Top Stories

April 07, 2015

Supply Chain

KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut adopt zero deforestation policy for palm oil

Yum! Brands, which own fast-food chains KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, has announced a zero deforestation policy for its palm oil sourcing. The move came after campaigns by environmental groups argued the chains were not doing enough to ensure their palm oil was not linked to human rights abuses, destruction of peatlands, and logging of rainforests. Yum! says it will only source from suppliers who bar plantation development in high carbon stock and high conservation value areas, have disputes resolution processes in place, offer traceability to the mill level, and avoid underage workers and forced labour. The announcement was welcomed by Greenpeace, which campaigned against the company’s pulp and paper sourcing practices in 2012. However the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an advocacy group that last Wednesday released a scorecard giving Yum! a zero out of 100 rank on its palm oil policy, demanded more clarity from the company. (Eco-Business)


Kellogg’s says international tax clampdown will harm profits

Global food giant Kellogg has warned in its latest annual report  that its profits could be slashed by the international drive to clamp down on tax avoidance.  It is thought to be the first multinational to issue such a stark warning. The revelation comes days after the so-called “Google tax” came into force in the UK, which will penalise companies that artificially shift profits to foreign entities whose main purpose is to help them cut their tax bills. The new rules are part of a co-ordinated campaign against tax avoidance by the OECD, whose final blueprint for the clampdown is expected to be published at the end of the year. Kellogg has six companies registered in Luxembourg. In 2013, they collectively reported profits of £57 million and paid corporation tax of just £210,000 – equating to a rate of 0.37%. Kellogg said it was a “responsible taxpayer”, adding that it made a “gross added value contribution” of more than £200 million a year to the British economy.  (The Sunday Times*)

Responsible Investment

Guardian Media Group to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels

The Guardian Media Group (GMG) is to sell all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund totalling over £800 million, making it the largest fund yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies. GMG chair, Neil Berkett, said the “hard-nosed business decision” was justified on both financial and ethical grounds. Berkett said fossil fuel assets were threatened by future climate change action, while its ethical fund had been performing well and renewable energy was growing strongly. The fast-growing, UN-backed divestment campaign argues that the business models of fossil fuel companies, which continue to spend billions on searching for new reserves, are endangering the climate. GMG’s move follows the launch of The Guardian newspaper’s ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign, which is asking the world’s two biggest charitable funds – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – to divest their endowments from all fossil fuels. (The Guardian)


Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings launches new ESG platform

The Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) has announced the launch of its Center for Ratings Excellence (CORE) programme – designed to accelerate the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the global financial markets. According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, sustainability-oriented assets under management were over US $20 trillion in 2014. These investments are shaped by a growing market for sustainability research and ratings from more than 100 organisations. There has been an evolution of measurement and disclosure principles for purposes of ESG performance rankings in an effort to help companies trying to understand the complex ESG research and ratings landscape. The CORE programme seeks to encompass four strategic workstreams: a framework detailing GISR’s principles, searchable online databases, new research labs and events both online and in-person. (Sustainable Brands)

Human Rights

Migrants building UAE cultural hub ‘working in prison conditions’

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Gulf Labor, a coalition of international artists have condemned the conditions faced by migrant workers building a £17 billion cultural hub in the United Arab Emirates, including new branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums, as akin to an open prison. The trade union and coalition of artists said the several thousand workers in the official labour camp on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi were subject to segregation, a 10pm curfew, monitoring by security guards and could only enter or leave on authorised buses. Although the UAE authorities have said working conditions are improving on Saadiyat, Gulf Labour said they found forced labour persisted. Many workers said they had to pay illegal recruitment fees to secure their jobs and also reported being forced to work overtime without additional pay. The activists saw squalid conditions in other camps across UAE including bathrooms shared by 20 men without proper sanitation, open sewage, and makeshift food markets resembling refuse dumps. (The Guardian)


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Image Source: KFC Taco Bell by TenPoundHammer/ CC BY 2.0