Totals, not Targets
So we’ve officially entered the Brexit transition phase. Whilst the nation had never been more divided, now is the time to stand united in setting an aggressive agenda on climate change and environmental sustainability. Given the breadth and depth of the EU law on this topic, coupled with the seemingly unbending will of the EU to give ground to the UK on their standards post-Brexit, we must view this as an opportunity for the Government to make ambitious strategies and goals, for example - aiming for total reductions in carbon emissions, rather than targets.
Given the mess they’ve made of COP26 so far, there is a real need to step up and show strong management and leadership, setting Britain’s stall out as a leader of sustainable development. Boris Johnson’s opening speech decreed Britain would phase out the sale of new hybrid, petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035 and continue on the path to be net zero by 2050. Unfortunately, this is too minimal an ambition if we’re to meet our Paris 2030 agreements, as shown by the graphic below:
The only focus should be total reduction by 2050 – aiming for 100% reduction in emissions, waste and plastic pollution should be the only target to improve the environment, after all, when a measure becomes a target, it cease to be a good measure.
Since our last post, we’ve been researching Coca Cola to see if we can provide a case for their defence in how not to conduct PR, Coca Cola actually have a huge sustainability platform and aim to:
- Make all packaging recyclable by 2025
- Make all packaging out of recycled materials by 2030
All very admirable, but how?
In 2009 Coca Cola launched PlantBottle™, made with 30% plant-based PET and 70% purified terephthalic acid (PTA), then in 2015, PlantBottle™ became 100% plant-based. To do this, Coca Cola has partnered with the Dutch biotech firm, Avantium, who “use their YXY Technology [to] catalytically converts plant-based sugar (fructose) into a wide range of plant-based chemicals and plastics, such as polyethylene furanoate (PEF). PEF is a 100% plant-based, 100% recyclable plastic with superior performance properties compared to today’s widely used petroleum-based packaging materials.”
Superior to the point in fact, it requires less material and has 6-10 x better CO2 barrier than PET bottles. Added to this, PEF can be recognised at recycling facilities, Coca Cola could have found a feasible solution if and when it becomes commercial viable (current targets are 2023). Perhaps Bea Perez, as Head of Sustainability at Coca Coca should have said “customers still want PlantBottle™.”
Given the research by PlasticPatrol, it would seem Coca Cola have a long way to go, with their first annual report stating the brand was responsible for the most litter collected in the UK by volunteers logging data litter collected to the PlasticPatrol app (report here).
We’ve been between London and Devon this week and each time we’re away from home, it highlights just how much we miss the sea and fresh air! Given carbon is present in everything and emitted by everything in varying extents, if we all aim to do one thing each week to reduce our carbon footprint, we can make a collective difference – easy wins such as picking up that bottle you would otherwise walk past and put it in a recycling bin, turning off the tap between brushing your teeth or not using a plastic bag when purchasing fruit and veg. Small things benefitting you, the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.
Engaging our network of peers, friends, colleagues and followers, we’ve been asking the question, what are you doing to be more sustainable and why do you think this makes a difference? Interesting to see some of the responses and we’ll share as they become relevant to topics we discuss each week. Thanks to everyone so far for their contributions and knowledge-sharing.
Tentatively we have begun talks with potential partnerships to aid clients' with sustainability plans and strategies – hopefully the first of many whereby we can offer advice and guidance to those actively seeking to improve sustainable performance. Watch this space!