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.
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 - energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility 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 retail store powered by battery-stored solar energy to a huge corporate investment in electric vehicle (EV) research, 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 (11-15 June 2018)
ENERGY: Samsung to source 100% renewable energy in Europe, US and China
Following in the footsteps of tech giant Apple, which announced in March that it had achieved its goal of powering all its global operations with renewable electricity, Samsung has pledged to source 100% renewable power for its factories, office buildings and operational facilities in three of its biggest markets.
The commitment will see Samsung’s renewables use increase to the equivalent of that generated by an average 3.1GW solar power plant by the end of the decade, equivalent to powering 115,000 family homes for a year.
“Samsung Electronics is fulfilling its duty as a corporate citizen by expanding and supporting the use of renewable energy,” the firm’s executive vice president Won Kyong Kim said.
“As demonstrated by our expanded commitment, we are focused on protecting our planet and are doing our part as a global environmental steward.”
RESOURCES: McDonald’s will start phasing-out plastic straws from UK restaurants this year
As more and more high-profile brands in the food and drink sector announce moves to tackle single-use plastics in their operations, McDonald’s has this week confirmed that it will replace all the straws in its UK and Ireland restaurants with paper alternatives by mid-2019.
The fast food chain, which uses 1.8 million straws each day across its 1,361 UK restaurants, follows the likes of Burger King, Costa, Wetherspoon, Wagamama and Nando’s in announcing a crack down on avoidable plastics.
McDonald’s’ phase-out, which will begin in September, follows a successful month-long trial which saw some restaurants stock paper straws, keeping them behind a counter and only giving them out on request. It will now embark on similar trials in selected restaurants in the US, France and Norway to see whether the switch to paper straws is viable for more of its global operations.
BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Battery-stored solar powers Kingfisher's first 'net-zero' energy store
At a time when several big-name corporations like Carlsberg, M&S and Landsec have indicated their willingness to explore onsite energy storage facilities, provided that the cost of battery technologies decreases, home improvement retailer Kingfisher has gone one step further and opened a store where battery storage powers operations with the help of solar power and air source heat pumps.
The home improvement retailer’s first UK net-zero energy store, which will generate as much power as it uses and pass surplus energy back to the grid, opened in the form of a ScrewFix in Peterborough this week.
Power at the site is generated by the solar panels during the day, and excess energy is used to charge the batteries which power the store in the evening. The air source heat pump has replaced gas and electric heating to heat the store more efficiently.
Kingfisher’s head of energy and renewables Jeremy Parsons hailed the move as a “huge milestone” in the company’s overall goal to become a net-positive business.
MOBILITY: China expands its first motorway paved with solar panels
edie’s mobility success stories often focus on the ever-growing EV revolution, but this edition's pick comes in the form of solar roads. This week saw the expansion of a formerly one-kilometre solar highway in Jinan, China, which initially covered 5,875sq m and had an original generation capacity of 1m kWH of power annually.
The government-funded project powers street lights, billboards, surveillance cameras, and toll collection plazas, with all excess power fed back to the local grid. The power also heats the road surface in cold weather, keeping it clear of snow.
The expansion of the highway shows China’s continued willingness to invest in solar technology, with each square metre of the road costing 90 times as much as asphalt at £345. Indeed, the nation accounted for a record 63% of global investment in renewables last year, and its solar industry employs two-thirds of the sector’s global total of 3.4 million workers.
BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Renault group pledges €1bn of funding for EV research and manufacturing
As car manufacturers continue to invest in diesel and hybrid cars in the face of the petrol and diesel phase-outs detailed in the UK Government’s Air Quality Plan and the EU’s 2020 emissions regulations, Renault has this week announced an investment of more than €1bn in the development and production of EVs.
The funding will see the French firm create a second Renault electric vehicle production site and develop a new type of electric motor by 2021, as well as doubling its capability to produce its fully-electric ZOE model. It will also enable the brand to produce three times as many electric motors than its current levels.
Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn said the increased investment would “increase the competitiveness and attractiveness” of the company’s French industrial sites, due to the nation’s outright ban on the sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
“Within the framework of its Drive the Future strategic plan and with the Alliance, Renault Group is giving itself the means to maintain its leadership in the electric vehicle market and to continue to develop new sustainable mobility solutions for all,” he added.