Top Stories

March 11, 2016

Responsible Investment

World’s largest sovereign wealth fund drops 11 companies over deforestation

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has released its annual report for 2015, revealing that six palm oil companies, four pulp and paper companies and one coal company were dropped from its investment portfolio last year. Four companies, Daewoo International Corp, Genting Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, and POSCO, were formally excluded by the fund’s Council on Ethics after investigations showed their palm oil plantations cause severe environmental damage. Two more palm oil companies, First Pacific and Kulim Malaysia, were divested due to their unsustainable palm oil production operations. Despite dropping these holdings, the fund still has $13 billion invested in high deforestation risk business sectors. This gives it a “significant liability,” but also a “great opportunity to influence companies to stop destroying rainforests,” said Lars Løvold, director of the NGO Rainforest Foundation Norway. (Eco-Business)


Unilever forges new crowdsourcing partnership to deliver ‘consumer-championed products’

Consumer goods giant Unilever has becomes one of the first global corporations to tap into the potential of crowdfunding for sustainability projects. The company’s ideas platform, Unilever Foundry, has formed a partnership with crowdfunding site Indiegogo to give social entrepreneurs the means to submit innovative solutions to sustainability challenges raised by Unilever brands. “This new partnership with Indiegogo will allow us to apply our learnings from the Foundry’s Pitch-Pilot-Partner approach, which dramatically cuts the time it takes to get a new initiative to market, to the wider business while putting consumers at the heart of decision making,” said Aline Santos, Unilever’s senior vice president of global marketing. The first idea to move from the platform into an actual crowdsourcing campaign will be the BwareIT, a smart device that displays the water consumption of showers. (edie)

Corporate Reputation

Honest Co’s “honestly free” detergent contains ingredient it pledged to avoid

Honest Co, the eco-friendly consumer goods company co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, is under fire over the ingredients in its popular line of detergents. Two independent lab tests commissioned by The Wall Street Journal determined Honest’s liquid laundry detergent contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a common cleaning agent which the company had pledged to avoid.  Honest said its manufacturing partners and suppliers had provided assurances that its products do not contain SLS beyond possible trace amounts. But one supplier, Trichomatic West, told the Journal that the certificate was not based on any testing, and there was a “misunderstanding” with the detergent maker. Honest has now amended its website and plans to change its labels to state that its products are “Honestly made without” certain ingredients, rather than its previous “Honestly free of” guarantee. (Wall Street Journal*)


BHS pensioners face cuts to payouts as struggling chain goes into insolvency

Thousands of BHS pensioners are to have their pension entitlement cut after the British retailer launched insolvency proceedings. Nearly 13,000 current and former BHS employees who are under retirement age will have their pensions cut by 10 percent. Those who have already retired but are still below the official retirement age will have their pension payments cut within months. It is not currently clear how many people this will affect. The majority of BHS’s 6,700 existing pensioners will not see any change to their payments as they are above retirement age. The proceedings trigger regulatory rules under which pension trustees are only allowed to pay scheme members the amount they would receive if the scheme had to be rescued by the government-backed Pension Protection Fund – which is 90 percent of their current benefits. (Guardian)


Fossil fuels ‘probably dead,’ says Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison

People need to get their heads around the idea that fossil fuels are “probably dead,” the CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway has said. “I’m not maybe as green as I should be but I happen to think the climate is changing (and) they’re not going to fool me anymore,” Hunter Harrison told a transportation conference. According to the rail executive the transition to alternative fuels will be long, but new investments in traditional energy sources will dry up because of environmental hurdles. The country’s second-largest railway has seen shipments of crude drop due to declining demand brought on by the dramatic fall in oil prices. “Rails have historically dealt with those changes really well through the years and continued to survive and make it,” he added. Greenpeace welcomed Harrison’s view, saying it marks a reversal from the 1990s when railroads denied global warming because they relied so much on coal. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)


Image source: ex trees by jidanchaomian / CC BY-SA 2.0