Top Stories

July 21, 2014


Report: ‘Box-ticking’ approach compromises sustainable business

Businesses are operating ‘on the border of compliancy’ when it comes to sustainable business practice, with more than three quarters primarily concerned about their corporate image when introducing sustainability measures. A survey of more than 600 facilities managers by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) found thatthe majority seemingly employ sustainability with a ‘box ticking’ approach rather than incorporating it in their long-term plans. Furthermore, 78 percent of participating businesses consider improving their corporate image as the main driver for pursuing a sustainability agenda, and a similar majority just to comply with an increase in regulation. BIFM chief executive Gareth Tancred said: “As a result, many businesses are missing out on the benefits of long-term sustainability, such as increased competitive advantage, increased productivity, a reduction in costs and ultimately, more efficiency leading to better performance.” He added that sustainability “should be embraced in the ‘culture’ of a business”. (Edie)

Supply Chain

Majority of businesses have ‘zero visibility’ of supply chains

British businesses have poor knowledge of where their products were sourced from and how they were made, making it likely that some imported goods have involved the use of slaves, a purchasing managers’ organisation has said. Nearly three-quarters of supply chain professionals surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply admitted that they had “zero visibility” on the earlier stages of their supply chains. Eleven percent acknowledged that this meant it was “likely” that slave labour was used at some point in the process of making goods and transporting them to the UK. Incidents like last year’s Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, in which 1,200 people were killed when the clothes factory they were working in collapsed, highlight the reputational risks to business from poor visibility of supply chains. David Noble, the institute’s chief executive, said consumers and business leaders “are content to remain ignorant of the malpractice that could be operating throughout their supply chains”. (Financial Times*)

Renewable Energy

Ben & Jerry turn ice cream into energy

The BIOPAQ®AFR Biodigester – also known as ‘The Chunkinator’ – is up and running at Ben & Jerry’s factory in Hellendoorn in the Netherlands, after a year of testing and a year and half of trial runs. Ice cream waste is fed into the anaerobic flotation reactor, where 24 billion natural micro-organisms break down the particles, turning them into biogas. The biogas created by the biodigester is used in the factory’s GreEnergy project, which acts like a battery by insulating water at the correct temperatures for ice cream creation and dramatically reducing the need for natural gas to heat the plant. Arjan Vloon, head engineer for the Chunkinator, said: “By its very nature, manufacturing produces waste…The biodigester gives Ben & Jerry’s the opportunity to take what had been a waste product and turn it into a benefit for our business – producing our own energy!”.  The innovation is currently able to utilise all of the wastewater produced at the factory, and about half of the litres of waste ice cream. It has created enough energy to make 16 million pints of ice cream in the past year. (The Guardian)


US approves plan to open Atlantic to oil reserve surveys

The Obama administration has approved a plan that would allow companies to assess oil resources off the Atlantic Coast, angering environmental groups that are worried the plan will harm marine life and open the door to offshore drilling. First outlined by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in February, the plan lays out the mitigation measures companies would be required to undertake before conducting seismic testing to gauge the oil reserves in the Atlantic Ocean. Acting BOEM Director Walter Cruickshank said: “We are taking every step we think is reasonable to take to try and put those protections in place, while still allowing surveys to occur,”. These could begin early next year as several companies have pending applications to assess the Atlantic oil reserves. Green groups slammed the plan however, which they said did not offer enough protection for fisheries and marine mammals and would lead to more oil and gas production. Oceana campaign director Claire Douglass said in a statement that “The use of seismic airguns is the first step to expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to the Atlantic Ocean”. (Reuters)


China and India must cut their emissions ‘or else’

Britain will not sign a global deal on climate change unless it includes commitments from China and India on reducing emissions, according to UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey. Speaking regarding a global climate deal due to be signed in Paris next year, Mr Davey said that there was little point in Britain making great efforts to cut emissions if other countries did not. “We won’t do a deal unless these countries come on board. We need a deal that’s applicable to all,” he said. China is the world’s highest emitter of greenhouse gases and India the third. Neither has agreed any cap on emissions although China has already cut the rate of growth in its coal use from 10 per cent to 5 per cent a year, and last week ranked as the fourth-most energy efficient country in the world – higher than the UK. Davey called for the adoption of clear targets for when emission levels should peak and start declining in these countries. Britain’s current target aims to halve emissions by 2025 compared to 1990; chancellor George Osborne has been warned that weakening Britain’s target would make it harder to persuade China and India to make significant pledges. (The Times *)


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Image source: Platform Holly (public domain)