Plastics action, energy storage and climate warnings: The top sustainability stories of 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, the edie team reflects on the key stories which defined corporate sustainability and drove new levels of action in 2018.
It’s undeniably been nothing short of a hectic year for the UK’s sustainability and energy professionals, with plastics action gathering pace at an unprecedented rate, Ministers moving for the first time to scrutinise the fashion industry’s environmental impact and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that we have just 12 years left to limit catastrophic climate change.
But it’s also been a time of great progress, with the business community moving to harness the benefits of low-carbon energy innovations like battery storage and hydrogen, embedding purpose within their operations and seeing waste as a resource.
This year has been a busy one for edie, too. The beginning of the year marked the launch of our Mission Possible campaign, which has since spurred dozens of big-name businesses to make new sustainability commitments. Since then, we’ve launched our first networking club for energy professionals, the Energy Leaders Club, and unveiled plans for a similar platform for the nation’s rising sustainability stars – the 30 Under 30 campaign.
With all this in mind, edie has highlighted some of the standout news stories readers were particularly keen to read and shout about throughout the year. Take a look through 2018’s most-read news stories and click the links in the descriptions below to read them for yourself.
You’d be forgiven for thinking edie’s most-read news story would be one focusing on plastics, but readers were particularly keen to find out how budget supermarket Lidl UK was working to reduce its food waste output. In August, the company unveiled a range of discounted boxes containing produce considered ‘past its best’ – a move which received positive attention from the media and the general public.
At the beginning of the year, BT’s former chief sustainability officer Niall Dunne was appointed as chief executive of Polymateria – a disruptive plastics firm aiming to develop and scale innovative solutions to the global plastic pollution problem. This exclusive interview summarises Dunne’s vision for the company and his take on the public’s plastics awareness moment.
Another stand-out plastics story of the year comes from WRAP, which this April unveiled the UK Plastics Pact for the first time. The Pact, which requires signatory companies to eliminate single-use packaging through redesign by 2025, has been signed by 69 businesses to date.
edie readers were particularly keen to find out how to build the business case for switching to renewable power this year, either through the sourcing of power purchase agreements (PPAs) or using onsite arrays. This article covers the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) predictions on the future of corporate energy sourcing and the role renewables will have to play in decarbonising the private sector.
The topic of energy storage always generates a lot of debate, so it comes as no surprise that one of 2018’s most-read news stories covered the unveiling of a 50MW installation in Bishop’s Stortford, in Hertfordshire. The facility was completed in July.
Although it may seem like a long time ago now, the FIFA 2018 World Cup was the hot topic of what was a swelteringly hot summer. In this article, edie explores whether the actions taken by FIFA in managing the sporting event of the year lined up with the global low-carbon transition.
The launch of the IPCC’s landmark report on climate change will no doubt still be fresh in the minds of edie readers, with the study laying bare the shocking consequences of a 2C global temperature increase, compared to a 1.5C trajectory. A day after the report launched, a WWF official confirmed that the Science Based Targets Initiative would develop new resources to help corporates set verified 1.5C targets in light of its findings.
There was optimism and ambition to be seen in November, with edie partnering with the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to launch the UK’s first Green GB Week. During the week, 67 businesses made fresh sustainability commitments via edie’s online Pledge Wall, with a further seven having posted commitments since the event.
This year, edie readers were particularly keen to find out how and why container shipping giant Maersk had pledged to become a carbon-neutral business by 2050 – the first commitment of its kind from the global maritime shipping sector. The commitment comes at a time when the international shipping industry is currently responsible for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions
As edie celebrated its 20-year anniversary as a business media brand in August, this two-part feature was published. We asked 20 sustainability professionals and political activists to discuss what will define the next two decades of corporate sustainability and business leadership. What better to end a look back at 2018, than with a look to the future?