Top Stories

June 18, 2018

Sustainable Investment

UK pension funds get green light to dump fossil fuel investments

Managers of the £1.5 trillion invested in Britain’s workplace pension schemes are to be given new powers to dump shares in oil, gas and coal companies in favour of long-term investment in green and “social impact” opportunities. New government rules have been designed to give pension fund trustees more confidence to divest from environmentally damaging fossil fuels and put their cash in green alternatives if it meets their members’ wishes. Until now many pension trustees have been hamstrung by fiduciary duties that they feel requires them to seek the best returns irrespective of the threat of climate change. In the paper, Clarifying and Strengthening Trustees’ Investment Duties, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “Our proposed regulations are intended to reassure trustees that they can (and indeed should) take account of financially material risks, whether these stem from investee firms’ traditional financial reporting, or from broader risks covered in non-financial reporting or elsewhere.” (Guardian)

Corporate Reputation

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes charged with fraud

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood testing start-up Theranos, has been charged with perpetuating a multimillion-dollar fraud that deceived investors, doctors and patients. The US Department of Justice said it had filed criminal charges against Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her former chief operating officer, accusing them of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. If convicted, the pair face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 per count. The criminal charges were the latest development in the downfall of a company that was once hailed as a Silicon Valley superstar for its mission to revolutionise blood testing with a new system needing just a few drops of finger-prick blood. Holmes sold that vision to investors — including Walgreens, Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison — who backed the company to the tune of $700 million, giving it a valuation of $9 billion at its zenith. The criminal indictment follows civil charges brought earlier in 2018 by the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Financial Times*)


Reusable cup use soars 10-fold at Pret thanks to 50p discount

Pret customers are on track to save four million disposable cups from being used this year, as thousands switch to reusable alternatives. In January 2018 Pret doubled the discount available on hot drinks bought with reusable cups to 50p – a move which has driven a 10-fold increase in the number of customers using reusable cups. More than 85,000 drinks are now served in reusable cups every week, with customers on track to save four million disposable cups in 2018. Pret has also launched its own branded reusable cup, which it hopes will encourage more customers to bring reusable cups into store. “We introduced a market leading discount of 50p for using a reusable cup at the start of the year. This increased usage 10-fold which has amazed us all,” Pret CEO Clive Schlee said. “I’m hoping our own cup will encourage more customers to bring one in.” (BusinessGreen)

KFC Singapore to stop providing plastic caps and straws for drinks

KFC has announced that in an effort to reduce single-use plastics, it will no longer provide plastic caps and straws with drinks at its 84 outlets in Singapore. It will, however, continue to offer plastic caps for takeaway drinks. In a press release, the fast-food chain said that the move – part of its No Straws Initiative – will see a reduction of 17.8 metric tonnes of single-use plastics in a year. “We acknowledge the strain that single-use plastics put on our environment and are taking steps to do our part in endeavouring a change,” said Ms Lynette Lee, general manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken Management. “We recognise that every little bit counts and are proud to be the first fast food restaurant in Singapore to champion this movement, one straw at a time,” she added. (Channel News Asia)

Technology & Innovation

Renault pledges €1 billion of funding for EV research and manufacturing

French carmaker Renault has announced that it will pour more than €1 billion of funding into electric vehicle (EV) research, design and manufacturing at four of its plants by 2022. The investment will see the French firm create a second Renault electric vehicle production site and develop a new type of electric motor by 2021, as well as doubling its capability to produce its fully-electric ZOE model. It will also enable the brand to produce three times as many EVs than its current levels. Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn said the increased investment would “increase the competitiveness and attractiveness” of the company’s French industrial sites, due to the nation’s outright ban on the sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. The move from Renault stands in stark contrast to the recent assertations from BMW and Toyota that they would continue to invest in diesel and hybrid vehicles in the face of petrol and diesel phase-outs. (Edie)


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Image source:  Renault Wind by David Villarreal Fernández on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.