Patagonia’s campaign for the oceans and Uber’s carbon calculator: The sustainability success stories of the week

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 – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.

Across the UK and across the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Ofgem finally given net-zero remit


Chris Skidmore MP’s Net-Zero Review, published in January, provided dozens of recommendations for policy interventions that could maximise the economic and social benefits of the UK’s net-zero transition.

The author himself repeatedly emphasised that a crucial recommendation was giving Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator, a binding net-zero mandate. The Government had resisted calls to do so and said it would not in its official response to the review.

But a U-turn came this week after mounting pressure from MPs, Lords and the energy industry. Senior Ofgem spokespeople also assured Ministers that they would welcome the mandate.

“Ofgem welcomes this mandate which brings us in line with the UK government’s legal obligations and, for the first time, directly links consumers’ interests to specific net-zero targets,” said the regulator’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley.

Read edie’s full story here.

RESOURCES: M&S launches beauty packaging recycling scheme


It is estimated that the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of plastic packaging each year. The majority is not recycled; in the UK, the recycling rate sits around the 5% mark. This is largely because many councils do not collect beauty packaging from homes.

In response to this challenge, Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched beauty and cosmetic packaging recycling at 40 of its UK stores. Shoppers will be able to return any form of plastic or aluminium packaging from any brand. Once the packaging is deposited, it will be recycled by specialist recycling service providers HANDLE.

M&S is hoping to collect more than two tonnes of packaging within the first 12 months. From there, it will assess options for a potential further rollout.

The retailer already offers clothing donation and recycling through its Oxfam partnership and has also been adding soft plastics recycling points to stores, for things like bread bags and carrier bags.

MOBILITY: Uber launches carbon calculator to promote electric rides


Building on global net-zero commitment for 2040, Uber has this week unveiled a range of initiatives intending to make electric journeys more attractive to both drivers and riders, at an event in London.

It will add a feature to its app enabling users to track the amount of CO2e they avoid by choosing electric vehicles (EVs), called Rider Emissions Savings. It is also adding a new set of perks for riders looking to take EVs from the airport, starting with two airports in the US and one in Spain. Riders will be able to benefit from lower fares and more convenient pickup zones if they choose EVs.

Additionally, Uber will launch its car-sharing initiatives in Australia, Boston and Toronto.

For drivers, Uber is enhancing its mapping algorithms to improve fuel effiency. It is also helping drivers to access real-time information on EV charger availability, pricing and charging times.

“While our personal values guide these decisions, convenience does too, which is why Uber is making it easier for millions to make greener choices, one ride and delivery at a time,” said the firm’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Telford Homes presses ahead with whole-life net-zero carbon plans


As well as minimizing emissions from building operations, through moves like improving energy efficiency, an increasing number of developers are also seeking to minimize emissions elsewhere in the lifecycle. This includes embodied carbon – CO2 emitted in the creation of building materials and in the construction phase.

One of these firms is Telford Homes. The London-based business set a 2030 net-zero commitment two years ago and, this week, has confirmed a 10% reduction in embodied carbon since 2019.

To help measure embodied carbon, the business asks all suppliers to complete environmental product declaration forms. These forms also provide advice on selecting and procuring low-carbon energy and materials.

“We are eager and willing to work with our counterparts in developers and housebuilders across the UK, and urge everyone to share best practices so we can have an honest conversation about developments’ whole life carbon impact,” said Telford Homes’ chief executive Anne Kavanagh.

The UK Government is notably consulting, at present, on the specifics of the Future Homes Standard. The Standard will apply from 2025 and will ensure that new buildings are lower-carbon in operation and in terms of embodied carbon.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Patagonia and partners campaign for ocean conservation


After successfully campaigning for better conservation safeguards at Albania’s Vjosa river, Patagonia has this week launched a new joint campaign on water protection. This time, it is taking aim at the need to protect Europe’s oceans from intensive fishing.

The outdoor brand has partnered with NGOs including ClientEarth and the Environmental Justice Campaign to call on European policymakers to end bottom trawling in marine protected areas. It describes the practice as akin to “bulldozing” ocean floors, contributing to the destruction of seabed ecosystems by indiscriminately catching all forms of marine life. The practice often sees sharks, rays or turtles caught up with fish.

As well as directly campaigning with policymakers around the EU’s Nature Restoration Law and Ocean Action Plan, the initiative will showcase regenerative alternatives for ocean-based businesses. It is launching a series of eight short documentaries showcasing solutions including low-impact fishing, seagrass restoration and seaweed farming.

Patagonia’s environmental action and initiatives director for the EMEA region, Beth Thoren, said: “Wherever we are, every second breath we take comes from the ocean. It is imperative that we protect this precious and fragile resource, so it can protect us.”

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