Aldi, aside from its low prices, has proven to be an environmentally conscious company. It has already pledged to implement 100% recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. Earlier this month, the company pledged to take its sustainability efforts one large step further. This time, it tackles the plastic problem.
Aldi Tries Plastic Bag Alternatives At Scale
Aldi is looking to replace plastic bags with either paper or compostable bags. Eventually, it hopes to roll out this ambitious plan to all of its 830 stores.
Specifically, the company’s paper bags are made from materials sourced from sustainable forests. On the other hand, its compostable bags are made of bioplast, which is compostable within a year.
To start, Aldi is experimenting with offering paper bags in one half of its stores and compostable bags in the other. The company will roll out the more popular option nationwide.
Altogether, Aldi’s plan to replace its plastic bags with either paper or compostable bags will save upwards of 1,300 tons of plastic annually.
Next Steps for Aldi
Aside from its current initiative to replace plastic bags with paper and compostable alternatives, Aldi also hopes to introduce other sustainable initiatives.
For instance, the company will roll out a reusable bag made entirely of back-of-store waste as well as one made of cotton. Additionally, Aldi aims to reduce plastic packaging by one-quarter by the year 2023.
Fritz Wallaczec, the company’s Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility affirmed Aldi’s dedication to sustainability. He said, “Reducing the amount of plastic we produce is fundamental to our commitment to being a … environmentally responsible business.”
It will be interesting to see if other chains follow suit. So far, Walmart has made a similar commitment to introducing reusable plastic bags at its cash registers. However, Walmart’s bags are offered to customers at the $0.98 price-point, which many consumers would realistically not opt for.
Currently, companies like Target, Safeway, and Costco have yet to come out with alternatives for traditional plastic bags. Hence, they and others continue to contribute to the plastic problem.
Kanye West Unveils Plans for More Sustainable Yeezy Shoes … Using Algae-Based Foam
Though Kanye West is known for his radical opinions, nobody expected him to come out with algae-based Yeezy shoes. Well, it turns out, he’s joining the cadre of celebrities who have expressed their concern for the environment. And more so, he is echoing the sentiment that every business has a responsibility towards sustainable development. At the recent Fast Company Innovation Festival, Kanye revealed a new algae-based Yeezy design and plans to make older models environmentally friendly too.
Though for now the details of it all are still unclear, Kanye’s intent seems genuine enough for a start. In this day and age, it is understood that innovation and sustainability go hand in hand in any business. People expect the brands they know and love to have a proactive stance towards today’s sustainability problems.
So to take a step back, what is the algae craze anyway? And why, out of all materials, is Kanye looking to use algae in the newest Yeezy shoes?
The Algae Problem
Algae is typically harmless, but not when it grows out of control. Because farmers use excess fertilizer, plants don’t absorb it and it runs into bodies of water to feed algae colonies instead. And global warming isn’t helping either. Because algae grows in warm conditions, this summer’s weather resulted in a significant spike in algae levels.
High concentrations of algae lead to high concentrations of cyanobacteria, which can have adverse health effects. These can range from abdominal pain to severe respiratory paralysis. Moreover, this surplus of algae blocks sunlight from reaching plankton, which effectively disrupts aquatic food chains.
Kanye West Has A Solution
The new Yeezys require far less fossil fuels than its more environmentally-taxing counterparts. Though the shoe still contains a few petroleum-based chemicals, the main component, the algae-based foam, eliminates a good amount.
Because algae is renewable and abundant, it is a perfect candidate to use to make a shoe. Using it to make eco-friendly everyday items can mitigate several environmental threats.
Kanye West Is Revamping The Older Models Too
West hasn’t completely forgotten about his older models. The company plans to move its headquarters to a 4,000-acre ranch in Wyoming, where it can farm all the fibers it needs.
Production will also move to the United States, where the company will also work on creating low-impact dyes. After all, dyes also create significant fashion-related environmental hazards.
It is always a pleasant surprise to see celebrities show concern about the planet and actually do something to tackle environmental issues. Kanye West, known already for his radical approach to fashion, seems to be a shoo-in for an initiative like the one he’s started.
Although his ideas are at their earliest stages, they show great promise, both to the environment and fashion worlds. And we can only wait to see what comes of them.
McDonald’s Unveils Two New Sustainability Initiatives That Could Power 2,500 Stores
On Thursday, fast-food giant McDonald’s announces its latest sustainability plans to pursue two new renewable energy projects. These projects are virtual power purchase agreements with Apex Clean Energy and Ares Management, and are based in Texas. One project will be solar-energy based, and the other will generate power using wind energy. And altogether, these projects are estimated to be able to power over two thousand stores.
So just how much energy will be produced in the project and what will its impacts look like beyond just the numbers?
How Much Energy Will Be Produced In The McDonald’s Sustainability Project?
According to the business’s calculations, these two projects can produce 380 megawatts (MW) of energy. To give that number some context, that could power more than 2,500 McDonald’s restaurants.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, one MW of solar energy can power about 164 American homes. That means that the energy output from this project has the potential to power about 62,320 homes.
However, this number can vary with differences in average sunshine, wind, and temperature that the solar panels endure. According to McDonald’s, this is contribution of renewable energy to the grid is more than any other restaurant company.
This agreement is also good for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The restaurant’s power generation will aid in preventing 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This amount of emissions would otherwise be created during energy generation processes using non-renewable means like natural gas or coal.
This is equivalent to planting more than 11 million trees. It is also comparable to taking over 140,000 passenger cars off the road for a year.
So, What Is A VPPA?
A business produces a surplus of energy that it would rather sell to the grid than use itself. The grid is the supply of energy sent to other users, like private residences.
To do this, the business partners with an offtaker, someone who wants the electricity the business wants to offload. (This is frequently an electricity supplier.)
In a VPPA where the energy involved in the transaction comes from renewable resources, the company also receives renewable energy certificates, or RECs.
Energy from coal and energy from solar panels look the same once put into the grid. RECs are essentially proof that the energy that the company is selling is derived from renewable sources. The energy supplier pays for the energy and the RECs in a contract that typically lasts around 15 years.
In short, this agreement gives McDonald’s an incentive to grow its renewable energy production. If this deal is a success, then it will majorly motivate other companies with the same scale as McDonald’s to make VPPAs as well and grow their renewable energy production.
McDonald’s Sustainability Goals Broken Down
Many businesses have sustainability goals that deal with reducing their carbon footprint or energy usage, or utilizing renewable sources of energy.
Companies frequently make announcements of new sustainability goals. With their frequency, it is easy to become desensitized to them.
More than half of Fortune 500 companies have such goals. What’s more is that many of these companies take no concrete steps towards achieving their goals. This seemed to be the position of McDonald’s before this week.
Back in 2018, McDonald’s announced its Scale for Good environmental sustainability campaign. The goals contained within included reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36% by 2030, and a 31% reduction in emissions intensity per metric ton of food and packaging.
According to the restaurant chain, this would “prevent 150 million metric tons of C02 equivalents (CO2e) from being released into the atmosphere by 2030.”
Additionally, it would be the equivalent of “taking 32 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year or planting 3.8 billion trees and growing them for 10 years.”
Like other Fortune 500 companies, these are lofty goals. Unlike a majority of other Fortune 500 companies, though, McDonald’s has taken a concrete step to achieving these goals by creating the VPPAs.
Looking Into The Future
Consuming more energy from renewable sources is a major step towards overall environmental sustainability and a step towards preventing further environmental damage.
With the announcement of this deal, hopefully other companies follow suit and make real, serious progress towards their own environmental goals.
Final Note: We encourage the McDonald’s team and other companies making a difference in sustainability to reach out at email@example.com. We are always looking to work with companies to learn what they’re working on.
Big-Name Photography Brands Commit To Becoming More Environmentally Sustainable
These days, media attention as it relates to sustainable seems to be on obvious areas like oil and gas. That said, we shouldn’t forget about industries that are more directly relevant to what people do on a daily basis. For instance, photography is an important pastime and hobby that many enjoy.
And more than just a means through which people capture their lives’ most precious moments, it’s an industry. That means we should take a look at its environmental impacts.
So far, the camera industry has been relatively shy of sustainability coverage. If you’re wondering how the makers of the world’s most popular cameras look at sustainability, keep reading.
Big-Name Photography Brands Called Out For Not Being Sustainable
In the past, companies like Sony and Panasonic have been labeled as unsustainable by several sources including the Center for Sustainable Organizations. As a result, these companies have set up initiatives they (hopefully) plan to follow.
Sony and Panasonic React To Make Their Businesses More Sustainable
Consequently, Sony has announced it will power 100% of its worldwide operations with renewable energy sources by 2040.
And currently, the company powers 100% of its European operations with renewable resources. Additionally, Panasonic wants to eliminate all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Canon Has Been Tackling Sustainability For Almost 30 Years
Many of these newer initiatives tend to evoke suspicion about greenwashing among consumers, but Canon’s commitment to sustainability goes back almost 30 years. Since 1990, the company has been collecting copier toner cartridges with the intent to recycle.
And more recently, aside from its work in cameras, the company has been developing lighter, more compact versions of its printers and projectors that use less power.
Smaller Players Also Look To Make Photography More Sustainable
But efforts to make photography a more sustainable business aren’t just coming from huge companies; startups are getting involved too.
Take, for instance, Lomography, a film upstart hailing from Vienna, which recently announced the release of its new camera, the LomoMod No. 1.
The company makes most of its camera parts out of cardboard. And although the other main feature, the liquid-fill lens, is made of plastic, the camera body is all cardboard, flat-packed to be assembled at home.
The flat packing also minimizes space taken up, reducing the amount of packaging required to hold it.
Though photography is far from being one of the most unsustainable industries, companies that are prioritizing sustainability are allowing it to stay that way.
Whether it’s small photography companies or brands that have become household names, their continued commitment to sustainability will hopefully allow consumers to continue to capture the most important moments in their lives without taking a toll on the environment.
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