One of the things that we ask our Fund Managers about is what kind of collaborative engagement they are involved with. The majority of the fund managers in our portfolios are involved in one to one engagement between the fund manager and the companies they do (or don't) invest in.
But often collaborative engagement can achieve far bigger things. There are formal networks around the world through UNPRI and climate change organisations that investors (fund managers) can get involved in to strengthen the message and most of our fund managers partake in some of these groups.
We wrote about the collaborative engagement project undertaken by the New Zealand Superannuation fund after the Mosque shootings, read more here.
We recently read an interesting article from Stewart Investors about the work that they have been driving in India to 'tackle plastic waste in India'. You can read the article directly by clicking here.
Some salient points:
Each year we produce around 400 million tonnes of plastic waste worldwide
7 billion tonnes have been amassed to date and less than 10% has been recycled - the remaining 90% is buried in landfills where it can live for up to 400 years.
India has a particular problem with 15 million tonnes of waste produced every year, and the amount of plastic waste has doubled in the last 5 years.
One of the biggest challenges in the widespread use of single-use plastics such as sachets, straws and bags, which are often discarded after one use, combined with the lack of awareness amongst consumers and the limited infrastructure and resources to effectively dispose of or recycle the waste.
Having identified this issue, rather than sitting back and waiting for something to happen, Stewart Investors drove change.
Starting with a piece of research that they commissioned in 2016 from the University of Technology Sydney, they identified a framework and guide for benchmarking packaging and sustainability. Realising that many companies were dealing with the issue, Stewart hosted an event in Mumbai, bringing together leaders from some of India's largest consumer goods companies including Nestle India, Hindustan Unilever and Tata Consumer Products.
As a result of those discussions, there was agreement to set up an independent industry body that would set industry-wide targets and enable companies to work together to achieve those goals.
Stewart Investors held discussions with a UK Non Government Organisation WRAP (a global leader in delivering 'Plastic Pacts' to help reduce, rescue and recycle plastics across the entire value chain). WRAP agreed to work with the Confederation of Indian Industry and WWF-India to launch an Indian Plastic Pact and in September 2021 this became a reality.
Stewart Investors provided multi-year funding to support the operational and technical resourcing required to develop and launch the pact.
A number of companies joined the pact and Stewart are actively encouraging more to join.
Results are already being seen with a significant increase in post-consumer waste collection and increased use of rescued and recyclable plastics in packaging. The article provides more details on actual goals and achievements.
Investing to 'do good' doesn't just involve investing in the underlying companies that are contributing to the circular economy and finding new ways of doing things in a more socially and environmentally manner. It can also mean getting the right fund managers, who are prepared to put their time and money where their mouth is.
We are proud to recommend Stewart Investors (who have all the other boxes of diversification and performance ticked as well) to our clients.