VW’s electric microbuses and Ikea’s furniture servitisation drive: 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, this series charts how businesses, governments and public sector stakeholders are working to achieve their 'Mission Possible' across the campaign’s five key pillars - energy, resources, mobility, built environment 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 the creation of London’s largest man-made wetland habitat to Volkswagen’s newly-revealed electric microbuses, each of these projects and initiatives are empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: UK’s renewable generation capacity passes 42GW mark

Just weeks after the opening of the world's largest wind farm off the Cumbrian coast pushed the UK’s wind generation capacity past 20GW for the first time, the latest Government figures have this week revealed that the nation’s overall renewable generation capacity has hit the 42GW mark.

Published on Thursday (11 October), BEIS’s quarterly energy figures reveal that Britain’s renewable generation capacity now stands at 42.2GW, as of June.

The Department estimates that a record 31.7% of the UK’s electricity was generated using renewable arrays between April and June, an increase of 1.1% on the same three-month period in 2017.

Offshore wind drove more than half of the increase in capacity, and, as a result, generation from offshore wind rose almost a fifth (19%), or 0.8TWh on 2017 figures. Meanwhile, biomass generation increased by 9%, or 0.6TWh, year-on-year.

RESOURCES: Ikea trials furniture servitisation at Dublin store

While a goal of doubling sales by 2020 may not seem sustainable on the surface, Ikea is steadily becoming well-known as a circular economy leader after basing its new ‘democratic design’ principles, which apply to all of its products, on circular values.

Following the success of various furniture and textiles take-back schemes in the UK, Ikea this week used its Dublin store as a furniture servitisation hub in a bid to encourage consumers to re-think how they assign value to their items.

During a day of events held to mark Reuse Week on Friday (12 October), Ikea showcased upcycled and repaired goods at its Ballymun store, allowing customers to visit a pop-up booth for advice on how to make their furniture last longer and reduce their waste footprint. The booth also featured live upcycling demonstrations by social enterprise Recreate and environmentalist Aoife Munn, with more similar events set to be held throughout October.

“Throughout Reuse Month, we want to inspire our customers to reuse in their daily lives," Ikea UK's sustainability leader Ali Sheridan said. "We have created a Reuse Roomset to showcase some of our products which have been given a second life as well as some refurbished, reusable and upcycled products from our charity partners." 

MOBILITY: Volkswagen unveils two fully-electric versions of its iconic microbus

With big-name carmakers including MazdaNissan and Volvo and all moving to electrify their car portfolios in recent times, the transition away from petrol and diesel seems to be hitting the van and heavy goods vehicle (HGV) markets at a much slower pace.

In spite of this trend, Volkswagen (VW) this week unveiled plans for the second all-electric version of its iconic microbus minivan in the form of the ID Buzz Cargo. The electric vehicle (EV), which is due to come onto the market in 2021, will have a battery range of up to 340 miles per charge and a rooftop solar panel, according to VW.

The announcement follows VW’s confirmation that it was developing the ID Buzz Concept – its first fully-electric minibus- at the Detroit Auto Show in 2017.

“The original Volkswagen Transporter is the most recognizable light commercial vehicle (LCV) of all time,” VW said in a statement. “With the world premiere of the new ID Buzz Cargo, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is showing how an electrically-powered and completely redeveloped Transporter might change the world of LCVs.”

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Land & Water to build London’s largest man-made wetland habitat

While this segment usually focuses on sustainable buildings – from Starbucks’ LEED-certified drive-thru with a ‘living’ roof, to Carlsberg’s waterfall-powered pub – this week’s success story comes from engineering firm Land & Water, which has obtained planning permission to create the largest man-made wetland habitat within the M25.

The company this week unveiled plans to create a new wetland habitat from re-engineered construction materials in Rainham, East London, between Veolia's landfill site and RSPB’s nature reserve. The creation of the habitat, which will span five square kilometres, will see the former dredging disposal lagoons alongside the A13 at Rainham Marshes re-activated in a bid to boost biodiversity. Land & Water has not yet confirmed when the project will be complete.

“In listening to the needs and desires of the stakeholders, we designed and developed a much bolder plan to turn our lagoons into the largest habitat creation project ever constructed inside the M25,” Land & Water’s chief executive James Maclean said.

“We plan to deliver the project using dredged spoils arising from relevant construction projects to create varied habitats and engineer a considerable rainwater harvesting plan to feed sustainable wetlands to support rare bird species in perpetuity.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Danone North America joins B-corp movement

Danone North America has shown sustainability leadership by becoming one of the latest big-name companies to join the B Corp movement, which now has more than 170 members in the UK -  including Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s and beverage firm Innocent - and 2,600 members worldwide. 

Since its launch in 2006 by non-profit B-Lab, the global movement has required businesses to meet the highest standards of verified CSR performance and to undergo re-certification after two years to ensure that they are still leaders in terms of business ethics, sustainable sourcing and transparency.

As one of the few large multinational corporates to achieve B Corp certification, Danone North America has proven that that certification is attainable for all businesses regardless of their size or the sector they operate in.

“This designation demonstrates to employees, consumers, partners, retailers, society and governments that we are committed to continuous improvement as we work to bring the company’s One Planet. One Health vision to life through our business and brands,” Danone North America’s chief executive Mariano Lozano said.

Sarah George


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