Everything you may have missed: The sustainability success stories of Green GB Week

With the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launching the nation's first-ever Green GB Week this week, numerous new commitments, events and announcements were made. This round-up highlights some of the best sustainability success stories of the past seven days.

The UK has certainly not been lacking in sustainable business success over the past week, with 67 companies and counting having announced an array of bold new sustainability commitments on edie’s virtual Pledge Wall. With edie acting as an official media partner, Green GB Week has proven to be quite the catalyst for business action on sustainability.

The adoption of science-based targets to reduce emissions, the elimination of single-use plastics and the switch to 100% renewable energy are among the business commitments that now appear on the Mission Possible Pledge Wall, which was launched as part of edie’s new sustainable business campaign at the end of September.

And, offline, dozens of events have been held across the UK this week to help BEIS tell the story of clean growth and empower organisations of all industry types and sizes to accelerate progress towards a low-carbon economy.

In this special edition of our weekly Mission Possible round-up, edie charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve a more sustainable future across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, mobility, built environment and business leadership – while rounding up all the announcements you may have missed.

From business commitments to source 100% renewable power to the launch of an unlikely retail partnership aimed at tackling deforestation, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: PwC commits to source 100% renewable electricity


Among the commitments made through the Mission Possible Pledge Wall was PwC’s commitment to source 100% renewable electricity for its global operations.

The multinational, which has operations in 158 countries and more than 236,000 employees, this week joined The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative to source 100% clean power for its global operations – an aim it has committed to achieve by 2022 across its 21 main territories, which account for 88% of its revenue streams. Other smaller markets will follow suit in subsequent years.

“We believe business has a key role to play in solving societal challenges alongside other stakeholders,” PwC’s global chairman Bob Moritz said.

“This commitment is for us a recognition of the need to accelerate the pace of change, and individual business commitments, collectively, will make a critical difference to that.”

In related news….

  • Communications firm Communisis has pledged to source the 16.5MW of power it uses across its operations annually from renewable sources, in a move which will reduce its carbon footprints by 6,000 tons of CO2 each year.
  • Amazon UK has made a commitment to install up to 20MW of solar capacity at 10 of its fulfilment centres within the next 18 months.
  • BEIS has published an updated energy flexibility plan, outlining actions which businesses and policymakers can take to remove barriers to the uptake of smart devices.
  • Ibstock Brig has pledged to install a solar farm at its Leicestershire headquarters by 2019.

RESOURCES: Quorn Foods outlines plan to make all plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025


Shortly after revealing that it will switch almost 300 tonnes of its hard-to-recycle black plastic packaging to clear, recyclable alternatives in a bid to reduce its waste footprint, Quorn Foods this week pledged to make all of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

The move forms part of Quorn Food’s overarching brand purpose, which is to “make the planet healthier”.

The meat-substitute food company is a founding signatory of WRAP’s UK Plastic Pact, which a has already seen it commit to making “unnecessary single-use packaging a thing of the past”.  It is also a member of WRAP’s Courtauld Agreement 2025, which aims to achieve a 20% reduction in food and drink waste across the UK and a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity of food and drink consumed in the UK.

In related news….

  • Amazon has launched a $10m closed-loop fund in a bid to boost US recycling rates. The online retailer estimates that the fund will bring kerbside recycling to three million homes, diverting one million tonnes of recyclable waste from landfill by 2028.
  • Barrat Developments has pledged to reduce its waste intensity by 20% by 2025, against a 2015 baseline. If the commitment is achieved in full, the company will report waste intensity levels of 5.67 tonnes per 100sqm, compared to the 2015 level of 7.09 tonnes per 100sqm.
  • KPMG is to replace all disposable cups in hot drinks dispensing machines across its operations with compostable alternatives – a move it claims will divert three million cups from landfill annually.
  • The Government has announced the 11 innovations which it will funnel £4m worth of investment into collectively, in a bid to tackle plastic pollution. They include startup Skipping Rocks Lab’s edible drinks sachets called Oohos, which are made from seaweed-based membranes and have been trialled by the likes of Lucozade Sport, Just Eat and Selfridges. 

MOBILITY: EDF Energy pledges to electrify its fleet by 2030


Among the Pledge Wall commitments made under the mobility pillar was EDF Energy’s new commitment to replace its entire road transport fleet of 1,500 vehicles with fully-electric or hybrid-electric alternatives by 2030.

The energy company said in a statement that it had made the commitment in a bid to move to low-carbon mobility at a faster pace than policy, with UK law currently requiring all large businesses to electrify 50% of their fleets within the next 12 years.

The commitment follows similar moves from the likes of United Utilities, which is aiming to slash its annual diesel consumption from four million litres to zero within the next decade by switching to 100% fully-electric vehicles (EVs) by 2028. Elsewhere, 16 major business recently pledged to replace their van fleets EVs by 2028 under a new clean van initiative led by NGO Global Action Plan.

In related news….

  • John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners this week unveiled a new commitment to convert its 500-strong fleet of diesel delivery trucks to be powered by bio-methane by 2028.
  • The BEIS Committee has urged ministers to bring the UK’s 2040 phase out of new petrol and diesel car sales forward to 2032.
  • ENGIE has pledged to ensure that one-fifth of its UK fleet is electrified by 2020, and revealed that it will invest more than £600,000 into charging infrastructure at its offices, customers’ sites and employees’ homes.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: UKGBC launches programme to spur net-zero building sector transition


Following on from the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) call for governments to set targets that require all new buildings to achieve net-zero carbon status by 2030, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) this week launched a scheme aimed at uniting the construction industry to lead the sector’s low-carbon transition.

Called advancing net zero, the programme aims to bring together businesses, policymakers and industry bodies to build consensus on a way forward for new green building standards. Specifically, it will focus on improving Scope 3 (indirect) emissions across the sector, with organisations that sign up committing themselves to set net-zero targets across their entire carbon footprint.

“This programme represents a new chapter in decarbonising our built environment,” UKGBC’s senior policy advisor Richard Twinn said. “There will be no more tinkering around the edges; those involved in the programme and the associated commitment will be leading the way in decarbonising our buildings and infrastructure.”

The launch of the scheme coincides with the unveiling of UKGBC’s new online innovation portal for the sector, which has been designed to crowdsource solutions to some of the industry’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Opened on Wednesday (16 October), the portal will enable businesses to share best practice on deconstruction and adaptability, embedding circular economy principles and carrying out successful retrofits.

In related news….

  • Four Seasons Healthcare has made a commitment to cut its building emissions by 15% by 2022.
  • The Government has launched a £320m scheme to help accelerate the adoption of low-carbon heat technologies across the UK’s public, private and domestic sector buildings.
  • Deloitte has pledged to apply the sustainability standards it used for its new London headquarters to all future office fit-outs in the UK.
  • BEIS has announced a new aim of reducing emissions from the Department’s estate by 66% by 2020.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Selfridges partners with Iceland to champion palm oil phase out


A discount frozen food chain’s own-brand mince pies are probably the last thing you’d expect to see among the caviar and champagne in a luxury department store’s food hall – but Selfridges has this week begun stocking Iceland’s version of the festive treat as part of its commitment to remove products containing palm oil from its stores by December 2019.

In April, Iceland became the first UK supermarket to commit to remove palm oil from its entire range of own-brand food and drink products, citing concerns over deforestation in south-east Asian rainforests. Since then, it has switched more than 100 of its lines – including its £1.89 packs of six mince pies – with palm oil-free alternatives, with a full phase-out expected by the end of December 2018. 

“We’re committed to becoming completely palm-oil-free by Christmas 2019, so these delicious palm-oil-free mince pies by Iceland offer a little taste of what’s to come,” Selfridges said in a statement.  “For us, there’s no point palming off the inevitable – together we must end deforestation.”

In related news….

  • Technology giant BT has pledged to become a net-zero-carbon business by 2045. In the wake of the IPCC report on global warming, the firm has bolstered its existing science-based emissions reduction targets – which were set in line with a 1.5C trajectory last year.
  • The 67 new business commitments made to edie’s Pledge Wall since September are all voluntary targets, ranging from established multi-nationals to SMEs and individual traders.


Sarah George

Comments (2)

  1. Kaj Embren says:

    From Green Finance discussion in London and Stockholm – Green GB Week event
    London: https://youtu.be/x-9dR03DCL0
    Stockholm – British Embassy: https://youtu.be/N-EmlwGQ9mE

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