Top Stories

August 17, 2020


Sustainable Fashion  

Selfridges unveils vision to ‘reinvent retail’ as it commits to new sourcing standards 

Selfridges has become the latest major brand to set out its strategy for delivering net zero carbon emissions, unveiling a raft of stretching sustainability goals that include a promise to ensure that the majority of the environmentally impactful materials it uses in its products, packaging, and stores meet stringent sustainability certifications. The luxury retailer has said that by 2025 it will only stock products that adhere to sustainable sourcing material requirements for plastic, cocoa, cotton, palm oil, wood and paper, leather, meat, feathers and forest-derived fibres. The criteria that underpin each material’s requirements have been developed with certification bodies and green groups, including Greenpeace, the Woodland Trust, and WWF, and all targets are in line with a 1.5C warming scenario and have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. In addition, the company today revealed it is launching a new labelling scheme that it said would signpost customers in store and online to organic, vegan, or reduced waste products. (Business Green) 

Human Rights 

Makers of M&S sandwiches faced pay dock if they self-isolated, says union 

Workers at a factory in Northampton, where M&S sandwiches are prepared, at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak were told they would be paid less than £100 per week if they had to self-isolate, making it difficult for many to comply, their representatives have claimed. Bosses at the Greencore site acknowledged that many staff were entitled to no more than the statutory sick pay rate of £95.85, as at countless workplaces around the UK, if they followed instructions to self-isolate. “Statutory sick pay does not support people and, in a crisis like this, you can’t expect people to try to survive on £95 per week,” said Ian Hodson, the national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, which represents staff at the site. The Greencore case highlights an issue faced by many of the UK lower-paid workers, many of whom have faced a choice between staying away from work while ill or coming in and earning enough to live on. (The Guardian) 


Just Eat to stop using gig economy workers 

The boss of one of the world’s biggest food delivery platforms, Just Eat, has told the BBC he intends to end gig working at his company across Europe. Jitse Groen says he would rather run his company with staff who get benefits and more workplace protection. In comparison, gig workers have flexible hours but normally not benefits like holiday pay. In many industries, coronavirus has made incomes more unsteady for these workers, as companies look to cut back on discretionary spending. Mr Groen said he did not like the people his company relies on to deliver food from restaurants to have to endure tougher working conditions. “We’re a large multinational company with quite a lot of money and we want to insure our people,” he said. “We want to be certain they do have benefits, that we do pay taxes on those workers.” (BBC) 


Tree planting can help tropical forests ‘recover 50% faster’ from logging 

Restoring tropical forests through tree planting and selective plant removal can rapidly increase the speed at which they recover from logging, a new study says. The research, published in Science, finds that logged tropical forests in Malaysia that were actively restored increased their ability to absorb carbon 50 percent faster than logged forests that were left to regenerate naturally. Without any intervention, a tropical forest will typically take around 60 years to fully recover from a single logging event, the study estimates. With active restoration, this can be shortened to 40 years. The findings “clearly demonstrate the value in protecting previously logged forests with respect to carbon storage, as well as for maintaining other ecosystem services and biodiversity”, the study’s lead author tells Carbon Brief. According to a 2019 IPCC Report, avoiding further deforestation and recovering lost forest will be key to meeting the world’s aim of keeping global warming to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels. (Eco-Business) 


National Grid kick-starts UK’s first trials of grid-injected biomethane from cow manure 

Biogas produced from straw and cow manure has been directly injected into the gas grid in Cambridgeshire, in what the National Grid is calling a UK first. The gas is produced at the Murrow Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in March, Cambridgeshire, where manure and straw are placed in an oxygen-free environment and naturally occurring micro-organisms break them down. During this chemical process, biogas, comprising mainly methane, is produced. National Grid has connected the plant, operated by BioCow Ltd, to a pipeline that serves local homes, providing gas for heating and cooking. It claims that the pipeline can support flows of up to 15,000 standard cubic metres per hour. The trial, which began at the end of July, is producing and distributing enough renewable gas to power ten homes for a year. If it proves successful, National Grid will explore the feasibility of bringing more grid-injected biomethane online as it strives to transition in line with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target. (edie)