Top Stories

March 29, 2022


Supermarket Iceland reverts to palm oil as Ukraine war hits food

Frozen foods supermarket Iceland plans to temporarily return to using palm oil in some own-label foods from June 2022 as alternative sunflower oil prices have surged by 1,000% during the war in Ukraine. In 2018, Iceland announced it was removing palm oil from its own-brand products, creating a viral TV advert in collaboration with environmental NGO Greenpeace which was rejected for being “too political”. The supermarket chain said its palm oil U-turn comes with “huge regret”. The Black Sea region, led by Ukraine and Russia, accounts for 80% of supplies of sunflower oil with supplies interrupted by the war. Iceland said it would use sustainable palm oil as “a last resort and as a strictly temporary measure” in a limited range of products, with all packs clearly showing the ingredient if used. (The Guardian)


Scottish Widows divests from tobacco, tightens exclusions for fossil fuels

Insurance giant Scottish Widows has announced plans to exclude companies deriving more than 10% of their revenue from tobacco from its investments. The statement outlines that tobacco holdings should be “irreconcilable” with robust responsible investment strategies, due to the negative impacts of tobacco on human health and due to widespread challenges removing human rights abuses from the industry’s supply chain. Scottish Widows is also updating its exclusions policy for fossil fuels with companies deriving 5% or more of their revenues from thermal coal mining or tar sands to be excluded. Previously, the threshold stood at 10% of revenues. Between tobacco, coal and tar sands, Scottish Widows is expecting to see £1.5 billion worth of divestment. This brings Scottish Widows’ total divestment for 2022 to approximately £3 billion. (edie)


FSC-certified subsidiary linked to Indigenous land deforestation

A report has found that an area of natural forest approximately one-tenth the size of Seoul has been cleared by a subsidiary of South Korean paper giant Moorim Paper in Indonesia’s Papua region over the last six years. PT Plasma Nutfah Marind Papua (PNMP), a Moorim Paper subsidiary was found to have cleared more than 6,000 hectares of forest for its plantation according to NGOs Environmental Paper Network, Mighty Earth, Pusaka and the Korean Federation for Environmental Movements. Moorim, whose paper products are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and sold globally, responded that PNMP’s forest concession does not include primary forests or peatlands. The report also alleges that PNMP failed to obtain consent of Indigenous and local communities living around its concession, traditionally inhabited by Malind Indigenous people, before clearing the forest. (Eco-Business)


NGOs call for bitcoin code change to reduce energy consumption by 99%

The ‘Change the Code Note the Climate’ campaign has been launched by NGOs Environmental Working Group and Greenpeace USA to tackle the outsized carbon footprint of cryptocurrency asset bitcoin. The software code that bitcoin uses, known as “proof of work” requires massive computer arrays to validate and secure transactions on the blockchain. Proof of work verifies that a miner has solved complex cryptographic puzzles needed to add the bitcoin to the ledger. Rival cryptocurrency Ethereum is shifting to an alternative “proof of stake” system which it expects will reduce energy use by 99%, by making miners pledge coins to verify transactions and administering penalties to those adding inaccurate information. Campaigners now want bitcoin to follow suit, arguing its growing value is reviving dormant coal plants solely dedicated to bitcoin mining. (The Guardian)


UK government orders a review of public sector Russian energy contracts

The UK has instructed public sector bodies to review energy and other contracts they have with Russian firms and consider switching suppliers, noting that existing agreements could benefit the Russian state. A statement by government minister Steve Barclay, calls on public sector organisations to review contracts to identify “ways they can go further to sever their commercials ties to Russia”. The call-to-action could affect firms linked to Russia who buy gas on the wholesale market and sell it on. Russian-owned energy company Gazprom may be a target, as its Gazprom Energy unit supplies 21% of the country’s industrial and commercial customers, including the NHS and other public sector bodies. The government plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, which currently makes up 4% of supply. (Reuters)





Would you love to work in sustainability, supporting big brands in their responsible business journeys? Click here to see info on our current openings. We can't wait to hear from you



Actions for Business 2022

B4SI Annual Review 2021