Fairtrade blow, PepsiCo’s water win, Limits to Growth revisited, Brexit and Africa, circular London, green gas for fleets, May’s boardroom coup
Cadbury quits Fairtrade and expands Cocoa Life scheme
CHOCOLATE giant Cadbury is pulling out of the Fairtrade scheme after seven years of membership, saying it will extend its own cocoa sustainability programme, Cocoa Life, to all its brands and put the Cocoa Life logo, the outline of a flower in a green circle, on all products from May next year.
Cadbury owner Mondelēz International said Fairtrade will be responsible for monitoring the progress of the Cocoa Life programme, and the Fairtrade logo will also remain on its confectionary packages, a move which has been criticised for potentially confusing consumers.
Launched in Ghana in 2008, Cocoa Life has been rolled out across more than 795 cocoa farming communities around the world. Mondelēz said independent verification in Ghana showed that farmers in the programme had seen incomes increase 49% and cocoa yields rise 37% compared to those outside the programme.
The $400m expansion of the Cocoa Life scheme will allow it to empower 200,000 farmers and reach 1 million people in Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Indonesia, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India and Brazil by 2022, the company said. The Fairtrade Foundation welcomed the move, saying it would bring five times as much chocolate into a sustainable sourcing scheme as under the Cadbury-Fairtrade programme.
But analysts suggested that Cadbury’s decision to go it alone could undermine the Fairtrade brand. “If every company has their own mark it will be extremely difficult for consumers to determine which mark represents the best, independently verified standard,” said Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation think-tank.
Walkers halves water and carbon use on potato farms
PEPSICO UK & Ireland has halved the amount of water and carbon used to grow potatoes for Walkers Crisps in water-stressed areas as part of its “50 in 5” commitments. Launched in 2010, the FMCG’s programme set - and achieved - its goal to reduce the carbon and water footprints of the company's potato supply by 50% in five years.
PepsiCo, one of the largest buyers of UK potatoes, collaborated with academics to develop innovative farming techniques that use energy and water more efficiently. One such technique, iCrop, was developed with Cambridge University and allows farmers to precisely measure soil moisture levels with probes and weather stations around fields. It provides the necessary information to judge exactly how much water to use on crops, reducing wastage, saving money, and producing more “crop per drop”. It also helps farmers adapt to precipitation and temperature changes.
The Cool Farm Tool, a digital carbon calculator created by University of Aberdeen that measures the C0² equivalent per tonne raw potato, has enabled farmers to easily understand their carbon emissions and to model different scenarios and strategies to limit their impact on the environment.
Limits to Growth author gives plan to save the planet
JØRGEN RANDERS, co-author of the seminal 1972 book Limits to Growth, this week launched an updated version in London, with a radical 13-point plan for policymakers to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
Reinventing Prosperity, by Randers and Graeme Maxton, secretary-general of the Club of Rome, generated front page headlines when it was published in Germany earlier this year with its suggestion that women who have only one child should be rewarded at age 50 with a £70,000 bonus.
Other policy solutions include financing a green stimulus package to ease the transition to a green economy by “printing money” (known as quantitative easing), restricting trade to protect jobs, and taxing fossil fuels at source, redistributing the proceeds equally among citizens.
Randers, professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, told the launch event in Westminster, hosted by ESRC Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, that economic growth would only lead to greater climate risk and was unnecessary. The priority for policy makers should be redistribution of wealth to help address the widening gap between rich and poor that has led to a populist backlash in the US and Europe.
The book was the product of “three years of hard, soul-searching activity based on my 45 years of trying to save the planet”, Randers said. He added that the proposals were limited to those the authors believed could conceivably be adopted by short-term oriented governments.
Ironically, he said, President-elect Trump might be just the man to take up some of the proposals, such as restricting trade and printing money to fund jobs in clean technology. “Trump may actually do this,” Randers said. “The Chinese government is doing this at full speed.”
Brexit ‘could allow UK to alter trade policy with Africa’
A COALITION of ethical fashion producers is calling on the UK government to maintain tariff-free access for African goods post-Brexit. At an event at the House of Lords this week organised by Proudly Made in Africa, a UK-Irish social enterprise, and Soul of Africa, a social enterprise started by former Clarks footwear boss Lance Clark, speakers urged the UK to ensure African countries are not left in uncertainty during Brexit negotiations.
They argued that Brexit offers an opportunity for the UK to re-negotiate its trade agreements, promoting sustainable growth in Africa. Out of Europe, the UK would be able to grant non-reciprocal access to its market to developing countries, similar to the US African Growth and Opportunities Act, which gives African product an advantage of 16%-32% in the US market.
A report out this week by Proudly Made in Africa, A Stitch in Time, states that remaining tariff-free gives Africa a 12% advantage over Chinese items. This, paired with low labour costs and locally grown resources, creates a significant business opportunity for the UK, which countries such as Germany are profiting from, importing seven times more garments and footwear from Africa than the UK.
Conall O’Caoimh, director of Value-Added in Africa, the charity behind the Proudly Made in Africa label, said: “The ‘next China’ does not exist. Let’s use opportunity positively to create new non-reciprocal agreements and assure the poorest countries that they won’t be worse off post-Brexit.”
Scheme to help London firms adopt circular business models
THE LONDON Waste and Recycling Board has unveiled Advance London, a three-year initiative to support SMEs around London adopt and scale up circular business models by offering free practical help and advice.
A new study around domestic recycling rates conducted by environmental waste clearance company EnviroWaste reveals that only four London boroughs out of the 32 are above the national domestic recycling average of 44.9%. None of London’s boroughs came within 10% of the top performing area in the UK for recycling, which is South Oxfordshire with a rate of 67.3%.
“It’s very surprising to discover that the majority of London is falling below the UK national average, especially with wealthy boroughs like Westminster, where the household recycling rate is just 19.10%,” says EnviroWaste owner James Rubin. “The European recycling target rate is 50% by 2020 for the UK.”
First green-gas-from-waste plant to power homes, fleets
SWINDON is set to become home to the world’s first commercially operating bio-substitute natural gas (BioSNG) plant. The facility will produce 22GWh of gas each year from 10,000 tonnes of household waste, though the developer believes the technology could potentially provide 100TWh each year; enough to fuel all of Britain’s heavy good vehicles or meet one third of its domestic heating demand.
The plant will initially provide fuel for a fleet of 40 trucks operated by a local logistics firm, and by the first half of 2018 hopes to supply gas to nearby homes and businesses. The project has been developed by Advanced Plasma Power, Progressive Energy and National Grid Gas Distribution, the last of which has agreed to provide £6.3m.
National Grid Gas Distribution chief executive, Chris Train, said: “Developing green technologies such as BioSNG means our customers can keep using our network and their existing household appliances for affordable energy, which will also be more sustainable and eco-friendly.” Train added that the project would reduce the amount of household waste sent to landfill.
May unveils plan to curb executive pay
UK PRIME Minister Theresa May has unveiled her green paper on corporate governance reform, including plans to make firms publish “pay ratios” revealing the gap between executives and average workers.
Chief executives of FTSE 100 firms now have a median pay package of £4.3m, 140 times that of the average worker, according to the High Pay Centre. This compares to a 47-fold gap between CEOs and workers in 1998.
Among other measures to increase the role of wider stakeholders on boards, the green paper includes plans to give workers more of “voice” by increasing the proportion of pension trustees who are nominated by workers and giving them more power to halt takeovers. Private firms will also be expected to report on diversity, greenhouse gas emissions and social and community issues.
Philippa Foster Back of the Institute of Business Ethics, said: “The Government has opened up a useful debate on the social impact of companies and on executive pay. We welcome the emphasis on Section 172 of the Companies Act [which takes an enlightened shareholder value approach] which has not hitherto received the attention it deserves. The proposals on remuneration still do not in themselves address the problem of fairness. This requires simpler structures with greater transparency and a longer term focus. Shareholders should use any new voting powers to promote a total rethink of best practice.”
See PM is right to want consumers’ voice heard on boards by Peter Vicary-Smith of Which?