Top Stories

September 08, 2014

Supply Chain

Unilever and WRI partner to end tropical deforestation through supply chain transparency

Unilever and the World Resources Institute (WRI) have announced a new partnership that will increase transparency in agricultural commodity supply chains with the goal of ending tropical deforestation. The partnership will enable Unilever and its suppliers to use WRI’s ‘Global Forest Watch Commodities’ platform to monitor forest cover change around commodity supply areas and processing facilities such as palm oil mills. Unilever is committed to reducing its environmental impact and ending deforestation across its supply chain through its Sustainable Living Plan. “Unilever is firmly committed to transparent and sustainable sourcing of raw materials, and GFW Commodities is providing us with the means to reach our targets”, said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. Dr. Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI, believes other companies should follow Unilever’s example. “Major consumer goods companies are waking up and realising it’s in their interest to protect forests and pursue sustainable business strategies”, he said. (Sustainable Brands)


California to be first US state to ban plastic bags

California governor Jerry Brown has said he will approve a ban on single-use plastic bags, in what would make the western US state the first to outlaw them. The bill, passed by lawmakers over a week ago, now only requires Brown’s signature to pass into law. “I’ll tell you why I’m going to sign it: there are about 50 cities with their own plastic bag ban, and that’s causing a lot of confusion”, Brown said. Under the Californian legislation, single-use plastic bags would disappear from grocery stores and pharmacies from July 1, 2015, and then from convenience and liquor stores from July 1, 2016. The bill would allow stores to charge 10 cents for paper or reusable bags. Similar bans, backed by environmentalists, are already in place in cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Brown added: “This is a compromise… It’s taking into account the needs of the environment, and the needs of the economy and the needs of the grocers”. (Yahoo)

Corporate Reputation

UK energy challengers stress green credentials and community involvement

Britain’s “Big Six” energy companies – British Gas, EDF, E.On, nPower, Scottish Power and SSE – are continuing to lose market share to smaller independent suppliers, new research reveals. The latest figures, from independent research group Cornwall Energy, show the large suppliers now have 92.4 percent of the market, down from 99.8 percent five years ago. Several new players are celebrating their differences from the global giants by stressing their green credentials or community involvement, as well as offering better-value prices and easier-to-understand tariffs. The largest independent, First Utility, has grown ten-fold in just three years, becoming the first independent company to sign up a million accounts. The company has promised to celebrate by pledging 1 per cent of its profits to a new charitable foundation. Ian McCaig, chief executive of First Utility, said: “We have consistently campaigned for a fairer, more transparent UK energy industry, but much more needs to be done, and now”. The landmark was lauded by the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, who said the Government has been working to open up the energy market. (BBC, Independent)

Technology & Innovation

South Africa tries gunfire location system to catch rhino poachers

Rhino poachers in South Africa now risk giving themselves away when they shoot thanks to a high-tech, gunfire-detection system being piloted in the country’s flagship Kruger National Park. ‘ShotSpotter’, a product of privately-held California company SST Inc, has previously been used in crime-ridden urban US neighbourhoods to alert police to weapons fire. When a shot is fired the origin of the sound is triangulated and sent to the service provider in the United States. Coordinates are then relayed to a Kruger operations centre within 30 seconds, making it possible to deploy rangers and helicopters with precision. The company says it is the first time the technology has been employed outside of an urban environment. More than 700 rhinos have been slain for their horns so far this year in South Africa, over 450 of them in Kruger. The technology has already yielded the arrests of an undisclosed number of poachers earlier this year. (Reuters)


Saltwater-powered sports car approved for EU roads

An environmentally-friendly sports car powered by saltwater has been approved for testing on EU roads. Its developers, Quant, say the four-seater ‘e-Sportlimousine’ can reach 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, powered by a system that works in a similar way to hydrogen fuel cells – with the fuel source substituted for saltwater. The liquid is channelled through a membrane in between two tanks, creating an electric charge. As a result, the super-powered car creates no emissions. NanoFlowcell AG, the designers of saltwater system, say the technology has applications beyond sustainable transport. “The potential of the NanoFlowcell is much greater, especially in terms of domestic energy supplies as well as in maritime, rail and aviation technology. The NanoFlowcell offers a wide range of applications as a sustainable, low cost and environmentally-friendly source of energy”, said company chairman Prof Jens-Peter Ellermann. The Quant e-Sportlimousine is not yet on sale, and no price has been announced, but experts estimate it could cost more than £1 million. (Blue and Green Tomorrow)


Image source: “NanoFlowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine” by Lukasdesign / CC BY-SA 3.0