What's the situation? A stricken ship has leaked over 1,000 tons of oil over the coast of Mauritius. Experts fear that the ship may soon break in half, which could have devastating effects on the surrounding environment.
How did it happen? It is believed that harsh weather conditions caused the leak.
Who caused it? The cracked vessel, MV Wakashio, is operated by the Japanese Mitsui OSK Lines.
More facts The spill occurred near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems, as well as the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve. There are also mangrove plantations and well-known beaches nearby.
Threatened birds, captive fruit bats, and thousands of plants were removed from a nearby island, Ile aux Aigrettes by conservation activists.
Using technology to mitigate spills Human error is the leading cause for maritime accidents.
By integrating AI into the complicated world of global transportation, we can reduce and possibly even eliminate the risks associated with long-distance, heavy-duty shipping routes.
- Use predictive analysis to prevent spills
- Expedite response-time
- Mitigate risks for clean-up efforts
Bottom line Using AI in shipping and clean-ups lessens the risk of future spills, and reduces the impact of existing disasters.
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- Capture: This app helps you measure your carbon footprint
- RecycleCoach: Become a better recycler using this app!
- Buycott: Become a smarter and more conscious consumer using this app
- Waze: Use this app to find alternate routes and save money and gas, while reducing the environmental impact of your commute!
- PaperKarma: Track and cut paper waste by stopping junk mail using this app.
What to know American aluminum can suppliers are experiencing a shortage. Unpredictable consumer behavior and increased demand led suppliers to miss production levels and now beverage brands must scramble to compete for what's left.
Why it matters The overall shift from single-use plastics has also led major drink makers to shift from plastic bottles to aluminum cans. And while aluminum cans don't last in the atmosphere forever, they still can have damning effects on waste management. We are living in a world where China doesn't want our trash anymore, and recyclable aluminum cans are more of a band-aid solution of a larger problem.
The silver lining Consider it a stress test. With real-world examples about the fragility of our global system in place, we can now create applicable solutions outside the classroom.
Key recommendations for the shortage
- Brands can adapt by providing bulk alternatives to the traditional 12 oz can.
- Brands can also educate consumers on the label about the importance of maintaining a can's shape for recycling purposes. I was a beer can crusher in college, and I had no clue that crushing a beer can would make it near impossible to recycle.
- To consumer, do you love beer? Me too. Go to your local brewery, and fill up a growler. You can fill up a lot of beer for a great price, straight from the tap. You can support a local business, and the beer tastes fantastic if you pick the right brewer. There are more quality independent breweries out there today than ever before.
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Busy? Here’s the speed read.
The scoop As consumer goods go green, PepsiCo announced last week its plan to further develop and scale the world’s first recyclable paper bottle.
Paper bottles PepsiCo will begin testing on the new paper bottle in 2021. The bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and is designed to be fully recyclable in standard waste streams.
- We need innovation and ambition in the food & beverage space, this is a good place to start
- Limiting the amount of waste in the ocean is always a win, but Pepsi still has a long way to go
- Organizations are building new, innovative ways to clean up Pepsi’s mess.
- This is definitely a bit of greenwashing
- The announcement calls for R&D testing in 2021, so we may not see paper bottles on the shelf for some time.
- Furthermore, Pepsi did not elaborate on its major paper proposal’s inevitable impact on trees.
The scoop BlackRock’s Larry Fink warns CEOs that the risks associated with climate change will compromise returns without reallocation of capitol, calling for potentially the biggest divestment in finance history.
Why it matters BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, pledges to divest from fossil fuels and coal, increase investment transparency, and promote firm accountability throughout their sustainable transition.
Bottom line Though his letter is a step in the right direction, it merely foreshadows the significant changes yet to come. Executives will either embrace innovation today or be overshadowed by forward-thinking leaders.
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How it stands
- Companies frequently implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs (which include sustainability initiatives) in order to improve their image in the eyes of investors and customers, which in turn boosts profits.
- But it is unclear if CSR programs actually make the world a better place
- Most of the information about a company’s environmental footprint is only available through the company itself, presenting an obstacle to objective evaluation.
- Coca-Cola claims to have reduced the water footprint of their drinks. But their calculations do not include the water used in the supply chain that provides the ingredients and packaging for the final product.
- CSR programs (like Coca-Cola’s) often use offsets which instead of conserving limited resources lead to increased consumption.
- Unilever claims to use a scientific approach to sustainability, trying to reduce their own emissions instead of investing in offsets for carbon neutrality.
- More recently, Unilever announced the addition of carbon footprint labels on all products to increase transparency.
- While the effectiveness of corporate sustainability programs is mixed, the fact that sustainability is on their radar and part of their marketing strategy is a big step forward.
- Don’t take everything you hear at face value. Take a deep dive into a company’s sustainability practices and decide for yourself.
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The billion-dollar banana maker announced an ambitious plan to eliminate fossil-based plastic packaging by 2025, and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Dole's plan Turn food waste into repurposed solutions like...
- Pineapple skin packaging
- New snacks made from rejected fruit
- Facilities powered by food waste converted into electricity.
What to expect Other major food producers will respond. The goal-setting sustainability trend continues, and only time will tell whether R&D goal-making converts into tangible results.
In the meantime, you can feel a little bit better about your next purchase of a Nicaraguan-born Dole banana.
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The scoop The price of crude oil plummeted following the outbreak of the novel COVID-19. As 2020 began, Brent crude oil - the global oil benchmark - cost $64/barrel. By April 21st, 2020, the price had dropped to $17/barrel. What happened?
Future of Oil
- The volatility and steep decline in oil prices may lead some producers to shut down operations. Shale oil extraction pioneer Chesapeake Energy recently declared bankruptcy. Many oil giants are delaying expansion projects.
- Investors are now less inclined to invest in oil & gas -- lower prices = greater risk, less profit. Energy was the worst performing sector in the S&P 500 index for four out of the last six years.
Environmental impact Climate awareness already poses a threat to Big Oil. With this economic crisis, investors might turn to renewable energy. Renewables are more price stable, cheap, and cost-competitive, even during low prices of oil.
Bottom Line It’s impossible to predict the future. Big Oil will certainly survive the pandemic, but its century-long domination of energy may soon end. One thing’s for sure -- clean technology has a strong outlook, and can certainly give oil and gas companies a run for their money. Not only from its greenness, but also in its economics.
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What to know Sustainable investing allows you to implement your core values while increasing your profits. ETFs, Index Funds, and Roboadvisors are a good place to start.
Four main approaches
- Exclusionary screening - avoiding investment in companies or sectors that do not align with investor values.
- ESG integration - rating companies based on their implementation of Environmental, Social and Governance principles.
- Thematic investing - focusing investments according to interest in specific themes, for example clean energy.
- Impact investing - investing in companies or funds with the intention of generating impact alongside a financial return.
Bottom line -- Sustainable investing not only offers you a way to invest according to your values, but it also provides good financial performance and potential risk mitigation.
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Hot take music festivals need sustainability now more than ever.
What’s the matter The music industry is an integral part of society, but it has some catching up to do in the world of sustainability. With constant traveling, waste production and energy demands, tours and festivals carry a heavy environmental impact.
By the numbers
- A UK study found that in 2015, five artists collectively generated 19,314 kilograms of CO2 emissions between April and September (the equivalent of 1 million people’s CO2 emission per year)
- Tours can go through 18,720 plastic bottles a year
Bottom line While touring and festivals may be environmentally harmful now, there are many potential solutions for eliminating single-use plastics, utilizing biodiesel in transportation, recycling batteries, sourcing merchandise made from organic materials, promoting carpooling to the event, and educating fans.
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