Top Stories

August 12, 2016


Diageo announces strong sustainability progress

London-based drinks manufacturer Diageo has revealed it has cut emissions from its direct operations by nearly 40% since 2007 in its latest sustainability report. The company behind drinks brands such as Guinness and Captain Morgan had failed to achieve its 2015 goal of halving direct emissions compared to 2007 levels. However, after having reduced emissions by 8% over the last year, it is now well on course to achieving this target by 2020. Diageo says that a reduction in coal use in India, energy efficiency improvements in the US Virgin islands and a switch to hydro-electric power in Cameroon all helped the sustainability gains. Other highlights in the report include an improvement in water efficiency and a reduction in waste to landfill, each by nearly 40% compared to 2007 levels. The company also aims cut its total supply chain emissions by 30%, procure 100% of its electricity from renewable sources and achieve zero waste to landfill by 2020. (Business Green)


Sports Direct staff turnover rate three times higher than UK employer average

Following a scathing parliamentary inquiry into “Dickensian” conditions at Sports Direct’s warehouses, the sports retailer’s annual report reveals that it is struggling to keep its workers in higher-paid positions. Turnover among salaried staff in the UK, including managers at stores and those working at the Sports Direct headquarters, rose to 22% last year. This figure is nearly three times the average turnover rate for UK employers. It is a statistic that is likely to add increasing pressure to founder and majority shareholder Mike Ashley, who is yet to appoint a full-time finance director after three years of searching. The company’s share price has decreased by 60% over the last year, after repeated scandals about the treatment of its low-paid workers and concerns over its trading performance. (The Guardian)


Royal Mail and Post Office plan cuts to “unaffordable” pension schemes

Nearly 100,000 employees of the UK’s Royal Mail and Post Office are facing cuts to their pensions, because companies say the defined benefit schemes have become “unaffordable”. Both organisations are now the subject of union backlash as strike action is expected in the immediate future. Royal Mail’s fund, which guarantees a retirement income to two-thirds of its workforce, currently costs the company £400 million per year, but financial market conditions mean this could rise to £900 million by 2018. Marks & Spencer (M&S) is also currently consulting on cuts that would affect the pensions of about 11,000 workers. It is understood that the Royal Mail and Post Office schemes cost the employers the equivalent of 45% of salary. M&S said its scheme costs 34% of salary, but that the proposed replacement would be capped at a maximum of 12%. (The Guardian)


Deliveroo couriers protest new wage structure

Workers of the London takeaway delivery company Deliveroo staged a protest outside the company’s head office on Thursday, after the company announced that couriers would be paid per delivery, instead of by the hour. Deliveroo riders are not entitled to the UK’s National Living Wage, currently set at £7.20 an hour, because they are self-employed. The company was criticised last month for asking employees to sign contracts banning them from taking claims over their employment status to court. Alongside the changes to pay, Deliveroo is eradicating staff schedules, meaning there is likely to be increased competition between drivers at peak times. Despite this, the company has said that the changes “enhance flexibility”, with riders taking part in trials “reacting positively”. (The Guardian)


Waitrose launches packaging made from food waste

Waitrose has become the first supermarket in the UK to launch a pasta range in which the packaging is made in part from food waste. The range of fusilli pastas, now on sale, is packaged in 100% recyclable boxes made from 15% waste peas and pulses that would otherwise go to waste in the pasta production process. The new packaging will lower emissions by 20% and eradicates the need for an inner plastic sleeve inside the packet. This follows similar experimentation by Waitrose last year, in which the foods retailer announced new packaging material for its Duchy Organic Range eggs made from ryegrass and paper. Supermarkets have taken steps to reduce food waste after the high-profile television series ‘War on Waste’ targeted companies in their management of waste produce. (edie)


Image source: Waitrose, Putney Exchange , Edwardx: CC-BY-SA-4.0