The sustainable development success stories of the week

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly roundup of five of the week’s top sustainable business success stories from around the world.

Bottom right image: The port of Rotterdam

Published weekly, this series shows how companies and sustainability professionals are striving to achieve their “Mission Possible” through the campaign’s five key pillars: energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business management.

Now that the dust has settled on COP26, companies are keen to show they can turn their environmental ambitions into action – potentially going further and faster than national governments. Here we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Milestone for a 200 MW green hydrogen plant in the Netherlands

Because it produces zero emissions at the point of combustion, hydrogen is widely touted as a low-carbon solution for hard-to-reduce sectors including heating and shipping. But, given that more than 90% of the world’s hydrogen production comes from fossil fuels, a widespread shift to new, cleaner production methods will be needed to deliver lifecycle emissions benefits. .

As a series of green hydrogen projects progress here in the UK, there has also been good news from the Netherlands, where Shell and ThyssenKrupp have signed documents for the development of a 200 MW at the port of Rotterdam.

The facility is expected to be commissioned in 2024 and will draw electricity from the 0.8 GW Hollandse Kust Noord offshore wind farm, which is expected to be commissioned in 2023. Hydrogen produced at the plant will be put available to transport and heavy industry companies. sectors. The Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam will be one of the end users of the hydrogen.

Image: ThyssenKrupp

RESOURCES: Veolia announces a project for an electric vehicle battery recycling center

Research from organizations such as the University of Birmingham has proven that the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) fleet is growing faster than recycling infrastructure, laying the groundwork for a future resource challenge . With the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK from 2030, the scale of the challenge will only grow.

So it’s good news that waste and resource management giant Veolia has announced that it will be developing plans for an electric vehicle battery recycling facility in Minworth, West Midlands. Veolia will draw up planning documents this year and hopes to commission the facility, which will have the capacity to handle 20% of electric vehicle batteries that reach end of life each year, in 2024.

The facility will discharge and dismantle batteries, before completing mechanical and chemical recycling processes to extract valuable materials like lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt and aluminum. These materials can then be used in the production of new batteries.

Veolia’s senior executive vice president for Northern Europe, Gavin Graveson, called the announcement “an important first step on the UK’s journey to create an ethical and sustainable supply chain for batteries that will be increasingly necessary as we transition to a greener economy”.

MOBILITY: TfL turns to digital twin tech in bid for net-zero tube system

London Mayor Sadiq Khan initially set a 2050 net zero deadline for the capital, before the UK government enshrined it in law as a national target. It has since moved the timeline to 2030 for direct city operations.

Transport for London (TfL) has already implemented a series of changes to reduce emissions, including the deployment of hydrogen buses, the charging of electric buses from the vehicle to the network and the use of waste heat from the tube network for neighboring houses.

Building on these projects, TfL has launched a project with digital twin start-up Spinview to improve digital monitoring of metro tracks and tunnels. The project will initially map and monitor the Picadilly line, helping TfL improve data collection on factors such as emissions, heat and noise. This data can be used to make targeted improvements and help it expand underground outside of its usual engineering hours of 1am to 5am.

The Picadilly line was chosen as it is currently undergoing upgrades ahead of the arrival of a new train fleet, starting in 2025. The upgrades are expected to result in a 20% reduction in energy consumption and a 23% increase in the number of trains running. during peak hours.

Paul Judge, who is leading the upgrade project, said: “Not only will the use of digital twin technology support smarter and more efficient maintenance of the railway, it will also allow us to more accurately monitor the environmental challenges such as carbon emissions, noise levels. and heat as we strive to do more to reduce our carbon footprint and help tackle the climate emergency. It’s another example of our working with a wide range of market innovators to stay on the cutting edge of technology. »

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: ‘Earthship’ homes made from old tires are making waves

In the midst of the current energy price crisis and following the release of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, much has been said in recent weeks about how our homes are contributing to the climate crisis and, in some cases, have a negative impact on our health and well-being.

It’s fitting, then, that LinkedIn this week published an article by Editor-in-Chief Kelli Nguyen titled “This house is trash – and they are the future.” The feature highlights the rise and rise of Earthships – off-grid homes built primarily from recycled materials and natural materials, with on-site solar generation.

In addition to minimizing the environmental impact of construction and materials, these homes are typically built to maximize energy efficiency, with features such as insulation and passive lighting, heating, and air conditioning. From small beginnings in New Mexico, the Earthship movement means these homes are popping up in places around the world, from North America and the United States to Malaysia, with some being built to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Image: Dominic Alves, CC BY-2.0.

CORPORATE MANAGEMENT: The Body Shop and other brands urge rethink of new bill that would criminalize protest in UK

Just before Christmas, staff at beauty retailer The Body Shop, along with staff from other members of the ‘Business Declares’ initiative, marched to Parliament to demand a review of the Police Bill , crime, penalties and the courts. The company this week co-signed a new letter to the UK government with the same request, ahead of the bill’s third reading in the House of Lords this month.

The bill has proven controversial within the UK’s green economy because, if passed, it would significantly tighten the rules around peaceful protests. Potential jail terms for protesters causing “serious inconvenience”, clinging to objects or blocking road or rail infrastructure would be increased to one year. Penalties for those who stage protests that cause disruption would see potential sentences increased to ten years. There will also be new powers to stop protesters, including environmental activists, from posting and conversing online – even if they have no previous convictions.

Other controversial inclusions are increased stop and search powers; a new offense of defacing memorials and statues, punishable by a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment, and the right to confiscate Traveler caravans if they stop in places not specially designated.

The government has tried to push the bill through by emphasizing popular inclusions, such as increased prison terms for killers and other violent criminals, and plans to erase historic convictions associated with the homosexual activity from all criminal records of UK citizens.

The new Businesses Stand Up letter was signed by innocent Drinks, Pukka Herbs, Patagonia, Finisterre, Ben & Jerry’s and Riverford as well as Ben and Jerry’s, as well as former Unilever chief Paul Polman.

“Protest is proven to strengthen democracies and democracies, in turn, have been shown to be good for business and society,” Body Shop said in a statement. “As business leaders, we will continue to speak out to defend and protect our rights, and the rights of our employees, customers and communities to safely participate in our proud tradition of activism. Kill the Bill.”

Sarah Georges

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