Top Stories

September 20, 2022


Starbucks urged by NYC Pension funds to order labour rights audit

A group of investors led by New York City’s pension funds have filed a shareholder proposal calling for an audit of workers’ rights at coffee chain Starbucks. The resolution urges Starbucks directors to commission and publicly release a third-party assessment of the company’s compliance with its stated commitments to honour workers’ collective bargaining rights. It cites allegations of lawbreaking by Starbucks management, including store closures and retaliatory anti-union firings, some of which are now being pursued by the US National Labor Relations Board. Starbucks declined to comment. The company has repeatedly claimed that it obeys US labour laws and that accusations of anti-union activity are “categorically false”. It said that workers in question were fired because they failed to follow company policies and not because they sought to join a union. (Bloomberg)*


Patagonia’s owner gives company away to fight climate crisis

The billionaire owner of apparel company Patagonia is giving the entire company away to fight climate change. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is giving the entire company to a uniquely structured trust and non-profit, designed to pump all the company’s profits into saving the planet. Chouinard worked with his family and lawyers to create a structure that will allow Patagonia to continue to operate as a for-profit company whose proceeds will go to benefit environmental efforts. Chouinard’s family donated 2% of all stock and all decision-making authority to a trust, which will oversee the company’s mission and values. The other 98% of the company’s stock will go to a non-profit called the Holdfast Collective which is tasked with championing environmental issues. (The Guardian)


German financial services boards least gender-diverse in Europe

The boardrooms of banks, fintech firms, insurers and asset managers in Germany are the least gender-diverse in Europe, according to data collected by consultancy EY. According to findings based on 87 companies, only 29% of financial services board members in Germany are women, compared with the European average of 37%. Switzerland was also at the back of the pack of the 13 countries surveyed by EY, with 33% of board members being female, while Italy took the lead at 44%. Meanwhile, in Britain and France females  represented 38% of financial services board members. The findings also show that companies have made progress, with 48% of female board members appointed in the past three years, compared with 32% of male board members over the same period. (Reuters)


EU wastes 153m tonnes of food a year, more than it imports

The EU wastes more food than it imports and could reduce food price inflation by curbing on-farm waste, according to a new report. According to the study, approximately 153 million tonnes of food in the EU goes to waste annually, 15 million tonnes more than is imported. The amount of wheat wasted in the EU alone is equal to roughly half of Ukraine’s wheat exports, and a quarter of the EU’s other grain exports. Global food prices in August 2022 were 8% higher than a year prior, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2022, wheat, maize and soya bean prices overshot records set at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. Brussels is expected to bring forward a proposal for the world’s first legally enforceable goals to curb food waste. (The Guardian)


Singapore to target recycling with drink container return plan

Singapore consumers may find themselves paying an extra 10 to 20 Singapore cents upfront for plastic beverages come mid-2024 as authorities look to impose new surcharges to encourage recycling. Under the proposed “beverage container return scheme”, consumers can be refunded the deposit cost if they return empty drink containers at shops or recycling machines, instead of disposing of them in waste bins. The initiative is Singapore’s latest bid at improving its recycling rate, which stood at 13% in 2021 – the lowest since 2012. Only 6% of plastic was recycled in 2021, with the remainder being incinerated. The country’s National Environment Agency said that consumer feedback showed most consumers would accept the proposed surcharge. It also pointed to countries like Finland and Germany, which have higher surcharges for similar programmes. (Eco-Business)

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