Thursday, May 12, 2016


Published as a podcast at on Friday 13th May.

I'm a gardener. I've often been told that there is no such thing as weed. It's just a plant in the wrong place.
I'm a consumer. We’re increasingly told that there is no such thing as rubbish. It's just materials in the wrong place.

Hello, this is Anthony Day and here is the latest episode of the sustainable futures report for Friday, 13 May.

This week we ask whether electronic waste is the new gold-rush and comment on a new report from the Environmental Services Association. What was the carbon footprint of COP21? Who might be making cars as well as vacuum cleaners? Where will the 5th Carbon Budget take us? 

Beware of Bank Fraud

But first, a cautionary tale which suggests that it’s sometimes a good idea to pay by cheque. We sold a family house recently and asked the solicitor to pay the proceeds into the bank. “No,” they said, “we’ll send a cheque. It’s the firm’s policy.”
“A cheque? For hundreds of thousands of pounds?”
They explained that there were too many cases where account numbers had been misquoted or fraudsters had managed to intercept and change them. The money went to the wrong account and disappeared forever. For these large amounts they now only use cheques.

This week it was reported that South Korea’s largest petrochemical company, LG Chem, made a $21-million wire payment to a fraudulent company account claiming to be that of Saudi Aramco, which is LG Chem’s supplier in Saudi Arabia of naphtha.
According to LG Chem, it had received an email seemingly sent by Saudi Aramco Products Trading in which it was notified about a bank account change. The sender was aware of the amount of money which LG Chem owed its supplier and asked for the sum to be wired into the new account. And it did. It’s urgently seeking redress from both its supplier and the government.

It’s very difficult to spot fraudulent documents and transactions in a busy accounts office. We’ve all seen very credible-looking invoices and received carefully-designed emails which are supposed to have come from the bank, or PayPal or the tax office. Most of these are for small amounts and could slip through for payment with minimal authorisation requirements. Good for a fraudster sending out thousands each day.

Bank account details are something else. If you receive notification of a change to a payee’s account your systems and procedures should demand confirmation via channels you know you can trust. You might consider sending a nominal £1 payment to any new account and confirming with the recipient that it’s arrived, before making a major transfer.


An article in poses the question ‘Is e-waste the next gold-rush?’

In 2014 alone, it tells us, the volume of e-waste generated across the world - scrap computers, phones, televisions, games consoles and so on - topped 40 million tonnes – enough to fill 15,000 football stadiums. By 2017, the world could be producing 50 million tonnes of the stuff every year. Less than 20 per cent of that is recycled worldwide. Why a gold-rush? Well, as rare metals get rarer and more difficult to extract, recycling starts to become more interesting. For a start, weight for weight there is 17 times as much gold in scrap mobile phones as there is in the same amount of ore. At the same time scrap phones contain copper, silver and rare earth metals. The problem is getting the materials out. Many components are glued in place and some of the materials are toxic. The only places where wages are low enough to support the labour needed to take scrap electronics apart are in developing countries. Few of these countries have regulations to protect either the workers or the environment. 

Modular Phones

The circular economy approach is to design products to make them easy to repair, refurbish and finally recycle. 
The new Fairphone, for instance, (we’ve mentioned it before) uses a case made from recycled plastics and a printed circuit board made from recycled copper. The idea is to have interchangeable components, which means that every part can be replaced separately without throwing away the whole smartphone. This means it can be upgraded, extending its life.

The rumour is that Google’s Project ARA is a modular phone. The launch has been announced and postponed several times. The Project ARA website has a single black page with an email address for developers to contact, and nothing else. According to this means that the launch is imminent and updates could come at the Google I/O trade show, to be held May 18 to 20 in Mountain View, California.

Other commentators suggest that Google wants to put ARA on the “too hard” pile and let it be quietly forgotten. Yes, a modular phone has tremendous advantages in terms of resource recycling and avoids any conflict minerals. It gives the consumer the opportunity to upgrade and customise the speaker, the battery, the camera, the memory, the screen and so on. The problem is that it has to compete in a market where other vendors - and consumers - still see the phone as a fashion item to be discarded for a new model, often in less than a year. The modular phone needs to be stylish, price-competitive and the modules mustn’t fall out. The technical problems are considerable. Imagine four or five exchangeable modules, many from third-party suppliers. Then imagine trying to ensure that they all work together in all possible combinations. Whose fault is it if they don’t? Whose fault is it if they wipe your data or even publish your address book on the internet?

Anyway, assuming we can design products for recycling, including many more products, not just mobile phones, a new report from the Environmental Services Association called Delivering Sustainable Growth raises a number of issues. 

A Future for Recycling

It starts by explaining that: “The Environmental Services Association (ESA) is the voice of Resource and Waste Management Industry in the UK. Our Members turn waste into valuable resources while protecting the environment. We represent approximately half of the waste sector—including all the major companies” 
In his foreword to the report, chairman Peter Gerstrom says:
“The industry is working hard to fulfil its ambitions of a more Circular Economy that is beneficial both for the environment and for GDP. This report sets out our achievements and ambitions for delivering sustainable growth within our industry and for the whole nation. 
“However,” he goes on, “there are certain barriers to reaching our full potential where Government intervention is crucial, and in many cases, increasingly urgent. 
“Household waste volumes are once again rising, putting a huge burden on local authority finances. Our industry is also currently experiencing immense challenges with the drop in commodity prices putting pressure on the economic viability of recycling. This unstable outlook has had knock-on implications for investment in waste infrastructure. Combined, these factors are making the likelihood of the UK reaching its target of 50% household recycling by 2020 ever smaller. On top of this, the problem of waste crime is undermining legitimate business and costing the Exchequer hundreds of millions of pounds each year. 
“We believe that with the right policy climate, not only can immediate threats be averted, but our industry can contribute even more to a thriving workforce, a flourishing environment, and a prosperous economy. 
He calls for four key actions:
  1. The development of more resilient recovery markets for waste-derived products 
  2. The introduction of a new framework for producer responsibility which transfers resource ownership from local authorities to product supply chains 
  3. More efficient use of waste collection systems and infrastructure
  4. Waste crime driven out of the sector
“We believe,” he says, “that tackling these areas will unlock much needed investment in our industry, which would help deliver economic growth, thousands of new jobs, and a greener, cleaner Britain.”
How far the government can help with this is not clear, although it has specific responsibilities under the European Directives. Should we decide to leave the EU at the end of next month of course all that would change. I can’t see this government, focussed as it is on cutting spending and minimising the role of the state, rushing to introduce its own more stringent regulations.

The report is an interesting read, containing case studies and more information on the measures needed to achieve its key objectives. It includes useful diagrams, some recycled from earlier documents. But then, recycling is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

You can find a link to the report above. 

In other news

Who might be making cars as well as vacuum cleaners?
What was the carbon footprint of COP21?

And where will the 5th Carbon Budget take us?

The Government is required to set a legally binding carbon budget for the period 2028-2032 by the end of June 2016. The independent Committee on Climate Change has recommended a budget that would limit annual emissions to an average 57% below 1990 levels, as being the most cost effective way for the UK to achieve its long-term climate targets.

Twenty Conservative MPs have written to the prime minister urging him to accept the steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions required by the UK’s ‘fifth carbon budget’, making a strong statement that climate change is a problem that cannot wait.
The 20 backbench Tory MPs include former fisheries minister Richard Benyon, chair of the health select committee Sarah Wollaston, former under secretary of state for health Daniel Poulter, and member of the environmental audit committee Rebecca Pow.

“[The carbon budget] is tailored to meeting our carbon obligations at the lowest possible cost and with the highest ancillary gains,” they wrote to David Cameron. “Early and full acceptance of that advice will give investors and government the confidence to act and so maintain this government’s proud record of lower emissions combined with sustained economic growth.”
The letter was co-ordinated by Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness since 2005 and a long-time campaigner for climate action who is also vice-chairman of the Globe group of legislators around the world pushing for laws on greenhouse gases.

Under the fifth carbon budget, emissions must fall by 57% below 1990 levels by 2032. The budget was set out by the Committee on Climate Change, the statutory body set up under the climate change act to advise ministers on how to meet the UK’s long term climate target of an 80% reduction in emissions by mid-century.

iema reports

This week IEMA, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, published the results of a survey of environment and sustainability professionals. It showed overwhelming support for the UK Government to adopt the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change. for an ambitions 5th Carbon Budget. 

IEMA’s research found that almost 90% (87.3%) of respondents to its poll conducted during the past week believe that the UK Government should accept the Committee on Climate Change recommendation.
Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor said:
The Government’s independent climate advisors have recommended a carbon budget that is consistent with the UK meeting its national and international emissions reductions in the most cost effective way. Government urgently needs to adopt this recommendation to provide long-term certainty to business and investors”. 
The true test of climate leadership is about sustaining the implementation of policies to achieve long-term climate goals. Government must remain resolute in its support for the UK achieving the 2050 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions. The 5th Carbon Budget provides the basis for giving confidence for investment, innovation, progressive transformation and effective action.”

Further to the recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change, the Paris COP 21 climate agreement set in place a framework for limiting global warming to well below 2℃ and to limit net global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the end of this century.  The agreement also set an ambition to limit average global warming to 1.5oC. 
In the UK, the Climate Change Act (2008) sets an 80% GHG emissions reduction for 2050 compared to 1990, with a rolling programme of 3 carbon-budgets each spanning a 5-year period.  

Economic Report

It’s encouraging to hear Tory MPs speaking up in support of carbon reduction. All too often the denialists claim that low carbon policies and green taxes are destroying our industry. Interesting then to read a report from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE. Among other things they conclude that:

The UK is part of a leading group of nations that is taking ambitious action on climate change. This group includes many of the UK’s trade competitors.

There is robust evidence that current UK climate policy regime has not damaged the competitiveness of UK based businesses nor led to relocation. In particular, there is no compelling evidence that investments in the EU have been cancelled, or production moved, because of the EU Emissions Trading System or, in the UK, because of the Climate Change Levy.
Climate change policies generate low-carbon innovation which can boost economic growth. Low-carbon technologies have high social and economic value and tend to have broad application across the economy.  Their breath of application is comparable to new technologies in the ICT sector.

Indeed, it says that
The EU should be prepared to raise the ambition of its emissions reduction target. Its current aim to reduce emissions by 40% (compared to 1990) is at the low end of the target range that would enable the EU to meet its 2050 target at the lowest cost to businesses and consumers.

What are you driving?

Talking or low carbon technology, some of us are old enough to remember the Sinclair C5, the electric car launched by computer pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair. It was a pedal-assisted electric tricycle, assembled at a Hoover factory in Wales. It had a 20-mile range, a maximum speed of only 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), a battery that ran down quickly, a lack of weatherproofing and pedals which you needed when going uphill. It bombed.

Now there’s another link to electric cars and vacuum cleaners. At the end of last year James Dyson bought American battery company Sakti3. 

Prof David Greenwood, who leads the energy storage work at Warwick University’s manufacturing group, said that if the company’s solid-state battery lived up to its promise, Dyson could rival Tesla on the car market. There are already rumours that Dyson is working with the government on the development of an electric car. The key to successfully powering vehicles is energy density within an energy store - the amount of energy stored for a given weight. Petrol, for example, is highly energy-intensive.

Prof Donald Sadoway at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the magazine Nature that high-density batteries could prove decisive in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles: “If we had batteries with [energy densities of] 350 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) we’d have electric vehicles with 350 miles of range, and that’s the end of petroleum.”

Dyson’s battery company, Sakti3, has not disclosed the energy density it has achieved but industry experts estimate it has already passed 300Wh/kg. Sakti3’s patent states: “No solid state batteries with ceramic electrolytes have come close to achieving [our] level of energy density.” Solid state batteries do not have liquid electrolytes - by definition - and do not have the fire risks of lithium ion batteries, which have affected some electric vehicles and some aircraft, notably the Boeing Dreamliner. 

Why put down a deposit for the new Tesla when you could soon be driving a Dyson instead? Made in the UK? That’s the next question.

A Clean COP?

And finally, how clean was COP21, the UN climate change conference held in Paris last December?
Making COP21 a carbon-neutral conference was one of the French Presidency’s commitments. On Thursday, 7 April 2016, Pierre-Henri Guignard, Secretary-General of COP21, presented the carbon footprint of COP21 on national territory: 9,600 tonnes of CO2 equivalent – equal to the annual emissions of just 800 French people, and half the amount forecast, all thanks to an effective action plan.

Not sure whether that accounts for all the air miles, but I expect that the delegates all purchased offsets.

And so another episode of the Sustainable Futures Report draws to a close. Thankfully no casualties have been reported as a result of the wildfire in the tar sands region of Canada. Oil is still nudging $47. I’ll have to ask an expert what that’s all about.

Until next time this is Anthony Day wishing you a very good week and promising you another episode of the sustainable futures report next week. If you're in the UK, enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. I'm certainly going to.

Bye for now.


Published as a podcast at on Friday 6th May

This is Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 6th May. Let me start with a welcome to all new listeners. April saw the largest monthly download rate ever - up 26% on March. There are listeners all over the world, with most in the UK, the US and Canada. Welcome. And do let me have your comments ideas and suggestions for future episodes. I’m at 

This week the world continues to change. How will it affect you, your business and our sustainable future?
The oil price is up - and down; the £ is down. Temperatures are up in Canada to record levels for May and wildfires have broken out in Alberta, leading to the evacuation of some 80,000 residents from the town of Fort MacMurray. 

In Nevada the train goes up, the train goes down. It’s called advanced rail energy storage.

Solar Impulse 2, the electric aeroplane, flew up from Mountain View, California, at dawn last Monday and came down 16 hours later to land in Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, exactly as planned.

Smart meters for all by 2020, but not if Stop Smart Meters can help it. They think they know what the energy companies are up to. And they won’t bring bills down.

That’s enough up and down. Also in this episode,

Would Brexit damage the environment? Britain Stronger in Europe, the body leading the Remain campaign presents 10 green reasons for staying in.

Sir David Mackay, author of SEWTHA, died last month aged only 48. The energy debate continues.

But first, Hinkley C, the planned nuclear power station which is the cornerstone of the UK government’s energy policy, is in the news again. And it’s not good news.

Just to recap, Hinkley C is a new nuclear power station which will have two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) and produce about 7% of the UK’s electricity. Earlier this year saw the resignation of the finance director of EDF, the French company which will build the station. He was concerned that the financial cost, some £18bn, would be too great a risk for the company to bear. The British government has already persuaded the Chinese government to invest 30% of the cost, but EDF has not been able to raise the balance of the finance needed. The contract has therefore not yet been signed. Cornered by a parliamentary committee last month, the chief executive of EDF agreed that the commitment would be made before 15th May. That’s next week. Energy minister Amber Rudd has also expressed her confidence that the plant will go ahead.

Apart from financing, the project is facing technical problems. The EPR is a new reactor design. There are stations using this technology currently under construction in Finland and at Flamanville in Northern France. Both projects are vastly over budget and years behind schedule. At Flamanville the Nuclear Inspectorate has raised doubts about the quality and strength of the main castings. Testing will continue before a final decision is reached towards the end of this year. 

Production of these components was carried out by specialist manufacturer Areva, itself in financial difficulties and likely to be taken over by EDF. Latest news from Reuters is that Areva have said some reports on manufacturing and quality control may have been falsified at its Creusot factory - which supplies the nuclear market with large forgings and castings including the reactor vessel for Flamanville. If the Nuclear Inspectorate decides that the Flamanville reactor vessel must be replaced, part of the building will need to be demolished to get the components in and out. That will probably be the least of EDF’s worries. If these components are rejected the credibility of the EPR, or at least the credibility of the ability of EDF and Areva to deliver it, will be destroyed. Given that this is a real possibility, it is worrying that the British government is pushing ahead with the same technology and the same contractors at Hinkley C, before the outcome of the testing is known.

Will the lights go out if we don’t build Hinkley C? Well even if construction started tomorrow, the station would not start producing power before 2025 at the earliest. It can’t solve any supply problems arising between now and then. The National Grid will issue its annual Winter Outlook Report in the next few weeks, and we’ll look at the problem again then.

Sir David Mackay, a former chief scientific advisor to the Dept of Energy and Climate Change, died recently at the early age of 48. Sir David was a distinguished academic, Fellow of the Royal Society, Cambridge physicist, mathematician, statistician, digital communications expert and author of “Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air” (SEWTHA). This book is a detailed analysis of every component of energy use - heating, lighting, cooking, transport and all the other categories - and every possible source of energy, from nuclear to wave power and oil to anaerobic digestion. His conclusion was that renewables could deliver most, but not all of the energy we required. Many people were disappointed to hear him say in his final interview that since different solutions would be needed for different countries the UK should abandon renewables and concentrate solely on nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS). In fact he went so far as to say that the idea of powering the UK from renewables was an “appalling delusion”.

It’s very difficult to argue with someone of such eminence, but several people have said they hope he’s wrong. Given that the government has withdrawn its support for CCS and the nuclear industry is clearly facing problems, maybe a rethink is in order.  

Of course, one objection constantly raised against renewable energy is that it’s unpredictable. Sometimes the sun doesn't shine, sometimes the wind drops, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time. The answer is energy storage. Batteries are big and expensive, although technical developments are improving both of these factors. Pump storage schemes, where water is slowly pumped up Into hilltop reservoirs and then rapidly released through turbines to meet short-term peaks in electricity demand, are major and expensive civil engineering works. They need large areas of land including suitable lakes and hills. 

The train goes up...

From the United States we now have ARES, advanced rail energy storage. 

This involves motorised trucks laden with concrete blocks travelling up and down a railway line with an 8 degree incline. This translates to about 1 in 7, which, by the way, is considerably steeper than a normal railway. When there is surplus electricity in the grid the trucks are powered to the top of the line. When there’s a shortage, gravity brings the trucks down the line and the electric motors turn into generators, feeding electricity back into the grid.
The US Bureau of Land Management has given its approval for the first commercial scale installation which will use a line rising 1,000 metres in South Nevada. It will have a capacity of 12.5MWh. ARES claims its "fast response technology bridges the power gap between smaller battery and flywheel installations and far larger pumped storage hydro -- at a lower life-cycle cost than batteries, a higher energy-to-power ratio than flywheels, and a greater efficiency and far faster ramp-rate than pumped storage." It also claims that the efficiency is about 85%, and the system can be easily scaled to be much smaller or even bigger than a pump storage scheme and everything about the technology is standard railway equipment. 

I've complained before that the energy debate is mainly about supply; rarely about demand. Enter the Smart meter. The government plans that every domestic consumer will have a smart meter by 2020, and roll-out will begin later this year. The advantage of the smart meter is that it transmits usage data directly to the energy supplier, so there’s no need for anyone to come to the house to read the meter and there should be no more estimated bills. It also provides realtime cost and usage data to the consumer. There’s potentially a lot more to it than that, and while the extra facilities on a smart meter could have several advantages there’s a pressure group called Stop Smart Meters (SSM) which sees them as part of mass surveillance and the march of Big Brother. 

Smart meters will be installed by your energy supplier and there will be no cost to you, the consumer. At least no direct cost: the cost will of course be recovered over time through your bill. You have a legal right to refuse a smart meter, although once you’ve had one installed you cannot have it taken out. The system will consist of an electricity meter and a gas meter linked wirelessly to a communications hub using a dedicated home area wifi network (HAN). An in-home display, allowing the consumer to see how much energy is being used and how much it is costing, will also be provided. Users can link to the HAN to capture the data and carry out their own analysis. The communications hub will link to a national network to send billing data to the energy suppliers, and it can also link to smart appliances, presumably to turn them off for a brief period at times of high demand.

It’s this sort of intervention that concerns the Stop Smart Meters campaign. They believe that smart meters are being introduced solely to increase the profits of the energy companies. They foresee that different rates could be charged for energy at different times of day, according to demand. This is already how industrial customers are billed. They are concerned that the cheapest energy will be available at night, encouraging people to run washing machines and dishwashers while they are asleep. They claim that this is a highly dangerous practice which has not been discussed with the fire services. I wonder if they’ve forgotten Economy Seven. Electricity has been cheaper at night for as long as I can remember and we always run the dishwasher at night. At least unless it’s a sunny day with lots of solar electricity. SSM is also afraid of the microwaves from the HAN - they’re similar to mobile phone signals - and afraid that our consumption data could be hacked. Who would want to do that?

In my view anything that encourages consumers to use less energy by providing them with realtime information on cost and usage must be good news. No doubt analysis packages will be available so we can see when we are incurring most of our energy costs. It’s a short step from there to work out why, and to take action to keep costs under control. Managing demand is crucial in the face of the supply problems - closing power stations, late nuclear stations, foreign control of oil and gas supplies - which are stacking up against us here in the UK.


Staying with energy, the oil price is up - and down. Last week the price was around $46/barrel; this week it’s been up to $48 but it’s fallen back to $45. By the time you hear this it will all have changed again. The trend since February has definitely been up. In the UK we’ve noticed that pump prices for petrol and diesel are on the rise. At Christmas we were paying 99p/litre and now it’s around £1.09. This is only partly due to the rising oil price. The £/$ exchange rate has declined by 3% in the last month. This is generally believed to be the result of uncertainty around the EU referendum - still some seven weeks off.


At Fort McMurray, Alberta, the centre of Canada’s tar sands operations, wildfires broke out this week and rapidly spread across a wide area. By the end of the week 400 square miles were affected and officials predicted that this could double by the end of Saturday. Parts of the town were saved, but 1,600 buildings are believed to have been destroyed. The population of 80,000 people was evacuated and then some of them were moved on again by land or by helicopter as the weather changed and the course of the fire shifted. Some people are still trapped north of the town, and there is concern that poor air quality could affect them. The area has experienced one of the hottest May days on record coupled with very low humidity. There is concern that oil installations could be in the path of the fire. Oil companies have cut production by 25% and closed some pipelines as staff have been evacuated. The loss of production is expected to have an effect on the Canadian economy, though the cost of the damage caused by the fire is not yet known. The government has declared a state of emergency and allocated a relief fund of $100m.

It’s very easy to say this was all a consequence of climate change, but that would be simplistic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said people should not conclude climate change was to blame. "It's well known that one of the consequences of climate change will be a greater prevalence of extreme weather events around the planet," he said. "However, any time we try to make a political argument out of one particular disaster…that can sometimes not have the desired outcome.” A very reasonable view. Nature and natural disasters continue to surprise us. Whatever the cause, we need to be vigilant. Whatever the cause we need to foresee the consequences. Have you updated your strategic risk assessments recently? Do you have contingency plans?


Yes, only seven weeks until we in the UK vote on whether to leave the European Union or not. Apparently a simple majority will determine the result: one vote will be enough. Bit of a risky strategy, I think, for such a fundamental change. Opposing forces, both of which include cabinet ministers, are rehearsing their arguments. This week Britain Stronger in Europe, the “remain” campaign announced:

“The EU is a major boost to the UK's green economy, supporting jobs and growth in Britain. It also supports the UK's environmental efforts in a number of other ways,” and they go on to list them, including:
• Investing in renewable energy, helping us ensure a more sustainable future; and
• Leading the fight against climate change;”
and then they say:
In contrast, senior figures in the Leave campaign have a track record of opposing environmental measures - and even denying the existence of climate change.” 

I don’t actually think they have a monopoly on that. Despite the influences of the EU, our government - strongly pro-EU (some of them) - has managed to bankrupt many established solar energy companies by changing the subsidy regime at short notice, has effectively put a block on on-shore wind power, is expressing doubts about the future of offshore wind and the Swansea Bay project and has withdrawn support for Carbon Capture and Storage. And it’s done all this without leaving the EU, so why do we need to exit?

Cynical? Moi?

That’s it for this week. I apologise for the delayed publication, but there will be another episode next week and it will come out on Friday as usual. If there are things you want to hear about or take issue with, please get in touch. If you’re an expert with a point of view let’s do an interview. Wherever you are in the world we can do it on Skype.

For the moment though, this is Anthony Day signing off from the latest episode of the Sustainable Futures Report.

Till next time.

Bye for now!

Sustainability Conference Hailed a Success

I’m pleased to say that a first-of-its-kind event I organised in Harrogate, the Sustainable Best Practice Exchange, was a great success and we welcomed over 100 of the UK’s leading environmental and sustainable practitioners committed to raising awareness, creating connections and sharing global best practice across a host of green, eco and ethical issues. 
A mixture of renowned expert speakers took to the stage to cover energy, supply-chain issues, closing the skills gap and economic development. Group-based roundtable discussions covered electric vehicles, water efficiency, and getting value from food waste, among many other topics. We also launched a new Sustainable Best Practice Mastermind group at the event which will see myself and many senior executives continue the discussions and share ongoing best practice.

Samsung Electronics Europe’s Director of Sustainability and Citizenship Wouter van Tol delivered the keynote and shared the fact that whilst 93% of CEOs see sustainability as important to their company, most have no idea how to embed it. Shaun McCarthy OBE, Chair – Supply Chain Sustainability School and an independent advisor, author and speaker in the field of sustainable business policy and practice also addressed the event. He suggested that implementing standards should be a condition of future business.

And, Sonya Bhonsle from CDP pointed to her own experience of how working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions has driven innovation and enabled cost savings in her clients' businesses. She also highlighted companies such as Walmart, Kelloggs, KPMG and National Grid as among 3,000 firms committed to sustainability and demanding compliance from their own suppliers. 

The event focused on practical application and implementation rather than simple theory, and this take on sustainability was very much appreciated by our attendees. I’m very pleased to call it a complete success, and I don’t doubt the outcomes of it will bring significant benefits across the board in the future. We’re all very excited to have launched SBPMg - the new Sustainable Best Practice Mastermind group which will support the building of better business on the foundation of sustainable best practice.

See you at SBPE17 - the Sustainable Best Practice Exchange next year!