaid interns as cheap labour.  The UK trade union Unite said that their research showed that more than one third of the top 50 charities in the UK hire unpaid interns.  In 2012, HMRC identified 736 employers who paid staff less than they were legally entitled or nothing at all.  The UK employment relations minister, Jo Swinson, said that "anyone considered a worker under the law should be paid at least the minimum wage, whether they are an intern, or someone on work experience" and that "not paying the national minimum wage is illegal and if an employer breaks the law, the Government will take tough action." (BBC)