Long-distance e-buses and BMW’s SDG strategy for MINI manufacturing: The sustainability success stories of the week

Read on for good news on electric transport, green offices, onsite solar and more

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 rest of Europe, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Care home installs onsite solar array amid energy price crisis

edie’s recent Net Zero Business Barometer survey of energy and sustainability managers at 148 organisations found that more than half are exploring or installing onsite energy generation in response to rising energy and operating costs.

Now, the family-run Foxholes Care Home in Hertfordshire has announced the installation of 132 solar panels on its rooftop, plus ground-mounted solar panels. It commissioned Use the Sun to complete the installation and set aside an undisclosed five-figure sum for the project. The business anticipates that the solar array will reduce its annual energy costs by at least one-third.

“With energy costs rising each year, this project has been in the pipeline for some considerable time now – but, with skyrocketing energy prices, the timing of it finally coming together couldn’t be better,” said Foxholes Care Home’s care director Neil Gandecha.

“Wholesale electricity costs aside, we’re delighted to see our vision come to life on an environmental level – as the impact cannot be overstated… we feel it’s important to not only become greener, but also to help the country by taking some pressure off the national grid.”

RESOURCES: Harrods launches in-store recycling scheme for beauty product packaging

Image: MYGroup

It has been estimated that the global cosmetic industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging each year. Many of these packaging formats are hard to recycle, consisting of mixed materials that are challenging to process using traditional mechanical recycling processes.

Many retailers have, therefore, launched their own take-back schemes for this packaging, such as the Body Shop, Lush, Maybelline and Superdrug. These schemes usually divert the packaging to a waste management partner with specialist infrastructure.

Harrods has this week followed in their footsteps, partnering with Yorkshire-based recycling firm MYGroup to launch a pilot take-back scheme. The scheme will run for three months, in the first instance, at H Beauty in Milton Keynes. It will collect beauty packaging from all brands and of a wide range of formats, including mascara, compacts, nail polish bottles and fragrance bottles.

Customers will be encouraged to use the scheme through the Harrods MyBeauty rewards scheme. Collected packaging will be used to make products such as outdoor furniture.

“As a leading voice in the UK beauty industry, we are committed to making beauty more circular, and by partnering with MYGroup we are able to capture more materials that might otherwise have found their way into landfill and waterways,” said Harrods’ head of beauty Mia Collins.

MOBILITY: Innovative e-bus project launches in Germany

Image: Flixbus. Pictured: A Flixbus vehicle operating in Portugal. 

The electric bus market is growing more rapidly in some nations than the electric car market, as cities seek more modern vehicles to reduce air pollution and emissions from public transport.  Straits Research forecasted last year that the global electric bus market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 18% through 2030, surpassing $3.1bn at this point.

Of course, e-bus technology is poised to improve significantly in the coming years. This week, edie received news of an exciting new collaborative project developing the next generation of pure electric buses, capable of driving longer distances per charge, in Germany. Bus network operator Flix has joined the project, alongside Daimler Buses and academics from three German universities.

Funding for the project, which is aiming to develop a full-electric drive for long-distance e-buses within four years, has already been provided by the German government. The project will see the development and testing of two prototype coaches, which will serve as the starting point for manufacturing them for commercial use. The resulting buses should be capable of running for at least 400 km (248.5 miles) oer charge.

Flix’s chief executive and founder Andre Schwaemmlein said: “With Daimler Buses and reliable research partners sharing our vision of a greener future in transportation, we can now pursue another milestone towards our goal of reshaping mobility and offering green, technology-driven and still affordable travel solutions to everyone to discover the world.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: New sustainable office in London signs up Carbon Trust as a tenant

The edie team has covered several innovative sustainable office schemes in previous editions of this roundup, including 11 Belgrave and 105 Victoria Street, both in London.

This week, we’ve received news that the developers of Arbor Bankside Yards, an office block in the works for Lambeth, has exchanged contracts with the Carbon Trust. The 19-storey building is due to open to tenants this March and Carbon Trust will take a space on the fifth floor for its HQ.

Arbor will be a ‘smart’ building, fitted with digital technologies that improve energy efficiency, including a smart façade that enables passive lighting management and reduce solar heat gain, thus reducing the need for cooling. It will be fitted with electrified heating and cooking facilities. Development manager Native Land is targeting BREEAM Excellent certification for Arbor and will be certifying the development as carbon neutral in operations.

Carbon Trust’s chief financial officer Timon Drakesmith said: “We have selected Arbor as our new home based on its strong environmental credentials, excellent location and great amenities. It also offers the only all-electric site of this type, in our desired area… We look forward to working with Native Land to support them as they further enhance the sustainability of the estate.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: BMW partners with SDG specialists from Oxford University

A study last year from BSI found that half of decision-makers at large British businesses do not know what the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are – let alone how to being aligning their organisation’s strategy with this framework through to 2030.

However, some businesses are taking bold steps to ensure that their strategy contributes positively to the delivery of the global goals, choosing focus goals that are the most material given their sector and other contextual factors.

Among them is BMW, which has this week announced a collaboration between its MINI manufacturing plant in Oxford and Oxford University’s SDG Impact Lab. The Lab convenes Fellows from social sciences, science and technology and humanities backgrounds. It launched in 2021 and has previously partnered with easyJet. BMW is its second corporate partner.

This year, graduate students from the University will collaborate with staff at BMW to develop and implement new initiatives tat will improve staff wellbeing, maximise the plant’s positive impact on the local community and minimize its negative impact on the environment. The focuses here will be material and energy consumption and waste management. The students had an induction day at the MINI Plant on Thursday (12 January).

“Oxford SDG Impact Lab is an exciting initiative that not only delivers skills for the graduates taking part but will provide us with a fresh perspective, bringing in new ideas and experiences,” said MINI Plant Oxford’s chief financial officer Andreas Kindler.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    It may be worth noting that a host of electrical units use rechargeable batteries as their power source, and it is these that are at the heart of industry.
    They do, however, often depend upon the use of rather scarcer elements in their manufacture, and greater care might well be exercised to ensure that these elements are properly recycled. They are, after all, the only ones we have!!
    Richard Phillips

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