The weekly #goodnewssiren round-up #54

June 04, 2021

From  planting 18 million trees to plastic-free packaging, here’s what’s making us smile in the world of sustainability this week… 


Dutch court orders oil giant Shell to slash emissions 


A court in the Netherlands has ruled in a landmark case that the British-Dutch multinational oil giant, Shell, must reduce its emissions by 45 per cent compared with 2019 levels by 2030. 


According to green activists, it is the first time a company has been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris climate accords, highlighting that the case could have implications for other big polluters with campaigners describing the verdict as “a monumental victory for our planet”. 


Despite the corporation expecting to appeal against the decision, it is clear that there is a greater global focus on cutting emissions with increasing groups around the world now trying to force other companies and their governments to comply with the accords through the courts. 


Waitrose to unpack more products as demand for refillable options grows 


In response to a growing consumer demand for refillables, Waitrose has announced that it is launching 13 more products as part of its pioneering “Unpacked” refillable concept to continue its expansion of plastic-free goals.  


Sales of refillables at the UK supermarket’s four Unpacked stores have reportedly grown by nearly 9 per cent in the past six months, whilst work to add Waitrose’s range of refillable items to its regular supermarkets has also seen sales rise by 20 per cent.  


The new lines, which have been selected following customer requests in categories where Waitrose has seen strong growth, will consist of five types of loose tea, a number of dried fruit options, popcorn, frozen peas and sweets with all products priced cheaper than their packaged equivalent in order to encourage shoppers to make the switch. 


After launching Unpacked in summer 2019 to help save hundreds of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging, its success is clear with rates continuing to rise and additional British retailers, such as M&S and Aldi, following suit with their own similar initiatives.  


Eighteen million trees to be planted around Glasgow 


Councils in the Glasgow area have pledged to plant 18 million trees over the next 10 years – equivalent to 10 trees for every resident – as the city prepares to host the global climate summit, COP26, later this year.  


Taking part in the city’s region commitment to reaching Net Zero, The Clyde Climate Forest project hopes to increase tree cover in urban areas of Glasgow from 17 per cent to 20 per cent and ensure that a fifth of the region’s rural landscape is forested or planted with native woodland over the next decade. 


With world leaders expected to set much tougher targets to combat global heating in the Glasgow COP26 climate talks, the summit has intensified the pressure in Scotland with a rise in radical action to cut emissions and move towards a zero-carbon economy. As a result, this initiative of nature recovery aims to begin the city’s movement towards this with other plans to follow. 


Retailer giants unite to boost flexible plastic recycling in the UK  


Five of the UK’s largest manufacturers have collaborated to form a £1 million fund to help make flexible plastic recycling economically viable for recyclers and easier for consumers under the Flexible Plastic Fund.  


Led by Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever, the fund intends to improve plastic recycling and reduce plastic pollution by giving the material a stable value. As a result, this would increase the supply of recycled plastic, enabling the industry to become more circular and meet the forthcoming UK plastic packaging tax obligations.  


With several grocery retailers, including Sainsbury’s, already starting to collect flexible plastic in some of their stores, the long-term ambition of the Flexible Plastic Fund is to allow this widely used material to be recycled via household collections – making it increasingly accessible to customers, with products including plastic bags and sachets able to be recycled. 


As the main issue regarding flexible package is due to its ability to clog up machinery, the fund aims to ensure this form of plastic no longer ends up in landfill and instead will turn it into non-food grade plastic and food-grade film – offering full traceability of any plastic exported and recycled.