Dyson's EV hub and Unilever's solar partnership: 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.

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

edie's weekly round-up explores how businesses 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 Dyson’s £116m investment in an electric vehicle (EV) testing facility, to a campaign aimed at bringing reusable sanitary towels to 900 girls affected by period poverty, each of these projects and initiatives are empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: Unilever to help distribute solar roof technology in Africa

Any sustainability professional will be well aware of Unilever’s ever-growing array of climate, environmental and resource initiatives - from its public disclosure of every palm oil supplier it sources from, to its move to create a closed-loop supply for plastic food packaging. Turning to energy, the consumer goods giant’s Kenyan arm this week began a partnership with renewables firm Azuri Technologies in a bid to bring clean power to millions of homes.

Under the deal, one of Azuri’s solar home lighting systems will be co-branded alongside Unilever Sunlight and offered to Unilever’s Kenya-wide distribution network of 67,000 smallholders. The technology, which was created after Azuri found that more than 600 million people in Africa struggle to afford access to electricity, consists of a solar panel, four LED lights, USB ports and a rechargeable radio and torch. Using artificial intelligence (AI), it monitors weather conditions and learns customer usage patterns to adjust output, ensuring overnight power is available.

Unilever’s managing director for East Africa, Justin Aspey, said the partnership will prove “life-changing” to off-grid communities, adding that it would help Unilever align its actions with the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.

RESOURCES: Harrogate Water achieves 50% recycled content in plastic bottles

 As consumer pressure for tackling packaging waste mounts, the likes of Coca-Cola, Princes and Procter & Gamble (P&G) have moved to increase the proportion of recycled content they use in their packaging.

Following this trend, Harrogate Water has achieved a target of incorporating 50% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in its range of Harrogate Spring bottles. The company claims the accomplishment marks the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET used by any water producer.

Providing an update on the company’s future packaging ambitions, Harrogate Water’s brand manager Nicky Cain said the firm wants to include more PCR PET in its bottles, but that this is “wholly dependent” on whether it can secure a consistent supply. In a bid to secure this resource stream, the company has moved to include new messaging on its bottles urging consumers to recycle them.

“There is currently a shortage of recycled PET and the UK has some way to go to match the best recycling rates in Europe,” Cain said. “The more consistent the messaging, the greater the influence on consumer behaviour and this will help increase the supply of UK-sourced recycled PET and help achieve a circular economy.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Dublin Airport reaps rewards from LED retrofit

In the same week that the Europe-wide ban on Halogen bulbs came into force, Dublin Airport posted its own success story, by revealing that it had achieved cost savings of around €80,000 (£71,785) by switching to LED lighting at its Terminal One car parks.

The transport hub installed 304 LED lights in the multi-storey car parks and 386 in the surface car parks at the terminal last November, after studies into the facility’s energy use revealed that 70% of the carpark’s energy use came from lighting. The lighting system enables each bulb to be controlled individually, allowing the level of lighting to be changed to suit the operational need and capacity at any given time.

To date, the switch has enabled Dublin Airport to use 964,500kWh less power – the equivalent needed to power around 1,200 floodlights a year. It estimates that the technology will enable an 80% reduction in car park energy consumption by the end of the year – an achievement that will assist with Dublin Airport’s bid to become carbon-neutral by 2020.

MOBILITY: Dyson to expand Wiltshire hub in bid to ramp up EV testing

In a week when new research revealed that there are now more than one million EVs in Europe after sales soared by more than 40% in the first half of the year, Dyson has confirmed that it will expand its Wiltshire facility to include a ten-mile test track for electric vehicles (EVs).

The British engineering firm will invest £116m to further redevelop a disused World War 2 hangar at the Hullavington Airfield into an EV technology hub, complete with a test track. Plans for the facility show that the track will have high-speed sections, hills and off-road routes to put green cars through their paces.

The move from Dyson comes after the firm revealed last year that it would create its own EVs, with the first model anticipated to be ready for testing in 2020 and on the market by 2021. The company currently employs 400 staff at the Wiltshire facility, with this number set to rise to by thousands post-expansion.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: ASOS to use waste fabric to distribute reusable sanitary towels in Africa

After launching a sustainable fashion training programme for designers earlier this year, fashion retailer ASOS has this week announced that it will use its textile waste to make reusable sanitary towels for girls affected by period poverty in Kenya.

The towels, which will be created using textile offcuts from the company’s manufacturing plants, will be distributed to 900 Kenyan schoolgirls along with cotton briefs, soap and a waterproof wash bag. Called the Kujuwa Initiative, ASOS’s charitable arm, ASOS Foundation, will pay for hygiene, sanitation and confidence training for pupils at six schools.

The move comes after a recent United Nations (UN) report revealed that half of the school-aged girls in Kenya are without access to sanitary towels or tampons. Meanwhile, The World Bank has claimed that around 20% of fabric purchased by brands is wasted during the manufacturing process, contributing to the world’s textile waste mountain.

Sarah George


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