Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.
Across the UK and the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.
ENERGY: Crowdfunder for solar energy access in Africa raises $100,000
More than half of Sub-Saharan Africa currently lacks access to electricity, making it the region with the poorest electricity access in the world. This leaves residents dependent on kerosene, coal or wood, which pollute the air.
This month, solar and mini-grid solutions provider Engie Energy Access launched a ‘Crowdfund for Solar’ platform, whereby people could invest small amounts to help Sub-Saharan communities access low-cost finance to develop small-scale solar. The platform was launched with support from Energy Web, a blockchain platform developed to help garner verified investment in the clean energy sector.
The initial investment target of $100,000 was met within just seven hours, despite Engie Energy Access setting a two-week window to secure the crowdfunding. Funding recipients will include households, small businesses and schools.
Engie Energy Access’s chief executive Gillian-Alexandre Huart said: “With Africa’s population predicted to double by 2050, electrifying the continent with clean energy has never been more urgent. This new staking pool will allow multiple stakeholders to combine their computational resources as a way of being rewarded while helping to solve Sub-Saharan Africa’s electrification challenges.”
RESOURCES: evian to pilot deposit return scheme at Wimbledon
Play at Wimbledon will begin on Monday (27 June), with those heading to the Championships on day one set to see players like Goffin, Isner, Kvitova and Raducanu. While it’s a highlight in the calendar for any tennis fan, Wimbledon – like any large-scale event – presents sustainability challenges including the management of plastic food and drinks packaging. Each year, the organisers sell 250,000 bottles of water and more than 191,000 portions of strawberries.
On water bottles, evian, which has sponsored the Championships since 2008, has launched a deposit-return scheme (DRS) at the grounds called ‘Reward4Waste’. Attendees will be able to scan a QR code on any recycling bin at the grounds, and then the bottle or can, to prove they have returned the packaging for recycling. Everyone who scans will be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets to the Wimbledon 2023 finals. Data collected at Wimbledon will help evian design DRSs for future large events.
Evian’s global circular economy manager Alexander Cramwinckel said it is “imperative” to “have an effective and efficient collection system in place to encourage and empower consumers to keep plastic out of nature and in the circular economy”.
The UK is set to introduce a national DRS in 2024, following Covid-19-related delays. Under that scheme, the incentive to recycle packaging will be that customers will pay a deposit for each drinks container they buy, and only get the deposit back when containers are returned.
MOBILITY: InstaVolt opens ultra-rapid EV chargers near Corwen
UK car sales were down 20.6% in the year to May 2022, according to industry figures. But electric car sales weathered this storm far better than their petrol and diesel counterparts, with battery electric vehicle sales actually up 12% year-on-year. Now, more infrastructure is needed to support the UK’s growing EV stock.
This Friday (24 June), charging network operator Instavolt opened a new ultra-rapid EV charging hub at the Rhug Estate Farm Shop near Corwen, Wales. The shop is on the A5 – the main route taken by motorists travelling between Manchester, Chester and Wales – so InstaVolt expects the hub to be popular with commuters and tourists alike. It features eight 120kW chargers, which customers will be charged to use at a rate of 57p per kWh. Instavolt claims that its chargers can add 100 miles of range to the average car in 15 minutes.
“As EV usage continues to rise, there is a significant desire for rapid charging points across Wales, to address the regional disparities that exist within the EV charging network,” said InstaVolt’s chief executive Adrian Keen. “Our work with the Rhug Estate fills an urgent geographical need for rapid EV charging, and we’re pleased to expand our footprint in the region with our first InstaVolt hub in Wales.”
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Patrizia attracts €50m of investment for cleantech for buildings
Wednesday (22 June) saw real estate and infrastructure investor Patrizia completing the first close of a new €100m venture capital fund, having garnered interest from pension funds, strategic investors and real estate operators. The €50m raised through this activity will be used to support technology companies developing and scaling solutions that will enable a more sustainable future for Europe’s built environment. The fund itself is called the ‘Sustainable Future Ventures’ fund.
Companies set to be supported include GBuilder, which has developed a digital building information modelling platform that helps builders and developers to reduce costs, energy and waste by procuring sustainable materials and improving efficiencies. Another firm set to receive funding is Liftango, a software provider to the shared transport sector with a focus on reducing emissions in urban areas.
Fund partner Matthew Chagan said: “The movement towards carbon-neutrality in our sector will demand a significant deployment of investment that we believe will fundamentally change the economics of the built environment and accelerate the adoption of technology solutions. It’s a very exciting time to be in this space and I hope we can make a significant contribution towards reaching sustainability targets through technology.”
BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Frugi adds more funding to ‘eco-schools’ environmental education scheme
Over the past year, Keep Britain Tidy has provided training to more than 500 teachers and nursery staff across the UK to help them deliver environmental education and hands-on activities to children. This ‘Eco-Schools’ programme is intended to help children “become the forward-thinking, challenge-solving, decision-making adults of the future” and to understand the importance of making that future a sustainable one.
This month, one of the scheme’s key funders, childrenswear brand Frugi, confirmed that it will continue supporting ‘Eco-Schools’ for a further year.
With Frugi’s support, Keep Britain Tidy is hoping to provide ‘Eco-Coordinator’ training to 750 teachers this coming year, enabling them to lead new pupil-led environmental action at their schools and in their local communities. Led by last year’s cohort of 500 staff, the scheme delivered the planting of 22,100 trees and the avoidance of £206,600 worth of utility bills for schools and nurseries. Even bigger benefits are expected this year.
“Eco-Schools and our new Teacher Training Programme will not only benefit so many more children’s lives, but it helps raise environmental change-makers of the future,” said Frugi’s chief executive Sarah Clark.
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