There hasn’t been a latest green news for a while, so here’s an extra long one for you to enjoy.
Marks & Spencer is to ban petrol-fuelled company cars, recycle more coat hangers and give its chickens more room to roam, according to new eco-pledges to be announced today. The 33-page report, contained in its annual corporate social responsibility review published alongside its annual report and accounts, makes 100 commitments to tackle climate change, cut waste, increase sustainability, encourage healthier lifestyles and make M&S a ‘fair partner’ to do business with.
Ikea is switching its entire UK company-car fleet to hybrid vehicles as a prelude to a possible company-wide shift to greener vehicles. The company said it would trade in its Skoda company cars for Honda Civic hybrids by next year in a pilot programme that it is considering extending to other countries.
The cost of organic fruit and vegetables could fall after the discovery of a new technique which extends the shelf life of fresh produce. Scientists have found that treating apples with short bursts of oxygen allows them to be kept in cold storage for as long as eight months without them developing any blemishes.
B&Q will this week pledge to abandon the sale of the endangered hardwood merbau at its Chinese stores amid criticism of China’s timber trade and mounting concern about the contribution of illegal logging to global warming. Executives from the company will hold a joint press conference with Greenpeace in Beijing on Tuesday at which they will outline plans to
abandon the wood which is currently used in flooring and furniture.
The Daily Express reported that Superfoods are not only enjoying a popularity boom, they are fuelling a multimillion-pound industry. Blueberries have enjoyed the biggest sales surge of all, up 132% in two years, with Britons spending 95m on them in the year to last month. Other foods renowned for their health benefits, such as broccoli, salmon and spinach, have also been selling strongly. The Evening Standard also reports that demand for organic and Fairtrade produce has soared. A poll has shown that the proportion of people agreeing that it is worth paying more for organic food has risen from 24.3% in 2002 to 33.4% this year.
The Guardian reported on a campaign to encourage shoppers and retailers to support the first ever national plastic bag-free Christmas. We Are What We Do has announced it plans this week to build on heightened public awareness about the issue to end the wasteful use of plastic bags and excessive packaging over Christmas. It hopes to persuade retailers to
tell shoppers that they will not automatically get a plastic bag, and to display a colourful logo saying “Plastic Ain’t My Bag”.
The government’s chief scientist Sir David King has advised that all food products should carry a carbon emissions label to enable shoppers to buy greener goods. He also called excessive packaging “a consumer tragedy”.
The Financial Times today reports that Europe’s agricultural ministers have agreed on a compulsory logo for organic food as new figures have revealed that an increasing number of farmers are switching to the production method in response to consumer demand. The logo will be used from 2009, however some producers have stated that standards have been set too low as they permit genetically modified material that accidentally enters the food chain.
Royal Mail, the UK postal services company, is to conduct trials of electric vehicles after awarding a contract to Tanfield. Royal Mail, which boasts a fleet of over 33,000 vehicles, has taken a single 7.5-tonne Newton electric truck and a single 3.5-tonne Edison van on trial. A successful trial could see Royal Mail place an order for more electric vans in a deal
that could potentially be the largest signed by Tanfield.
The Sunday Mirror today reports that sales of organic food have reached over Â£1b-a-year for the first time, increasing by 9.3% in the year to March 2007. A new report has revealed that the food has grown so popular that it is leading to new supply shortages. Dairy goods and fresh produce were the biggest sellers, with milk accounting for 19% of organic sales growth. Sales of organic poultry, fish and meat also rose by 11.5%.
The Evening Standard City Spy claims that Marks & Spencer’s new plastic bags, made with 20% recycled material, do not work. The article claims they are thinner and flimsier than the old bags, meaning that customers are forced to ‘double-up’.
The price of organic food could increase because of new rules about GM labelling, campaigners warn today. The Soil Association and Organic Farmers and Growers have pledged to keep their criteria of accidental GM contamination at 0.1%, despite EU agricultural ministers agreeing that 0.9 per cent should be the cut-off point for GM-free labelling. Maintaining this standard could incur extra costs to farmers and growers which would in turn push prices up.
Waitrose has started selling milk in plastic pouches after campaigners complained that the sale of millions of plastic milk bottles was threatening the environment. The pouches will be sold alongside special jugs to use them with.
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