Renewables for a Royal bakery and a blueprint for business climate activism: 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: Bakery supplying Royal Family celebrates solar installation

MPs have this week pressed the UK Government for more support for homes and businesses looking to install solar panels, as the UK targets 70GW of solar capacity by 2035.

Some organisations are already paving the way. This week, we received news that Leicestershire-based bakery Fiona Cairns has installed 4,500 square feet of solar panels on the roof of one of its three production units. Financing for the project is being provided through Lloyds Bank’s Clean Growth Financing Initiative.

Fiona Cairns, which is perhaps best known for making the Prince and Princess of Wales’ wedding cake, expects the solar array to cover around 10% of its total annual energy usage. The long-term aim is to add more solar to other buildings owned and operated by the firm.

Fiona Cairns’ director Tara Patel said: “Retailers are increasingly scrutinising the emissions of their suppliers. As a partner to some of the UK’s most prominent retailers, it’s our responsibility to ensure we’re operating as sustainably as possible, helping them to achieve their net-zero ambitions, as well as our own.”

RESOURCES: eBay launches dedicated hub for used car parts

Second-hand parts and accessories for vehicles can be up to 70% cheaper than buying new, according to eBay – so it’s little surprise that this option is proving ever-more popular amid the cost-of-living crisis.

The online marketplace recorded a 10% year-on-year increase in sales in this category in 2022 and, as such, as launched a new ‘certified recycled portal’ for vehicle parts and accessories. This will make it easier for customers to source the items they need from approved sellers.

eBay’s own research has found that motorists see reducing waste and emissions as a benefit of buying new, as well as reducing costs. If all used parts sold on eBay in 2022 were purchased new, there would be an extra three million kilos of waste and extra 16,000 tonnes of CO2e generated.

“Certified Recycled parts can be a huge benefit to customers and businesses alike,” said eBay UK’s head of automotive Dr Tony Tony. “With parts delays, rising costs and more focus than ever on making the right choices to reduce our carbon footprint, these parts have the potential to help save money, time and the environment.”

MOBILITY: California outlines ban on polluting trucks and trains

The UK’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan proposed a ban on sales for internal combustion engines (ICEs) in vehicles weighing 3.5-26 tonnes by 2035 and those weighing more than 26 tonnes by 2040.

Now, California is setting out plans to follow suit. The state is set to ban the sale of new medium and heavy-duty trucks with ICEs by 2036, as part of a move to ensure that only zero-emission HGVs are on its roads by 2045. Bin lorries will have slightly longer, until 2039, to make the switch.

“While trucks represent only 6% of California vehicles, they represent a quarter of the state’s on-road greenhouse gas emissions and over a third of the state’s emissions of the harmful air pollutant nitrous oxide,” said the state in a press release.

California has also introduced new legislation to cut emissions from rail. By 2030, all new passenger trains need to be zero-emission. The deadline for freight trains in 2035. In the interim, locomotive operators will be subject to new rules to limit idling and increase efficiency.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: 27,500 Dutch homes bag BREEAM certification within a year

The single largest real estate project to be certified as sustainable was announced on Wednesday (3 May), with residential investor Vesteda confirming BREEAM certification for its entire portfolio of hones in the Netherlands.

Vesteda worked with certifying body the BRE and the Dutch Green Building Council to assess its portfolio of some 27,500 hones through the BREEAM-ML In-Use Framework. The framework covers energy efficiency, clean energy use, air quality and the responsible management of resources and waste.

Now that this portfolio methodology exists, the hope is to enable additional businesses to consider certification.

BRE’s chief executive Gillian Charlesworth called the news a major milestone” for the real estate industry. She said: “This is a hugely positive outcome for a leading property investor and we hope to see more companies follow suit.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Business Declares launches blueprint for businesses to empower their ‘activists in suits’

Last month, employees from around 350 businesses participated in ‘The Big One’ climate action protests in London through the Business Declares network. Firms represented included Toast Ale, Pukka Herbs, Finisterre and Ecotricity.

Following on from this event, which was the UK’s biggest climate protest since Covid-19, Business Declares has published a policy blueprint that companies can use to enable their employees to participate in non-violent direct action in support of climate-related causes.

Wholegrain Digital is the first company to have adopted the blueprint, which gives staff the right to up to three days of non-violent direct action time during working days each year, not to be deducted from their paid annual leave. The document also provides advice about how businesses could contribute to any legal fees incurred by staff at climate protests.

Business Declares’ director Ben Tolhurst summarized: “We developed this because of the growing desire from employees to participate in climate protests but at the same time having concerns about how such action will be viewed by their employers; equally we understand that employers are recognising that they need to clarify their stance of this topic.”

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