GALLERY: Top 10 sustainability stories in April 2015

It was the month of the big party pledges, zero energy coffees and smartphones made from food waste. Take a look back at April's most-read sustainability news stories in our gallery round-up.

In this latest instalment of our monthly top-10 round-up, edie has highlighted some of the news and features our readers were keen to read and share during April.

The race for number 10 is heating up with less than a week to go now until the General Election. Last month, the five main political parties released their manifestos – and we were on hand to let you decide who’s leading the pack when it comes to energy and the environment.

For edie, the pinnacle of the month was Sustainability Live, which returned to the NEC Birmingham with a host of expert speakers, panel discussions and interactive workshops to help businesses deliver the transformational change needed to create a sustainable future.

Some businesses are already embracing that change. McDonald’s, Sainsbury’s, and Samsung all reiterated their commitment to sustainability, and the E&E Awards towards the end of the month was the perfect opportunity to reward the outstanding green performances of firms across the country.

And no month on edie would be complete without a dose of green innovation. Costa opened the world’s first ‘zero-energy’ coffee shop incorporating an array of energy-saving technologies; and a new European research and development project began work on transforming food waste into graphitic carbon, which could power the smartphones of the future.

So, take a look through all of the month’s most-read news stories in our gallery, and click the links in the descriptions below to read them for yourself.

GALLERY: April’s top 10 sustainability news stories 

1) Manifesto watch: Which party has the best green policies?

The race for Number 10 heated up as the five main political parties released their manifestos ahead of next week’s General Election. So, who’s now leading the pack when it comes to energy and climate change?

We summarised where all the parties stand on the key green issues. Take a read and let us know which party you think has the best manifesto – cast your VOTE here.

2) Sustainability Live 2015: 10 things we learned

Sustainability Live 2015 officially opened with industry experts from Kingfisher, M&S and DHL among those giving talks at the brand new high-level conference. And edie announced some exciting news…

In order to leverage the power of edie’s unrivalled audience engagement, we were delighted to reveal that we have brought our entire energy and sustainability portfolio under one, new-look brand – edie.

3) Sainsbury’s makes clear business case for sustainability 

In an EXCLUSIVE edie story, Sainsbury’s revealed that behaviour change, on-site generation and smarter systems have helped the retailer reduce its absolute energy consumption by 17% since 2005, whilst growing the business by 46% over the same period.

In relative terms, Sainsbury’s is now using 27% less energy at its stores than it was 10 years ago; putting the supermarket chain well on-track to achieve its target of a 30% absolute reduction in operational carbon emissions by 30% by 2020.

4) Environment & Energy Awards: Winners revealed

AkzoNobel, B&Q and Sainsbury’s were among the big winners at the 16th annual Environment & Energy Awards 2015, announced at glittering awards ceremony in Birmingham in the same week as Sustainability Live.

The Awards, held at the National Motorcycle Museum, celebrated advancements in green technologies; excellence in energy and water management; and outstanding sustainability performances from businesses across the country. (click here for full list of winners).

5) Costa opens first ‘zero-energy’ coffee shop

Our most-read story of the month came when coffee shop chain Costa launched a new ‘Eco Pod’ cafe concept, incorporating an array of innovative energy-saving technologies that could have a huge impact on the future of sustainable building design in the hospitality sector.

The Whitbread-owned company partnered with retail property specialist Hammerson to launch the new store within Wrekin Retail Park in Telford, Shropshire, at the beginning of the month.

6) Could anaerobic digestion power the phones of the future?

Smartphones could soon be powered by the product of anaerobic digestion (AD) of food waste, thanks to a new European research and development project.

The PlasCarb project is attempting to transform food waste into graphitic carbon to be turned into graphene. Graphene technology both stores and maximises the power in smartphones.

7) Samsung investigating circular business models

In another exclusive, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer told edie it is considering the adoption of innovative business models such as servitisation and leasing schemes in a bid to cut e-waste and create more resilient revenue streams.

Speaking to us at Sustainability Live, the head of sustainability at Samsung Europe, Bill Skeates, said the company was working with London estate agents to examine the feasibility of leasing electronic equipment in fully-furnished rental properties.

8) Solar subsidy changes prompt industry gold rush

One of the world’s largest solar companies almost doubled its UK portfolio of large-scale solar farms in the past three months, in a rush to qualify Government subsidies which were removed as of 1 April.

US-owned Conergy managed to build and grid-connected 12 large-scale solar projects – totalling 230MWp – across the UK in the first quarter of 2015, bringing its nationwide total to 22 solar farms. It was one of a number of large solar firms that hurried to connect solar systems to the grid in time to qualify for a 1.4 Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC), which provides financial support for solar developers.

9) edie energy management survey: Businesses ‘more committed than ever’

Employee engagement, behaviour change and technology upgrades are the key areas businesses are focusing on to become more energy efficient in 2015, but funding remains the biggest barrier to initiating energy-saving programmes.

Those are some of the key findings of the third annual exclusive edie report – Energy Management: Procurement, Planning and Purchasing Priorities 2015/16 – which surveyed 381 people responsible for energy management within their organisation.

10) McDonald’s to eliminate deforestation

Fast-food giant McDonald’s announced a commitment to ending deforestation across its global commodities supply chain. The company will now develop specific deadlines and targets by the end of 2015 for beef, fibre-based packaging, coffee, palm oil, and poultry.

McDonald’s was previously the target of a “McDeforestation” campaign by consumer group SumOfUs. But this announcement was welcomed by green groups, with WWF suggesting that McDonalds’ action could create a ripple effect among smaller companies.

Luke Nicholls

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