ANOTHER PLANET

Environmental campaigners have welcomed a policy statement from the Scottish Government, which they say represents another ‘nail in the coffin’ for a planned coal-fired power station.

Responding to the publication today of the Future of Scottish Electricity Generation Report, which sets out the Scottish Government’s policy on how it plans to meet the country’s future electricity needs, Friends of the Earth and WWF Scotland argue that there is now no place for ‘massively unpopular’ plans by Peel Energy to build a new coal-fired station at Hunterston, Ayrshire. Amongst other things, the statement confirms the Scottish administration’s commitment to supply 100% of the nation’s electricity needs from renewable energy and to ‘decarbonise’ the electricity generation sector by 2030.

Leeds Metropolitan University is set to launch a new sustainability institute in a bid to tackle the impact infrastructure has on the environment.

The Church of England (CoE) has taken advantage of the  High Court’s decision to extend the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) window for solar panels. As a result of the solar subsidy extension (now closed), more than 100 churches have installed photovoltaic (PV) panels in a bid make the most of the higher FIT payback, bringing the total of CoE properties using PV to nearly 500.  Since January this year, green energy supplier Ecotricity has helped the CoE boost the number of churches, vicarages, and schools across Gloucester, Exeter and Bath & Wells that use renewable energy as part of its ‘Parish Buying’ scheme.

Former round the world yachtswoman  Ellen MacArthur has spoken of how careful resource management was “a matter of life or death” when sailing around the world and led her on a new path to promote more sustainable thinking. In an exclusive interview with edie.net, Dame Ellen talked at length about the work her new foundation has been involved in on working towards a circular economy – and how designing out waste is central to achieving this. The foundation has released a detailed blueprint  setting out the economic and business rationale for a resource-efficient future. Speaking about the report, MacArthur argued there were both “immediate and long-term benefits to be achieved by moving away from linear consumption”.

Apple has entered into a partnership with a Canadian university to offer a free public takeback scheme for electronic waste in the first initiative of its type for the software giant. The Memorial University of Newfoundland will act as a drop-off point for items such as used keyboards, monitors and mobile phones which Apple will collect and send on for reprocessing with its e-waste contractor Sims Recycling Solutions.

The growth of plant-based plastics in packaging is causing problems when it comes to their end-of-life recovery, a waste management expert has warned.  As retailers and manufacturers look to develop more sustainable packaging solutions by replacing virgin plastic with plant-based materials, reprocessors are struggling to extract value from the composite mix.  Edie.net reports that difficulties begin with collecting and identifying plant-based packaging through to separating it out and then selling on any recovered material as end-markets for bioplastics are still in their infancy.

A scheme to help businesses across West Wales and the Valleys operate in a more sustainable way has had its funding pot doubled – thanks to EU backing. The WISE Network (Welsh Institute for Sustainable Environments) project led by Aberystwyth University in partnership with Bangor and Swansea Universities has gained funding of £6.6m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government, with the remaining funding provided by the universities involved. And the Welsh Government has unveiled plans to utilise tidal energy in a bid to help businesses benefit from energy efficiency opportunities and stimulate Wales’ job market. Its ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition’ report sets out its vision for sustainable low-carbon economy. It pledges to do this by ensuring energy investment contributes to Wales’ economic future and long-term wealth. It will offer support and funding to Welsh businesses to enable them to compete for renewable energy contracts, as well as working to improve energy infrastructure and provide green skills training.

Water efficiency efforts must be “redoubled” by Europe in a bid to bolster the green economy, according to a new report. The European Environment Agency (EEA) warns that inefficient water use “impacts hard” on the resources needed by businesses and can seriously hamper EU productivity and security.  Towards Efficient use of water resources in Europe’ calls for integrated water management and for better implementation of existing legislation, noting that water shortages have “severe consequences for economies reliant on agriculture and industry” – just as the South and South East of England face an April hosepipe ban!  And in the UK, Sustain say that the NHS and schools in England could reduce the amount of money spent on utilities by £228m a year by implementing energy and water saving measures.  Carbon reduction specialist Sustain analysed the energy spend of state schools and the NHS in England. The research revealed that schools spend on average £641m on energy and water – 3.5% of the costs spent on teaching staff – while the NHS spends about £500m each year

An EU-backed €12M algae biofuel demonstration project which aims to produce commercial-scale energy from sewage is set to go ahead in Spain later this year. The All-Gas scheme will cultivate fast-growing algae at wastewater treatment plants by recycling nutrient by-products in the sludge that water companies currently have to clean up and dispose of.

Edie.net reports that Car manufacturing giant Volkswagen (VW) has made a surprise U-turn in its sustainability targets by pledging to cut CO2 emissions from its cars by 30% by 2015, against a 2006 baseline. The move by VW to reduce its emissions below 120g of CO2 per km by 2015 now places it 10g below an EU automobile emissions target – which until recently it appeared unwilling to commit to but seems to have bowed from pressure from campaign groups, including Greenpeace, which launched a campaign last summer against VW calling on it to ‘turn away from the dark side’ and pledge to reduce its CO2 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

UK Energy secretary Ed Davey has unveiled £3.5m of green skills funding in a bid to train hundreds of people ahead of the Government’s flagship Green Deal roll out.  Plastic packaging waste was singled out as a priority area for action by WRAP at a Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group meeting in London. Speaking at the industry forum held at Portcullis House, WRAP’s director for the closed loop economy Marcus Gover said that there was “a real opportunity to recycle more plastics”, which would support Defra’s recent consultation on packaging waste and proposed new recovery targets from 2013-2017.  While the UK’s recycling record on most materials is good, levels of plastic waste recycling are generally poor. Figures from Defra’s packaging consultation show that in 2010, total plastic packaging waste was 2,478,630 tonnes. Only around 25% of the total amount was recovered or recycled, with the rest sent for landfill or incineration.

Unilever has significantly reduced carbon emissions across its manufacturing operations in India with the installation of biomass boilers.

Scottish Water has been hit with a fine of £7,500 after a sewage spill from one of its wastewater pumping stations polluted a Fife burn.

The ‘Wonderbag’ is a new product but not a new idea – it’s a ‘non electric slow cooker’ – basically heat up food in a pot to boiling and then wrap it up in the Wonderbag – then it keeps cooking on for free! http://nb-wonderbag.com/

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