JANUARY: GREEN SHOOTS
Making the Big Mac Sustainable?
One of McDonald’s first announcements in 2014 was an ambitious declaration that it will begin to purchase beef from verified sustainable sources by 2016, the first step on a quest to purchase sustainable beef for all of its burgers worldwide. The news marks commitment to a complicated new sourcing programme by McDonald’s which for the past few years has been working hard to transform its entire global supply chain to a more sustainable platform.
McDonald’s buys more than 60 million tonnes of beef globally each year. Making this sustainable will be a tough task, requiring substantial change across a huge range of suppliers using different production regimes in many different countries. In the US, for example, there are 800,000 cattle ranchers, roughly 50% of who supply McDonald’s.
Although it has announced its vision, McDonald’s isn’t ready yet to commit to the specific amount of sustainable meat it will be buying by 2016 and hasn’t set a target date for achieving 100% sustainable goal. Clearly, the company has set itself a tough task – it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds.
Meanwhile on other issues McDonald’s has already made substantial progress, including a guarantee that all its fish comes from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sources, the use of 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee (although only in the US) and a commitment to source only palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2015.
L’Occitane: supporting women’s entrepreneurship in Burkina Faso
L’Occitane en Provence, the natural ingredient-based cosmetics firm, has launched a new environmental and social project to encourage traditional shea butter production in Burkina Faso. L’Occitane has been working in Burkina Faso for many years – its latest announcement will support better working conditions and encourage more young women to enter the shea butter industry, at the same time reduce the environmental impacts of processing.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked by the UN at 181 out of 187 countries in terms of development factors. Shea butter is a key crop – a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree it has been a key ingredient for L’Occitane since its founder, Olivier Baussan, discovered its properties in the early 1980s.
The latest L’Occitane commitment will scale up its work with female shea butter nut pickers and processors, preserving the traditional skills required for processing as well as improving the butter extraction process to improve working conditions. In the longer term, the company hopes to that its support for shea butter in Burkina Faso will also mean it can move to 100% organic production for its products.
L’Occitane currently works with unions and cooperatives representing more than 15,000 women in 10 provinces of Burkina Faso. Each year for International Women’s Day in March, L’Occitane also produces a special soap made in Burkina Faso, donating 100% of the profits towards literacy centres for local women. This raised more than €153,000 in 2012.
John Lewis moves towards 100% green electricity
Last month the John Lewis Partnership signed a new energy supply deal to bring renewable electricity to its 380 Waitrose and John Lewis sites. Working with supplier, SmartestEnergy, the JLP network will in future be powered by electricity bought from independent generation projects, including a wind turbine at Lancashire based Dewlay Cheesemakers, an anaerobic digestion project in Dorset and the Udny Community Turbine in Aberdeenshire.
The new deal should prove a major boost to renewable generation projects owned by communities, farmers and small businesses. SmartestEnergy buys electricity from hundreds such independent generation projects across the UK.
John Lewis Partnership’s director of property services, Nigel Keen, said: “As a responsible retailer, the Partnership aims to source sustainably across its supply chains and this agreement provides us with full transparency over where our energy is coming from.”
London businesses urged to help plug gaps in charity volunteering
The City of London Corporation has urged businesses to ‘gift their skills’ during 2014 and at the same time to shift their focus to charities such as those for the homeless and older people. It points out that such charities attract just 9% of all corporate volunteering support, with youth, education and kids charities proving more popular since they can be linked with the concept of ‘investing for the future’.
Noa Burger, corporate responsibility project manager at the City of London Corporation said: “Collaboration across sectors is a powerful way to address society’s challenges, and charities can hugely benefit from the expertise of corporate volunteers.
“Areas which really need help– homelessness, the elderly and adult unemployment – particularly during the winter months, are still being somewhat overlooked and it’s important they are not forgotten. We hope more businesses across the city will take a look at not just what skills they can offer, but at where these skills are most lacking in 2014.”
Work Inclusion honour for Wates
British family-owned construction group, Wates, has been working to help address unemployment in some of the most deprived areas of the country through a work inclusion programme called ‘Building Futures.’ The project helped 54% of its long-term participants move back to employment or training in 2012, whilst saving Wates £1 million in recruitment costs. It also won the Work Inclusion honour in the 2013 BITC’s Responsible Business Awards.
With building projects in some of the more deprived areas of the UK, Wates is all too familiar with the problems of unemployment and the negative effects on the local community that come with it (rising crime, deterioration of health and significant costs to the economy).
Wates’ public sector clients also expect it to add value beyond construction. In response, Wates launched Building Futures in 2005. It is a two-week pre-employability programme that showcases careers in construction and helps people disadvantaged in the job market take the next steps towards employment or training.
Each two-week programme ends with a community project where participants put their newfound skills to use, such as a landscaping project or makeover for a local community area. Six months tracking and follow-up provides ongoing guidance and further support to help participants get into employment or training.
To date, Wates has delivered 50 programmes nationally to over 600 unemployed people. Some 200 hours of Wates’ staff time is invested in each Building Futures programme – that’s over 10,000 hours to date.