The Royal Mint’s circular laptops and street-wide energy efficiency schemes: The sustainability success stories of the week

This week's stories contribute to positive trends like renewable energy adoption, reducing transport emissions and closing the loop on e-waste

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: Axpo issues £437m sustainability bond

In this first section of our success stories series, we often shine a spotlight on new solar or wind farms, or innovative energy efficiency projects. This week, however, a green finance story has caught our eye.

Swiss renewables producer and energy trading firm Axpo Group has issued a sustainability-linked bond this week, priced at 500 million Swiss Francs (around £437m and divided into two tranches.  The bond is the business’s second, after it placed its inaugural sustainability-linked bond, in the amount of 500 Swiss Francs, on the Swiss market in January.

Proceeds from both of the bonds will be used to expand renewable energy generation and distribution capacities, storage, and related communications. Axpo is targeting the development of 10GW of solar in Europe by 2030, among other growth goals.

At the launch of the first bond in January, Axpo Group’s chief financial officer Joris Groflin said:  With this transaction on the Swiss capital market, we are increasing the diversification of our financial instruments as part of our active capital management and increasing our financial scope.”

RESOURCES: Royal Mint orders remanufactured laptops

The UK’s Royal Mint featured in a March edition of this feature for its partnership with recycling start-up Excir, to explore the use of gold recovered from e-waste.

Now, the organisation has signed a deal with Circular Computing to switch its laptops to remanufactured versions. The Royal Mint has been trialling remanufactured Lenovo ThinkPad T480 laptops and has now placed a larger order, receiving 70 laptops this summer, with more to be delivered later this year.

Remanufacturing laptops involves taking used items and ‘renewing’ them with existing parts where possible, and new parts where not. The aim is to leave the laptop in the same condition, or an improved condition, than when it was new, without extensive recycling. Circular Computing has verified its processes as carbon neutral and offers warrantees on all remanufactured computers.

Circular Computing’s head of sustainability and social leadership Steve Haskew said: “The deal with The Royal Mint continues to show the benefits of remanufacturing to organisations of all types, including those that are steeped in history.

“With a need for durable, reliable IT equipment alongside meeting the organisations sustainability goals, remanufactured laptops are the ideal solution for The Royal Mint. As we work to tackle the e-waste crisis, we’re excited to be partnering with a leader in the sustainable precious metals industry who share many of the same values and beliefs.”

MOBILITY: Switch Mobility launches pure electric double-decker bus

Transport accounts for around 10% of India’s emissions and is a major contributor – along with coal power plants, cooking fuel and factories – to air pollution. Around 90% of the national population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds the World Health Organisation’s recommended limits.

Our transport success story this week comes from automotive manufacturer Switch Mobility, which has unveiled a new all-electric double-decker bus. The company has already sold more than 100 pure-electric double deckers to the UK market, but the new model is designed specifically for the Indian market. Called the Switch EiV22, the bus can seat 65 people and has a range of up to 250km per charge.

Switch India has already secured an order of 200 electric double-decker buses in Mumbai. It is hoping to secure additional significant orders from other cities and regions this year.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Street-wide energy efficiency drive to be rolled out in Glasgow

With the UK’s energy price cap set to rise in October for a second time this year, discussions about urgent improvements to home energy efficiency are lively. An analysis published earlier this month revealed that the UK’s least energy-efficient homes could face bills almost £1,000 higher than those meeting the Government’s minimum targeted standard.

Some positive news in this space comes from Hubbub, which has partnered with OVO to roll out a street-wide energy efficiency programme in Glasgow, comprising retrofitting and behaviour change. Changes will be supported by grants where possible. Residents have until 11 September to apply for their street to lead the campaign. It is hoped that the approach can be replicated elsewhere to increase the number of people able to save costs and reduce their energy-related emissions.

Hubbub’s co-founder Gavin Ellis said: “We’re really keen to discover what is possible when a community comes together to tackle energy use in the home. This might include economies of scale by multiple houses on the same street carrying out the same work or be as simple as sharing ideas and information.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Beamery to halve emissions within six years

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report on the Paris Agreement’s pathways stated that humanity will have the best chance of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5C if global emissions are halved by 2030. Since then, an increasing number of businesses have set verified science-based targets for this decade, targeting at least this level of reduction.

This week has seen talent management software firm Beamery committing to halving its absolute emissions across all scopes by 2028, and bringing them to net-zero ‘as soon as possible’ as part of its first ‘Impact and Sustainability Manifesto’. The company will need to measure its entire emissions footprint for the first time and report on them within a year and has stated that it will seek external validation on more in-depth emissions targets and plans to meet them.

Elsewhere, the Manifesto confirms that Beamery has begun the B Corp certification process, which will likely lead it to intervene to improve ambitions and actions in other sustainability-related areas. The business has already pledged to improve its Fair HQ Inclusion Score, which measures staff wellbeing, and its Fair HQ Equality score, by representing more people of different ages, ethnicities and genders in leadership roles.

Fair HQ’s head of behavioural science Bibi Groot said: “This Manifesto is an inspiration for the tech world. Instead of vague promises, Beamery commits to evidence-based actions and timelines.”

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