Surfrider Foundation Europe, ClientEarth and Zero Waste France have put nine food and retail giants on notice for inadequately addressing the risks related to the plastic pollution they produce.
By sending these letters, the group are asking Nestlé France, Danone, McDonald’s France, Carrefour, Groupe Casino, Les Mousquetaires, Auchan, Lactalis and Picard to respond to concerns and fulfil their legal obligations under French law. The companies now have 3 months to give an appropriate response – or they could face legal action.
Plastic is present throughout the activities and value chain of ‘Big Food’ companies via their subsidiaries, suppliers, distributors and customers:
This represents a huge amount of obvious and hidden plastics used to produce and promote consumer goods. And this is only increasing – FMCG companies are constantly looking to new markets, and plans for new and harmful plastics facilities are springing up in response.
Global plastic waste production nearly doubled between 2000 and 2019 and could triple by 2060 according to the OECD. As well as being a core part of the fossil fuel industry (it’s made from oil and gas), plastic has huge health impacts for humans, and poses existential issues to marine and onshore wildlife. To protect people and nature, there is a need to reduce plastic use at all levels of society, and businesses have a major role to play in this.
Given the serious and irreversible damage caused by plastic on our environment and our health, companies must act to limit these impacts. The nine companies we targeted, due to their size and their influence on the markets, are considered as “role models” in their sectors. As leaders, they must set an example and commit to a significant reduction in their plastic use.
Besides, some of the nine companies targeted are named among the 10 companies that produce the most plastic waste in the world.
To date, none of the companies that have been put on notice have adopted adequate measures to address the harm related to their use of plastics. They must start ‘deplastifying’ their activities now – to preserve people and planet.
The French Duty of Vigilance law is a groundbreaking new law that was adopted in response to the Rana Plaza tragedy – the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh in 2013 which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people. The discovery of labels from famous clothing brands in the rubble moved public opinion. Until the law was adopted, companies were not held responsible for what happens in their value chain.
Under this law, large companies with more than 5,000 employees in France, or 10,000 employees in France and their foreign subsidiaries, must publish an annual vigilance plan identifying the environmental and social risks stemming from their activities and those of their subsidiaries, suppliers and subcontractors. These plans must include mitigation and prevention measures adapted to the severity of these risks, as well as a report on the implementation of these measures.
Logically, given the scale of the plastics crisis, ClientEarth believe this law should oblige companies to provide satisfactory responses on the subject.
But these nine companies that have been put on notice have not.
The French Duty of Vigilance law gives them the opportunity to call on companies to remedy the inadequacy of their actions. If they do not correct these failures, ClientEarth will take legal action within three months to hold companies accountable.
Each company should:
Among the companies that have been notified, none has published such information.
Surfrider Foundation Europe, ClientEarth and Zero Waste France are demanding that these companies take a proactive approach in tackling the issue of plastic pollution head on – as they legally must. Too often, only recycling is put forward by companies as a solution against plastic pollution. Knowing that globally only 9% of plastic waste was recycled in 2019 according to the OECD, it cannot be the only solution to the excessive production and consumption of plastic. Recycling does not eliminate all the environmental risks associated with the use of plastic, not to mention the health and human rights risks that recycling does not address. They are asking companies to make commitments to reduce their plastic consumption at the source.
The Egyptian subsidiary of French energy company Schneider Electric has entered into a partnership with Egyptian real estate developer Tatweer Misr for the digital transformation of several cities in the country. The agreement, which includes the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the design and implementation of smart cities, will enable the North African country to develop sustainable communities by focusing on energy efficiency.
As part of its 2052 vision, Egypt wants to double its urban area from 7% to 14%. In this process, which includes the development of 61 cities, 24 will be developed on the basis of sustainability. And to support this policy, the French group Schneider Electric is partnering with real estate company Tatweer Misr to implement three smart city projects in Galala in the governorate of Suez, Fouka Bay and D-Bay on the north coast, and Bloomfields in Mostakbal, in the governorate of Giza.
According to Fouad Zayed, vice president of digital energy and EcoStruxure for Egypt, North East Africa and the Levant cluster at Schneider Electric, Tatweer Misr will use its iTWO platform to bridge the gap between the real and the virtual and provide building information modelling (BIM 5D) as well as operational costing and construction time for these real estate projects.
The agreement was sealed by the two partners at the Middle East and Africa (MENA) Innovation Summit hosted by Schneider Electric in Dubai from 18 to 19 May 2022. With a turnover of 26 billion euros in 2021, the group headed by Jean-Pascal Tricoire offers energy solutions and automation systems to homes, data centres and industries in some 100 countries, including Egypt.
From digital transformation to energy efficiency
In 2014, the Egyptian government adopted its integrated strategy for sustainable energy by 2035, with the aim of phasing out the energy subsidy regime, diversifying the electricity mix to 42% renewable energy, and promoting energy efficiency. To achieve this, the country is supported by its development partners such as the French Development Agency (AFD), which has already injected 795 million euros into low-carbon investment projects through its private sector financing subsidiary Proparco.
At the same time, the energy sector reforms sought by the Egyptian authorities have gradually led the country to replace obsolete meters with prepaid and smart digital meters since 2020. The initiative, implemented by Giza-based electricity grid solutions provider Globaltronics, received $10 million in funding from the World Bank through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), its private sector financing arm.
The label aims to develop an open-source tool that will enable brands to measure performance on issues like gender equality, living wages and diversity and inclusion.
After becoming luxury’s first major player to become B-Corp certified last year, Richemont-owned Chloé aims to take the lead in understanding fashion’s social impact.
The company announced that it is working with the Institut Français de la Mode and Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers to develop a tool that will help brands measure their performance on issues like gender equality, living wages and diversity and inclusion.
There is growing momentum in the fashion industry to seek more sustainable ways of operating. As scrutiny from investors, regulators and consumers grows, companies are setting increasingly ambitious targets and looking for ways to measure and demonstrate progress.
“To improve yourself in sustainability, you need figures, measurements, KPIs,” said Chloé’s CSR director Aude Vergne. When it comes to measuring environmental impact, there are a number of established methodologies, “but to measure your social impact on people’s [lives], on suppliers, it’s more difficult.”
Chloé’s Social Performance and Leverage (SP&L) tool has been in development for 18 months. Its name is a nod to the well-established Environmental Profit and Loss, or EP&L, methodology used by rival luxury group Kering, and points to Chloé’s ambitions to develop a tool that is used industry-wide (though, unlike the EP&L, the SP&L will not put a financial value on social impact).
The brand has also found ways to weave its heritage into the initiative: the tool draws on the work of French economist Philippe Aghion, the son of Chloé founder Gaby Aghion, to create a measurement for “job quality.”
In January, Chloé road-tested the tool on its Spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection. The results enabled the brand to move away from a conversation focused on compliance to a more constructive dialogue with suppliers, Vergne said.
Later this year, the company plans to launch an industry-wide consultation process to further test the methodology before providing it as an open-source tool in 2023. The tool was developed for the fashion industry, rather than hard luxury where many of Richemont’s brands focus, but Chloé is discussing with the group’s other fashion maisons about adopting the tool more widely, Vergne said.
Reusable or refillable solutions have been at the core of L’Occitane en Provence’s strategy ever since the brand launched its first eco-refill in 2008.
For their latest project, L’Occitane entrusted VPI, a French specialist in injecting plastic parts for the luxury industry market, to make a refill from 100% PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) polypropylene (PP) material.
The 100% PCR PP cup of the Ultra Rich Body Cream Shea Butter refill thus helps to preserve natural resources, to support recycling sectors while reducing the environmental footprint of the whole supply chain thanks to the lightness of the material.
“The use of 100% recycled PP and the creation of the cup represent genuine technological strides through which VPI has demonstrated its ability and commitment. It has been a truly impressive feat by VPI, on behalf of L’Occitane, to manage and ensure the traceability of batches of recycled material and expertly produce a 200ml container all within a tight turnaround time,” said the supplier in a statement.
Close work between the brand’s and VPI’s teams – which involved studying the design of the grip and perfecting an unsnapping and re-snapping closure – led to the invention of a new user-friendly and pleasant mode of use. The refilling cup contains 200ml and is heat sealed after filling. At the first purchase the tub fits in an aluminium packaging and then stands alone for reloading.
“We at VPI are honoured to work with committed companies such as L’Occitane en Provence. We are grateful to the teams on site who think ahead about eco-design and, when it comes to developing and mass producing products, invest so that they can oversee wonderful, genuinely eco-designed projects. We are proud to have been able to complete such deep research on recycled materials and to have helped bring such ambitious action plans to fruition,” said Marc Beltrami, VPI’s Head of Sales.
“This refill solution enables us to substantially reduce our dependency on plastic. Compared to the old product, it accounts for an annual saving of more than 40 tons. It also helps us to fulfil our ambition of using Post-Consumer recycled plastic. VPI’s teams rose perfectly to this challenge,” said David Bayard, the Packaging R&D Manager of L’Occitane en Provence.
Yesterday in Brussels, EU environment ministers unanimously adopted the Council position on the EU batteries regulation.
The regulation is intended to ensure more sustainable use of batteries along the entire value chain throughout the EU. To achieve this, a carbon footprint will be introduced for electric vehicle batteries and the replaceability of portable batteries improved. In addition, social and corporate due diligence obligations regarding the extraction of raw materials and more ambitious collection and recycling targets will be established. Other topics at the Environment Council included aspects of the EU Fit for 55 package, further developing CO2 limit values for vehicle fleets and introducing a separate emissions trading scheme for heating and transport.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke: “Batteries are a key component for a successful energy transition. They store energy for electric cars and electrical appliances as well as from solar panels on residential buildings and houses. But batteries also contain valuable raw materials and contaminants. What is beneficial for climate action must not lead to more destruction of nature or further damage to the environment. In the EU, we want to produce batteries as sustainably as possible in the future, use them for a long time and keep them in the material cycle through recycling. By enhancing social and environmental standards along the supply chain, Europe is taking on a leading role worldwide. Consumers should be able to rely on the sustainability of batteries. We are therefore creating transparency by introducing a carbon footprint for batteries in electric cars. The more ambitious collection and recycling targets at EU level will ensure more reliable collection and recycling of waste batteries. We have had positive experiences with this in Germany, and in the past have exceeded EU requirements. And we want to do even more. That is why we are pushing for more ambitious targets at EU level.”
The general approach on the batteries regulation achieved today in the Council is another important milestone on the road towards its adoption in the near future. The regulation is a ground-breaking reform on the EU internal market as it focusses for the first time on the entire life cycle of batteries. To reduce adverse impacts along the entire value chain, for example, the carbon footprint of electric vehicle batteries (traction batteries) and industrial batteries will be calculated. In addition, performance classes and limit values will be introduced for these batteries. The new batteries regulation envisages a recyclate quota (recycled content quota) from 2031 for large traction and industrial batteries. The minimum quotas for recycled content will apply to lead, cobalt, lithium and nickel.
The regulation also specifies minimum requirements for the durability and performance of industrial batteries and portable batteries of general use. Through the regulation, EU partners want to ensure easy removal and replaceability of batteries in appliances and light means of transport (LMT) such as e-bikes. It should generally be possible, for instance, for batteries with a lifespan shorter than the life of the product in which they are installed to be replaced by end-users or independent repair shops. Collection targets for portable batteries are to be successively increased to 70 percent and 54 percent for LMT batteries (according to the draft regulation: 8 years after entry into force; likely up until 2030).
In addition, the batteries regulation lays down corporate due diligence obligations in a particular way: for the first time, the due diligence obligations of businesses along the supply chain of a given product group, in this case batteries, will be regulated. In particular, environmental aspects in international raw material supply chains will be significantly enhanced and signalling effects generated for future regulations. The first Digital Product Passport is to be introduced at European level with the battery passport. The passport will bundle together and make available key information from all stages of the life cycle of traction and industrial batteries.
The European Parliament already adopted its position with a large majority last week. According to the decision of the Environment Council, a final agreement is to be reached promptly in the trilogue process between the EU member states, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Following its entry into force, the batteries regulation will replace the EU Batteries Directive of 2006.
Carbios and Indorama Ventures are partnering to build an enzymatic PET bio-recycling production plant in Longlaville, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, with a processing capacity of around 50,000 tons of post-consumer PET waste per year – the equivalent to 2 billion PET bottles or 2.5 billion PET trays.
The capital investment required for the project is expected to be around €150 million for Carbios core technology, with an estimated €50 million for the infrastructure preparation of the site.
In the coming months, Carbios expects to finalise strong non-dilutive financial support from French Government and from the Grand-Est Region, based on an offer already received from the French Minister of Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher and the President of Grand-Est Region, Jean Rottner.
This financial support will be conditional on the notification to the European Commission and on contractualisation by French authorities and follows January’s announcement by Eastman of a $1 billion material-to-material molecular polyester recycling facility in France.
This latest project is expected to create approximatively 150 direct and indirect full-time jobs.
“We are very pleased that Carbios and Indorama Ventures have chosen France to build their first 100% bio-recycled PET manufacturing plant,” said Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery. “From cutting-edge science, Carbios has developed a disruptive technology and process that enables the efficient transformation of plastic waste into novel valuable products. This breakthrough project showcases the government’s ambition within France 2030 – getting ready for the challenges of the next decade. Combining biotechnology and a renewed industrial ambition will be key to achieve a more circular economy.”
Carbios is a pioneer in the development of enzymatic solutions dedicated to the end-of-life of plastic and textile polymers and has already successfully started-up a demonstration plant in Clermont-Ferrand,.
“With this first medium-sized plant, we want to become the world reference for the circular economy of plastics and textiles,” said its CEO Emmanuel Ladent. “By engaging in such a partnership with Indorama Ventures, we confirm our commitment to pursue our initial industrial development in France. This plant will pave the way towards international commercial and industrial deployment. We are grateful to our shareholders, partners, the French Government, and Grand-Est Region for sharing our ambitions and vision towards a profitable circular economy.”
After the positive results of Indorama Ventures’ initial analysis on the technical soundness of Carbios technology over the past several months, both parties agreed to complete a due diligence process. A feasibility study will be conducted for the industrialisation of Carbios technology at the Indorama Ventures French production site. Subject to the successful completion of these technical and economical evaluations, Indorama Ventures will co-invest in the project.
Carbios, a green industrial biotech, develops biological and innovative processes representing a major innovation in the end of life of plastics and textiles. Through its unique approach of combining enzymes and plastics, Carbios aims to address new consumer expectations and the challenges of a broader ecological transition by taking up a major challenge of our time: plastic and textile pollution.
Established in 2011 by Truffle Capital, the mission of Carbios is to provide an industrial solution to the recycling of PET plastics and textiles (the dominant polymer in bottles, trays, textiles made of polyester). The enzymatic recycling technology developed by Carbios deconstructs any type of PET plastic waste into its basic components which can then be reused to produce new PET plastics of a quality equivalent to virgin ones. This PET innovation, the first of its kind in the world, was recently recognized in a scientific paper published in the prestigious journal Nature. Additionally, Carbios is working hand in hand with multinational brands — like L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe — to implement its technology, and to lead the transition toward a truly circular economy.
The Company has also developed an enzymatic biodegradation technology for PLA (a bio-sourced polymer) based single use plastics. This technology can create a new generation of plastics that are 100% compostable in domestic conditions, integrating enzymes at the heart of the plastic product. This disruptive innovation has been licensed to Carbiolice, a joint venture created in 2016, which is now Carbios’ subsidiary.
For more information, visit www.carbios.com/en
About Indorama Ventures
Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, listed in Thailand (Bloomberg ticker IVL.TB), is one of the world’s leading petrochemicals producers, with a global manufacturing footprint across Europe, Africa, Americas, and Asia Pacific. The company’s portfolio comprises Combined PET, Integrated Oxides and Derivatives, and Fibers. Indorama Ventures products serve major FMCG and automotive sectors, i.e. beverages, hygiene, personal care, tire and safety segments. Indorama Ventures has approx. 24,000 employees worldwide and consolidated revenue of US$10.6 billion in 2020. The Company is listed in the Dow Jones Emerging Markets and World Sustainability Indices (DJSI).
For more information, visit www.indoramaventures.com
TotalEnergies and Honeywell have announced a strategic agreement to promote the development of advanced plastic recycling. Honeywell agree to supply TotalEnergies with Recycled Polymer Feedstock (RPF) using their UpCycle Process Technology. TotalEnergies will purchase and convert this raw material into virgin-quality polymers, which could be used for food-grade packaging and other high demanding applications.
The UpCycle plant, owned by a joint venture between Honeywell and Sacyr, aims to process and convert 30,000 tons of mixed plastic waste into RFP annually. Plastic which may otherwise have been destined for landfill or incineration. The UpCycle plant is projected to commence operation in 2023, with RPF to be used for the manufacturing of high-quality polymers in TotalEnergies’ European-based production units. With identical properties to virgin polymers, the recycled polymers are expected to be suitable for a wide range of applications including food-grade applications, such as flexible and rigid food packaging containers.
This first planned project represents the start of the collaboration between TotalEnergies and Honeywell in the field of advanced recycling. Both parties are committed to addressing the issue of plastic waste and helping to build a more circular and sustainable economy in Europe, and the rest of the world.
“We are pleased to partner with Honeywell to tackle the issue of plastic waste through the development of advanced plastic recycling, and thereby the circular economy, one of the pillars of sustainable development. This project will contribute to TotalEnergies meeting our ambition of producing 30% recycled and renewable polymers by 2030.“ said Valérie Goff, Senior Vice President, Polymers at TotalEnergies.
“Plastics demand will continue to grow, so it’s critical to create a linkage between waste management and plastics production to strengthen a circular flow of plastics,” said Ben Owens, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions. “The relationship with TotalEnergies will provide a strong recycled polymer feedstock off-take partner and coupled with our recently announced advanced recycling plant with Sacyr, Honeywell is leading the drive toward a more circular plastics economy.”
DHL Global Forwarding, a leading provider of air, ocean and road freight services, and French energy major TotalEnergies have signed a contract for a solar energy project to produce over 14,000MWh of electricity per year in Dubai.
The whole solar system will produce enough energy to power over 16,000 homes yearly in the UAE. In addition to supplying the sites with solar power eight electrical vehicle charging stations will also be installed. With this, DHL Global Forwarding contributes to the Group’s goal of electrifying 60% of its fleet by 2030.
The move is in continuation with the companies’ Strategic Cooperation Agreement signed in 2019. TotalEnergies will solarise eight of DHL’s sites in Dubai to cover the equivalent of over 46,000 sq m of photovoltaic panels. The solar system will save more than 6,000 tonnes of CO2 the first year. The project complements Deutsche Post DHL Group’s sustainability roadmap to achieve zero-emissions logistics from 2050 onwards.
“With an annual average of 8.7 hours of sunshine per day, Dubai has a clear advantage in terms of solar energy. I am all the more pleased that we can use this asset to advance our sustainability goals further,” said Amadou Diallo, CEO DHL Global Forwarding Middle East and Africa.
“With TotalEnergies, we have a partner at our side, not only to drive forward the use of alternative fuels but also to optimize our overall energy consumption. In this way, we are going step by step to achieve our ambitious target to reduce all logistics-related emissions to zero by the year 2050.”
Hamady Sy, Managing Director at TotalEnergies Renewables Distributed Generation Middle East and Africa, said: “We are delighted to support DHL Global Forwarding with their green initiatives in the UAE of which solar will play an important part, and look forward to helping them reducing their carbon footprint in the region and beyond.”
Not only does the solar system produce more sustainable energy, but the programme also includes that 85% of the solar modules are recycled. Furthermore, they are produced exclusively in Landfill Free certified factories. All this contributes to making the entire product cycle more sustainable and saves more than 150,000 tonnes of CO2 over the contract duration.
In keeping with its policy of “burn less – burn clean”, DHL Global Forwarding is consistently optimizing the carbon efficiency of its transport network, its fleet and its real estate. In order to achieve its sustainability goals, Deutsche Post DHL Group is investing €7 billion in climate-neutral logistics solutions through 2030, by which point at least 30 percent of its fuel needs should be met by sustainable fuels.