UN COP15 Outcomes and ISSB Climate-related Disclosures Standard

The UN COP15 concluded in Montreal with an agreement to halt and reverse the destruction of nature by 2030. The Kunming-Montreal biodiversity agreement includes key global targets such as: to restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally by 2030, and to sustainably manage areas under agriculture and forestry. Also, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has set out a series of guidance and reliefs to help companies embed and improve their processes for measurement and disclosure of Scope 3 GHG emissions.

GRI Revised Biodiversity Standard

The revision process of the GRI Biodiversity Standard was led by a technical review committee, including several biodiversity frameworks and initiatives such as CDP, the Align project, Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials, and the Accountability Framework. The draft, which is now opened for public comment until February 28, 2023, was molded by contributions from the Science Based Target Network (SBTN), Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and WBA Nature Benchmark.

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China: 10% Cut in Pesticide Use on Fruits & Vegetables by 2025

According to Reuters, China wants to reduce pesticide use on fruit and vegetables by 10% by 2025. China began tackling the problem in 2015, with a campaign to reduce the use of chemicals by 2020. As stated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, “there is an urgent need to improve the efficiency and scientific use of pesticides and fertilizers when promoting the reduction of chemical pesticides”.

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EU: Analysis on Main Drivers of Food Security

The European Commission recently published an analysis on the main drivers affecting food security in the EU and worldwide. It looks at the effects on food security of drivers such as climate change or environmental degradation. Regarding trade, the Commission identifies fruits and nuts as the second most important import category (EUR 20.7 billion in 2021). They also state that in the EU, with a few exceptions, the consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grain, and dietary fiber, as well as potassium, is lower than the recommended intake levels.

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EU: Certification of Carbon Removals to Help Reach Net Zero Emissions

On November 30, 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a first EU-wide voluntary framework to reliably certify high-quality carbon removals. It is expected to help companies report on their climate footprint in accordance with the Corporate Social Responsibility Directive and the related Sustainability Reporting Standards, and to provide more transparency on climate neutrality claims by public and private organizations.

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EU: Packaging and Packaging Waste

The European Commission published on November 30, 2022, the new proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste, as a further step of the European circular economy action plan. The new rules have three main objectives:

  • Avoid the generation of packaging waste: reduce it in quantity, restrict unnecessary packaging, and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions.
  • Drive high quality recycling: make all packaging on the EU market recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030.
  • Reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a well-functioning market for raw materials by increasing the use of recycled plastics in packaging through mandatory targets.

To this end, a number of key lines of work are set out. These include:

  • Targets for packaging waste reduction and mandatory reuse or refill targets in sectors such as retail and catering.
  • EU-wide standards for overpackaging, including setting a maximum allowable void space on ecommerce packaging, as well as banning certain forms of unnecessary packaging.
  • Eco-design criteria in packaging to increase recycling rates.
  • Mandatory composting for some types of packaging, where composting is beneficial for the environment.
  • Labels on all packaging to facilitate correct sorting of waste by consumers and corresponding labels on recycling bins to make it clear where to place each container.

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EU: Provisional Deal to Close Gender Pay Gap

The Council and European Parliament have reached a provisional deal on pay transparency rules. This agreement stipulates that employers with more than 100 employees will have to provide information about the pay gap between female and male workers in their organization. The information must be shared with their relevant national authority and they will also need to provide this information to their workers and their representatives. The information is due annually or every three years, depending on the size of the company.

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Germany: National Nutrition Strategy 

On December 21, 2022, the German Minister of Agriculture introduced the main points of the new national nutrition strategy. One of the objectives is to make a plant-based diet more accessible to the population, with as high a proportion as possible of unprocessed vegetables and fruit, as well as fiber-rich cereal products, pulses and nuts.

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Spain: Special Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging

The Special Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging (Law 7/2022 of April 8, 2022, on waste and contaminated soils for a circular economy) entered into force on January 1, 2023. This measure will directly affect companies in the food and beverage sector.

  • What is taxed: the use of non-recycled plastic in non-reusable packaging.
  • Which part of the industry is affected: virtually the whole sector. There are certain exceptions for products with medicinal uses.

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