Top Stories

February 18, 2014

Supply Chain

Kellogg’s to stop buying deforested palm oil amid pressure

Food giant Kellogg’s has announced that it will stop buying deforested palm oil; one of the leading causes of global deforestation. The announcement that the company will only buy palm oil from suppliers who can prove they don’t damage rainforests, is one of the strongest moves yet by a public food manufacturer to stop the practice. The new policy, posted on the company’s website, states that, from 2016 palm oil will be sourced through supply chains that are deemed “environmentally appropriate” and details how suppliers must trace the oil to plantations that are independently verified as legally compliant. Lucia von Reusner, an activist for Green Century Capital Management, the group that has been campaigning for Kellogg’s policy changes, said that, “Kellogg’s aggressive timeline for eliminating deforestation from its supply chain raises the bar for the entire industry and represents a tipping point in developing a responsible palm oil supply chain,” (Eco-Business)


New York and California lawmakers move to ban microbeads

Lawmakers in New York and California are campaigning to ban beauty products that contain microbeads; microscopic balls of hard plastic found in many facial scrubs, shampoos and toothpastes. These beads flow down drains, passing through wastewater treatment plants, often ending up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, where they can enter the food chain. Finding alternative products is currently difficult, but the proposed bans would mean that products containing micro-beads become nearly impossible to purchase in two of the most populous states in the US. Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said the bill would not only help to protect the state’s lakes and waterways, but would also “set an example for other states around the country to address this emerging environmental threat.” Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive have already made commitments to start phasing microbeads out of their products.  (Grist)


Deep-sea mining must responsibly respect ecosystems, say scientists

Scientists have made an impassioned plea for humanity to pause and think before rushing to exploit the deep sea. The ocean floor is being targeted as a source for a range of metals and minerals but researchers are concerned that the potential will be lost if harvesting is done destructively. The scientists, who made the announcement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, called for a “new stewardship” of the deep sea, which would require effective ecosystem management and sustainable methods of exploitation. They added that the fishing sector had already initiated damaging practices, such as the widely criticised use of heavy-rolling, sea-floor nets, but that there was still time for other sectors to take more sensitive approaches. This includes the development of industrial-scale deep-sea mining, driven by the advance in underwater robotics and rising commodity prices. Professor Lisa Levin, a biological oceanographer, said that, “if we are going to extract these resources, we need to do it with the least amount of harm to ecosystems, and now is the time to start thinking about how we do that.” (BBC)


Fifth of energy saving products make “misleading” efficiency claims          

One in five energy-using products do not match their energy efficiency claims, with labels “misleading” consumers about the savings they could make by purchasing certain products, according to research by the Energy Saving Trust. The research suggests that the UK alone could save nearly £1.3 billion a year on electricity bills by switching to more energy efficient products, but that inaccurate and confusing labelling is leading consumers to buy products that are not as efficient as they believe, resulting in around 10 percent of potential energy savings being lost across Europe. The findings follow a separate survey released this week, which found that most UK consumers are concerned about wasting energy at home, with 70 percent stating it was something they were worried about. Philip Sellwood, chief executive at the Energy Saving Trust, said that, “consumers are wising up to the monetary savings of using the best and most efficient products – they’re trying to do the right thing but need to be rewarded properly through the savings stated being realised.” (BlueandGreenTomorrow)


UK high street chiefs suggests energy tax to replace business rates

The UK retail industry’s trade association has proposed abolishing business rates in favour of an energy tax. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that the new tax could be based on the energy used by retailers and could be delivered through amending the climate change levy. Shops and stores claim that business rates, which are calculated through inflation and the rental value of a property, are holding back high street trade and are contributing towards its demise. Moving away from a property tax is the BRC’s favoured option. Helen Dickinson, director-general of the BRC — who announced the initial proposals alongside John Rogers, chief financial officer of Sainsbury’s, said that the proposals would no longer discourage retailers from investing in property and would create more jobs and develop businesses. Dickinson said that, “we have a once-in-a-generation chance to fundamentally change the business rates system and the time is right to think creatively and in the best long-term economic interests of the UK.” (Times*)


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