Heathrow’s electric tractor and seaweed coffee capsules: 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 business 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: Pinterest sets new 100% renewables goal

Pinterest has committed to purchasing 100% renewable electricity for its offices and has set a deadline of 2023 to reach this milestone. This will be coupled with ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption at these sites.

The company’s headquarters will be one of the first to switch to 100% renewables through CleanPowerSF’s SuperGreen programme. Energy Attribute Certificates will be purchased for the company’s global real estate portfolio across cities like Chicago, Tokyo and São Paulo.

“We strive to create workspaces that nourish employees and are designed and operated in a responsible way,” Pinterest’s global sustainability lead Mia Ketterling said. “Powering our offices with 100% renewable electricity by 2023 is a step in our journey to build a better and more sustainable future for our employees and the global community.”

RESOURCES: CoffeB’s zero-waste seaweed ‘Coffee Balls’

Almost half of UK households drink capsule coffee, and coffee capsules produce 100,000 tonnes of waste globally, per year. And while some of the pods in the marketplace are recyclable or biodegradable, a large proportion will still end up in landfill.

Enter Swiss coffee brand CoffeeB which claims it is ready with a zero-waste alternative to capsules. CoffeeB has launched the Coffee Ball, which compresses coffee into a tasteless, colourless, seaweed-based layer which gives it structure and also protects it from flavour loss. The plant-based layer isn’t consumed and remains on the ball of used coffee after brewing, but the entire casing and coffee is garden compostable. CoffeeB claims that this creates coffee without the need for capsules and generates zero waste.

“The next generation of capsule coffee is here, and it comes without a capsule” says CoffeeB’s Dr. Caroline Siefarth, who co-developed the system. “After half a decade of research, we’ve created CoffeeB which will revolutionise the way the world drinks single-serve coffee.”

MOBILITY: IAG Cargo trials electric tractors at Heathrow Airport

When thinking of airports, decarbonisation efforts are often focused on the aircraft. But while efforts to decarbonise flight continues, companies are also looking at how they can innovate on road transport services in and around airports.  IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG), has done just that after confirm trials of an electric terminal tractor

The Terberg YT203EV is being trialled at London Heathrow airport and is the first electric Terberg operating airside worldwide. It will replace an existing terminal tractor and is expected to save approximately 30 tonnes of CO2 per vehicle per year. IAG Cargo is trialling the electric Terberg YT203EV for 12 months, with the ambition to transition its current diesel fleet to more sustainable alternatives, including electric.

IAG’s chief transformation officer David Rose said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Terberg to trial the first electric Terberg at London Heathrow – this is an exciting advancement for IAG Cargo as we strive to lead on sustainability and be fit for future. We are continuously looking at ways that reduce our impact on the environment whilst improving our customer offering. This trial is part of a wider effort supporting our commitment to making IAG Cargo, and the wider industry, more sustainable.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Legal and General links new social loan for affordable housing scheme

Legal & General has this week signed a £150m agreement structured as a “social loan” which will finance 5,500 affordable homes across England. The loan is available to housebuilding projects that tackle social issues and this is the first UK insurance syndicated Use of Proceeds social loan.

The loan was arranged by BNP Paribas, HSBC UK, and SMBC Group, in a transaction with Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH).

Legal and General Affordable Homes’ financial director Chris Hewitt said: “Since launching four years ago, Legal & General Affordable Homes has deployed institutional capital at pace to accelerate the delivery of affordable homes across the country. In the last few years, Legal & General has committed over £1bn of its own retirement funds to these efforts, and they will be used alongside this innovative social loan structure. This product reinforces our commitment to the sector, and our work to help reduce inequalities in communities across the country. Whilst we are pleased with our progress, 1.4million households remain on social housing waiting lists across the UK and there are still major challenges to address this shortfall.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Terraformation outlines seed-planting projects across East Africa

With the countdown to COP27 in Egypt well underway, a lot more organisations are highlighting projects that they’re working on across Africa. This week saw Terraformation, the global forest accelerator, partner with the world’s largest non-profit restoration organisation, Eden Reforestation Projects, to create storage for up to 50 million seeds in East Africa.

The new initiative aims to showcase how landscape restoration can support carbon capture and biodiversity enhancement and will span spans several projects in Kenya and Mozambique. The partnership will use Terraformation’s seed banking technology and facilitate sustainable and biodiverse restoration, with nearly 160 different species of trees being planted. To date, Terraformation had introduced 14 projects in 10 countries, planting more than 350,000 trees.

Terraformation’s vice president of growth Yee Lee said: “Tackling the climate and nature crises is one of the greatest challenges of our time and is always going to be a collaborative effort. Only by working together can we achieve our goals, and we’re delighted to have partnered with Eden and so many like-minded organizations to get trees in the ground as quickly — and responsibly — as possible. While our mission is a global one, a crucial part of our work is in identifying key areas and projects requiring support. There is huge reforestation potential in East Africa, and we hope our work with Eden will make a real difference.”

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