Top Stories

November 10, 2014


Unilever promotes sustainable living to combat food waste and food poverty

Unilever has announced a new prime-time television campaign for its corporate umbrella brands to raise awareness about sustainability issues and highlight the paradox of food waste versus food poverty in the developed world. With the advertisement, part of Unilever’s ‘Project Sunlight’, the company hopes to draw attention to the findings of its report Waste Not, Want Not, which revealed that 42 percent of households in developed countries find it difficult to live on their income, while 20 percent have to borrow money in order to meet the needs of supporting their families. Despite this, the report found that 75 percent of people still throw away edible food. Inspired by this food waste versus food poverty paradox, Unilever and official charity partner Oxfam have launched the #ClearAPlate campaign, which raises the issue of food poverty and encourages people to consider how much food they waste. Unilever UK will also deliver on its own commitment to providing 500,000 meals to families in need. (Edie)

Technology and Innovation

BMW develops street lights with electric car-charging sockets

BMW has developed street lights equipped with sockets to charge electric cars, the company announced, and will run a pilot project in Munich next year that uses existing local authority lighting networks.  BMW said it has made two prototype “Light and Charge” street lights which combine efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LED) with the company’s ChargeNow recharging stations for electric cars. The lights can be grafted straight onto the existing local authority street lighting infrastructure and are available to all drivers, regardless of vehicle model and electricity provider. Drivers will be able to pay to charge their cars via a mobile phone app. “Seamless charging infrastructure is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said. (Reuters)

Corporate Reputation

US turns up heat with criminal investigation into Petrobras

The US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have opened a criminal investigation into Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company, in response to serious bribery allegations against the state-controlled oil giant. Many of the alleged problems occurred when President Dilma Rousseff was head of the company prior to taking office in 2011, in what is emerging as one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals in history. US authorities are looking into whether Petrobras or its employees, middlemen and contractors, violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an anti-corruption statute that makes it illegal to bribe foreign officials to win or retain business. Prosecutors in Brazil allege that Petrobras and its contractors overinflated the cost of capital expenditure projects and acquisitions by hundreds of millions of dollars and paid the proceeds to politicians from the ruling Workers’ Party coalition. The emergence of the US investigations into the allegations could raise the international profile of the scandal and have implications for Petrobras’ financial statements. (FT*)


Mercedes leads EU’s fuel economy ‘cheaters’, says report

Mercedes cars show the biggest gap between real world emissions performance and official fuel economy figures, according to a new report by non-profit Transport & Environment (T&E). The study suggests that vehicles sold by Mercedes show an almost 40 percent difference between actual fuel consumption and the company’s own estimates. The car manufacturer has denied the accusations, claiming the test is independent of factors such as temperatures, driving styles and topography, which can lead to fuel consumption in real life differing from certified values.  T&E blames the disparity on obsolete testing methods and car makers exploiting loopholes. On average across all car brands, the gap between real-world fuel consumption and carmakers’ claims has widened from eight percent in 2001 to 31 percent in 2013 for private motorists, while the difference for company car drivers  is 43 per cent on average. The findings also cast doubt on official EU targets on fuel efficiency, which T&E says may not be being met in real-world conditions.  (Business Green)

Renewable Energy

Green energy ‘creates more jobs than fossil fuels’, study says

Investing in renewables adds half a job per gigawatt hour of electricity generated, according to the findings of a new study by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), with around 10 jobs created for every £1m invested. The study, which uses data from the US, Europe and China, suggests that green energy could provide a boost to employment, through both short term construction jobs and lifetime plant jobs. Dr Will Blyth from Oxford Associates who led the two-year project, said the paper makes a strong case for government-led investment in renewable energy, and that energy efficiency can boost the economy in times of recession by bolstering employment. Across the EU, the green sector accounts for more than 3.4 million jobs, making up just under two percent of all paid employment – more than car manufacturing or pharmaceuticals. (Business Green)

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Image Source: “Household food trash NY” by petrr / CC BY 2.0