A Campaign to reduce the climate change impacts of supermarket refrigeration. I helped initiate this initiative, which was launched in 2009 and I have a continuing involvement. It is run by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).Did you know that as much as 30% of the carbon footprint of supermarkets comes from the cooling gases used in their refrigeration systems? And that’s before you take account of the energy used for powering equipment. We have brought this issue to public attention, so that supermarkets switch to more climate-friendly cooling gases. We’ve carried out a survey of the supermarkets and created a league table to show how well they’ve done. Have a look at the Chilling Facts website to get the latest information.
I started working with John Elkington at Earthlife in 1986 but early in 1987 the organisation collapsed and we moved to John’s house in Barnes and set up SustainAbility. Earthlife was a pioneering organisation that put money from business into promoting the sustainable use of the planet’s resources. It’s main campaign was to raise a large sum of money to underwrite the conservation of one of Africa’s richest rainforests in the Cameroon.
I have been involved in eco-labelling since its inception in the late 1980s. After John Elkington and I wrote the original Green Consumer Guide we had a number of people approach us to suggest that we set up our own scheme giving a ‘green consumer’ endorsement to products and services. We realized that this wasn’t practical or desirable and could take over our whole operations, so I was happy to join a government initiative exploring how to approach eco-labeling. In 1999, the UK Eco-Labelling Board, run by DEFRA, evolved into ACCPE – the Advisory Council on Consumer Products and the Environment, where I was vice-chair until it’s demise in 2005. For a summary of Eco-labelling history click HERE.
Between 2005 and 2008 I sat on the board of the Ecos Trust, formerly known as the Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development. This charity promoted sustainable building projects and lobbied for stronger regional policies on the issue. In 2011 Ecos Trust ceased trading and ongoing projects were transferred to Ecos Renew.
When I visited e-waste company, Environcom in September 2011, Sean Feeney, the CEO, had been in place for less than a year. In that time he had increased the amount of e-waste being refurbished for reuse from almost nothing to 15% of what they receive – with a target of 30%. Perhaps even more impressive is that they’ve done this by almost doubling their employees and turning the company around from a £2.4m loss to a profit.
Sean has been a key inspiration behind E For Good. He has helped develop ideas with us, provided some seed funding and is a non-executive director. We are working together to set up an exemplar on how e-waste should be collected, reused and recycled.
Environmental Investigation Agency
The EIA contacted me in 2008 for help in highlighting the huge climate change impact of supermarket refrigeration. I suggested a survey ranking the supermarkets on their performance. The EIA carried out this survey and with help from Nick Cox and me produced a league table, which was published early in 2009. Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme covered the issue and the Chilling Facts campaign was launched. The idea was to carry out an annual survey, which we have done since 2009. Fionnuala Walravens has been running the campaign – she is a world authority on climate-friendly refrigeration and represents the NGO perspective at international conferences.
Food Ethics Council
I stood down from the Food Ethics Council in 2011, after a 4 year stint. This is a charity and independent think tank, challenging government, business and society to ‘make wise choices that lead to better food and farming’. I’ve also chaired the business forum meetings on ‘food miles’, ‘meat consumption’ and, most recently, on food labeling.
I started working with Anna Guyer, founder of Greenhouse PR, in 2010. We have collaborated on a number of projects together – and I have become an Associate of the company. She also nominated me as one of her Eco Heroes on her blog. Greenhouse PR are helping us with E For Good.
Jupiter Global Green Investment Trust
Run by Jupiter Asset Management I was a Non-Executive Director of Jupiter Global Green Investment Trust between 2001 and 2006. The aim of JGGIT was to provide capital growth by investing worldwide in companies that responded positively to the challenge of environmental sustainability or were making a commitment to social well-being. JGGIT was advised by the Jupiter Environmental Research Unit, a team of full time researchers dedicated to the assessment of companies’ environmental and ethical performance. This team was led by Emma Howard Boyd. In 2006 this fund was rolled into Jupiter Green, which invests in environmental solutions.
Keep Britain Tidy
In 2011, when Keep Britain Tidy merged with Waste Watch, I agreed to join its board. However, shortly after I joined, I resigned due to concerns that there may be a ‘conflict of interest’ with my newly formed organisation ‘E For Good’. However, I have a positive relationship with KBT and may well work with them on future projects – particularly their ‘Love Where You Live Campaign’ and Eco-Schools.
I met Melinda Watson in 2010 – she came to tell me about her newly formed organisation, the Raw Foundation. They are working with young people to tackle the problems caused by our materialistic and disposable culture. Their two key campaigns are targeting oil-based plastics and e-waste. Melinda and I realised we shared a common interest and set up the E-Waste Campaign, which was the precursor to E For Good. Melinda is co-founder and director of the new organisation and, amongst other things, is developing our education materials, as well as using her design skills.
Set up by Charles Perry and Mark Griffiths in 2009, Second Nature advises companies on sustainability issues. Their tag line is ‘We help transform organisations to make sustainability second nature. Their particular strengths relate to energy issues – Charles used to work with BP – batteries, China and clean tech. I am a member of their advisory board.
I joined the board of Waste Watch in February 2010. The organisation has traditionally focused on waste and recycling and was a pre-cursor to WRAP (Waste Resources Action Plan). However, it revised its strategy to put less emphasis on recycling and more on reducing waste of resources. Although the focus was primarily on working with local authorities, the organization is increasing what they do for business – and campaigns on waste issues across the board. At the end of 2011, Waste Watch merged with Keep Britain Tidy, although it retains its offices in Central London. I moved to the KBT board – see here.