Top Stories

February 28, 2019

Environment/Supply chain

SC Johnson launches 100% ocean plastic bottle with future plans to support social plastic

Home cleaning product manufacturer SC Johnson has developed the industry’s first plastic bottle made entirely from recycled ocean plastic for its Windex cleaning brand. The US-based firm has announced the move as part of its commitment to reducing global plastic pollution, which currently includes an estimated five trillion pieces of debris being deposited into oceans. Plans are also underway to launch a 100% ‘social plastic’ bottle by the autumn of 2019. Social plastic is a concept developed by sustainable development organisation Plastic Bank, which is working with SC Johnson on the product. The social plastic concept involves plastic waste being traded for money, items or services in areas with high levels of poverty and plastic pollution. The firm then offers an above-market rate for the waste, to incentivise collection and mitigate the risk to the environment. For Windex bottles, this will include recycled ocean-bound social plastic sourced by Plastic Bank from Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia. (Edie)


U.S. Supreme Court revives India power plant lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court revived a lawsuit by villagers in India seeking to hold Washington-based International Finance Corp (IFC) responsible for environmental damage they blame on a power plant it financed. The villagers said the local environment has been devastated, with marine life killed by water discharges from the plant’s cooling system and coal dust contaminating the air. The Supreme Court, in a decision written by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, overturned a lower court’s ruling that the IFC, part of the World Bank Group, was categorically immune from such lawsuits under U.S. law. The justices ruled 7-1 that there are limits to immunity for entities like the IFC under the 1945 International Organizations Immunity Act. Roberts dismissed concerns that a ruling favouring the villagers would open the door to a flood of litigation against international organizations and hurt their mandate, saying that plaintiffs would still have to overcome a series of hurdles to bringing suit. The case will now return to a lower court for further litigation. (Reuters)


BHP promotes 3 women to senior executive team in reshuffle

Australian mining company BHP has promoted three women to its senior executive team as part of a management reshuffle that will see its chief commercial officer and president of its petroleum division leave the company. BHP wants women to account for 50 percent of its workforce by 2025 and has introduced more flexible work practices and more automation and technology at company mines in a bid to attract female workers. Andrew Mackenzie, BHP chief executive, said elevation of geoscience and transformation to the executive leadership team demonstrates the company’s determination to make its operations safer and more productive. Mathew Hodge, an analyst at financial services firm Morningstar, said the promotion of the three women fitted with BHP’s goal of increasing diversity within the company, including at senior executive levels. “Mining companies have a lot to improve on in terms of diversity and BHP is making a point of being an industry leader on diversity and setting a standard,” he said. (Financial Times)*


Women have only three quarters of economic rights of men, finds World Bank

Women on average have only three-quarters of the legal protections given to men during their working life, ranging from bans on entering some jobs to a lack of equal pay or freedom from sexual harassment, according to a study from the World Bank. Researchers examined whether adult men and women had equal rights under the law in 187 countries to produce an equality index and measure progress over the last decade. They probed laws linked to women’s work and economic freedom, including the right to work, equal pay, penalties for sexual harassment at work, parental work protections and inheritance rights. Six countries – Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden – now hold perfect scores of 100 in the index compared to none 10 years ago. However, 56 countries made no improvements to equality laws at all in the areas studied over the last 10 years. Europe and Central Asia had the highest regional equality score, with women getting about 85 percent of the rights granted to men on average, while in the Middle East and North Africa women had fewer than half the rights of men. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Renewable Energy

Energy company Engie to exit 20 countries and back renewables

French energy company Engie will exit 20 countries and look to invest billions in renewables, infrastructure and services as part of a three-year plan. The transformation plan aimed to cut costs and reduce the company’s exposure to carbon-intensive industries and from markets most exposed to fluctuating prices. Engie aimed to sell off €15 billion of fossil fuel-focused assets between 2016 and 2018 and reinvest the proceeds in renewables and energy services. Engie’s chief executive Isabelle Kocher has said that the “fundamental repositioning” of the company is now complete. Engie said it “intends to invest approximately €4bn annually in growth capital expenditures and smaller bolt-on acquisitions over the 2019-2021 period, while €6bn of asset disposals are expected over the period”. The group intends to concentrate its efforts on renewables, networks and services. Engie said it “will also exit approximately 20 countries over the next three years in a move to enhance focus and economic returns”. (Financial Times)*

*Subscription Required

Image source: Plastic Bottles – Waste by Tony Webster on FlickrCC BY 2.0.