Achieving Mission Possible: The sustainability success stories of the week

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.

This weekly round-up explores how businesses across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

This weekly round-up explores how businesses across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas 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 - energyresourcesinfrastructuremobility and business leadership.

This edition of the 'Achieving Mission Possible' round-up highlights some of the tremendous progress we are now seeing right across the globe. From a “virtual” solar power station to a new approach to greening the steel industry, each of these projects and initiatives are empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

Achieving Mission Possible: The sustainability success stories of the week (18- 22 June 2018)

ENERGY: UK Power Networks to host UK’s first “virtual” solar power station in London

The UK had the slowest growth of the world’s top 20 solar markets last year, with annual installations halving for the second year running. While the outlook in the industry looks bleak, UK Power Networks (UKPN) announced it will invest in creating a ‘virtual power station’ powered solely by solar panels on the roofs of people’s homes in what it claims is a UK first.

The fleet of batteries and accompanying PV panels, which will to be installed in approximately 40 homes in Barnet, will be remotely controlled by UKPN and are set to be fitted this summer.

The scheme follows a successful trial of the technology in February, when 45 Powervault batteries were installed in customer homes, reducing the average evening energy demand by 60%. 

UKPN’s director of asset management, Barry Hatton, said the power station will lower energy distribution costs by “providing a viable alternative to the traditional approach of simply adding more cables and substations to increase capacity”.

RESOURCES: P&G expands beach plastic packaging range to Spain

The scale of the ocean plastic challenge is clear, with more than eight million tonnes of plastic seeping into seas globally every year. With the onus on businesses to continue to innovate and to work collaboratively to solve the plastics problem, consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble (P&G) previously made headlines when it unveiled Fairy liquid bottles made completely from PCR plastic and repurposed ocean plastic in the UK earlier this year.

This week, P&G celebrated the expansion of the bottle scheme, which also includes Head & Shoulders shampoo containers that comprise 25% PCR plastic, into its Spanish market.  

The rollout, made possible through a partnership with waste management firms TerraCycle and SUEZ and retailer Carrefour, also includes a behaviour change initiative whereby consumers are rewarded for proving they are collecting and recycling beach plastics. For each picture customers upload of them cleaning beaches, P&G and Carrefour will fund the cleaning of 1sq.m of beach in Spain.

Speaking exclusively to edie, P&G’s vice president of global sustainability Virginie Helias previously claimed that using high-profile brands to incorporate recycled plastic not only showcased P&G’s commitment to the cause, but would also raise public awareness on an “urgent matter”.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: ArcelorMittal unveils new approach to reusable steel in construction

Since the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) called on the built environment sector to set ambitious targets that eliminate carbon emissions from building portfolios by 2030 earlier this year, the industry has seen several moves towards greener buildings.

The latest development came this week from steel manufacturing giant ArcelorMittal, which on Tuesday (July 19) launched a "radical and disruptive" new concept for the use of steel in construction. The idea, called Steligence, revolves around the idea of buildings as holistic entities where all aspects of design are considered in an integrated way.

Steel itself can be recycled several times with little detriment to its quality, but the concept aims to cut out the energy and carbon footprint involved with melting and reforming the metal by reusing modular steel components from end-of-life buildings in new developments.

ArcelorMittal claims that this reuse will give developers a greater opportunity to achieve BREEAM, LEED or other similar building certifications as regulators strengthen requirements regarding the sustainability credentials of buildings.

MOBILITY: United Utilities reveals 10-year green fleet plan

In the corporate sphere, top car makers including VWBMW,  Renault and Volvo are all moving to ramp up investment into electric vehicle (EV) production and battery research and innovation, spurring a string of big-name brands in the mobility sector and beyond to green their fleets.

The latest EV commitment came from water company United Utilities on Friday (July 22), with the Warrington-based firm committing to slash its annual diesel consumption from four million litres to zero.

To meet this aim, United Utilities plans to order more fully-electric vans, 4X4s and plant equipment to expand its existing green fleet of 15 EVs. Meanwhile, it will invest in more EV charging points and expand its onsite renewable arrays to support the decarbonisation of its vehicles.

The firm’s chief operating officer Steve Fraser said: “Our teams need to travel the length and breadth of the North West to keep the taps flowing and the toilets flushing for our customers.

“Traditional diesel-powered vehicles are not great for the environment, so our ambition is to migrate all of our fleet away from traditional fuels over the next 10 years. What is really exciting is our aim to power those vehicles with the energy we produce ourselves – a truly green solution.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: GlobeScan names Unilever, Patagonia and Interface as top sustainability leaders

With summer now underway, Tuesday (June 19) saw the release of GlobeScan’s annual SustainAbility Leaders survey, which ranks industry leaders among corporates, SMEs, NGOs and non-profits based on how widely recognised their sustainability actions are.

Unsurprisingly, Unilever claimed the top corporate spot for the eighth year running, while fashion retailer Patagonia and flooring manufacturer Interface took second and third place respectively. Ikea and Marks and Spencer (M&S) were the final two brands in GlobeScan’s top five, with Tesla, Nestle, Natura, Danone and Apple filling out the top ten.

This year’s survey revealed that integrating sustainability values, making sustainability part of the core business model and committed executive leadership are the key characteristics recognised by expert respondents as key definers of corporate leadership. During the survey, 47% of professionals surveyed mentioned Unilever as an exemplary big-name business.

Unilever’s recent sustainability initiatives include a collaborative commitment to develop technology capable of converting PET plastic waste into virgin-grade materials; a pledge to publicly disclose which suppliers and mills it sources palm oil from and a move to expand its Sustainable Living division, which delivered 70% of its turnover growth in 2017.

Sarah George


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