Green News

Investor survey signals growing frustration over corporate 'greenwash'

Investor survey signals growing frustration over corporate 'greenwash'

Schroders survey of 650 institutional investors managing $25.9tr worldwide signals surging interest in active company engagement on green issues

Active engagement with companies is now widely regarded by investors as a crucial mechanism for driving climate and environmental action, according to a major survey of 650 institutional investors, but asset owners' efforts to accelerate the adoption of credible decarbonisation strategies is being hampered by 'greenwashing' from corporate boardrooms that offer scant details on their sustainability plans.

That is the key headline from a major annual survey undertaken by asset management giant Schroders, which assesses the views of institutional investors managing $25.9tr across 26 different countries. The report found that for the second year running environmental issues were the most important engagement issue for shareholders, but at the same time frustration is building at the failure of some firms to come forward with sufficiently ambitious and quantifiable climate strategies.

Rather than divesting from companies which fail to take requisite action to tackle environmental impacts, the survey results pointed to a strong preference amongst asset managers for engagement policies that require transparent reporting and tangible outcomes from corporates backed by investors consistently deploying shareholder resolutions to vote in favour of more ambitious green strategies.

Almost 60 per cent said active company engagement was key to driving sustainability, a significant leap from the 38 per cent who highlighted the importance of engagement in Schroders' institutional investor survey last year.

Meanwhile, just 12 per cent of investors said they did not hold any environmentally sustainable investments, down from 19 per cent a year ago. And in further evidence of the growing appetite for so-called environmental, social, and governance (ESG) assets, over two thirds of respondents said they expect sustainable investing to grow in importance over the next five years.

Reasons cited for the growth in sustainable investing were a desire to align investments with corporate values, responding to regulatory and industry pressure, and a belief that such investments can drive higher returns and lower risk, according to Schroders.

However, as sustainable investing has become an increasingly mainstream investment consideration, the study found 'greenwashing' has emerged as a significant challenge for investors. Some 60 per cent of investors felt greenwashing - "a lack of clear, agreed sustainable investment definitions" - was the most significant obstacle to delivering on their sustainable investment goals.

In addition, almost half of investors - 48 per cent - said a lack of transparency and reported data was restricting their ability to invest sustainably, up from 40 per cent a year ago.

Indeed, 55 per cent of respondents - up from 49 per cent a year ago - said data and evidence that proves investing sustainably delivers better returns would encourage them to increase their green investment allocations.

Elly Irving, head of engagement at Schroders - which manages around £500bn of assets - said the survey results showed investors were demanding more from their asset managers when it came to sustainable investment, and that those demands were becoming increasingly sophisticated.  

"Active ownership has become more important than ever," she added. "Investors have a duty to hold companies accountable and an opportunity to drive positive change."

 

The Net Zero Investment Hub is brought to you in partnership with Schroders, as part of its support for the world's first Net Zero Festival this autumn. All the content on the Hub is fully editorially independent unless otherwise stated.

Climate Change Committee: UK body tweaks name as it ramps up global focus

Climate Change Committee: UK body tweaks name as it ramps up global focus

UK's independent climate policy advisory body is poised to expand its international outreach efforts ahead of next year's crucial COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow

The UK's independent climate policy advisory body has this week launched a host of new briefing papers setting out the lessons it has learned over the past 12 years in a bid to help catalyse international action ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit.

The latest tranche of work came as the agency officially tweaked its name to the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and unveiled an overhaul and redesign of its logo and website. Formerly known as the Committee on Climate Change, the body said it had simplified its name to align with how it is frequently referred to internationally.

And ahead of next year's critical UN climate change summit, which the UK is set to co-host in Glasgow in 12 months' time, the CCC yesterday published eight insight reports detailing its inception as part of the Climate Change Act 2008, its regular advice on carbon budgets, and also how its influential 2018 report led to the UK's net zero target being adopted by the government.

Although focused on tracking and guiding the UK's climate efforts, the international dimension of climate action is set to be a key facet of the CCC's work over the next year as part of its role in advising the UK government on its preparations for COP26, with the body having been given additional funding to expand its work programme.

CCC committee member Professor Corinne Le Quéré said the new briefings were designed for an international audience and came at an opportune time, with growing numbers of governments - including China, Japan, and South Korea - announcing ambitious net zero targets in recent weeks.

"These are welcome pledges, and they have the potential to become turning points in the race to avoid catastrophic global warming," she wrote in a blog post published yesterday. "But they are still just that: pledges. To be realised they must be backed up by concerted, tangible action over the coming decades, which requires effective climate policies backed by robust governance."

Since the CCC was established in 2008, a growing number of nations have sought to establish independent advisory bodies on climate policy, with France's High Council on Climate - which Le Quéré chairs - having been established in 2018, and New Zealand, Sweden, France, Germany, Mexico, and Denmark among those countries to introduce new advisory and oversight agencies.

Le Quéré said a growing body of international data and experience to aid the development of effective climate policy worldwide was "badly needed" if the world is to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. "Our hope is that [the eight briefings] will provide a useful resource for colleagues around the world who are considering how to deliver objective, evidence-based climate policy," she wrote.

The new reports come ahead of a particularly busy autumn for the CCC, as it gears up to publish its next major advisory report in December on how the UK government should go about meeting its statutory climate targets for 2033-37, also known as the Sixth Carbon Budget.

Updated greenhouse gas emissions projections released today by the government show the UK is currently on course to miss its fourth and fifth carbon budgets for the late 2020s and early 2030s based on current policy, despite trends pointing to a further 24 per cent drop in UK emissions from current levels by 2040 to 344 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 

The CCC's upcoming report will provide a detailed assessment of the progress required to meet current medium-term targets and put the UK on track to meet its goal of delivering net zero emissions by 2050. It is set to include new policy advice, insights on how to decarbonise specific sectors of the UK economy, consumer behaviour change, new investment figures, and cost-benefit analysis, as well as specific net zero pathways for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the CCC said.

Moreover, the agency will soon offer recommendations to the UK government on the level of ambition that should be included in the UK's climate plan as part of the Paris Agreement, also known as its Nationally-Determined Contribution (NDC) in UN jargon.

Two further reports will accompany the Sixth Carbon Budget advice, it added: one on the role of local authorities in driving climate action, and the other on the role businesses can play, including guidance on the standards and strategies corporates can adopt in support of the net zero transition.

Then in 2021, in addition to greater international engagement, climate risk and adaptation is expected to be a core area of focus, with the CCC's third climate risk assessment due before summer next year, as well as a "renewed scrutiny of government's progress" according to its CEO Chris Stark.

BloombergNEF: Energy emissions have peaked, but world remains on track for 3.3C temperature rise

BloombergNEF: Energy emissions have peaked, but world remains on track for 3.3C temperature rise

Achieving 'well under' 2C degree by mid-century is possible, analysts claim, but it will require up to $130tr of investment in clean energy and green hydrogen

Despite the huge impact of the coronavirus pandemic on energy sector emissions, the world remains on track for a likely disastrous 3.3C temperature increase by 2100, according to the latest analysis from BloombergNEF.

The latest edition of the influential analyst firm's New Energy Outlook forecast this week predicts energy emissions have peaked and will "never again reach 2019 levels", while the slump in energy demand that has resulted from the Covid-19 crisis has wiped out 2.5 years' worth of emissions.

The report also predicts that a "huge" build-out of wind and solar power, a major increase in the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), and improved energy efficiency across industry will spur a significant and sustained decline in energy emissions over the next three decades.

Oil demand is set to peak in 2035 and eventually return to levels seen in 2018 in 2050, the update predicts, while coal fired generation will collapse to 12 per cent of global electricity generation by mid-century, peaking in China in 2027 and India just three years later.

Gas is the only fossil fuel expected to experience demand growth through to 2050, with the analysts forecasting the fuel will be increasingly tapped by sectors where low carbon technologies and green fuel alternatives are lagging, such as buildings and heavy industry.

"Our projections for the power system have become even more bullish for renewables than in previous years, based purely on cost dynamics," said John Moore, chief executive of BloombergNEF. "What this year's study highlights is the tremendous opportunity for low-carbon power to help decarbonise transport, buildings and industry - both through direct electrification and via green hydrogen."

The report, which for the first time includes detailed sections on industry, buildings, and transport, forecasts that electric vehicles (EVs) will reach upfront price parity with internal combustion vehicles in the early 2020s, a watershed moment that will galvanise the automotive sector's divorce from oil. Once this process is underway, aviation, shipping, buildings, and industry will remain the last bastions of the oil and gas sector, the report notes.

Moore emphasised that the coming decade would be "crucial" for the next zero transition. "There are three key things that we will need to see: accelerated deployment of wind and PV; faster consumer uptake in electric vehicles, small-scale renewables, and low-carbon heating technology, such as heat pumps; and scaled-up development and deployment of zero-carbon fuels," he advised.

Overall, the report estimates that wind and solar will account for 56 per cent of global electricity generation by mid-century and will receive, alongside energy storage, 80 per cent of $15.1tr of power sector investment expected over the next 30 years.

However, despite a rosy outlook for renewables, the report warns far more investment is required to reduce energy sector emissions in line with global climate goals, with emissions still currently on course to spur a dangerous 3.3C rise by 2100. The analyst firm predicts that between $78tr and $130tr of investments in clean energy and green hydrogen production is required to steer the world towards the 2C goal established in the Paris Agreement.

A Climate Scenario included in the New Energy Outlook report for the first time estimates that 100,000TWh of clean electricity will be needed by 2050, a figure five times the current amount of electricity that will require a power system that is up to eight times larger in terms of total capacity.

Under this scenario, more than a third of electricity capacity would support the manufacture of green hydrogen, the zero emission fuel that could be used to replace gas in hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy transport and industry, BloombergNEF said.

"To stay well below two degrees of global temperature rise, we would need to reduce emissions by six per cent every year starting now, and to limit the warming to 1.5C, emissions would have to fall by 10 per cent per year," senior analyst Matthias Kimmel warned.

BloombergNEF's report comes just week after the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its energy outlook, which predicted that peak oil would happen "within the next decade" and coal would make up less than 20 per cent of the global energy mix by 2040 as renewables ramped up and solar emerged as the dominant source of power generation.

Jenny Chase, BloombergNEF solar analyst, pointed out that a key difference between the two reports was the emphasis placed on different clean energy technologies, noting that her organisation expected wind to play a bigger role than solar in the energy transition.

Global Briefing: Philippines announces coal power plant moratorium, as Asia accelerates net zero push

Global Briefing: Philippines announces coal power plant moratorium, as Asia accelerates net zero push

Philippines unveils moratorium on new coal-fired power plants

The Filipino government rounded out a busy few weeks for the Asian clean energy transition this week, announcing a moratorium on new coal power plants in support efforts to accelerate renewables development.

Speaking at Singapore International Energy Week, Filipino energy secretary Alfonso Cusi confirmed the country would declare a moratorium on new greenfield coal-fired power plants. "As the Philippine Department of Energy re-evaluates the appropriateness of our current energy mix vis-a-vis our energy goals, I am optimistic that this would lead to more opportunities for renewable energy to figure prominently in our country's energy future," he added. "We are also pushing for the transition from fossil fuel-based technology utilisation to cleaner energy sources to ensure more sustainable growth for the country."

Analysts suggested the move would result in 8GW of pre-permit coal projects being blocked, significantly curtailing a pipeline of new coal capacity that currently stands at 12GW. The move is also expected to send a clear signal to investors and developers that the government would welcome more clean energy capacity.

The announcement is the latest in a string of new decarbonisation measures across Asia confirmed since China announced in September that it was aiming to deliver net zero emissions by 2060. In recent weeks both the Japanese and South Korean governments have announced new net zero targets, while Vietnam and Bangladesh are reportedly considering emulating the Philippines in calling time on new coal projects.

 

Analysts warn Asian net zero pledges could dent Australian fossil fuel exports

In related news, Australia's government was this week urged to prepare for the knock on impacts that could result for the country's coal export industry as a result of the new net zero announcements being confirmed across Asia.

This week both Japan and South Korea formally confirmed new targets to become net zero emission economies by 2050 and experts in Australia were quick to warn the new strategies could have significant implications for the Morrison government.

Japan is the biggest single market for Australia's thermal coal and gas exports, buying more than 40 per cent of each. China remains another major market, but it too has pledged to deliver net zero emissions by 2060 and is poised to reconfigure its energy strategy accordingly.

Speaking to the Guardian, Howard Bamsey, Australia's former special envoy on climate change, said Japan's pledge illustrated how major export markets for Australian fossil fuels were beefing up their decarbonisation plans. "It's another signal to Australia that we need to get our act together and have a real strategy, not another of these roadmaps that don't offer direction," he said. "What matters here is the economic pressure. The world is changing and we need to be part of that change."

His comments were echoed by Erwin Jackson, director of policy at the Investor Group on Climate Change, who told the paper Australia was not prepared for a clean energy transition that was gathering pace around the world. He added that major investors were already "running an aggressive carbon-risk ruler" over Australian investment decisions which would be further impacted by net zero announcements from key export markets.

However, the Morrison government has consistently rejected calls to develop a more ambitious decarbonisation strategy and only this week the Federal government criticised the ANZ Bank for introducing new climate-related deadlines into its lending criteria.

 

LafargeHolcim announces plans for Spanish CCUS plant

Carbon capture technology specialist Carbon Clean has this week announced that it has signed an agreement in Spain with LafargeHolcim, ECCO2, and Sistemas de Calor to develop a large-scale carbon capture and utilisation plant at a cement plant in Carboneras.

The project aims to capture CO2 emitted through the cement production process that can then be transformed, cleaned, and reused locally at agricultural sites to enable accelerated crop production.

The project aims to start by capturing 10 per cent of CO2 emissions from the plant from 2022, but the companies said the commercial applicability of the business model could potentially leverage 700,000 tonnes of CO2 and achieve 100 per cent decarbonisation at the plant.

"As part of our Green Transition Strategy, here at LafargeHolcim we are eager to tackle the fight against climate change through innovative initiatives that will further enable us to develop low-carbon products and solutions," said Isidoro Miranda, CEO of LafargeHolcim Spain. "In our journey towards net zero, collaborative efforts are key, and we look forward to working with our partners Carbon Clean, ECCO2 and Sistemas de Calor to develop this groundbreaking circular model which has the potential to revolutionise the cement and agricultural sectors."

 

Reports: EU to deny gas plants green investment label

The EU could be poised to further strengthen its new green investment taxonomy, with Reuters reporting that it has seen a draft proposal that would stop gas power plants from being classed as a sustainable investment in Europe, unless they meet emissions limits that no plant currently complies with.

Brussels is working on wide ranging plans that would establish which projects can be formally labelled as green or sustainable investments. The proposals have proved controversial with industry and environmental groups often divided on what should be classified as sustainable, while some academics have warned that a restrictive taxonomy could hamper investment in those carbon intensive sectors that most urgently need to access green finance to enable a transition to cleaner technologies.

However, in what looks set to be a win for green groups Reuters reported this week that to be classed as a sustainable investment - one that makes a "substantial" contribution to curbing climate change - gas power plants must not produce more than 100 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour.

The rules would effectively mean only projects with substantial carbon capture capacity could qualify as sustainable investments, as even Europe's most efficient gas plants produce more than three times the 100 grams limit.

 

Rockerfeller foundation launches $1bn green recovery funding push

The Rockefeller Foundation has announced it is to commit $1bn over the next three years to "catalyse a more inclusive, green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic".

The new funding push will focus on two areas: mobilising billions of dollars in private and concessional investments to scale distributed renewable energy across developing countries; and ensuring more equitable access to Covid-19 tests and vaccines, science-based tools, and data to fight the pandemic, while strengthening public health systems to prevent future outbreaks.

"There's no going back to the past, to before-Covid. We need to reimagine the future we want," said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. "To meet this moment, we must leverage all our resources and relationships to build an equitable, sustainable future, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential and climate disaster is avoided. The time to act is right now to make sure vulnerable children and families are included in the pandemic response and recovery."

The new funding will build on existing work that aim to harness distributed renewable energy technologies to deliver green energy to half a billion people, saving 1.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions over the next decade in the process.

"Over the past decade, our Smart Power Initiative's investments have improved the lives of almost 500,000 people in India, Myanmar, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, so we know this can work," said Ashvin Dayal, senior vice-president of the Power and Climate Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. "By refining the business case for distributed renewable electrification and deepening our technical knowledge of mini grid systems and their impact on people's lives and livelihoods, we paved the way for the launch of a partnership with Tata Power, TP Renewable Microgrid (TPRMG). This effort is expected to invest $1bn by 2026, deploying up to 10,000 mini grids that will provide clean energy to five million households, create 10,000 new green jobs, support 100,000 rural enterprises, deliver irrigation to 400,000 farmers, and in total, provide access to reliable power for more than 25 million people across the communities they serve."

 

UN warns Africa climate impacts escalating

The scale of climate risks afflicting Africa were again underlined this week, after the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) published a sweeping new report detailing how a wide rage of climate impacts are escalating across the continent.

Titled The State of the Climate in Africa 2019 report, the multi-agency study details how the region is facing increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, and more extreme weather all of which are threatening human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development.

The report was released on 26 October at a ministerial-level launch designed to highlight the urgency of climate action in Africa and the on-going challenges faced by governments as they work to bolster climate resilience.

"Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "In recent months we have seen devastating floods, an invasion of desert locusts and now face the looming spectre of drought because of a La Niña event. The human and economic toll has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic."

H.E. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said there was an urgent need to improve access to weather warning systems and climate-related information across the region. "The limited uptake and use of climate information services in development planning and practice in Africa is due in part to the paucity of reliable and timely climate information," she said. "This report, focusing on Africa, will go a long way towards addressing this gap. The contribution of the Economic Commission for Africa to the production of this report, through the African Climate Policy Centre, seeks to highlight the nexus between climate change and development, and to emphasise that building forward better from the Covid-19 pandemic requires a development approach that is green, sustainable and climate resilient, informed by the best available science."

Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment

Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment

After years of R&D there is growing evidence that carbon capture and utilisation technologies are edging towards the crucial commercialisation phase

It may be a little early to start writing about trends for 2021, but I'm going to do it anyway. What's on my mind? Carbontech, a category of climate tech I'd love to see break through next year. It's the exciting idea that we can take something that could be considered waste, draw it out of the atmosphere and turn it into a source of revenue or economic growth.

There are signs that give me optimism. This morning, digital payments company Stripe announced a plan to let its merchant customers divert a portion of their revenue to carbon removal projects. The move follows Stripe's own pledge to put $1m into four "high potential" projects earlier this year, and the two initiatives are related. The specific technologies that Stripe is funding are carbon-sequestering concrete (CarbonCure), geologic storage (Charm Industrial), direct air capture (Climeworks) and ocean mineralization (Project Vesta).

"Stripe's climate initiative is a gift because it removes all barriers to positive action," wrote Substack CEO Chris Best, a beta tester, in a statement. "This program makes it easy, and valuable, to do the right thing. We're proud to be part of it." All of the popular newsletter platform's writers have the opportunity to participate. Makes me want to host my own personal blog there.

Lest I forget, another well-known commerce player, Shopify, last month picked carbon removal and carbontech as a focus for its Sustainability Fund, which commits $5m annually to climate-tech solutions. Some companies it is supporting are the same as Stripe (CarbonCure, Charm Industrial and Climeworks). It is also including ocean sequestration in the mix through its support of Planetary Hydrogen. And it is also letting merchants add options for offsetting that buyers can select during transactions.

Rising corporate support of carbontech and carbon removal technologies writ large is one of the biggest reasons driving my optimism that the market is about to take a turn. 

Last week, for example, Microsoft announced one of its most unusual investments yet, as it seeks to deliver on its pledge to become a "carbon negative" company. It plans to supply Alaska Airlines with sustainable aviation fuel for the three most popular routes flown by its employees between Seattle and Silicon Valley, via a partnership with SkyNRG, which produces it from waste oil and agricultural residue. That's right: Microsoft is buying jet fuel. 

MInd you, those jets will still need to use regular fuel in combo with the sustainable stuff, but the strategy will help Microsoft reduce emissions from those flights (it's also working on an accounting standard for helping do this), and we all know the aviation sector will be really tough to decarbonize. This is a much needed commercial boost, optically speaking.

A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft also joined the Northern Lights project in Norway, which is seeking to standardise methods for capturing carbon emissions at industrial facilities in Europe, turning them into a liquid and transporting it to a place where it's pumped and stored under the ocean floor. The initiative - a collaboration of Norway's government along with oil giants Equinor, Shell and Total - is moving into a commercial phase.

The nature of Microsoft's involvement isn't entirely clear, but one thing being explored is how the software company's analytics technology can help create blueprints for the techniques being used to capture CO2 (so they can be replicated elsewhere) and for creating new value chains for transporting and managing it. 

Corporate interest is on the rise

Carbontech is very much in the spotlight at this week's VERGE 20 virtual event, in sessions dedicated to moonshots and emerging technologies. According to a comprehensive market report published this week by the Circular Carbon Network (CCN) and discussed during the conference, the pace of activity picked up dramatically in the past decade - of the roughly 330 innovators working on carbon removal or turning carbon into value, more than 65 per cent of them were started after 2010. About 50 percent of the 107 companies that CCN tracks closely are already generating revenue. I'll bet that's more than you thought. 

The investment dynamics are intriguing: CCN's research uncovered 135 companies in this space that have raised $2.2bn; its own Deal Hub tracker recovered deals worth $714m in the past year, a significant pick up of activity, according to the organization's report. 

"What you are seeing is an accelerating pace of interest and activity," said Nicholas Eisenberger, managing director at Pure Energy partners and co-founder of CCN, who spoke about this topic during a carbontech market update at VERGE 20. "This market is going to either be very large or ginormous." 

Here's another big takeaway from my conversation last week with Eisenberger and his colleague Marcius Extavour, executive director of the NRG Cosia Carbon XPrize, one of the managing organizations for the CCN: Deals with corporate investors are increasingly attractive to carbontech entrepreneurs. And vice versa.

CCN is tracking 61 multinational companies (as of this writing) involved in everything from research and development (the most common intersection) to buying and selling CO2 derivatives (buying it for food and beverages or selling carbon credits). Aside from Microsoft and the to-be-expected oil companies, others on the list include Amazon, Delta Air Lines, Interface, Lafarge, Nike and Starbucks.

"This space is about climate, it's also about a climate solution. It's also an example of a climate solution that can support economic growth," Extavour noted, pointing to the carbontech evolution. Hence, the corporate interest.

The extent to which COVID-19 infrastructure investments and economic recovery plans are linked with climate action is also likely to increase corporate involvement, especially outside the US, where some investments already have been linked to these metrics, such as the bailout of Air France, Extavour added.

How ginormous could the carbontech market get? According to nonprofit Carbon180, the total addressable market for products that could be affected is $6tr - with the biggest opportunities for using "waste CO2" found in transportation fuels and building materials. Captured carbon also could be a resource for food, fertilizers, polymers and chemicals. (Before you ask, very few innovators that CCN is tracking are focused on enhanced oil recovery applications.)

Helping entrepreneurs commercialize carbontech more quickly is the mission of the new three-year Carbon to Value Initiative created this summer by the Urban Future Lab at New York University-Tandon, Greentown Labs and the Fraunhofer USA Technbridge (with support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Consulate General of Canada in New York). Whew. 

Lo and behold, C2V last week added the first corporate members to its leadership council with representatives from Johnson Matthey, W.L. Gore and Associates, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, NRG and Suez. (Extavour and Eisenberger are also on the council, as is Noah Deich, executive director of Carbon180.) 

Pat Sapinsley, managing director of cleantech initiatives at NYU Tandon, said carbontech entrepreneurs haven't benefited broadly from attention by the investment or mentorship communities that have shown up to support other climate-tech sectors such as energy or transportation. "Startups in this particular corner of the climate solutions area have not actually been supported in a commercial way," she said. "They've been very well supported recently, by some really excellent NGOs, but we bring commercial chops to the table."

C2V is accepting applications for its first startup cohort (supported from May to November 2021) through Jan. 27. Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, said there are four sorts of solutions types C2V hopes to catalyze: capture mechanisms; transformative process innovations; utilization methods that use CO2 as a feedstock fuels, building materials and so forth, and storage approaches (including those focused on important natural solutions such as sequestration).

By mentoring carbontech entrepreneurs, C2V hopes to send a "market signal" for broader commercial and government support, Reichert said. "This is such a multidimensional problem that we need to tackle it from a multi-industry and multidisciplinary approach," she said.

This article first appeared at GreenBiz.com

Gillette plans to shave use of virgin plastics by 50 per cent by 2030

Gillette plans to shave use of virgin plastics by 50 per cent by 2030

Shaving brand unveils sweeping new sustainability strategy designed to slash waste and emissions

Personal care products brand Gillette, known for its razors, set out to become a more sustainable company one decade ago. And over the past 10 years, it has reduced its energy consumption by 392,851 gigajoules and its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent. The company also has reached zero-manufacturing-waste-to-landfill status across all plants in its global network.

On Monday, Gillette announced its 2030 goals to uplevel its sustainability ambitions. Building on the 26 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions - and using a 2009-2010 baseline - Gillette plans to boost that number to a 50 per cent reduction by 2030.

"We've done a lot over the 10 years. But we're not complacent," said Gary Coombe, CEO at Gillette. "And we recognise there's still a lot to do."

One of Gillette's 2030 goals is to maintain zero-waste-to-landfill status. To achieve that designation at its World Shaving Headquarters in Boston, Gillette worked with local recycler Rand Whitney Recycling to do an in-depth assessment on all of its waste streams, with a goal of ensuring all would be either reused, recycled or incinerated for energy recovery. P&G Corporate, Gillette's parent company, doesn't release numbers about how much waste is reused, recycled or incinerated across its brands.

From there, the company worked to reduce scrap waste and engaged employees to help improve recycling rates. Gillette said because the assessment of its waste streams, which helped determine how to treat the waste, was effective, it later was implemented at other plants globally.

Another one of Gillette's goals is to reduce water consumption related to production by 35 per cent. The company has been cutting its water consumption by using more recycled water at its sites and through water conservation projects. The company shared its Milenio plant in Mexico as an example. At that plant, it said it has zero water discharge, meaning 100 per cent of its wastewater is treated and reused onsite.

What's more, Coombe said when Gillette thinks about reducing water consumption, it also considers how to reduce the amount of water people who use its razors consume when shaving. 

To that end, it designed razors to be easier to rinse hair from, enabling people to use less water. It also recently released a "waterless" razor for "assisted shaving," or shaving someone else. That product was designed with caregivers in mind, with a shave gel tube attached directly to the razor. 

Gillette's other 2030 goals include:

  1. Use 100 per cent renewable purchased electricity: The company has created an energy task force team at each of its sites to help identify and improve its energy footprint.
  2. Reduce absolute virgin plastic by 50 per cent.
  3. Provide 100 per cent transparency about the ingredients in its formulas: Gillette is part of the Smart Label program in the US to promote ingredient transparency for people who use its products. Additionally, its parent company P&G provides product ingredient information through its product ingredient transparency page.
  4. Responsibly source animal, plant and mineral-derived materials, backed by supporting credentials (Forest Stewardship Council)
  5. Use 100 per cent recyclable packaging.
  6. Increase the amount of PCR content used in its blades and razors by 2023.

To help support the recyclability of its products, in 2019, Gillette, in partnership with TerraCycle, launched a razor recycling program in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, which allowed its customers to recycle any brand of used razor handle or blade along with its packaging. 

"This is a program that we felt was very important and necessary to give consumers that option, should they wish, to recycle the product," Coombe said. "That's a partnership that continues to grow. And we're going to leverage it further, as we launch new products and products that are even more specifically designed to improve the environmental profile of the razor."

Since the program's initial launch, the partnership has established over 21,000 public razor recycling locations globally, according to Gillette. Once the disposable razors, replaceable-blade cartridges and their packaging are collected, they are broken down and separated by material. The plastics are cleaned and turned into pellets to be recycled into new products such as picnic tables and park benches and the metal materials are smelted and converted into alloys. 

Aside from its 2030 goals, Gillette this week is releasing results of a global survey it conducted with research firm Lucid. The survey, which polled about 5,500 men ages 18 to 50 in 11 countries, showed more than half of the men surveyed (54 per cent) care about sustainability and more than half (58 per cent) say plastic waste in the environment is a very important issue to them. 

Coombe said that while the survey results didn't influence Gillette's 2030 goals, "it's given us even more encouragement and energy to get to stay on this journey and accelerate the journey that, frankly, we've been on for 10 years already."

This article first appeared at GreenBiz.com

Latest Job Listings