Top Stories

June 08, 2021


Half of UK fashion giants failing to support supply chain rights

A study of 18 of the UK's most influential high street and online fashion retailers has revealed weak progress on labour practices and supply chain worker conditions, with half of the brands found to be generating a negative impact. Brands scoring particularly poorly included Primark, Boohoo, H&M, Next and TJX. The ranking, compiled by artificial intelligence solutions provider alva, contains an overall ESG score for each company based on information across ten metrics, derived from the brands’ own reports, investor relations, government inquiries and NGOs. While the brands analysed had made progress on employee engagement, diversity and inclusion and community relations in recent months, the majority were found to be lagging on labour practices and safety, both for supply chain workers and in-house workers, as well as consumers. (Edie)


UK tells businesses to phase out carbon or lose out on contracts

The UK government has told companies to publish their carbon reduction plans and commit to phasing out greenhouse gas emissions altogether by 2050, or lose out on large UK state contracts. Firms that have not committed to net-zero emissions or published a “clear and credible” carbon reduction plan by September will not be allowed to bid for contracts worth over £5 million a year. The UK government will use its £290 billion of annual procurement to push businesses into swifter action to slash emissions, as it seeks to position the country as a leader in the battle against climate change. The government also unveiled ambitious interim targets to reduce net emissions by 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035 from 1990, aiming to spur international and domestic action. (Bloomberg*)


Chinese banks urged to divest from firms linked to deforestation

Campaigners have called on Chinese banks to stop funding overseas agribusinesses that accelerate deforestation and biodiversity loss and have a negative impact on regional water cycles and climate. In a report, the campaign group Global Witness found that, between January 2013 and April 2020, Chinese financial institutions provided more than $22.5 billion to major companies that produce and trade commodities at high risk of driving deforestation, like beef, soy, palm oil, paper, pulp, rubber and timber. Five of China’s biggest commercial banks – including The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China – have provided $10.25 billion, constituting 45% of all the financing from China’s banks. Global Witness is calling for the inclusion of mandatory requirements to ensure Chinese banks are not financing environmentally or socially harmful businesses.  (The Guardian)


Investors call for ethical approach to facial recognition tech

A group of 50 investors managing more than $4.5 trillion in assets is calling on companies involved in the development and use of facial recognition technology, such as Amazon and Facebook, to do so in an ethical way. The investor group, led by asset manager Candriam, will begin a two-year engagement process with companies developing or using the technology, stating that the technology could infringe on an individual's privacy rights, given the lack of consent of those being identified, and that there is often no official oversight. The initiative shows how fund managers are increasingly taking up policy issues that were once considered fringe subjects for shareholders, as retail investors pour billions of dollars into funds focused on ethical and sustainability criteria. (Reuters)


Waitrose and Aldi to use ocean-bound plastics for packaging

Supermarket Waitrose & Partners has marked World Oceans Day by unveiling plans to add ocean-bound plastics to packaging across 71 products. The supermarket will add ‘Prevented Ocean Plastics’ (POP) to 13 lines across its ready meal range by the end of 2021, and will expand the rollout to at least 58 more products in the fruit, vegetables and health categories. This will mitigate the use of more than 90 tonnes of virgin plastic. POP is manufactured using litter that is collected within 30 miles of a coastline, which would likely end up polluting marine habitats if not collected. German-owned supermarket chain Aldi has also outlined plans to incorporate POP across its entire range of own-label fishcakes and crispbakes, which will affect 76 tonnes of plastic each year. (Edie)

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