Earth Day 2022: What have businesses announced?
From Aston Martin and Budweiser to Mars and Volkswagen, edie rounds up some of the most eye-catching and ambitious targets and initiatives announced by businesses to mark Earth Day 2022.
Earth Day has been held every year on 22 March since 1970. It was first founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was concerned that the US Government had implemented virtually no legal or regulatory protections for the environment at the time. Since then, it has grown into an international movement. More than 100 million people observed Earth Day in 2020 through online events.
As time has gone on, Earth Day has involved not only national and regional governments, but the private and public sectors. Each year, businesses announce new products, partnerships and environmental targets in their droves. And, each year, many of these announcements are met with criticism and cynicism, as some of the largest corporate emitters and polluters often run communications campaigns around the day.
Whatever your take on Earth Day and the changing face of business involvement in the event, it is clear that the delivery of key international and national environmental targets under current economic systems will depend in no small part on the private sector.
Here, edie rounds up the key announcements from the private sector in brief. Announcements are sorted under the five pillars of edie’s long-running Mission Possible campaign: energy, resources, mobility, the built environment and business leadership.
- Octopus Energy has launched a new ‘Plots for Kilowatts’ portal, through which landowners can register their interest in hosting onshore wind projects. The company is hoping to identify at least 10 potential sites in the coming months and will put them forward to the Government. Under the recent Energy Security Strategy, the UK Government said it would consider offering communities willing to host onshore wind farms discounted energy. Octopus has been offering such a discount since the start of 2021.
- Instavolt has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant local authorities for the development of a Gigafactory in Scarmagno, Italy. It is aiming to deliver a production capacity of 45GWh, with the first production due to begin in 2024.
- Nestle has signed a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with BayWa.r.e to source electricity generated at a new solar park in Spain. The 50MW Picon solar park near Ciudad Real is expected to begin generating electricity in early 2023 and Nestle has agreed to purchase 62GWh of energy per year from the facility. Nestle is targeting 100% renewable electricity for operations globally by 2025. The proportion in 2021 stood at 63.7%.
- Smarter Grid Solutions has announced the successful completion of a trial of its flexible energy management software at four council-owned sites in the Thames Valley. The software was applied to four sites with onsite solar, allowing public sector energy users to track their energy generation and consumption.
- Permanent electricity connections for film crews have been installed in Battersea and St James Park, meaning that crews will no longer need to use petrol or diesel generators. UK Power Networks has delivered the infrastructure in partnership with Film London and the British Film Commission.
- Logicentres has confirmed plans to install the largest rooftop solar array in the Nordics at its SLD Balsta centre near Stockholm. The solar array will have a capacity of 8.9MW and cover some 80,000 square metres.
- eBay has launched a new ‘Imperfects’ channel, through which high street and designer fashion brands can list items that are new with minor defects at a discount price. More than 100 brands have already signed up to list their goods on the channel.
- Costa Coffee has launched a trial of new plant-based lids which can be recycled in-store and at kerbside. The coffee chain claims the lids produce 50% less lifecycle carbon emissions than their current plastic lids. The lids will be trialled in 150 UK Costa stores.
- Fashion tech company unspun has launched two new kinds of custom jeans. The US-based, B Corp certified business creates custom jeans using 3D scanning and weaving, thus minimizing waste in production.
- Toast Ale has partnered with Dutch brewer Gebrouwen door Vrouwen to launch two new beers – a blonde ale and a grapefruit pale ale – made using surplus bakery bread. The beers are going on sale this week in the Netherlands and sales will raise money for the Taste Before You Waste Foundation.
- SodaStream has launched a new advertising campaign with David Hasslehoff, urging viewers to reduce their single-use plastic consumption. The adverts also explain that SodaStream has partnered with sea turtle protection scheme SEE Turtles in a bid to save one million of the animals.
- Following the certification of its green bean products as upcycled last year, Del Monte Foods has had two of its ‘Fruit Infusions’ lines certified by the Upcycled Food Association. Upcycled foods are made using surplus produce that may otherwise have ended up as waste, fertiliser or animal feed.
- US-based hospitality company Sonder has pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic amenities in guest accommodation by the end of 2022. This should mitigate the use of 1.6 million items each year.
- Johnson & Johnson Vision Care is set to remove the plastic pouches currently used to house Acuvue contact lens deliveries made in Europe. This will mitigate the use of 10 tonnes of plastic each year.
- Nesta Challenges and the Canadian Government have announced the semi-finalists for the Afri-Plastics Challenge. This competition intends to scale plastic recycling systems, helping to reduce plastic pollution and create new jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Gridserve has opened a new Electric Forecourt in Norwich – its second, following the opening of the site in Braintree, Essex, last year. The Electric Forecourt has 22 high-power rapid chargers and 14 other chargers, served using 100% renewable electricity. Gridserve chose Norwich as it has comparatively low charger coverage, hosting just 29 chargers per 100,000 people compared with the UK average of 42 per 100,000 people.
- Aston Martin has pledged to achieve net-zero in its manufacturing operations by 2030 and net-zero supply chains by 2039. It will shortly submit proposed targets to the Science-Based Targets initiative, detailing the level of emissions reductions it plans to achieve before offsetting to achieve the “net” in net-zero.
- Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I has partnered with EV Cargo to help cut emissions from transport at its Magor brewery. Under the partnership, half of the 50 delivery trucks based out of the brewery will run on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) rather than diesel. The brewer is touting a 92% reduction in emissions per kilometre driven from the fuel change.
- Electric bus maker Switch Mobility has announced plans to invest £300m in scaling its operations in the UK and India. Key projects set to benefit include the creation of a new technical centre in the UK and the commercial launch of a new electric bus model in the Indian market.
- Employee benefits plarform Unum UK has partnered with Octopus to launch a new electric vehicle (EV) salary sacrifice scheme for all staff on permanent contracts.
- London-based office development 22 Bishopsgate is gifting staff at businesses occupying the building free minutes on HumanForest e-bikes. Bike training sessions and introductions have been offered this week and a bike bay has been installed outside of the office.
- Storage and information management services firm Iron Mountain has launched 12 electric vans in London. It is planning to transition its global fleet of 5,000 vehicles to EVs by 2030, under The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative.
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
- The Berkley Group has begun development at its newest housing scheme in Watford, The Eight Gardens. It is using around 4,000m3 of Aggregate Industries’ carbon-neutral concrete in the piling works to help minimize embodied carbon. As for operational emissions,
- Pye Homes has opened show homes at its Church Farm development in Radley, Oxfordshire. The homes will be fitted with air-source heat pumps and are designed to achieve an energy performance certificate (EPC) ‘A’ rating. Pye Homes has pledged to achieve biodiversity net gain beyond legal requirements, with the site set to include features like badger corridoors.
- Carbon reduction and offsetting platform Ecologi has installed a new billboard on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch, London, which will suck carbon dioxide out of the air. The billboard has been developed as part of a partnership between Ecologi, Electric Glue and Enviral. Ecologi estimates that it will result in 2.1 tonnes of net emissions removal.
- The BBC has launched a new swathe of programmes and initiatives dedicated to environmental sustainability, to run throughout the remainder of April and the whole of May. Young climate champions will be featured on BBC Bitesize’s ‘Regenerators Hall of Fame’, for example. Special programming is also planned for Radio 2, The One Show, BBC Sport, Morning Live, CBBC and Cbeebies.
- Also in media, Conde Nast has pledged to clamp down on greenwashing advertisements. It has also confirmed that its offices in Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and New York City are now using 100% renewable electricity.
- Mars has announced a new ambition to help 14,000 smallholder cocoa farmers in Indonesia and the Ivory Coast to improve their incomes this decade. According to the World Bank, most cocoa farmers live below the poverty line. The confectionery giant has partnered with Fairtrade and ECOOKIM for work in the Ivory Coast and USAID and I4DI for work in Indonesia.
- US-based department store chain Kohls has revealed that it has achieved its 2025 goals on waste and emissions four years early. The retailer had been aiming to divert 85% of waste from landfill by 2025, but achieved 86.5% in 2021. It also achieved in 2021 its 2025 goal to halve absolute greenhouse gas emissions against a 2008 baseline.
- Mobility app Bolt has partnered with Seedballs Kenya – a project looking to reintroduce millions of trees to degraded land across Kenya. Bolt will fund the spread of 25 tonnes of indigenous seeds, equivalent to more than 11 million trees.
- Mastercard is set to link employee bonuses to whether key ESG-related goals are met. Pay will be linked to goals on reducing emissions, reducing the gender pay gap and improving access to financial services and education.
- Electricity distribution network operator Northern Powergrid has had its climate targets certified in line with 1.5C by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Northern Powergrid has committed to reaching net-zero Scope 1 (operational) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions by 2040, with an interim ambition to reduce emissions from these scopes by 63% between 2019 and 2034.
- Also achieving 1.5C SBTi verification this week are professional consultancy Jacobs and automotive giant Volkswagen (VW).
- Signify has published its first Climate Action Report, revealing that at least 61% of its revenues in 2021 came from products and services that deliver positive environmental impact.
- Zen Internet has achieved B Corp certification, making it one of only two UK-based internet service providers with this status.