Top Stories

August 19, 2020


Ten times more plastic dumped in Atlantic than previously believed

Ten times more plastic pollution has been dumped in the Atlantic Ocean than previously believed, according to a new study by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), published in the journal Nature Communications. The paper is the first of its kind to measure “invisible” microplastics floating beneath the surface across the entire Atlantic, the researchers say, and had led them to conclude that plastic waste in the ocean has been grossly underestimated. The study found that the mass of microplastics in the upper waters – the area from sea surface down to around 650 feet (200metres) – of the Atlantic is approximately 12-21 million tonnes. The figure accounts only for three widely-used types of plastic of limited sizes, the researchers noted. However, when you consider that previous estimates have put entire plastic waste in the Atlantic Ocean at 17 million tonnes, it would suggest that the estimates are way off. Conservationists point to the proliferation of disposable plastic across the natural world and said that companies must do more to tackle the crisis. (Independent) 


Retail giants prepare to launch TerraCycle’s ‘zero-waste’ refill service in stores

Following successful online launches, retailers including Tesco in the UK and Carrefour in France are planning to bring TerraCycle‘s refillable model, backed by businesses like Danone and Unilever, to stores. Called Loop, the platform first launched online in Paris in 2019 with Carrefour as its retailer partner. It then expanded in France and was launched in the US, Canada and, latterly, the UK, following Covid-19-related delays. So far, the refill platform has only operated online. Consumer goods brands provide product refills on the e-commerce website of the retailer partners in their region, while retaining ownership of their reusable packaging. Once the products are sold and used, TerraCycle and its partners in the logistics and packaging industries deal with collection, cleaning, refilling and recycling at the end of packaging’s life. The announcement comes shortly after TerraCycle revealed that it is now offering refillable models for more than 400 products globally. Brands with products available through Loop also include Colgate Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Heinz. (edie) 

Climate Change 

COP26: UK seeks corporate sponsors with ‘strong climate credentials’

The UK has issued a call for sponsors for next year’s crucial COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, setting out its preference for corporate backers which “have strong climate credentials” including credible commitments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The UK’s COP26 Presidency said sponsorship of the international United Nations climate conference – which is set to take place during the first fortnight of November 2021 – as “an outstanding opportunity” for companies to showcase their climate action credentials at a global level. The UK – which as co-host of COP26 alongside Italy has a leading role in pushing countries to increase their ambition towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement – said it was seeking corporate sponsors that can “lend their resources, commitment and expertise” to delivering a successful summit. By setting out clear preferences for companies with credible 2050 net zero goals to sponsor COP26, it suggests the UK is seeking to avoid claims of ‘greenwashing’ which have dogged many previous UN climate summits. (Business Green) 


Unilever touts supply chain mapping pilot in fresh bid to tackle deforestation

Unilever is to partner with US tech company Orbital Insight to help eliminate deforestation and other environmental threats in its agricultural supply chains. Yesterday the company announced a pilot project aimed at overcoming the challenges of tracing the difficult ‘first mile’ of a commodity’s journey. Global agricultural supply chains can be highly complex, with many layers between a manufacturer such as Unilever and the original land on which the commodities it uses originate. As such, the consumer goods giants’ pilot project with Orbital seeks to overcome these difficulties, principally in the context of palm oil, a commodity that has fuelled rampant deforestation in Indonesia and across south-east Asia, as well as soy. Unilever said it would use geolocation data and satellite imagery to identify the individual farms and plantations that are supplying the palm oil mills in its extended supply chain. The insight gained from the project would help it develop a clearer picture of where harvested crops originate, and so pre-empt potential issues such as deforestation or – where they are identified – act. (Business Green) 

Community Investment 

Charity sector loses 25,000 jobs during pandemic – and 35,000 more likely to go 

New polling and analysis estimates more than 25,000 jobs have already been lost in the UK charity sector, with 60,000 likely to go ultimately. That is five times more than the roughly 5,500 redundancies that have officially been announced. Many charities have seen fundraisers cancelled, charity shops closed and, in some cases, donations drying up at the same time as a demand for services is increasing. The research conducted by Pro Bono Economics, in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group, found that 19 percent have already had to lay staff off and 23 percent plan to make further cutbacks once the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end. This does not only affect staff, but also the families who rely on charities. Job losses in the sector will inevitably mean reduced care, with 58 percent of surveyed organisations saying they are likely to scale back services. (Sky News)