Top Stories

June 09, 2017


Scientists make biodegradable microbeads from cellulose

Scientists and engineers have developed biodegradable cellulose microbeads from a sustainable source that could potentially replace harmful plastic ones that contribute to ocean pollution. Microbeads are small spheres of plastic (less than 0.5 mm in size) that are added to personal care and cleaning products to give them a smooth texture. However they are too small to be removed by sewage filtration systems and therefore end up in rivers and oceans, where they are ingested by marine life. It is estimated that a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean. It is feared that the particles could enter the food chain, harming wildlife but also potentially ending up in our food. As a result of recent campaigning by environmental groups, the UK Government has pledged to ban plastic microbeads in 2017. Now a research team, from Bath University’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT), has developed a way of producing a biodegradable renewable alternative to plastic microbeads in a scalable, continuous manufacturing process. The beads are made from cellulose, which is the material that forms the tough fibres found in wood and plants. The researchers anticipate they could use cellulose from a range of “waste” sources, including from the paper making industry as a renewable source of raw material. For a list of microbead-free products click here. (Phys)


Interface unveils carbon negative carpet tile

Interface has unveiled a prototype carbon negative carpet tile. Interface’s “Proof Positive” tile proves that with new approaches to materials sourcing and manufacturing, it is possible to make a product with the potential to reverse global warming. After the tile is made, there is less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than if it had not been manufactured in the first place, the company claims. Interface says that it has taken specifically selected plant-derived carbon and converted it into a durable material that stores that carbon for at least a generation. The carbon is stored in the materials that make up the Proof Positive tile. The tiles’ materials can be recycled to create new carpet tiles at the end of the product’s useful life. Keeping this carbon in Interface’s recycling system through ReEntry ensures that this carbon stays in a closed technical loop where it belongs, rather than in the atmosphere where it has negative effects on climate. (Floor Daily)

Shared Value

Timberland recognized for innovative partnership with Thread

Global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland released a new collection in partnership with Thread, a Certified B Corporation that crafts fabric from plastic bottles littering the streets and landfills of Haiti. The ‘Timberland X Thread’ collection of boots, bags and t-shirts goes beyond environmental sustainability, creating cleaner neighbourhoods and meaningful new job opportunities. The collection recently received three distinct honours – from the Environmental Leader Product & Project Awards, The Stevie American Business Awards and Apparel Magazine Top Innovators Awards – for demonstrating innovation, responsible sourcing and social impact. The partnership builds upon Timberland’s longstanding commitment to be “Earthkeepers” – to make products responsibly, protect and preserve the outdoors, and support communities around the globe where its employees and consumers live, work and explore. (3BL)

You can read the LBG and Corporate Citizenship report on ‘Investing for Shared Value’ here


E.ON and Gorillaz are powering music with sunshine

Energy company E.ON has teamed up with British pop band Gorillaz to create a film and music studio powered solely by solar energy and battery storage. The film, titled “We got the Power”, was produced exclusively with solar energy and battery storage. The hundreds of light installations, giant tanks of illuminating squid and other props featured in the film are all powered entirely by solar and battery storage technology. The solar and battery-powered ‘E.ON Kong Solar Studios’ will premiere at the “Demon Dayz” Festival in the UK on June 10. “I’m an environmentalist myself,” says Gorillaz founder and bass player, Murdoc Niccals. “That’s why the Gorillaz teamed up with E.ON – the lead brainiacs in the field of solar energy storage – to build a brand new studio that not only helps us make better music, but also helps preserve the planet. E.ON also has some outstanding batteries, so we can keep on working even in the dark.” The partnership with the Gorillaz is part of E.ON’s new global brand positioning aimed at working towards a better future by providing innovative customer solutions. (2 Degrees)

Employees / Human Rights

Diplomatic Backlash Against Qatar Imperils Workers

The decision by several Arab nations to sever diplomatic ties over allegations of Qatar’s ties to terrorism has disrupted diplomatic channels as well as equities markets. Triple Pundit warns that the sudden isolation of Qatar could make life even more difficult for its hundreds and thousands of expatriate workers, many of whom are building new stadia for the 2020 World Cup. The documentation of human rights violations piled on construction workers, most of whom are from Nepal and India, has been ongoing for several years. But as attention shone on the first state-of-the-art air conditioned stadium’s opening, organizations including Amnesty International have accused the Qatari government of looking the other way while construction companies have made little progress addressing accusations of workplace abuses. Complaints have included steep recruitment fees, working excessive hours, fear of reporting health and safety violations and the confiscation of passports. In a nation where per capita income is around $130,000, these workers make as little as $350 a month (less than the average wage in Somalia), and the hundreds of thousands of guest workers living in Qatar face a frightening future as few people are allowed to fly in or out. (Triple Pundit)


Image Source: Toothpaste by Kenneth Lu at Flickr. CC 2.0