The Clean Tech News
Making Solar Energy Cleaner

It is estimated that by 2050, the world could be saddled with 78 million tonnes of solar panel waste. It is important to ensure a circular solar energy model is economically feasible and that laws enforce proper solar panel disposal.

An hour of sun’s energy is enough to power global energy needs for a full year. Unsurprisingly, researchers have found ways to harness this abundance of energy through solar panels.

A 6.6kw solar system will produce 10,600 kWh a year which equates to eliminating 10.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. After the average lifespan of solar panels of 25 years, a 6.6kw system will have a net saving of around 243 tonnes of CO2.

The cheaper cost of solar energy is also hard to resist. Electricity from fossil fuels costs between 5 cents and 17 cents per kilowatt-hour. Comparatively, solar energy only costs between 3 cents and 6 cents and is trending down.

It is no surprise that solar energy adoption rates have been on a steady rise since 1980 with its clear environmental benefits and lower costs. But this growth raises a key and pressing challenge for the solar energy industry – where do all the used solar panels go at the end of their lifespan?

A Potential 78 Million Tonnes of Solar Panel Waste by 2050

The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that by 2050, the world would have produced 78 million tonnes of photovoltaic panel waste. Pollutants such as lead, or carcinogenic cadmium can almost be completely washed out of solar module fragments over several months by just rainwater into the soil.

“I’ve been working in solar since 1976 and that’s part of my guilt,” the veteran solar developer, Sam Vanderhoof, told Solar Power World in 2017. “I’ve been involved with millions of solar panels going into the field, and now they’re getting old.”

Recycled Material Has To Be The Cheaper Option

The biggest challenge with recycling solar panels is that it is yet to be an economical process. A 2017 study found that is it cheaper to landfill silicon crystalline solar panels which dominate 80 percent of the global market, than recycling them. This makes a circular business model an unfavourable option.

Dr Jai Prakash Singh, a senior research fellow at Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), National University of Singapore (NUS), said that “the problem is that at US $18 per kilogram, silicon is cheap. To be economical, recovered silicon must (cost) less than that and have high purity.”

China, Japan, India, and Korea are driving the wave of new installations in Asia. By 2050, Asia’s solar capacity could grow to a staggering 4,837 gigawatts (GW), up from 280 GW in 2018.

To date, Japan is the only Asian country that has made efforts to promote solar recycling by subsidising recycling equipment though is not mandated. In Singapore, the onus is on developers to take back the panels at the end of its lifetime.

Efforts Have Been Made to Recycle Solar Panels

Utility firm Sembcorp teamed up with Singapore Polytechnic to develop solar recycling technology. A new method involving mechanical, thermal, and chemical treatment enables recycling rates to exceed 90% without the use of harmful acids. Both partners are looking to commission a pilot solar recycling plant within the next two years.

The technology will eventually be used to help recycle panels from SembCorp’s rooftop solar projects here, that are located at public housing blocks, schools, and government sites.

The initiatives, Sembcorp said, will help Singapore develop an approach in which solar projects will be seen through from the stages of procurement, design, and installation and operation to beyond the end of their operational lives.

Regulations Will Ensure Proper Disposal

Without adequate recycling laws, there is a risk of solar modules being carelessly discarded as manufacturers might resist internalising the cost of properly storing or recycling solar waste.

Recycling laws would stimulate innovation and support the industry by securing a steady supply of solar waste for recycling factories, allowing them to scale up operations and reach the critical mass needed to offset the costs.

If the 78 million tonnes of solar waste that will be generated by 2050 are recycled, the recovered resources could be worth over US$15 billion, IRENA estimated.

Sustainability in a Time of Crisis: Vodafone’s Green Focus to Continue Despite COVID-19

The negative economic impact of COVID-19 is a topic of ever-increasing discussion within the CleanTech community. Alongside more general administrative concerns, there is growing uncertainty regarding the continuation of Carbon Net Zero policies, with many fearing green initiatives will end up falling to the bottom of the heap.

However, in the case of UK telecommunications giant Vodafone, these worries seem largely unfounded. In a webinar held on April 20th addressing ‘Sustainability in a Time of Crisis’, members of the Vodafone sustainability team (in conjunction with Carbon Intelligence) addressed industry concerns regarding their policies during the pandemic, and their attitudes were encouraging indeed.

Overarching Policy Framework

As emphasised by Head of Sustainable Business Dorothee D’herde, before Vodafone’s current position can be understood it must be situated within their wider policy framework.

At the core of Vodafone’s operations are three goals – digital society, inclusion for all, and the planet – all tied into the provision of effective communication technologies.

Within these overarching goals, as part of the GSMA (a prominent mobile industry association) they aim to galvanise climate action by “embedding sustainable leadership into [their] corporate strategy”. Focusing specifically on efficiency, renewable energy supply and reducing network waste, their policies ultimately aim ultimately towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, hoping to build a more sustainable future.

In terms of progress, Vodafone has taken significant steps towards reaching their goals, with 2018 marking a clear point of acceleration. As detailed by Energy Engagement and Insights Manager Sophie Mason, Vodafone have now pledged to halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, on track to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50% ahead of schedule in 2020. Within the next five years, they also aim to purchase electricity from 100% renewable sources, and reuse, resell or recycle 100% of their redundant network equipment.

Alongside broader initiatives such as #RedLovesGreen, additional focus has also been placed on harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) as a means of ensuring sustainable industry practice, says D’herde. Increasing both efficiency and connectivity, the most interesting developments in IoT technology have undoubtedly been in renewable energy, with wind and solar farms now able to monitor operations digitally, reducing emissions while increasing output.

Current Development

Focusing now on the situation at present, although Vodafone’s sustainable foundation remains strong, in light of the current pandemic their strategies have been forced to evolve.

Vodafone CEO Nick Jeffrey made clear in a press release early last month that the company expected to play a “an instrumental role in this crisis”. With a core focus on keeping their clients connected, alongside strengthening networks Vodafone now provides free access to NHS sites, and has lifted caps on data usage.

Additional measures have also been put in place to support smaller corporations, including renewable energy providers, who as D’herde details are now paid within 15 days to help stabilise income. Aiming to make a tangible positive impact on both their users, and suppliers, D’herde summarises their current attitude as “How can we help?”, encompassing both environmental and socio-economic concerns.

Although sustainability does not feature explicitly in Vodafone’s Five Point Plan for COVID-19, D’herde reassures the continuance of their initiatives. She explains although they might appear prominently in press exposure (at present taking a backseat to socio-economic concerns), they continue to operate in practice, maintaining momentum despite decreased bandwidth. With their Steering Committee gathering only last week, D’herde maintains there was “no need to make the case for continued effort” as previously feared, with sustainability remaining a priority for the vast majority of members.

Emerging from last week’s meeting is a new triple-aspect plan for the progression of green initiatives, revolving around responsible business practice, resilience and shaping the future.

Within this framework, most innovative strategies to emerge arguably revolve around plans to escalate the provision of IoT technology. The smart management capabilities of this new digital infrastructure will make corporations better able to cope with the crisis through remote control, hoping to sustain output despite operational constraints. Meanwhile, these efforts hope to reduce emissions through increasing transport and operation efficiency, currently saving three tons of carbon for every one ton used in Vodafone’s operations.

Additionally, Vodafone’s targets for renewable energy and emission reductions remain in place, with D’herde framing this crisis as a time to “recalibrate our relationship with the planet and with each other”. Positioning economic growth hand in hand with sustainability, it reaffirms the sentiments of Associate Director of Carbon Intelligence Kirsty McKell within the webinar that ultimately “businesses are at the heart of a net zero world”.

With their services more crucial than ever with the rise of remote working within self-isolation, it is encouraging to see the telecommunications sector rise to the occasion, pioneering sustainable initiatives within this time of crisis. To conclude with an insight articulated by D’herde – these times of crisis don’t as much change the sustainability agenda but reveal its current state, and Vodafone’s seems to be holding strong.

UNIDO: Helping Smaller Enterprises Make A Big Difference

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s Global CleanTech Innovation Programme (GCIP), collaborating with startups, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), is helping smaller CleanTech developments make it big.
A specialist agency of the UN, UNIDO, promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalisation and environmental sustainability. With over 170 states members of the organisation, UNIDO focusses on promoting and accelerating inclusive and sustainable developments in these member states, with one of four strategic priorities centred around “safeguarding the environment.”

To accelerate growth in emerging market countries, it is important to prioritise low-carbon economic growth. With technological advances, available capital, demand for clean development and climate change, the need for cleantech is more critical than ever in such development.

Advocating for resource-efficient and low-carbon industrial production, clean energy access for productive use and the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, UNIDO’s approach is critical for a cleaner future.

One particular programme they are currently cultivating is the Global CleanTech Innovation Programme, which “seeks to foster a clean technology innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in our partner countries”

UNIDO notes that “we recognize the power of transformative technologies in accelerating the transition to an economically and environmentally sustainable future. Our vision is to identity and support technologies that have this catalytic potential.”

The programme details ambitions in GHG emissions savings, growth of the CleanTech industry and job creation between 2017 and 2020. According to UNIDO, the programme “promotes an innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem by identifying and nurturing clean-tech innovators and entrepreneurs; by building capacity within national institutions and partner organizations for the sustainable implementation of the clean-tech ecosystem and accelerator approach.”

With an emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship and the global SME innovation value chain, the cleantech ecosystems and accelerator approach aid development and commercialisation of innovative ideas.

How successful has the programme been?
In 2018 the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) conducted a review of the programme, at which point six national level GCIP implementation projects were complete in Armenia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey.

Additionally, the GCIP Accelerator Competition supported 795 SMEs across 8 countries by the end of 2017, which has only grown from there.

It is important to consider the successes of startups and SMEs as a result of GCIP. In 2018 GCIP Global Week celebrated the successes of the cleantech startup innovations, describing the accelerator as the “cornerstone of GEF support for small and medium enterprises.” From here some of the most successful startups of the programme can be identified.

Saathi Eco Innovations
Based in India, Saathi developed an innovative technology utilising waste banana tree fibre to produce 100 percent biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads, taking only 6 months to degrade. The eco-benefits of this technology include no water wastage, through the production process using no water. It projected that the product reduces 1,011 MT of CO2 emissions and 1,323 MT of plastic waste annually. Considering the average woman is expected to produce 60kg of plastic waste in her lifetime, Saathi is providing a clean resolution to unsustainable sanitary products. On top of environmental benefits, Saathi products are low-cost and aid hygiene and health awareness campaigns, contributing to women’s empowerment in India.

This startup from Thailand manufactures activated carbon products from cassava stump, which otherwise would be burned. Through making use of this raw material, carbon emissions are reduced by 42,000 MT. The product not only contains environmental benefits, but economic also as the valueless waste material is converted into high value activated carbon for industrial, agriculture, household and health applications. Subsequently, the product provides multiple benefits by contributing to the local economy creating an extra source of income and employment opportunities throughout the activated carbon value chain.

The Pakistani startup, ModulusTech, has developed affordable, efficient and easy flat-pack housing options. With the ability to be assembled by three people in three hours, the low-cost of just $3,000 per unit, coupled with reduced emissions costs provides a clean solution to housing. Producing fifty times less greenhouse gas emissions compared to concrete buildings, this alternative housing not only has an environmental solution but additionally has the potential to address climate migration issues. With an estimated 1,088,232kg of carbon emissions saved by October 2019, ModulusTech is paving the way towards sustainable housing options.

See also, NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats, Aspartika Biotek, and Biolive.

CleanTech News commemorates UNIDO’s twofold commitment to clean growth in developing countries and to accelerating the growth and successes of smaller enterprises and startups.

Top Five Global Fashion Brands Following Eco-Friendly Trends

In recent years, sustainability has become more than just a boardroom buzzword. Many fashion brands are taking the lead to support ethical fashion and contribute to a cleaner environment, by reducing the negative impact of the manufacturing process. The following global fashion brands are promoting sustainability by minimising water wastage and hazardous chemicals, promoting recycled materials, fostering fair labour, and much more.
Levi’s is best known for its denim jeans. Taking into consideration that only 2.5 percent of Earth’s water is drinkable and that it takes on average 1,800 gallons (6,840 litres) of water to produce a pair of jeans, the company took initiative and introduced Water<Less®. Since implementing the new technology, the company managed to save more than 3.5 billion liters of water and recycled more than 5 billion. In addition, Levi’s is committed to making at least 80 percent of Levi’s jeans using the Water<Less® technique by 2021, up 11 percent compared to 2019.

H&M Conscious
The world’s second largest fashion retailer, H&M has become a go-to for affordable and sustainable clothing. H&M Conscious product line contains at least 50 percent sustainable materials, such as organic cotton and recycled polyester, and recycled cotton making up 20 percent. What is more, the company has a goal to source only 100 percent recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030.

Furthermore, in its latest sustainability report, H&M announced that it will be shifting to a circular packaging model to reduce packaging across the value chain by 25 percent by 2025. Besides, by 2030 the company targets to have 100 percent of packaging made from recycled or other sustainably sourced material.

Patagonia was founded upon the saying “cause no unnecessary harm,” acknowledging the need to reduce damage to earth caused by clothing production. Committed to implementing the best practices and techniques to reduce the harm, their goal is to be carbon-free by 2025 by moving to 100 percent renewable and recycled raw materials.

Patagonia pledges 1 percent of its total sales to environmental groups. The company has already awarded over $89 million in cash and donations to a number of environmental groups making a difference in their local communities.

What is more, the company is proud to be using 100 percent organic cotton in their clothes and having 72 percent of their line made with recycled materials.

Smart Guess
The American clothing brand Guess is also making steps towards a more sustainable future. In 2017 the company launched a sustainability plan with a new clothing line Smart Guess. The company’s sustainability goals for 2021 include producing a fourth of their denim under Smart Guess guidelines. Reducing water usage, the guidelines also ensure the use of sustainably sourced materials and new technologies to reduce chemicals usage. In addition, Guess targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2021.

This American shoe brand existing under the slogan “We’re in business to improve lives”, is best known for their social impact by providing a new pair of shoes to youth of Argentina and other developing nations for every pair sold. The company offers shoes with sustainable and vegan materials, such as natural hemp, organic cotton, and recycled cotton. What is more praiseworthy is that the company’s shoe boxes are made from 80 percent recycled post-consumer waste.

Toms has decided to measure its carbon footprint in 2020 and improve it year by year. Furthermore, the shoe company continues to produce their packaging from sustainably managed forests, as well as making sure that 80 percent of it is made of recycled materials. The company is also working towards sourcing and using 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2025.

How Inovateus Solar is Revolutionising Solar Energy

Inovateus Solar, one of the leading utility and commercial solar developers in the Midwest US, is changing the solar energy landscape as we know it.
The company has recently implemented new sustainable solar development practices, which aim to make at least half of their projects “zero waste” in 2020 and beyond. Their goals include having zero construction waste going to landfill, as well as to reduce land use through sustainable design, reduce the impact on the land, and to create recycling plans for when their projects reach their end of operations in 25 years.

The Innovateus vision
They plan to accomplish zero waste for all of their commercial, industrial, and utility solar job sites with their seven-step plan. Among other things, this consists of installing primary reuse and recycle receptacles in strategic, or permissible locations on-site, as well as transporting waste by contracting with local recyclers.

Inovateus has been an industry leader in solar energy for over 11 years and currently delivers over 400MW, which makes them the top Midwest solar energy provider to businesses, municipalities, schools and utilities.

Inovateus has developed and financed large projects for many famous retail brands such as IKEA and Walgreens, as well as Midwest and South East utilities. They also develop solar for schools, universities, and city infrastructure projects.

With the mission of “Building a Brilliant Tomorrow”, Inovateus is striving to find ways to combat the issue of e-waste and keeping toxic substances out of landfills. E-waste, which includes solar modules that have been damaged and discarded, is a huge societal problem and equates to approximately 70% of overall toxic waste in the U.S.

Recycling and development
But one of the ways Inovateus is helping to solve the problem is working with local recycling companies; one of whom was recently able to break down the damaged solar modules into a usable glass and other raw materials for future manufacturing.

As well as their focus on recycling, Inovateus provide high quality personalised solar development services throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. The company builds on the ethos of their founder Tom Kanczuzewski, who once said “we must promote the solution.”

The entrepreneur had a vision back in 2008 of developing a socially responsible company to meet the demand for renewable energy and his innovative company is now very much living up to that objective.

Stewardship and sustainability
Another way that Inovateus is reducing pollution and other negative environmental impacts is through ‘Stewardship and Sustainability’, which highlights Resource Preservation, Energy Intelligence and Vitality of Life as their key areas of emphasis.

Abiding by their core values of PEACE (Passion-Engagement-Ambition-Creativity-Esprit de Corp), Inovateus Solar believes in “stewardship and sustainable practices because they will allow Earth and all things living to survive and thrive.”

For more information on how solar energy is becoming cleaner, see here.

Sustainable Beauty: L’Oreal Launches a €150M Social and Environmental Solidarity Programme

French cosmetics and skincare giant L’Oréal, a leader in corporate social responsibility for many years, hopes to revive the economy in spite of pandemic using environmentally-friendly and sustainable course of action.
“L’Oréal for the Future”

According to L’Oreal CEO, Jean-Paul Agon, two major global challenges have been highlighted amid the Covid-19 pandemic: climate change and the vulnerability of women. Therefore, the global cosmetics group have decided to launch a social and environmental solidarity programme called “L’Oreal for the Future”, allocating 150 million euros to contribute to both causes.

L’Oreal has committed 50 million euros to support associations that assist women who are victims of the social and economic crisis, i.e. who suffer from income loss or domestic violence as a result of the lockdown.

Another 100 million euros will be allocated to fight against global warming and to regenerate the natural environment. Half of the fund will be dedicated to financing marine and forest ecosystem preservation projects.

The remaining 50 million euros will be used to stimulate the circular economy, with an encouraging initiative to build new business models that improve recycling and plastic waste management.

“We are fully aware that environmental challenges are increasingly pressing. It is essential not to step back from the sustainable transformation that the world needs. We therefore wish to reaffirm our commitment to the environment and to the preservation of biodiversity”, said Jean-Paul Agon.

As a result, L’Oreal sets ambitious goals for 2030; the cosmetics giant aims to restore one million hectares of damaged ecosystems, eliminate 15 to 20 million tonnes of CO2 and provide communities with job opportunities.

In addition, the company is already supporting an innovative plastics recycling technology which uses enzymes to recycle waste. Furthermore, L’Oreal is contributing to the Paper Bottle Community whose aspiration is to find a paper-based solution to plastic packaging.

Determination to Reach Sustainability Goals
L’Oreal has recently been highlighted as a global leader in corporate sustainability by environmental impact non-profit CDP for the 4th year in a row. Among the 8,400 businesses, L’Oreal is one of a few companies to score the highest for such actions as a reduction in carbon emission, solutions for deforestation in its supply chain, and water protection.

However, the company does not stop here: L’Oreal commits to have achieved carbon neutrality in all its manufacturing, administrative and research sites by 2025. Also, by the s

COP26: Race to Zero on World Environment Day

Following the postponement of COP26, the UK has launched its “Race to Zero” global campaign marking World Environment Day.
Following the announcement from the UK government at the end of last month, COP26 is now set to be delayed by a whole year to allow time to recover from the economic and travel impacts of COVID-19. An important date in the calendar of any climate conscious individual, COP26 was set to build upon the 2015 Paris Agreement signed at COP21.

However, according to the UN, the aims of the Paris Agreement were not set to be met in time for COP26. Today, in an attempt to renew commitments to the 1.5C target, the UN’s High Level “climate champions”, the UK and Chile, have launched the “Race to Zero” campaign. The campaign is set to mobilise support for net-zero ambitions in businesses, cities and nations, committing leaders and governments to net-zero targets.

Urging the need for a renewed commitment, Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, said: “Complementing the urgent need for nations to submit NDCs this year, Race to Zero is not a campaign of the future, but a campaign of today,” she said. “That’s why all members are demonstrating how they’re already in the race to zero, by publishing immediate plans by COP26 and setting interim targets in 2025 and 2030.”

Tracking targets
New data from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) Net-Zero Tracker has found that 53% of global GDP is associated with net-zero target, intended or actual. Accounting also for 2.6 billion people, the Tracker shows that 23% of global carbon emissions are covered by net-zero targets.

Dr Alison Doig, international lead of the ECIU, notes: “With the Race to Zero campaign the UN High-Level Climate Champions are firing the start gun on a race to the top on climate action. Their aim is to accelerate the groundswell of climate ambition we’re already seeing across the real economy as we invest in the recovery from the pandemic.

“This is not however about pushing climate action to some date in the future; no entity can reach net-zero in 2050 without starting now, and so it’s entirely sensible that in order to qualify for entry to the Race to Zero, participants will have to present delivery plans, including setting interim targets for the next decade, by the time COP26 opens in Glasgow next year.”

Taking action
To achieve this, a variety of organisations are answering this call, including PACE: the NGO that is focused on supporting the 43,000 public limited companies globally achieve carbon net zero by 2050.

A unique NGO, PACE (Public Listed Companies towards Clean Emissions), is uniting public listed companies to take action towards net-zero targets. Viewing the carbon challenge as an opportunity, PACE represents the unique challenges of public listed companies in the pursuit of carbon net-zero.

“We have been working with COP26, UN agencies, The World Bank, governments across the world, funds and international partners to provide leaders of Public Listed Companies with the strategies, tools and resources to achieve Carbon Net Zero on a timescale of their choosing,” said PACE Founder, Ross Kingsland.

With a focus on economic growth, cost savings, minimising risk and increasing shareholder value through global partnership and supplier networks, PACE is set to accelerate the pace of change, whilst simultaneously stimulating industry.

As noted by Alok Sharma, President of COP26, “It is great to see PACE bring together major actors to leverage and increase financial commitments and strategies to existing channels and improve the way that money is spent. These plans will be integral to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement and maintain global momentum on tackling climate change.”

Unilever Plans Net Zero Emissions by 2039

June 16, 2020 Maisie Law
As of yesterday, Unilever has set out new actions to fight climate change, aiming to “bring the planet back to health” by protecting and regenerating nature and preserving resources for future generations in the wake of the new Unilever Compass initiative.
Sustainability has long been at the forefront of Unilever’s business initiatives, with the company remaining acutely aware of the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. However, a new press release has further deepened this commitment, with Unilever now suggesting it “will achieve Net Zero emissions from all our products by 2039.”

Alongside this net-zero goal, the company have also pledged to “empower, and work with, a new generation of farmers and smallholders, driving programmes to protect and restore forests, soil and biodiversity; and we will work with governments and other organisations to improve access to water for communities in water-stressed areas.”

In the mindset of accelerating action, Unilever’s brands will collectively invest €1 billion in a new dedicated Climate & Nature Fund. In addition to their present climate focussed initiatives, this funding will be used over the next ten years to further decisive action, with projects likely to include landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation.

“While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us. Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously. In doing so, we must also recognise that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.”

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, explains.
Science-based targets
Currently, Unilever focusses on science-based targets, which include: to have no carbon emissions from our own operations, and to halve the GHG footprint of our products across the value chain, by 2030. However, as an aspect of their new actions, as of yesterday they are committing to zero emissions from all products by 2039 – from the sourcing of the materials we use, up to the point of sale of our products in the store.

Intending to do so 11 years ahead of the 2050 Paris Agreement deadline, Unilever incites a unified spirit working with partners towards science-based targets. Additionally, pressing the importance of transparency as an incentive to accelerate the race, Unilever intends to set up a system to communicate the carbon impact of every product they sell.

“The race to zero must be a collective effort, and business alone cannot drive the transition at the speed that is required. We call on all governments to set ambitious net-zero targets, as well as short term emissions reduction targets, supported with enabling policy frameworks such as carbon pricing,” the press release reads.

Sustainable sourcing for nature
Despite leading sustainable sourcing for over a decade, with 89% of their forest-related commodities certified as sustainably sourced, Unilever is challenging themselves to even higher standards. They aim to:

Achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023, by increasing traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies accelerating smallholder inclusion and changing our approach to derivates sourcing.

Regenerating nature: increasing local biodiversity, restoring soil health, and preserving water conservation and access, by empowering a new generation of farmers and smallholders who are committed to protecting and regenerating their farm environment.

Introducing a pioneering Regenerative Agriculture Code for all our suppliers. It will build on our existing Sustainable Agriculture Code and will include details on farming practices that help rebuild critical resources.

Set up direct efforts to preserve water, by implementing water stewardship programmes for local communities in 100 locations by 2030.

Join the 2030 Water Resources Group, a multi-stakeholder platform hosted by the World Bank, to contribute to transformative change and building resilience in water management in key water-stressed markets, such as India, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Finally, Unilever aims to make our product formulations biodegradable by 2030, to minimise their impact on water and the aquatic ecosystems.

“Our collective responsibility in tackling the climate crisis is to drive an absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not simply focus on offsetting – and we have the scale and determination to make it happen. But this is not enough. If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems.”

Marc Engel, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer, explains.
“The planet is in crisis, and we must take decisive action to stop the damage, and to restore its health…While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life – in the sourcing of materials – as well as in their manufacture and transport. We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.”

“Build back better”: Business for Nature’s Plea to Reverse Nature Loss

Business for Nature held their major global leadership event urging people to join their ‘Call to Action’ in reversing nature loss and building back better from the effects of COVID-19.
The first major global leadership event to discuss reversing nature loss was held on Monday 15th June 2020, hosted by Paul Polman, co-founder of IMAGINE, and Tian Wei, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and news anchor. Held by Business for Nature, the event was a ‘Call to Action’ to reverse nature loss, telling all in attendance that “nature is everyone’s business”.

Through inspiring and insightful speakers, the event showed how integrating business and sustainability will encourage economic growth, whilst reversing the impact of nature loss. The event encouraged companies and experts alike to “build back better” from the effects of COVID-19. The speakers urged everyone to learn from their mistakes highlighted by the coronavirus crisis, whilst making this decade the ‘decade of action’.

As cited in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, this next decade is the ‘decade of action’ in terms of tackling climate change. Business for Nature’s event echoes this goal and through the use of a collective voice and action aims to grab the attention of governments to implement policies to tackle nature loss. Host Paul Polman’s inspiring speech showed the importance of nature in policymaking, saying: “we need to get nature-based solutions higher on the agenda. We need to give it more priority than it gets today”.

Business for Nature’s passionate event answered two fundamental questions; what must we learn from COVID-19 to build back better and how are businesses showing leadership on nature? The answers to these questions emphasized the gravity of nature in business, inspiring others to implement nature-focused goals in their own companies.

Building back better from COVID-19
Starting with key talks from experts, the event reflected on the current health crisis and lessons learnt that should be applied in the context of the planetary crisis of climate change and the loss of nature. Each expert answered the question; what must we learn from COVID-19 to build back better?

One key theme which ran through many of the talks in the event is the importance of connectedness and togetherness in terms of building back better from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Co-Chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and Special Envoy to Mobilize International Economic Support for Continental Fight Against COVID-19, said in her speech:

“As we build back better we must solve these problems together. That is a big lesson. All of us, whether we are government, business or private sector, civil society we have to solve them together.”

Okonjo-Iweala’s address to those attending urged people to understand the interconnectivity of natural resources, and showed how “we cannot solve the problems of the world in an isolated fashion”. Reinforcing the idea of connectedness, Okonjo-Iweala’s inspiring voice emphasized the importance of coming together to “build back better”.

Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa stated: “the overwhelming lesson from COVID-19 is that we must build a cleaner, safer, healthier, more sustainable, more resilient and more climate-friendly future” and hopes “we have the will of all people to overcome this crisis”.

Espinosa’s speech, like Okonjo-Iweala’s, expressed the need for collective action, something which was passionately discussed by many of the experts who spoke at the event.

Not only did the event push the importance of connectedness and a collective voice, Joaquim Levy, Fellow of Steyer Taylor Institute at Stanford University and Former Minister of Finance of Brazil, also highlighted the need for the private sector to integrate nature into all its decision making to “build back better” from the effects of COVID-19.

Levy stated: “investors are increasingly saying that it is all about understanding the facts that these changes will have on business,” encouraging business owners to invest in nature as part of a green recovery.

PepsiCo: “we are committed to help build a better future”

Global multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation, PepsiCo, has just released its 2019 Sustainability Report highlighting its progress towards sustainability goals.
PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of brands such as Walkers/Lays, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana.

The report shares progress across all of the priority areas PepsiCo believes it can have the most impact on: Agriculture, Water, Climate, Packaging, Products, and People.

The corporation plans to reduce their emission across its value chain. In 2019, PepsiCo reduced its absolute Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 6%, making significant progress of reducing GHG emissions by 20% before 2030.

Its plan is to play a key role in Europe by achieving climate neutrality by 2050, and is actively engaging in discussions surrounding what measures must be taken to achieve this goal alongside supporting the European Commission’s Green Deal.

“Today’s global environmental and societal pressures are bringing into sharp focus the need for systemic change,” said Ramon Laguarta, PepsiCo’s CEO and Chairman. “As a global food and beverage leader, we have a responsibility to use our scale and influence to help tackle long-term challenges.”

Laguarta explained that, although PepsiCo is making significant progress in solving these challenges, he “knows it will take even more… we are committed to help build a better future for our people and the planet.”

PepsiCo affirmed its plans to accelerate action on climate change by signing the United Nation’s (UN’s) Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge in April 2020, becoming a part of its long-term strategy for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

In 2019 the company worked with over 1500 farmers in Europe to reduce its environmental impact by increasing efficiencies and growing more with fewer resources. New innovations such as PepsiCo’s Precisions Agriculture Technology and the Cool Farm Tool enable farmers to quantify on-farm GHG emissions.

The company continues to work on the technology it co-developed with Cambridge University, UK, allowing farmers to use the latest mobile and web-based capabilities to monitor over 48,000 hectares of potato production.

The crop monitoring system in Europe has been used to track potato varieties and seed supply over the past number of years. The benefits from this program became evident in the 2019 harvesting season, as the company was able to work more closely with local farmers to extend the harvest timeframe and avoid crop loss.

In 2019, PepsiCo achieved 100% renewable electricity in nine European markets – Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, and Poland. This includes on-site solar energy installations and a newly added windmill which will generate approximately 40% of the total site electricity consumption, saving around 4232 tonnes of CO2.

PepsiCo is working to create a circular economy to ensure less of its packaging becomes waste, therefore reducing the carbon intensity of its packaging. PepsiCo’s sustainable plastics vision is based on three interconnected strategies: reducing the amount of plastic it uses, recycling more plastic, and reinventing the plastic packaging it uses.

In 2019, it trialled a process called ‘charge compaction’ which causes snacks to settle to the bottom of the bag during packaging, in turn reducing the amount of packaging used. It is also working to increase the amount of PET used in plastic bottles, with a goal of 50% recycled PET to be included in bottles across the EU by 2030.

“As we look to the decade ahead, global efforts to mitigate climate change and support a more sustainable and inclusive future are more crucial than ever,” said Simon Lowden, PepsiCo’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “It will require agility, collective action, and collaboration. We know building a more resilient food system is possible, and we’ll continue working with partners around the world to catalyse change for a better tomorrow.”