May 14, 2024

Corporate Backsliding on Targets… Well, I’m Not Surprised

May 14, 2024

Corporate Backsliding on Targets… Well, I’m Not Surprised

May 14, 2024

Corporate Backsliding on Targets… Well, I’m Not Surprised

May 2024

Corporate Backsliding on Targets… Well, I’m Not Surprised

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How many sustainability professionals feel confident they’ll hit their targets?

I posed this question to a roomful of some of the world’s leading brands. A handful of hands were raised (and full credit to those that didn’t for their honesty).

I ask this question a lot. Time and again, I get the same response. I’m neither surprised nor do I think this is the wrong answer. The targets that many companies set never actually made sense. Many companies drank the Kool-Aid in the ambition of 2020 and early 2021, and others looked to match their ambitious peers. But very few companies can undergo a radical transformation in a ~10 year timeframe. These battles were lost before they began.

So, I’m not surprised that companies are re-evaluating their targets. In fact, I expect more to follow suit. But I do think that the revised targets are much more likely to stick - and that with more realistic targets comes a genuine sense of urgency as deadlines draw closer. If this sounds like the company you’re working in, rest assured that you’re not alone.

By Saif Hameed, CEO of Altruistiq

Industry Insight: Building a Sustainable Brand? Be Honest about the F*ck Up's

The world's biggest sustainability counter-stroke? Be honest about what you’re getting wrong.

An example that sticks is Ace & Tate. Whilst becoming a B-Corp, Ace & Tate realised that they were getting some things really wrong. They didn’t try to hide behind what they were getting right. Instead, they posted an article saying ‘look, we f*cked up' and describing all the ways in which that happened.

This is marketing genius. It makes the business seem humble, introspective and you think about them as having a high ethical standard. This kind of transparency drives customer loyalty.

Next time you mess up, look to see if there is an opportunity to reframe it into something that backs up your mission and purpose.

Policy Pulse: All you Need to Know About EPR: Textile Waste Focus

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is all about holding product manufacturers to account for the impact of their waste and resource use. EPR regulations pin the cost of end-of-life treatment on manufacturers and incentivise better product design for a circular economy.

EPR schemes are well-established for electrical goods, batteries and packaging. Yet it is relatively rare for textiles. Only a handful of countries have active textile EPR schemes, but this is likely to change now the EU has proposed to apply EPR to the sector.

What are the important things to know?

Textile waste faces a unique set of challenges:

  • Increase in fast fashion: Beyond increasing the resource footprint of the industry, fast fashion means the quality, mix and length of fibres make re-wearing and recycling far less likely.
  • Lack of separate collection: Without targeted collection, textile waste often misses steps in the waste hierarchy by going to landfill or incineration.
  • Limited capacity for recycling: The market for textiles to fibre recycling is not established, meaning unwearable collected clothes end up being exported or disposed of.

EPR sets to fix this by providing a funding source for better processes to manage textile waste.

In March 2024, the EU adopted amendments to the Waste Directive that will affect textiles, this will:

  • Require countries to set up separate collections of textiles for reuse and recycling by January 2025.
  • Introduce mandatory EPR schemes, harmonised at the EU level.

What businesses need to do

The exact details of EPR schemes will vary by country, though key requirements that will affect textile businesses across the EU are:

  • Pay the EPR fees: To pay per item of clothing, linen, footwear and accessories - as eco-modulated for any sustainable features.
  • Share information to customers: To provide end-users with info on sustainable use, repair arrangements and end-of-life treatment of their products.
  • Register on the database: All covered textile producers will have to register on the EPR databases in order to sell textile products.

This will impact all textile producers in the EU. The UK has also indicated it will consider applying EPR to textiles, but the review will occur after 2025.

What to expect going forward

The EU proposal has been adopted into the Waste Directive and will await adoption by the new EU parliament after the election in June. Once adopted, Member States will have 18 months to enforce their own EPR schemes.

The best way to prepare for EPR in the meantime is to design products with durability and circularity in mind. This nests perfectly with the upcoming Eco-design regulations (ESPR) that will set textile design standards and mandate sustainability data sharing.

By Dan Enzer, Senior Sustainability Research Associate at Altruistiq

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Other News

  • Food price volatility due to weather. Cocoa is trading at $9000 this week (FT). Olive oil output cut to 30-50% with Olive oil becoming the “most stolen item across Spain” (CNN). Bread, beer and biscuit prices in the UK set to rise after a very soggy winter (Evening News).
  • Solar batteries are cheaper than coal in China (Carbon Brief). China’s energy policy presents a paradox: While expanding clean energy at breakneck speed, China has also been building new coal-powered plants (up fourfold since 2019 and accounts for 95% of the world’s new coal power construction in 2019). Coal is being pitched to guarantee energy security as solar and wind output is variable.
  • The world's oceans suffer from a record-breaking year of heat (BBC). For 50 days, ocean temperatures have hit existing highs for this time of year by the largest margin. The super-heated oceans have hit marine life hard and driven a new wave of coral bleaching.
  • World Bank suggests they will repurpose farming subsidies away from high-emission foods (Euronews). The World Bank has suggested this shift in its first strategic framework on food production's impact on climate change. “High-income countries should decrease consumer demand for emissions-intensive, animal-source foods by fully pricing environmental and health externalities, repurposing subsidies, and promoting sustainable food options.” - World Bank Report.

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