Top Stories

October 30, 2019

Corporate Responsibility

Ex-Unilever CEO says business must reinvent capitalism

The former boss of Unilever, Paul Polman, has said capitalism is a “damaged ideology” that must reinvent itself to survive by doing more to combat inequality and the climate emergency. The former CEO said companies that took a lead on the world’s biggest problems would be the most successful of the 21st century. Companies that put short-term profit ahead of long-term sustainability would not survive, he said. “Business needs to reinvent capitalism. We need to build a new model of inclusive and sustainable capitalism”, Polman said in a speech. Polman led Unilever, the maker of Dove soap, Marmite and Persil, for 10 years before stepping down at the end of 2018. As chief executive of one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies, he argued for businesses to take a long-term view on urgent matters such as global heating over prioritising profit. Since leaving Unilever, Polman has invested in Imagine, a foundation to promote the UN’s sustainable development goals. (The Guardian)

Sustainable Agriculture

Timberland takes first steps towards ‘regenerative’ leather supply chain

Outdoor clothing brand Timberland has forged a partnership with Other Half Processing – an organisation advocating for ‘regenerative’ animal supply chains – in a bid to bring products incorporating ‘net-positive’ leather to market during 2020. Through the partnership, Timberland will source traceable hides from regeneratively grazed cattle raised in the US. Such grazing methods involve ranchers, farmers and tribespeople managing their cattle in a way that mimics the natural movement of animal herds, allowing for plant regrowth. This plant regrowth has been proven to make the land more productive with greater resistance to both drought and heavy rain, while boosting the landscape’s ability to sequester carbon. The US-based Minnesota Specific Benefit Corporation claims that this approach enables producers to increase overall returns and avoid costs associated with poor soil health and poor water cycling. The first hides sourced through the brand’s partnership will be incorporated in products set to go on sale in autumn 2020. (edie)

Circular Economy

Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive

A group of top US beverage brands – including Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo – have agreed to collaborate on reducing plastic waste across the industry, the firms have announced. The ‘Every Bottle Back’ initiative will see the three giants of the US soda sector invest in collection schemes for plastic bottles so they can be recycled and reused, in the process supporting the development of a circular plastics economy. Spearheaded by the American Beverage Association (ABA) and WWF, the initiatives will see the firms improve the quality and availability of recycled plastic in key regions of the US by directing the equivalent of $400 million to The Recycling Partnership and Closed Partners. The financing will come via a new $100 million industry fund that will be matched three-to-one by other grants and investors, ABA said. The firms have also pledged to use their marketing clout to launch a public awareness campaign pushing the importance of recycled plastic. (Business Green)

Energy/Sustainable Investment

Renewables powering surge in green finance investments, analysis finds

Demand for sustainable finance products continues to surge, according to the latest research note from BNP Paribas, which highlights the role of the buoyant renewable energy market in fuelling sustainable bond issuances. The analysis released yesterday finds that both sustainable bond issuance and demand picked up markedly through 2019. It predicts green bond issuance will reach $220 to $250 billion by the end of the year, setting a record for the sector. Inflows into environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds and equity funds also showed a marked uptick, with an almost 30 percent increase in investment so far in 2019, it said. The growth in sustainable bonds comes against a broader slowdown in some key markets, with US data for retail sales, housing, business sentiment, and industrial production all lower. By contrast, over-subscription remains strong in the primary market for sustainable bonds, with Europe seeing around 3.5 times over-subscription rates and North America experiencing four times as investors turn to ESG-related bonds in the search for yield, the update states. (Business Green)

Campaigns/Environment/Social Media

YouTube stars raise over $6m to plant trees around the world

A group of YouTube influencers have raised more than $6 million to plant trees around the world by rallying their huge numbers of subscribers. The American YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, known as MrBeast, was challenged on Reddit in May to plant 20 million trees to celebrate reaching 20 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, where he posts videos of extravagant stunts. He created the #TeamTrees project with other YouTubers with a target of $20m – $1 to plant one tree. Launched on 25 October, the crowdfunder raised $5 million in just 48 hours, with $1.75 million coming from YouTube alone, which the team claims is a new fundraising record for the site. More than 600 creators and social media influencers have joined the initiative, many employing creative tactics to encourage donations. All donations go to the Arbor Day Foundation, a US non-profit conservation and education organisation dedicated to planting trees. They will plant the trees around the world, starting in January, with the aim of completing the project within three years. (The Guardian)


Image Source: sign prohibiting going left or right by Adri Tormo on Unsplash.