The ocean plastic pollution story has taken a new depressing twist according to a new paper in online journal Science Direct
. Plastic materials have been found to combine with oil residues, from accidental releases, and through processes of evaporation and solidification create a new solid structure that the researchers have named plastitar.
This material can become permanently attached to rocks, and examples have been found at a number of sites in the Canary Islands in the eastern Atlantic, where the scientists were undertaking their research.
Carlsberg’s fibre bottle
International brewer Carlsberg Group has announced progress in the development of an innovative bio-based fully recyclable beer bottle
. The Fibre Bottle product crucially contains a 100% plant-based, recyclable barrier polymer film, developed by Avantium Group. The film is designed to protect the taste and fizziness of beer.
Carlsberg plans to trial the fibre bottle with 8,000 consumers in eight European pilot markets over the summer. The bottles will be also be made available at selected festivals and flagship events, with extensive consumer feedback that will help Carlsberg roll out the product more widely. The ease of recycling and product performance will also be monitored.
Apparel $250m climate fund
Some big brands are backing a $250m fund designed to hasten reduction in emissions in the apparel sector. Among the early supporters of the Apparel Impact Institute
’s Fashion Climate Fund are H+M Group, Lululemon Athletica and the Schmidt Family Foundation. Many more names are expected to join the fund – which hopes to raise $10m from each.
The fund is designed to support new low emission programmes and solutions, with a pipeline for getting them rapidly to scale. There will be a focus on supply chains – a recent World Resources Institute study found that 96% of the sector’s emissions come from the supplier farms and factories used by the fashion brands.
Xinjiang cotton – US ban
US laws that give border authorities enhanced powers to seize products containing cotton from the Chinese Xinjiang region have come into force. The changes mean that any product that is linked to Xinjiang in any way is assumed to be linked to the region’s forced labour camps, where up to a million Uyghur people have been detained and forced to work in factories. The apparel sector is particularly impacted by the move as around 20% of the world’s cotton comes from China, and of that 84% from Xinjiang.
Fashion sector commentators have pointed out the challenges that will develop as a consequence of this ban. Transparency has long been a problem for cotton supply chains given that fibres from different sources are typically mixed during the ginning stage of cotton production. There are, of course, a number of technology providers that are developing blockchain style solutions that provide end-to-end chain of custody transparency – so there is perhaps an opportunity for their use a greater scale for brands faced with large fines if they can’t adequately prove to the US authorities that products are Xinjiang cotton free.
P&G gets serious on water
Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble has set some stretching new targets on water use
as part of its overall 2030 environment goals. The company has the aim of being net positive, restoring more water than is lost at its manufacturing facilities located in areas that are water stressed. P+G has already improved water efficiency against a 2010 baseline by 25%, as well as recycling and reusing over 3bn litres of water in 2021.
A number of the projects are located in the Bear River area in the western US states of Utah and Idaho, and include schemes to restore natural habitats and water quality, and to enhance water use efficiency for local communities. P+G has also committed to restoring more water than is consumed using its products in Mexico City and Los Angeles.
New regulations are going to require pension schemes in the UK to report on how their investments are aligned with the Paris agreement’s 1.5C goal. The move is the latest step in the requirements for transparency linked to laws introduced in 2021 that mandated reporting based on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ requirements. The initial rules applied to pension schemes with assets greater than £5bn, which is expanding to £1bn late in 2022. The new reporting regulations will apply to more than 80% of UK pension schemes by the end of the year.
In other reporting news, the European Union has come to an agreement on new requirements for big companies from 2024. EU lawmakers had become concerned at corporate greenwashing, with the intent of attracting investment on the back of environmental achievements that are not in fact being met. Companies with more than 250 employees and sales of €40m will have to disclose ESG risks and the impacts of their activities on people and the environment. Some smaller listed companies will also be subject to lesser reporting standards but only on a voluntary basis until 2028.