Top Stories

October 28, 2014


US banks vow not to fund Great Barrier Reef coal port, say activists

US banking giants Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan have become the latest big lenders to close off finance to Abbot’s Point, the proposed Queensland port expansion near the Great Barrier Reef, says environment group Rainforest Action Network. The project is being overseen by Indian mining giant Adani, which has government approval to build a new port terminal in order to export coal it will extract in central Queensland. Deutche Bank, RBS, HSBC and Barclays have all previously ruled out funding the development. Conservationists have warned that dredging and extra shipping associated with the port will damage the reef’s coral and fish, while the ongoing exportation of coal after the port is completed, will result in carbon emissions harmful to the coral ecosystem. Citi and JPMorgan said they would not fund any resources project within a world heritage area. Goldman Sachs said it ruled out funding a development that “would significantly convert or degrade a critical natural habitat”. “Citi is not involved and does not plan to be involved in any financing for the Abbot Point expansion,” Citigroup corporate sustainability director, Valerie Smith said. (The Sydney Morning Herald; Guardian)

M&S unveils sustainable alternative to wire clips

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has introduced a recyclable alternative to the fiddly plastic wires used in toy packaging. The company’s new ‘PaperTies’ lock the product in place but can be easily torn by the customer. Unlike the commonly-used plastic and metal ties, the 100% FSC-certified PaperTies can be thrown in kerbside paper recycling bins. Designed in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, the ties can currently be found on a number of toys in-store and will be rolled out to other toys in the coming months.  The PaperTies are one of the of a range of products that M&S is working on as part of the company’s Plan A ambitions to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer. Last week, the Plan A project saw 24,000 solar panels installed on the roof of an M&S distribution centre in Castle Donington. (Edie)


Human Rights

Report: Supermarket survival comes at the expense of human rights

Supermarkets’ struggle for economic survival often comes at the expense of human rights, warns a new report published by Fairfood International. The report raises concerns that tomato suppliers to major European supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Dutch supermarket Ahold, do not provide a living wage to workers on their fields. All three companies have denied the allegations and claimed that they paid at least the minimum wage and had existing commitments to improving working conditions in their supply chains. Tesco and Sainsbury’s have undertaken separate investigations into their Moroccan tomato suppliers and are in discussion with Fairfood about workers’ wages. In recent months, increasing competition from discount chains has knocked major European supermarkets off the top spot, causing their share prices to tumble to a new low and fuelling a price war on key grocery items. As supermarkets feel the pressure, this is resonating through their supply chains. As the price of many consumers’ shopping baskets falls, it is important this does not come at the cost of human rights. (Guardian)


Supply Chain

Boston Consulting Group study reports modest increase in US reshoring interest

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), with the participation a total of 252 US companies, throws light on the real extent of companies ‘reshoring’ production back from offshore locations. According to BCG, interest in, and action towards, reshoring is up, though far from dramatically. Overall, 54 percent of respondents said they are generally interested in reshoring, a large jump from just 37 percent in 2012. However, within that group, the percentage of companies saying that they have already taken action towards reshoring their production modestly moved up from 13 percent to 16 percent. Companies saying that they will move production back to the US in the next two years stayed flat at 8 percent. This year, the US surpassed China and Mexico as the most likely destination for new capacity to serve the US market. Benefits of moving production back to the US include a shorter supply chain, reduced logistics costs and better control over manufacturing. However, as companies are thinking of tomorrow’s factories, meaning advanced manufacturing and increased automation, even if US reshoring really takes off, it is unlikely to generate as many jobs as in the past.  (Supply Chain Digest)


Image Source: “Amazing Great Barrier Reef 1” by Sarah_Ackerman / CC BY 2.0