Solar roofs for Irish schools as supermarkets slash packaging: 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 leadership.

Across the UK and 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: All schools in Ireland set to fit rooftop solar panels

Many organisations and homes are considering solar panels at the moment due to the energy price crisis. Research has shown this trend within the UK’s

Now, the Irish government has confirmed plans for a new grant scheme to support all schools for fit rooftop solar. Details are still being finalised, including the amount of funding available to each school and any requirements on how much energy each school should aim to generate.

The news came as the Irish Department of the Environment launched a new scheme offering other public organisations and community grants, as well as SMEs, up to €2,400 each for installing solar panels. This scheme will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Recipients of the funding will be able to claim support with arrays of up to 16 panels covering up to 25 square metres.

“With these grants, more businesses, organisations and community groups can start to take greater control of their energy costs by harnessing the power of the sun – providing for their own needs first, with the additional bonus of getting paid for excess energy that they might produce,” said Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan.

RESOURCES: Tesco cuts toothpaste packaging as Sainsbury’s ditches plastic coffee pods  

Image: Tesco

Tesco has this week stated its hopes of “banishing” unnecessary toothpaste packaging from its stores and the wider retail industry, starting with the cardboard boxes used to house many popular lines.

After removing these boxes from its own-brand toothpaste lines last summer – a move which will mitigate the use of 55 tonnes of cardboard each year – Tesco will offer box-free versions of branded toothpastes in more than two-dozen UK stores from this week. Brands involved in the trial include Colgate, Oral B, Sensodyne, Aquafresh and Corsadyl.

If customers are happy with the box-free option, Tesco will roll out the packaging format to other stores.

In related news, Sainsbury’s has switched all of its own-brand coffee pods from plastic to aluminium. This will improve recyclability and mitigate the use of 10 million tonnes of plastic each year. Additionally, the supermarket has cut the amount of cardboard used in coffee pod packaging by one-fifth.

MOBILITY: BMW Group set to ‘re-engineer’ waste from UK manufacturing plants

In this part of the roundup, we often cover the launch of a particularly innovative low-emission vehicle or a development in the field of public, active and electrified transportation infrastructure.

This week, however, we’re spotlighting BMW Group’s new contract with Axil Integrated Services, which should enable it to improve waste tracking and stop wastes from being downcycled where possible. BMW Group has already reached 99% diversion from landfill for waste from manufacturing.

The automotive giant will work with Axil at its Mini plant in Oxford; its Rolls-Royce hub at Goodwood; its head office in Farnborough and its facilities in Swindon, Birmingham and Doncaster.

Axil’s commercial director Jason Lang said : “Businesses today, particularly in the manufacturing sector, are facing unprecedented economic strain, but partnerships like this one are crucial to ensuring we maintain momentum on reaching ESG ambitions across the industry.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: BPF posts success with Net Zero Pledge initiative

Back in June, the British Property Federation (BPF) launched a net-zero pledge initiative for the sector, in the hopes of ensuring that ambitious climate plans become the norm for real estate firms.

It has now revealed that 24 organisations have signed up to the pledge. Collectively, they represent £75bn of real estate assets under management, including 80 million square feet of commercial space and more than 45,000 homes.

In signing the pledge, a company will need to commit to reaching net-zero by 2050 or sooner and support its long-term targets with “verifiable plans”. The BPF is requiring signatories to join the UN’s Race to Zero initiative or a similar alternative by June 2023. Companies signing the BFP’s net-zero pledge will also commit to collaborating across the sector.

“Early adopters of the pledge are ideally placed to help our wider membership kick-start or accelerate their net zero programmes and our knowledge hub will be a key resource to facilitate this,” said BPF chief executive Melanie Leech.

BPF president Guy Grainger added: “Three months after the launch of the Net Zero Pledge it is great to see initial sign-ups from a cross-section of the BPF’s membership. The climate crisis remains as urgent as ever, highlighted by a summer of record-breaking temperatures leading to economic loss, and we need to see action being taken from every part of the industry.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Earthshine Group launches in Ireland with local ownership structure

Earlier this month, Patagonia’s founder and former chief executive Yvon Chouinard made headlines by creating a new ownership structure for the business that will enable all profits to be either re-invested back into the company or allocated to environmental causes.

This re-ignited the long-running debate about how business ownership models can be harnessed to improve environmental and social sustainability. It is timely, then, that sustainability solutions provider Earthshine Group has launched a business in Ireland that is 50% locally owned.

The incorporation and launch of Earthshine Group Ireland was announced on Tuesday (27 September). The business will be based out of an office in Tara Street, Dublin, and is hiring staff with expertise in the net-zero transition, the circular economy, supply chain sustainability and related areas.

EarthShine Group’s chief executive Mike Townsend said: “We like to be where the action is, where we can help make a real impact. Ireland is a really progressive place – so we’re very excited to work with partners old and new, and to help drive innovation and support the sustainability transformation that is already underway in Ireland.”

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