Top Stories

August 12, 2020

Sustainable Investment

Sustainable investment funds just surpassed $1 trillion for the first time on record

Assets under management in funds that abide by environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles have surpassed $1 trillion for the first time on record, according to data compiled by Morningstar. It comes after net inflows of $71.1 billion between April of June this year, driven by growing investor interest in sustainable investment funds in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In a report published earlier this month, researcher Morningstar cited three factors contributing to record second-quarter inflows into ESG funds. It said the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak had “highlighted the importance of building sustainable and resilient business models based on multi-stakeholder considerations.” The continued growth in the number of products making up the sustainable fund universe had also acted as a catalyst for ESG investment funds in recent months, the company said. Additionally, asset managers were seen to be “greening” their offerings by converting 40 traditional funds into sustainable funds over the three-month period through to the end of June. (CNBC)


New rules may force online political adverts in UK to carry labels

Online political advertisements could require labels for the first time under plans unveiled by the UK government, in an effort to inject more transparency into digital campaigning. The rules would require a “digital imprint”, revealing who is behind the message, to be included on formal campaign ads as well as “organic” content made by certain campaigners and candidates on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The rules, which the government has now put out to consultation, are designed to mimic those in offline campaigning, where printed ads are largely unregulated except for the requirement that they include an “imprint” revealing who paid for their placement. The proposals come after years of pressure from groups including the Electoral Commission, the Law Commission and the House of Lords for greater regulation of online political advertising. (The Guardian)

Human Rights

Apple imported clothes from Xinjiang firm facing US forced labour sanctions

Apple has imported clothes – probably uniforms for staff in stores – from a company facing US sanctions over forced labour at a subsidiary firm in China’s western Xinjiang region, shipping records show. The details come a week after the tech giant’s chief executive, Tim Cook, told the US Congress he would not tolerate forced labour or modern-day slavery in the company’s supply chains. An Apple spokesman said the company had confirmed none of its suppliers currently source cotton from Xinjiang, but declined to comment on whether they had done so in the past. The US government in July imposed sanctions on Changji Esquel Textile, a unit of the Hong Kong garment group Esquel, along with 10 other Chinese companies for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang region, including forced labour. The sanctions bar the companies from buying US technology and other goods. Esquel supplies many major US clothing companies including Patagonia, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger. But Apple’s relationship with the firm has not received much public scrutiny, even though it stretches back years. (The Guardian)

Circular Economy

New platform to help corporates forge circular economy partnerships

Environmental NGO BVRio has launched a new online platform connecting circular economy projects with corporates and impact investors, whose aim is to help small programmes scale-up and large organisations finance their resource goals. Called the Circular Action Hub, the platform will connect sources of finance with local projects, which will have to prove that they are “ambitious and scalable” to be listed. The scheme has attracted sign-ups from more than 100 projects spanning 35 countries ahead off its launch. There is a focus on plastic waste – particularly removing plastic waste from habitats and diverting it for reuse or recycling – but the platform will cover all waste streams and all stages of the material lifecycle. Representatives from the likes of Nestlé, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, WRAP, Waste Aid and Regions for Climate Action sit on the platform’s advisory group, alongside the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution arm. BVRio estimates that these projects could collectively recover more than 300,000 tonnes of waste from the environment with adequate funding. (edie)


Brand leaders have a duty to pay a premium for sustainability to improve industry, says L’Oréal supply chain chief

Industry-leading companies have a responsibility to pay a premium for sustainability solutions to drive the market towards better environmental and social outcomes, the supply chain head for the world’s biggest cosmetic firm L’Oréal has said. Speaking to Eco-Business after L’Oréal announced a series of new long-term sustainability targets, Antoine Vanlaeys, its Asia Pacific senior vice-president of supply and operations, said the company had invested heavily in solutions to reduce the company’s environmental footprint. To help the maker of brands such as Garnier, Maybelline and Lancôme meet its new target for 100 percent of the plastics used in its packaging to be recycled or bio-based by 2030, Vanlaeys said L’Oréal had been paying 30 to 40 percent more for recycled plastic than it would for virgin plastic. Among the company’s pledge to operate “within planetary boundaries” is a commitment for its product ingredients to be deforestation-free by 2030. (Eco-Business)*