Bacardi’s recycled warehousing, McDonald’s gets greener, clean water from Coke and India’s solar boom
Bacardi recycles waste into warehouses
Drinks maker Bacardi has constructed three new warehouses at a rum distillery in Puerto Rico using concrete rubble. The waste was gathered following the demolition of six older structures. In what Bacardi describes as a cost- and environment-saving move, the spirits giant recycled more than 2,300 tonnes of rubble destined for landfill.
“We took all the rubble from the demolition and reused it as backfill material for our new warehouses,” says Julio Torruella, project director for Bacardi in Puerto Rico. “This was a zero-waste project designed to reuse steel and concrete, rather than sending material to landfill.” The move, equivalent to 150 truckloads of concrete, eliminated the need for the company to buy new material for construction.
As part of its sustainability programme, Bacardi aims to eliminate landfill waste at all its production sites by 2022.
A sustainable Big Mac?
When you think of sustainable dining, you may not picture fast food restaurants. But McDonald’s is aiming to change that. With a big focus on the company’s environmental and social impacts, the fast food chain recently announced a new global sustainability framework.
The framework, launched in conjunction with the company’s 2012-13 sustainability report, offers a global perspective on McDonald’s system-wide 2020 aspirational corporate responsibility and sustainability goals.
These include increasing in-restaurant recycling to 50%, minimising waste to landfill, supporting sustainable beef production, sourcing 100% of its coffee, palm oil and fish from sustainable sources, and increasing energy efficiency in company-owned restaurants by 20%.
“McDonald’s is ahead of many of its competitors and we applaud it for making important commitments, especially around sourcing palm oil, Fairtrade coffee and beef from sustainable verified sources,” says Lisa Archer, director of the food technology programme at Friends of the Earth. “However, when it comes to sustainability, the devil is always in the detail and they must back up their good aspirations with demand for dramatic, transparent changes in production practices.”
According to the sustainability report, in 2013 McDonald’s saved more than $33m through the installation of high-efficiency equipment. The fast food chain also sourced 100% of its white fish from sustainable fisheries, offered fruits, vegetables or low-fat dairy in children’s happy meals, and 87% of restaurant managers felt the person they reported to supported their professional development.
Common threads to sustainability profits
Research by US sustainability consulting firm Pure Strategies has found that companies that successfully capitalise on product sustainability have certain business practices in common.
The consulting firm, which helps clients attain financial and strategic benefits from improving the sustainability of their organisations, products and supply chains, says the research highlights existing practices at different companies that have all achieved financial and organisational benefits from their product sustainability programmes. Benefits include reduced costs generally stemming from smaller energy and water use, waste reduction, improved employee engagement and productivity, and increased trust and brand enhancement.
Tim Greiner, Pure Strategies managing director, says the research finds three critical elements common to successful product sustainability programmes: “Setting product sustainability goals linked to business goals, using sustainability assessment and tools to make product decisions, and incorporating sustainability into the product development process.”
High-performing companies have a strong sustainability focus. “While it takes substantial organisational commitment to integrate sustainability into the core business effectively, there is a clear payback,” Greiner says.
Businesses are increasingly adopting strategic sustainability goals. More than 70% of consumer product companies engaging in product sustainability realise business value from their efforts.
Mars to build giant wind farm
Confectionery maker Mars is set to source electricity from renewable sources to meet its entire US operations needs, starting next year. In its quest to become carbon neutral, the chocolate maker, in a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation, announced an agreement on a new 200MW wind farm that will generate 100% of its electricity needs in the US. The 118-turbine wind farm in Texas was jointly developed by Sumitomo and BNB Renewable Energy.
“By making this extraordinary commitment to buy renewable energy, Mars is sending a clear message that companies, private and public, have the power to lead the world on climate change. It’s good for the bottom line and it’s good for the environment,” says Jonathan Butcher, a founder of BNB.
The wind farm is one of the ways Mars is working towards its pledge to make its operations “Sustainable in a Generation” by becoming carbon neutral by 2040. In the shorter term, Mars has committed to reducing fossil fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2015, using 2007 as its baseline year. The Texas wind farm will enable Mars to meet its 2015 target.
Mars’s endeavour represents the biggest long-term commitment to renewable energy use by any food manufacturing business in the United States. Mars is also the latest US company to announce ambitious initiatives to tackle climate change, with Apple and Google both taking on new low carbon commitments in recent months.
Safe drinking water from Coke
Coca-Cola and water purification technology provider WaterHealth International (WHI) are working to bring safe drinking water to a million children in developing countries. Through the Child With Water programme, the drinks giant plans to deliver 500m litres of safe drinking water to children across 2,000 schools in developing countries, by the end of 2015. Safe drinking water will be delivered through water purification systems that will be installed, operated and maintained by WHI.
“Safe water is critical for all. It’s vital to the health of people and communities, it’s essential to economic prosperity, and it’s the lifeblood of our business,” says Bea Perez, chief sustainability officer at Coca-Cola. “Through the Child With Water programme, we can help keep children hydrated, active and healthy so they can thrive in school and in their communities. We believe this programme has the potential to help transform communities through safe water consumption, safe water handling and safe hygiene practices.”
Water is the most abundant resource on the planet, yet around 1.1 billion people globally do not have access to a safe water supply, according to the World Health Organisation.
David Winder, chief executive of international non-profit organisation WaterAid, says the lack of access to safe water is a huge problem that costs hundreds of thousands of lives each year, and one that will not be solved without the committed support of private sector companies. “Projects such as the Coca-Cola initiative demonstrate how companies can have long-lasting impact when it comes to helping poor communities gain access to safe drinking water,” Winder says.
GE enters Indian solar market
America’s biggest industrial company, GE, has invested $24m in India’s largest solar power plant. The move represents GE’s entry into the Indian solar power market, as it goes into partnership with Welspun Renewable Energy, one of India’s leading clean energy generating companies.
The 151MW plant is set to become the largest solar power plant in India, and one of the world’s largest, powering more than 620,000 homes and cutting more than 200,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
The solar power project was put into operation in 2013, and power already generated is currently being sold to state utility companies, helping the country meet its renewable energy targets of 20% energy generation from renewable sources by 2020.
Just a few years ago, India’s solar power market was virtually non-existent. Today the south Asian country is on the verge of becoming one of the world’s largest solar markets, attracting big investment into the sector.
“With its geography, strong economic growth and commitment from the highest levels of government, India has gained incredible potential for the development of solar power,” says Raghuveer Kurada, business leader for India and south-east Asia at GE Energy Financial Services. “Our investment in [the] Welspun Renewables solar project helps to realise that potential.”
GE Energy Financial Services is one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy projects and has already invested more than $10bn into the sector. The company shows no sign of abating its clean energy ambitions. It plans to pour more than $1bn a year into renewable energy projects.Bacardi business practices coca-cola Mars McDonald's renewable energy wind energy