Australia's clean energy plan and Carlsberg's waterfall-powered pub: 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 and nations across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

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

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 - energyresourcesinfrastructuremobility and business leadership.

From closed-loop bottles made from 100% ocean plastic, to a $1bn investment in renewable energy projects, each of these projects and initiatives are empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: A $1bn renewable energy plan has been launched in Australia

Over the past 10 years, the world’s renewable energy capacity has more than doubled, with the global total standing at 2,179GW at the end of 2017. As the transition to clean power continues to move at a pace, this week saw GFG Alliance’s chief executive Sanjeev Gupta announce that he would invest $1bn in a string of renewable energy projects across south Australia.

The investment will fund the installation of more than 780,000 PV panels, which will generate enough electricity to power 96,000 homes, as well as a string of hydropower and green gas projects. In total, the schemes paid for by the funding are anticipated to add 1GW of clean energy capacity. Gupta is additionally planning to install lithium-ion batteries to store the energy generated by the new installations.

Announcing the investment on Wednesday (15 August), Gupta said he had a “strong conviction that traditional carbon‐intensive generation sources do not have a long‐term future as the predominant source of power in Australia and globally”.

"These projects will not only improve reliability and greatly reduce the cost of electricity in our own operations, they will also provide competitive sources of power for other industrial and commercial users, while at the same time playing a key role in the market’s transition towards renewables,” he added.

RESOURCES: P&G's ocean plastic bottles have arrived in the UK

More than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, with more than eight million tonnes finding its way into oceans annually, according to data from charity Plastic Oceans. In a bid to recapture the resource and create closed-loop solutions, a string of companies have moved to include ocean plastic in their products and packaging in recent times, including sports brand Adidas and consumer goods firm Ecover.

A more recent development in the field comes from Procter & Gamble (P&G), which this week rolled out its range of products housed in 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) packaging in the UK. The company’s Ocean edition Fairy liquid, with bottles comprising 10% beach plastics, and Head & Shoulders shampoo, with bottles comprising up to 20% beach plastics, were both launched in Tesco stores and on its online grocery site this week. The rest of the packaging for both products is derived from other PCR plastic, with P&G claiming that both ranges of bottles are recyclable.  

P&G’s vice president of global sustainability Virginie Helias said the company had chosen some of its most iconic and popular products to house in ocean plastic packaging in a bid to educate consumers about the importance of recycling. “Our consumers care deeply about the plight of our oceans and by using ocean plastic we hope to show that the opportunities are endless when we rethink our approach to waste,” she said.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Carlsberg has unveiled a ‘waterfall-powered’ pub in Cornwall

Carlsberg is widely renowned as a sustainability leader in the brewing sector. It is one only three major companies to have set and approved a science-based target to reach a 1.5C ambition in line with the Paris Agreement, for example, and has vowed to source 100% renewable electricity and eliminate coal as a source of energy by 2022 to achieve this goal.

This week saw the brewer post another sustainability success story as it opened a pub which is entirely powered with electricity from renewable sources. The electricity is mainly produced using solar generation and bolstered with hydro power electricity that is generated by a nearby waterfall.

The pub, located in Kudhva and called the Carlsberg Cabin, is built from locally-sourced wood and took a team of six construction workers a week to erect. It is the second of Carlsberg’s carbon-neutral bars, after the company last year hosted its zero-carbon "Windmill Bar” in Copenhagen.  

MOBILITY: Northern Powergrid has become the latest organisation to decarbonise its fleet

Several utility providers have taken steps to decarbonise their portfolio of vehicles of late, with water company United Utilities recently pledging to source only fully-electric vans, 4X4s and plant equipment by 2028.

The latest move towards reducing transport emissions came this week from Northern Powergrid, which announced that it will install electric vehicle (EV) charging points at 11 of its sites in a bid to incentivise its staff to travel to work sustainably. 

Meanwhile, the Newcastle-based electricity company will also move to replace its carpooling fleet with a mix of fully-electric and hybrid-electric alternatives. The first five Nissan Leaf EVs will be introduced this month. 

Northern Powergrid will additionally survey staff to determine how many of its employees own EVs, and which barriers to EV adoption are most prominent within its workforce. It will use this research to help staff overcome these challenges ahead of the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.  

The company's head of policy development Jim Cardwell said that staff had shown a "huge apetite" to decabonise as much of Northern Powergrid's fleet as possible, "as soon as it is practical".

LEADERSHIP: Grant Thornton has made a 'bold' move to adopt science-based targets to reduce emissions

As global megatrends such as population growth and climate change continue to add pressures to society and the world businesses operate in, more than 100 companies have now had their emissions reduction goals approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in line with the 2C trajectory outlined in the Paris Agreement.

This week saw professional services giant Grant Thornton join the growing list of corporates to have received the SBTi stamp of approval for their climate targets. The firm did not disclose the precise emissions cuts it would be targeting, or the deadlines by which it aimed to meet these targets, but said in a statement that it would announce the new goals “in due course”.

"This is a bold move, since science-based targets require steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," said Grant Thornton’s head of sustainability Karen Higgins.

“We worked really hard to use our environmental management system to save 2,800 tonnes of carbon emissions between 2015 and 2017, through buildings and transport energy savings and increased sustainable business practices. Now, we've signed up to further decrease those emissions by 2020-50."

Sarah George


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