Top Stories

August 15, 2014

Supply Chain

Apple bans two hazardous chemicals from assembly lines

Apple has banned two potentially hazardous chemicals from being used in the final assembly process at 22 of its production plants. Benzene, which is a carcinogen, and n-Hexane, which can cause nerve damage, will no longer be used at the facilities, the firm said. The move follows calls from environmental campaign group Green America, urging the tech giant to scrap the substances and “look deeper into its supply chain”. Apple launched an investigation which found traces of the chemicals at four factories in China. The tech company’s environmental director, Lisa Jackson, said: “We’ve updated our tight restrictions on benzene and n-hexane to explicitly prohibit their use in final assembly processes”. China Labour Watch has welcomed the commitment but emphasised that the true test would be in its implementation. “Apple has for years had commitments to labour standards like working hours, overtime wages and temporary worker regulations, but there is often widespread disregarding of these codes of conduct”, said the organisation’s Executive director Li Quang. (BBC News)


Pepsi to begin using smallholder cashew juice

PepsiCo has announced it will begin incorporating cashew juice into its blended juice products next spring as part of a partnership with the Clinton Foundation, which aims to encourage sustainable agriculture and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Maharashtra, India. This initiative will apply modern agricultural techniques to improve cashew farming practices, boost yield and productivity, and increase income for local smallholder farmers. This could take PepsiCo a step closer to fulfilling its pledge to using more all-natural ingredients. Last year, the company announced it will be working on phasing out the cancer-causing caramel colouring from its formula. “This partnership is a great example of aligning business and societal priorities, and we see great potential in continued collaboration with the Clinton Foundation”, said Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo’s Chairman and CEO. (Sustainable Brands)


Diageo moves towards integrated reporting

Drinks company Diageo’s 2014 Annual Report incorporates for the first time increased disclosure of sustainability and responsibility performance alongside financial reporting, the alcoholic beverage maker says. This first step towards integrated reporting reflects the global consumer goods company’s belief in the strategic importance of its Sustainability and Responsibility (S&R) Strategy. A May PwC review of 400 companies revealed that, out of those using integrated reporting strategies, 93 percent said the practice helps to remove barriers between departments. In line with its commitment to best practice reporting, Diageo states: “our approach will continue to develop over the coming years to ensure we meet the expectations of our investors and other stakeholders, and provide visibility into how Diageo creates sustainable value”. The report further revealed the company’s improved performance across all eight of its environmental targets since 2013, including decreasing water wastage by 12 percent in the past year. (Environmental Leader)


Citigroup: Solar set to shine as costs plummet

Citigroup has become the latest high profile financial giant to throw its weight behind the global solar revolution, arguing that solar power’s “pure economics” compared to increasingly costly fossil fuels will see it dominating the future global energy mix. In a report on disruptive energy technologies, the investment bank has cited a number of reasons why the solar sector is expected to perform strongly in the future, including significant improvements in the efficiency of PV cells, as well as continuing reductions in manufacturing costs. Citi expects growth in the solar sector to come from both established markets, such as China, Japan, the US and UK, and emerging markets in India, Latin America, and the Middle East. It also suggests International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that there will be 62GW of solar by 2035 and $1.3 trillion of investment in the sector are “highly conservative”. Citigroup analysts added: “this growth looks set to continue for the long term, as solar takes an ever greater share of energy generation, helped by improving economics against fossil fuels”. (Business Green)


Green energy co-ops blocked by UK government regulator

The future of community-owned green energy projects is being put at risk by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, according to co-operatives and the Labour party. Many towns and villages have clubbed together around the UK in recent years to set up energy co-ops to generate clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels. Last year, former climate minister Greg Barker, said such projects were needed to “break the grip of the dominant big energy companies”. But recently the FCA, which registers new co-ops, has blocked several new energy co-op applications on the grounds that they would not have enough member participation, despite having authorised previous ones set up along the same lines. Tom Greatrex, shadow energy minister, sent a letter to the FCA’s chief executive, warning that the shift in the FCA’s attitude puts the future of co-operative energy in the UK at risk, and “threatens a model that combines the twin goods of decarbonisation and community involvement in energy”. (Business Green)


Image source: “Westmill Solar Cooperative” by Ben Cavanna / CC BY-SA 3.0