Hallmark’s recycled cards and Tate’s climate emergency: The sustainability success stories of the week

This weekly round-up explores how organisations across the world are ramping up efforts in all fields of sustainable development

Published every week, the new 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 business leadership.

From a ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration from one of the UK’s most prominent art institiutions, to a milestone in the development of Ukraine’s largest onshore wind farm, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses to play their part in achieving a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: First phase of 500MW wind farm reaches financial close in Ukraine

Here in the UK, future growth for the onshore wind sector is widely believed to be at risk, as onshore wind is currently blocked from competing for new power contracts under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions.

Policy frameworks in other European nations, however, have not has the same effect. This week, Luxembourg-based power producer LongWing Energy reached the financial close on the first phase of its 500MW onshore wind farm in south-east Ukraine. Called Zaporizhia and due to come online in 2020, the first phase of the project will have a capacity of 98MW. It is being funded by VLC Renewables, a Jersey-based fund which supports clean power projects exclusively, and other undisclosed investors. The facility will also benefit from a 10-year fixed rate Feed-in Tariff (FiT).

“When complete, Zaporizhia will significantly increase Ukraine’s wind energy capacity, helping to modernise the energy market,” VLC Renewables’ head John Stuart said. “We hope this will be the first of many projects in Eastern Europe, which is ideally placed to benefit from the move towards renewable generation.”

RESOURCES: Hallmark to launch greetings cards made from recycled coffee cups

The use of reusable cups in all coffee chains has increased in the UK – thanks to incentives such as discounts – but Brits’ love for hot drinks on-the-go is still believed to be behind the logging of more than 100,000 trees for disposable cup production annually.

Greetings card giant Hallmark has this month teamed up with paper product producer James Cropper to re-capture some of this resource, in a partnership which will see coffee cups collected through James Cropper’s ‘CupCycling’ recycling system made into boutique cards. The range of 44 greetings cards is due to launch this October, with Hallmark claiming that all lines will be fully recyclable in kerbside facilities across the UK. Hallmark has additionally stated that the new upcycled cards will be sold at price parity with the rest of its offering.

“This partnership demonstrates the value this precious raw material has, and how it can produce truly creative outcomes, setting a high benchmark for outstanding circular design,” James Cropper’s managing director Steve Adams said.

MOBILITY: Plans for 2,500 new rapid EV chargers across the UK confirmed

The UK currently plays host to 2,189+ publicly available rapid EV charging points, according to the latest data from ZapMap. But research has repeatedly suggested that the national charging infrastructure stock has not increased rapidly enough to keep pace with electric vehicle (EV) sales, leaving domestic and business customers alike with range anxiety.

In a bid to address this issue, rapid charging network operator Drive Energi had pledged to install charge points at 2,500 locations by 2025. This week, the company signed a deal with supplier Tritium which will help to make that vision a reality. Each of the locations will be fitted with two 50kW chargers, which Tritium claims can deliver 60 miles of range within 20 minutes of charging. The first 100 charging points will be live by the end of January 2020, with the network set to be hosted across both private and public locations.

“As the nation increasingly looks to electrify transportation, and as the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) scheme comes into effect, the need for reliable, smart and easy-to-use charging infrastructure is critical,” Tritium’s business development manager for the UK and Ireland Kevin Pugh said.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Researchers unveil principles to ‘embed nature in cities’

By 2050, the UN estimates that 2.5 billion more people will live in cities. At the same time, the climate is expected to heat by at least another 0.5C compared to today’s levels, leaving cities vulnerable to droughts and to the so-called ‘urban island heat effect’ – where heatwaves are felt more acutely than in rural areas due to the heat-absorbing nature of roads, pavements and buildings.

The good news is that an international research team, spearheaded by specialists from Stanford University and the University of Washington, have come up with a solution to these problems which could also improve the mental health of city-dwellers. The team has developed a methodology to help city planners, property developers and landscape architects determine how best to conserve nature and to add green spaces to their projects. This methodology adapts itself to consider the size and scale of the development, as well as existing infrastructure and the resident demographic. It additionally takes into account any need for improving public transport infrastructure.

“In all of human history, people have never been so disconnected from nature, and we’re becoming ever more so,” the Stanford Natural Capital Project’s faculty director Gretchen Daily said. “Our work focuses on the connections between these trends and what we can do about them.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Tate declares ‘Climate Emergency’

The term ‘Climate Emergency’ is one which has dominated headlines over the past few months. In a largely symbolic gesture, the UK Government, as well as the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, have declared such an emergency – spurring more than 100 local authorities and dozens of leaders across the creative and content professions to follow suit.  

This week saw art institution Tate join that list of climate leaders, with its directors pledging to showcase more climate-focused art and to “interrogate” the environmental impact of its four galleries, network of gift shops and wider systems. Tate has already committed to switch to 100% renewable electricity by 2023 and to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 10% by the same deadline, but claims the declaration will “put the climate emergency centre stage” and help Tate “look for ways to become more adaptive and responsible”.

“As an organisation that works with living artists, we should respond to and amplify their concerns – and, as our audiences and communities across the world confront climate extinction, so we must shine a spotlight on this critical issue through art,” Tate’s directors wrote in a blog post.

“Our declaration of a climate emergency is just the beginning in our determination to affect and inspire change.”

In related news, Sutton Council has also declared a climate emergency within the past week, following a string of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations across the South London Borough. The declaration includes a clause for the local authority to reach ‘net-zero’ for its own operations by 2030. A less ambitious 2045 deadline had been touted, but was thrown out at a meeting of the Full Council. 

Sarah George

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