It Just Got Easier for Companies Like Facebook and Google to Measure Their Investments in Renewable Energy
In the last decade, companies have responded to growing demand among consumers to incorporate sustainability into their business plans. And now forward-thinking companies realize that climate change threatens their bottom line. Renewable energy investments expanded to $310 billion dollars in 2014, up from $60 billion a decade ago. The numbers don't lie: companies are ditching fossil fuels for renewable energy. But when it comes to choosing a low-carbon electricity supply, it can be challenging for businesses to know which route to take.
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There are "power purchase agreements, electricity contracts, on-site versus off-site projects and renewable energy certificates, all of which can vary by country." Now, new guidelines from the World Resources Institute will make it easier for companies to find low-carbon energy sources and more accurately report their carbon footprints.
It's absolutely necessary that companies look at their carbon footprint since "companies consume half of all electricity produced so any solution for reducing global emissions has to address the electricity sector,” said Mary Sotos of the World Resources Institute. Sotos is the lead author on the report.
The guideline, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Scope 2 Guidance, is the first major update to the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, which is "the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions." These new guidelines provide a more consistent and transparent way for companies to choose energy sources and report their emissions to programs like CDP and The Climate Registry. Eight-six percent of Fortune 500 companies responded to the CDP using the GHG Protocol in 2014. Now, these reporting programs will require companies to provide even more information.
“This guidance represents a critical evolution in corporate sustainability reporting. Investors and other stakeholders have been calling for companies to disclose more consistent, transparent data on their electricity emissions and renewable energy purchases. By using this guidance, companies reporting to CDP can now achieve this,” said Pedro Faria, technical director, CDP.
The Scope 2 Guidance included input from more than 200 representatives from companies, electric utilities, government agencies, academics, industry associations and civil society groups in 23 countries. The report includes case studies of 12 companies that already use the new guidance, including Facebook, Google, Mars and EDF Energy.
Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director, Mars Incorporated said, “This guidance is a powerful tool to help corporations achieve ambitious, science-based climate targets ... Case in point, this guidance helped Mars decide to create a 200 MW wind farm in the United States last year.”
"Acting now on climate change is a must for all actors in society,” said Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability, H&M. “With electricity use in our stores accounting for over 80 percent of our operations' GHG emissions, setting our 100 percent renewable electricity target and our science-based GHG reduction target would not have been possible without the clarity that this guidance provides."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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