Microsoft’s wind PPA and Brussel Airport’s net-zero plan: The sustainability success stories of the week

edie rounds up five positive sustainability stories from this 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 sustainability leadership.

Across the UK and across 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: Microsoft signs agreement to boost wind energy capacity in Ireland 

Microsoft has announced a long-term corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) with SSE Renewables and FuturEnergy Ireland, adding 30 megawatts (MW) of wind energy capacity to Ireland’s electricity grid through the newly commissioned Lenalea Wind Farm near Letterkenny, County Donegal.

The Lenalea Wind Farm, featuring seven Vestas V117-4.3MW onshore wind turbines, is a joint venture between SSE Renewables and FuturEnergy Ireland, marking the first long-term corporate PPA jointly entered into by these co-development partners.

Microsoft’s commitment to renewable energy in Ireland extends beyond this agreement, with the company previously announcing 900MW of renewable energy corporate PPAs in November 2022. A portion of this capacity has already been operationalised, contributing clean energy to Ireland’s grid, with further projects slated for commercial operation this year.

Microsoft has commitment to power its data centre operations entirely with renewable energy by 2025.

Microsoft cloud operations and innovation EMEA regional leader’s vice president Eoin Doherty said: “At Microsoft, we are committed to playing our part in supporting the decarbonisation of energy grids in markets in which we operate data centres.

“With the Lenalea Wind Farm achieving commercial operations, we are taking another important step on our journey to achieve 100% renewable energy supply and support wider efforts to add clean energy capacity to Ireland’s energy grid.”

RESOURCES: Starbucks UK partners with Podback for coffee pod recycling


Starbucks Coffee Company has teamed up with the coffee pod recycling scheme, Podback, as part of its sustainability strategy, offering customers access to Podback’s free drop-off recycling bags at all of its 1,250 UK coffee shops.

These bags allow customers to collect used coffee pods at home, which can then be deposited at any of the 6,500 Yodel drop-off points across the UK. All postage back to Podback is free of charge. Podback also offers kerbside collection of pods as part of household waste and recycling services, available to 1.5 million households in 21 UK local authorities.

Coffee pods from the Starbucks by Nespresso and Starbucks by Nescafe Dolce Gusto ranges have been accepted for recycling through Podback since April 2021. With an estimated 800 million coffee pods purchased in the UK over the past year, there is a growing need for accessible recycling options.

Podback’s executive director Rick Hindley said: “Partnering with one of the world’s best-known coffee brands is a sign of the considerable progress that Podback has made towards establishing a convenient and simple way for people to recycle used pods.

“Starbucks’ support makes it even easier for coffee pod users to start recycling, as they can now pick up a Podback bag at any of Starbucks’ coffee shops across the UK.”

MOBILITY: Wyke farms trials Volvo electric trucks for sustainable haulage


Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producer and a leader in renewable energy, has concluded a successful trial with Volvo Trucks, aiming to reduce carbon emissions and expand electric vehicle (EV) usage for milk collection and haulage.

During the trial, Wyke Farms used the Volvo FM Electric truck for milk collections from supplier farms in Somerset and cheese haulage from the dairy to maturing stores. The truck, charged from renewable electricity generated on the farm through anaerobic digestion (AD) and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, has a gross vehicle weight of up to 46 tonnes across 6 axles and is equipped with 5 batteries, offering a range of 300km.

This initiative aligns with Wyke Farms’ sustainability goals, as the company plans to transition to EV haulage over the next 18 months. Wyke Farms has implemented initiatives at both business and industry levels, reducing emissions and striving for net-zero production.

Wyke Farms managing director Rich Clothier said: “The immediate benefits include a cleaner, quieter method of delivery, which is especially important for night-time collections moving to EV transportation is a significant step forward in our journey to building a carbon neutral future for dairying”.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Brussel’s Airport confirms net-zero plan using UK climate tech

 UK-based climate technology company IES has utilised its digital twin technology to showcase the potential for Brussels Airport Company’s buildings to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, significantly advancing the airport’s original goal of reaching net-zero by 2050.

IES has developed a digital twin for Brussels Airport, an international airport with three runways and a single terminal spread across 1,250 hectares. The airport, which employs more than 24,000 individuals and handles more than 26 million passengers and half a million tonnes of freight annually, is poised to undergo a transformative sustainability initiative.

This project is part of the EU-funded Stargate initiative, which has received a €24.8m grant from the EU Green Deal to develop solutions for enhancing the sustainability of airports and aviation.

Brussels Airport is collaborating with a consortium of 21 partners, including airports in Athens, Budapest and Toulouse, to leverage IES’s digital twin technology in support of their decarbonisation objectives.

IES has replicated the 40 most energy-intensive buildings at Brussels Airport within its digital twin before exploring scenarios such as the installation of photovoltaic solar panels, electric vehicle (EV) chargers, and the electrification of heating systems to identify the most effective pathways to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: Sheep Inc launches ‘world’s first’ naturally negative carbon footprint t-shirt


Sheep Inc, a knitwear brand, has unveiled what it describes as the world’s first naturally negative carbon footprint t-shirt, featuring a near field communication (NFC) enabled tag for consumers to track the source and environmental impact of their purchase.

The brand aims to create knitwear that harmonises nature and science-based material innovation.

The raw material for the t-shirt comes from extra-fine Merino wool sourced from three regenerative sheep stations in New Zealand: Lake Hawea Station, Middlehurst Station and Omarama Station.

These farms use regenerative farming and effective land management, employing techniques that sequester more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit, resulting in a carbon-negative wool fibre.

The wool is processed by Sheep Inc’s European partners, who spin the yarn, manufacture the garments and manage logistics using 100% solar power. Each t-shirt is crafted by Portuguese specialist knitter Fatextil, utilising solar-powered, 3D whole garment knitting machines to ensure zero waste.

Moreover, the Merino wool has self-cleansing properties and zero-odour retention, minimising emissions from washing and drying. Each t-shirt is designed to be 100% biodegradable, leaving zero traces at the end of its lifecycle.

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