PepsiCo's recycling drive and Lego's plant-based bricks: 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 a McDonald’s restaurant with built-in sustainability features like a “floating” garden, to a nationwide drive to boost recycling rates, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: Notting Hill Carnival venues powered by 100% renewable energy

Many Londoners will no doubt have attended Europe’s biggest street festival this weekend, but this year’s Notting Hill Carnival came with another reason to celebrate. For the first time, two of the event’s most popular venues, namely the Tabernacle and Yaa Centre, were powered with 100% renewable electricity.

The venues have been powered with 100% clean energy for the duration of August, as part of a partnership between Carnival organisers and green power firm Ecotricity. Elsewhere, the Carnival team has moved to make the event more sustainable by introducing free water bottle refills and launching a recycling campaign that encourages partygoers to recycle their food waste and used drinks cans. More than two million people attend the event each year. 

Notting Hill Carnival’s executive director Matthew Philip said the initiatives formed “small steps towards a much larger goal” of ensuring that all elements of the event are “as environmentally friendly as they can be”. 

RESOURCES: First plant-based line of Lego goes on sale

As the plastics debate continues to gather pace, companies such as Reebok, Coca-Cola and Ford have all moved to include bio-based plastics in their products and packaging in recent times in a bid to decrease their reliance on fossil fuel-based raw materials.

The latest plant-based plastic news comes from toymaker Lego, which this week began selling its first range of pieces made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane. The new-style Lego elements are made from bio-polyethylene – a soft, durable and flexible plastic that is made with ethanol extracted from sugar cane material.

Lego claims that the new pieces, which have been developed to look like plants, are just as durable as conventional plastic, but are able to be recycled more times. The caveat is that the material is unlikely to be 100% biodegradable.

“At Lego, we want to make a positive impact on the world around us, and are working hard to make great play products for children using sustainable materials,” said the Lego group’s vice-president of environmental responsibility Tim Brooks. “This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials.” 

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: McDonald’s opens sustainable restaurant with rooftop solar array and ‘floating’ garden

Fast food giant McDonald’s has taken a host of measures to become more sustainable in recent times, such as setting a science-based target to reduce emissions by a third and pledging to source 100% of its guest packaging from recycled, renewable or certified sources. But, turning to the built environment, the company recently opened an eatery with a plethora of built-in sustainability features  – including a rooftop solar array, a section of vegetated roof space and a “floating” garden of ferns and white birch trees.

Located in Chicago, the 19,000sq ft restaurant is also fitted with energy-efficient LED lighting and has energy-saving freezers, coolers and fryers in its kitchen. Meanwhile, native plants have been planted throughout the site to minimise irrigation and reduce stormwater runoff.

McDonald’s has applied for LEED certification for the building and is currently in the process of renovating its entire estate of 5,000 US restaurants to include sustainability features by 2020.

MOBILITY: Asian Games showcases zero-emission hydrogen-electric buses

As more and more businesses move to decarbonise their fleets, a string of companies has invested in hydrogen-electric vehicles in recent times, including brewer AB InBev, Transport For London and Marks & Spencer (M&S).

In a drive to showcase the benefits of the technology, multi-sports event the Asian Games is demonstrating a range of hydrogen-powered vehicles to visitors. During the fortnight-long series of tournaments, which began last Saturday (18 August), a range of the vehicles is being used to transport guests to and from venues, including a double-decker bus.

The move forms part of a 25-year partnership between industrial group Ecubes Arcola and the regional South Sumatran government in Indonesia, which aims to deliver a rolling programme of hydrogen power generation and mobility projects throughout the province.

For sustainable transport, the Asian Games is seen as a precursor to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which will use a fleet of more than 3,000 electric vehicles (EVs).  

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: PepsiCo launches US-wide initiative to boost recycling rates in schools

With plastics and packaging continuing to be some of the sustainability sphere’s most widely discussed issues, PepsiCo made headlines earlier this month after committing $10m to schemes aimed at boosting recycling rates in the US through its philanthropic arm, the PepsiCo Foundation.

In another move to drive resource efficiency beyond its own operations, the food and beverage giant has this week published a set of more than 250 resources aimed at teaching school staff how they can recycle more of their workplace’s waste. The set of materials, which PepsiCo has designed for use in American schools, includes how-to guides, lesson plans and posters.

The company is using the resources as part of its Recycle Rally behaviour change scheme, which uses gamification by offering prizes and rewards to participating schools which boost their recycling rates more than other educational facilities in their area. Staff at participating schools are also given access to a digital tool that allows them to track and maximise how much waste they divert from landfill.

Sarah George


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