Top Stories

July 13, 2015

Supply Chain

$50 million IFC funding to improve safety in Bangladesh factories

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a programme to provide $50 million finance to garment factories in Bangladesh to improve working conditions. The IFC, part of the World Bank Group, said the scheme would help factories improve structural, electrical and fire safety to meet the standards set by international buyers. Under the programme, $10 million will be provided to five Bangladeshi banks to increase lending to garment factories for safety infrastructure. IFC has also signed agreements with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, organisations that were set up by dozens of garment brands in the wake of 2013’s Rana Plaza factory collapse, to train banks, assist factories with upgrades and monitor compliance. The two organisations will also be contributing $500,000 to support programme implementation. (Supply Management)


UK government scraps zero carbon homes target

Housebuilders, planners and green groups have condemned the UK government for scrapping plans to make all new UK homes carbon neutral. The zero carbon homes policy was first announced in 2006 by the then-chancellor Gordon Brown, who said Britain was the first country to make such a commitment. It would have ensured that all new dwellings from 2016 would generate as much energy on-site – through renewable sources, such as wind or solar power – as they would use in heating, hot water, lighting and ventilation. This was to be supported by tighter energy efficiency standards that would come into force in 2016, and a scheme which would allow housebuilders to deliver equivalent carbon savings off site. However, both regulations were axed by the government, in a move Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said was “the death knell” for the zero carbon homes policy. (The Guardian)


Selfridges stops selling plastic water bottles to save oceans

London retailer Selfridges has stopped the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in its shops as part of a campaign to reduce pollution of the oceans. The department store will stop more than 400,000 plastic water bottles being sold in its food halls and restaurants each year. Customers will now have to refill reusable bottles at in-store drinking fountains. The move comes as part of Project Ocean – a collaboration between Selfridges and the Zoological Society of London. The partners’ new initiative – ‘Be part of the sea change: see through the plastics problem’ – hopes to raise awareness of the problem of ocean plastics and change consumer behaviour. The UK is thought to use up to 15 million plastic bottles per day, and more than five trillion pieces of plastic are thought to be circulating in the world’s oceans. (Edie)

Technology and Innovation

Mobile app designed to help save lives with one tap

MUrgency Inc, a San Francisco based tech company that developed the ‘MUrgency’ emergency response platform, has joined the UN’s Business Call to Action (BCtA). It has made a commitment to assist half a million people by the end of 2015 through the MUrgency platform. MUrgency is a full suite of emergency response, safety, security and communication services, which uses mobile technology and networks to create one seamless global emergency response network. Its mission is to make emergency response available to anyone, anytime, anywhere – with just one tap on a mobile phone. The app could save millions of lives by connecting individuals with timely healthcare – something missing in many countries with lack of infrastructure. MUrgency’s commitment to BCtA is focused on building a worldwide, decentralized emergency response network – ensuring that anyone in an emergency gets a helping hand when they need it most. (The Guardian; MUrgency)


Biofuel from station coffee waste

Following a successful trial, UK infrastructure manager Network Rail and Bio-bean have signed an agreement for waste coffee grounds from London’s Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo stations to be recycled into biofuel pellets, which can be used for heating homes, offices and factories. Network Railway said each tonne can provide 5,700 kWh of energy, and the 700 tonnes that the stations generate each year could power 1,000 homes. The scheme will also be cheaper than disposing of the waste as landfill. Each year in the UK, 1.8 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions are generated by 500,000 tonnes of coffee waste, with disposal costing as much as £50 million. Bio-bean’s partnership with Network Rail will save more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. (Railway Gazette; Bio-bean)

Image Source: Dark roasted expresso by Sage Ross / CC BY-SA 3.0