Top Stories

April 15, 2021


Healthcare sector plots first global roadmap to net-zero

Consultancy Arup and advocacy group Health Care Without Harm have developed a global framework for the healthcare sector to reach net-zero by 2050 at the latest. The majority  of the sector’s emissions (84%) are from fossil fuel use. Key sources include coal, oil and gas used to power facilities like hospitals and surgeries; petrol and diesel used for ambulances and other related travel; transporting products and powering manufacturing. The roadmap does not include blanket recommendations for all countries, given varying access to renewable energy and electric vehicle markets. It recommends that developed nations, which typically are further along in the journey to renewable electricity and energy efficiency, support more fossil-dependent developing nations to transition their healthcare infrastructure. Such support could be embedded in the Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contributions. (Edie)


Amazon pledges to promote more women and Black employees

E-commerce giant Amazon has pledged to increase the number of women and Black employees in its senior ranks as part of a new set of diversity commitments. By 2021, the company is aiming to achieve a 30% rise in the number of women in senior technical jobs and to double the number of high-level Black employees in the US. It has also committed to more frequent internal reporting on diversity, ensuring participation in company-wide inclusion training and inspecting any significant demographic differences in performance reviews and attrition on individual Amazon teams. The company’s newly-released demographic data of its workforce confirms its warehouse workers and other low-level employees are more representative of the US population than Amazon’s office workers, who skew more White and male. (Bloomberg*)


Walmart pushes reduced pesticide use by suppliers to protect pollinators

Retail giant Walmart US has announced a series of actions aimed at promoting pollinator health, including encouraging suppliers to reduce pesticide use and to protect pollinator habitats. Walmart’s new commitments include sourcing 100% of the fresh produce and floral sold in its in-store produce department from suppliers that adopt integrated pest management practices, as verified by a third-party, by 2025. The company will encourage fresh produce suppliers to report their pesticide application and biodiversity management annually, to phase out use of chlorpyrifos and nitroguanidine neonicotinoids. It will also encourage fresh produce suppliers  to protect, restore or establish pollinator habitats by 2025 on at least 3% of land they own, operate and/or invest in. Walmart is exploring opportunities for live-plant suppliers to label pollinator-friendly plants. (ESGToday)


Aldi launches packaging-free refillable trial in Cumbria store

German supermarket chain Aldi has launched its first trial of packaging-free products, with a variety of rice and pasta on offer as part of a new refillable service available at a store in Ulverston, Cumbria. Customers can purchase basmati rice, brown rice, penne pasta and wholewheat fusilli loose in store, with free FSC-certified paper bags available for use. If successful, the trial could be expanded to other stores in the future. Aldi estimates that expanded use of refillable options could remove more than 130 tonnes –over 21 million pieces – of plastics annually from its stores. The trial is part of Aldi's commitment to halve the volume of plastic packaging it uses by 2025, which aims to remove 74,000 tonnes of plastic packaging from products over the next five years. (Edie; Business Green)


McDonald's to train employees to combat harassment at work

Fast-food behemoth McDonald’s will begin requiring anti-harassment training and workplace violence prevention across its entire 39,000-store network, calling for safer workplaces after it faced lawsuits by some female employees. The mandatory training will start in January 2022, and will cover both company-owned and franchised locations, with McDonalds committing to having a system in place to address franchisees’ compliance. Restaurants will be assessed against the new standards, which also include sections on employee feedback and health and safety. The move is part of the company’s plan to make safer environments for workers, as it has contended for years with accusations that it has tolerated widespread workplace (sexual) harassment and ignored safety issues. (Bloomberg*; Reuters)

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2021 Actions for Business