The head of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy has claimed that the proliferation of agreements on “green” and other product standards between large western retailers and consumer groups is likely to spark a new row with developing countries that fear new barriers to their exports. Lamy also said that new and tougher standards could offset the benefits of removing tariff barriers for developing countries.
Director of the Soil Association Patrick Holden revealed a 22% rise in the UK organic food and drink market over the past year. He notes that sales through organic box schemes, farm shops and at the farm gate have increased by 53% – double the volume sold through supermarkets.
Wal-Mart revealed plans to cut costs by measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout its chain supply. The retailer said that it will ask its more than 60,000 suppliers to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions. The company will then use the data to cut costs, by comparing similar companies to identify which are less efficient. Wal-Mart has formed a partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project as part of a plan to get its suppliers to manage their greenhouse gas emissions better.
Philips has announced plans to invest €1bn in developing environmental technologies in an attempt to boost its revenues from green products. Chief executive Gerard Kleisterlee has told staff that he wants the company to derive 30% of its revenues from green technologies by 2012.
Sainsbury’s has announced that it will launch a new campaign to boost its environmental and social credentials. The Different Values campaign, which will use press advertising and a new series of television adverts featuring Jamie Oliver, comes in response to rival supermarkets’ recent attempts to promote their ethical awareness.
The Times reported that a series of surveys on consumers’ social and environmental attitudes have revealed that eighty per cent of customers say that they are not given enough environmental information to make informed choices about electrical products. While it is estimated that household appliances become on average 2% more energy efficient every year, the fall has been more than offset by the increasing number of electrical items in homes. The Energy Saving Trust says that the average number of electrical goods in British households has risen from 17 in the 1970s to 42 now.
The once niche market for environmentally-friendly car insurance is on the rise, as rising environmental awareness amongst consumers has led to a surge in demand for ‘green’ products. Insurers offering such products include The Cooperative Group, Norwich Union, Royal & SunAlliance and Ibuyeco, with other eco-friendly products, such as hybrid cars and carbon offset air travel schemes, also rising to prominence. However, carbon offsetting has come under fire from critics, sparking a debate over whether the practice is actually environmentally beneficial.
The Daily Telegraph reported that designer Katharine Hamnett has announced that she will terminate a deal to supply organic and fair trade clothing to Tesco stating that she is “incredibly disappointed” that the retailer had broken promises to roll out her Choose Love range and promote it in store. “I was initially really excited about the tie-up because I thought we could increase demand for ethical products. But I’ve come to the conclusion that [Tesco] simply wants to appear ethical, rather than make a full commitment to the range” she said.