Top Stories

March 05, 2021


German cabinet backs law to protect human rights in global supply chain 

Germany’s cabinet has approved a law on due-diligence to enforce the protection of human rights and environmental standards along global supply chains. The bill requires companies with over 3,000 employees to comply with supply chain standards by 2023, and sets to impose fines for non-compliance that could rise to 2% of average annual sales for companies with €400 million in sales or more. Companies would be required to analyse risks to human rights, prevent violations and provide remedies, and create complaints procedures. However, the bill has come under fire from activists and environmentalists, as it only requires compliance checks of direct contractual partners, not indirect suppliers further down the chain, and does nothing to address the environmental impact of German consumption overseas, such as deforestation. (Financial Times *) 


Bank of England given new mandate to buy ‘green’ bonds 

The Bank of England (BoE) will change its approach to buying corporate bonds after the British Government mandated environmental and climate goals to be explicitly considered part of monetary policy. The British government’s 2021 Budget announcement called on the BoE to support its efforts to achieve zero emissions by 2050, and that monetary policy should now contribute towards that goal. In response, the BoE announced it will adjust its approach to corporate bond buying to account for the climate credentials of bond issuers. Changes will apply before the fourth quarter of the year and will focus initially on new purchases. Over time, the entire portfolio should be reoriented to the government’s climate goals. (Financial Times*) 


Burger King to phase out all single-use plastic by 2025 in the UK 

Fast food giant Burger King has unveiled its new sustainability charter, including a commitment to phase out all single-use plastic by 2025. The company will obtain all single-use packaging materials from sources certified as recycled or sustainably produced, and continue to explore reusable packaging, following trials with TerraCycle in Japan and the US. Burger King also described food waste and animal welfare as key sustainability focus areas. The business is targeting a 30% reduction in food waste by 2025, against a 2019 baseline. It will also continue to only source beef produced to the British Quality Beef standard and Irish Beef Standard and fish certified as sustainable, shift to 100% cage-free eggs by 2025, and improve antibiotic management. Measures to support the European Chicken Criteria post-Brexit are also outlined. (Edie


China’s new 5-year plan to cut energy intensity but removes energy consumption cap  

China, the world’s biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gas, is aiming to bring carbon emissions to a peak before 2030 and become “carbon-neutral” by 2060. In a bid to meet climate goals, the country has released a 5-year “action plan”, which mandates the country to cut energy intensity by 13.5%, and carbon intensity by 18%, over the 2021-2025 periodWhile the development plan promises to boost the development of new energy sources, including nuclear, the plan has come under international criticism for continuing to promote “the clean and efficient use of coal”Unlike in the country’s previous five-year plan, the new 2021-2025 plan also fails to include a cap on energy consumption. (Reuters)


eBay UK launches Certified Refurbished hub in circularity push 

Online retailer eBay UK is launching a new Certified Refurbished hub, designed to make it easier for consumers to find second-hand products that have been properly refurbished and independently checked. The move, which follows a similar roll-out in the US and Australia, comes amidst growing interest in product re-use amongst consumers who recognise the environmental and cost savings that stem from extending the life of used products through adopting circular economy principles. Purchasers of refurbished products are delivering significant environmental benefits, with eBay calculating that in 2020, 438 double decker buses in weight worth of refurbished products were sold, all saved from potentially going to landfill. The company hopes that certifying refurbished products – with 12-month guarantee and returns policy – will address customer concerns about the reliability of second-hand products. (Business Green

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2021 Actions for Business