B-Corp bike rentals and a milestone for Greek renewables: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and leadership.

Across the UK and the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Greek electricity grid reaches 100% renewables for the first time

Starting off with a story that’s technically from late last week – Greece’s independent power transmission operator has confirmed that, on Friday 7 October, the grid mix was entirely renewable for five hours.

Climate think-tank The Green Tank has stated that renewables have made up an average of 46% of Greece’s electricity mix between January and August 2022, up from 42% during the same period in 2021.

The country currently plays host to around 10GW of renewable energy generation capacity. By 2030, the Greek government is aiming to increase this to 25GW.

RESOURCES: Hubbub launches cigarette butt campaign in London

Did you know that cigarette butts are the world’s most commonly littered item? To help bring attention to this fact and discourage littering, environmental charity Hubbub hosted a campaign this week at Stratford station, London, which sees at least 60,000 people passing through each day.

The campaign encouraged smokers to bin their butts by reminding them that they are plastic, meaning that they do not decompose in nature and will have a negative impact on water systems if they find their way into drains or the river Thames.

While Hubbub’s presence was temporary, it is calling on councils and private sector actors to collaborate to discourage cigarette butt littering. Transport firms and property firms can incest in bins in locations such as taxi ranks and bus stop, Hubbub is urging, and communications campaigns can be run.

MOBILITY: Bike subscription service Swapfiets bags B Corp certification

As part of plans to cut transport emissions, many cities across the world, including London, are aiming to ensure that a greater proportion of journeys are taken by bike or foot.

But, of course, not everyone who lives in a city has the money to purchase a bike or the space in their home to store it – hence the growing popularity of bike rental, sharing and subscription services.

This week, bike subscription service provider Swapfiets achieved B Corp certification. The certification is a mark of best-practice for SMEs across environmental impact, customer interaction, community interaction, worker rights and governance. Swapfiets first launched in Amsterdam and has since scaled up to London.

“It is in our nature to question the status quo,” said Swapfiets’ sustainability director and co-founder Richard Burger. “. We are proud to join the B Corp community and see the certification as an additional promise and responsibility to our members.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Bellway set to start selling new, low-carbon homes

Housebuilder Bellway confirmed this week that it is set to put four new homes, built as part of its Future Homes scheme, on the market in the North-East of England in November.

The homes, at the Callerton development near Newcastle, will comply with the UK Government’s Future Homes Standard. The Standard comes into effect in 2025 and increases requirements on energy efficiency, low-carbon heating and electric vehicle (EV) accessibility.

They will also be fitted with roof-mounted solar panels. Bellway has said that data gathered from the buildings on energy use will be used to inform its wider rollout of homes aligned with the Standard, ahead of its legal mandate.

“We are determined to harness the latest technological advancements to build enduring homes that will stand the test of time and provide sustainable housing for our customers,” said Bellway’s group head of sustainability Leanne Fletcher. “We are also keen to use this opportunity to help stimulate the property and construction industries, increasing innovation and growing the demand and manufacturing capabilities for green technologies.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Sky Sports lays bare climate risks to football in new documentary

Last month, Sky Sports announced that its fan engagement scheme encouraged attendees at events this summer to take more than 1.7 million actions to reduce their environmental impact. This included using reusable cups and/or water bottles and opting for lower-carbon transport options.

Now, the broadcaster has produced a new documentary explaining how climate change is already impacting global football – and how these impacts are likely to become more intense and more frequent in the years to come. The ‘Football’s Toughest Opponent’ documentary aired for the first time on Sunday 9 October and is now available on-demand.

The show looks at how football in the UK had to adapt during this summer’s heatwaves and subsequent drought, and the impact of 2021’s northern European floods on clubs in mainland Europe. It also looks back at historic heatwaves and flooding, before looking forward at a potential scenario in which a quarter of stadiums used for England’s top four football leagues suffer from sea-level rise by 2050.

Speaking during the show, former Arsenal goalie Petr Cech says: “Players are the role models. They are playing games, millions of kids are watching. They score a goal and do a celebration, then millions of kids are doing the celebration. This is where the power is. And this is why football can be the moving force.”

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