The first UK-made hydrogen truck and the Philippines’ renewables auction: The sustainability success stories of the week

Read on to see our five picks for positivge sustainability stories this 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 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: Philippines auctions allocations for 2GW of renewable energy capacity

After launching its latest renewable energy capacity auction in January, the Philippines’ Department of Energy has selected 19 winning bids, for projects with a combined capacity of 2GW.

Almost 1.5GW of this capacity is for solar, with the remainder split between wind, hydro and biomass. The biggest winner was the Solar Philippines Nueve Ecija Corp, securing support for three solar farms in the Luzon region plus two other projects in Visayas and Mindanao respectively.

Currently, the government in the Philippines is targeting just 2.3GW of installed renewable capacity by 2030. Given the success of this auction, and with the pressure on to update emissions reduction plans ahead of COP27, a more ambitious target may well be set before the year is out. Energy Tracker estimates that the nation could host up to 96GW of capacity by 2030.

RESOURCES: UK’s first national contact lens recycling scheme extended

Back in January 2019, Johnson & Johnson teamed up with Boots Opticians and Terracycle to launch the first UK-wide recycling scheme for contact lenses and their packaging, in the absence of unified collections for these items in household waste collections.

However, partly due to the challenges posed by Covid-19, a survey conducted by Johnson & Johnson earlier this year found that most UK-based contact lens wearers (58%) weren’t aware of how to recycle lenses. As such, the firm has updated its programme and is now aiming to fund 3,500 boxes for collecting and shipping back lens waste. This is enough capacity to cover products used by 5.6 million people.

The boxes will be made available in all Boots Opticians branches and some independent opticians too. Lenses from all brands will be accepted. Johnson & Johnson is hoping to see an increase of up to 25%, year-on-year, in the volume of lenses recycled in the UK.

Terracycle’s method for recycling lenses, blister packs and files involves sorting, shredding and washing. The material is then densified into hard plastic granules, which can be used to produce solid plastic products such as outdoor furniture.

MOBILITY: UK businesses ‘planning to invest £13.6bn in EVs this year’

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) operated by UK businesses is set to increase by 35% within 12 months due to a planned uptick in investment, new research from Centrica Business Solutions revealed this week. This is promising, given that more than half of cars registered in the UK each year have a company keeper.

The survey polled representatives from 200 UK-based businesses of various sizes and sectors with responsibility for fleets. All firms represented reported a turnover exceeding £1m last financial year and operate at least one vehicle.

Almost half (44%) of the businesses said they had added more EVs to their fleet within the past 12 months and added charging points to their premises (48%). Even more are planning to make these changes this financial year, with Centrica Business Solutions estimating a total planned investment by UK Plc of £13.6bn.

“Businesses will continue to play a vital role in achieving the UK’s green transport ambitions, but with a record number of EVs expected to enter the UK car park this year, we must ensure the supply of vehicles and wider charging infrastructure is robust enough to meet the demand,” said Centrica Business Solutions’ managing director Greg McKenna.

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THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Net-Zero Developer Alliance launches for SMEs

Image: Gusto Homes

It is clear that decarbonising the UK’s building stock will be a challenge. Buildings account for around one-third of the UK’s energy consumption and emissions. The Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) net-zero progress report to Parliament this week named homes as a source of emissions that the Government is not yet adequately addressing.

It has, therefore, been good to see new net-zero initiatives launching for the sector in recent times, like the British Property Federation’s net-zero pledge and the UK Green Building Council’s Whole Life Carbon Roadmap.

This month, industry collaboration platform the Good Homes Alliance launched a net net-zero developer network for SMEs, who might not always have the in-house expertise to go beyond compliance on environmental and wellbeing standards for housing. Conversely, some SMEs may be going further and faster than big developers, but find challenges communicating this to key stakeholders and engaging with policymakers alone.

The Good Homes Alliance already hosts similar alliances for local councils and housing associations. Learnings from these initiatives will be used to support the SMEs.

Eight SMEs have signed up in the first instance: Bioregional, Fruition Properties, Greencore Construction, Gusto Homes, K Haus, PureHaus, Town and Verto.

“Our industry needs to accelerate the positive impact it can have on the transition to a low-carbon future and this will only be done through collaboration,” said Gusto Homes’ director Steff Wright.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Tevva unveils first hydrogen truck manufactured in Britain

As a rule of thumb, the heavier a vehicle is, the more challenging it is to make a pure-electric version. Emerging technologies including hydrogen will, therefore, need to scale if the UK is to meet its ambition of ending new petrol and diesel HGV sales by 2040.

Automaker Tevva this week launched the first hydrogen fuel cell HGV to be designed and manufactured in the UK. The 7.5-tonne vehicle was unveiled at the Road Transport Expo in Warwickshire, with Tevva boasting a range of up to 301 miles and refuelling times of just 10 minutes. Tevva believes the design can work for “the overwhelming majority of fleet operators across a range of industries and sectors”. It is hoping to sell the truck in the UK and export to other markets including the EU and North America.

Hydrogen produces no greenhouse gas emissions at the point of combustion, making it a potential solution to air pollution from transport and to reducing emissions across a vehicle’s life cycle. The level of lifecycle emissions reduction compared with fossil fuels will depend on how the hydrogen is produced; most global production is currently fossil-fuelled, but the UK is poised to launch a low-carbon standard for production as it targets 10GW of green and blue production capacity by 2030.

“We are excited to launch our hydrogen-electric HGV, creating a landmark moment for Tevva and UK manufacturing,” said the firm’s chief executive and co-founder Asher Benner. “We firmly believe that the post-fossil fuel future, which is quickly approaching, will see a new range of technologies and fuels take centre stage in the transport industry. By embracing hydrogen, we are futureproofing ourselves, our clients and the industries and communities they operate in.”

Earlier this year, Tevva opened a new R&D base and committed to delivering 3,000 hydrogen and electric vehicles annually from 2023.

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