Monthly Archives: April 2012

Green businesses get Branson boost

The future is bright, green, and apparently shaped like a football. Soccket, an energy-generating soccer ball for the developing world, is just one of a new range of inventions promising to defy a commonly held belief: that business and ethics don’t mix” – and this article in the Independent titled “Great Green Inventions: Introducing the ethical Dragons Den” says that business really can be people and planet-friendly in a competition sponsored by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson. Spotted by our Luke, ideas include the campaigning lingerie brand Who Made Your Pants? who buy end-of-season fabrics from big underwear companies and creates new pairs of pants, the Rapanui clothing brand whose eithical surfers clobber uses sustainable organic cotton clothes  made in factories powered by wind and solar energy and  Karma Exchange, which offers its visitors discounts on everything from events, products and trips, just like Expedia, Group-On or eBay. The difference is that all the profits go to fund Create Change, a non-profit outfit providing access to clean water and education in northern Ghana. Sarah Morrison’s excellent article is here in the Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/great-green-inventions-introducing-an-ethical-dragons-den-7687503.html

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Wettest April ever – but Hosepipe Ban remains

This April looks like being the wettest ever recorded in the UK and some parts of the country have already experienced flooding – but the UK remains on drought alert and the hosepipe ban which affects many parts of the country remains in force as water reserves and aquifers remain low and environment chiefs said the downpours will have no effect on the drought and hosepipe ban.  In Lincolnshire, where the drought situation is amongst the worst in the country, some of the highest rainfall totals have been recorded so far this month. In the 24 hours to 10am last Saturday morning, nearly 40mm was recorded at Waddington in Lincolnshire, bringing their monthly total to 101mm, already more than double their monthly average of 47mm. In records that date back to the end of the Second World War, April 2000 was the wettest with 124mm of rain. A new Atlantic depression will bring another 2.5cm (1in) of rain in a front stretching from Plymouth to Norwich, and it will spread to Birmingham and Newcastle. Winds will reach 80-95kph (50-60mph) and drivers are warned to beware hazardous road conditions.  And this is the coldest April for 23 years!   You can see more tonight (26 April)  in the UK on ITV1 :  Is Britain Running Dry?

ANOTHER PLANET

Apple has come our rather badly in a new Greenpeace report because of its reliance on coal to power its datacentres. According to Greenpeace, cloud computing used 623 billion kilowatt hours in 2007, set to triple by 2020. If cloud computing were a country, it would have been ranked fifth in the world in terms of energy consumption – and Microsoft and Amazon  were also said to use coal to power parts of their cloud infrastructure. Amazon said the cloud computing model has environmental benefits, cutting energy use by allowing “hundreds of thousands of companies” to consolidate their datacentres into its cloud, “resulting in much higher utilisation rates and eliminating the waste that occurs when datacentres don’t operate near their capacity”. Apple refuted the report, saying the data was inaccurate and claiming its new iCloud datacentre would be the greenest ever built .Facebook was praised for its new datacentre in Sweden – powered by renewable – while Google’s score was helped by its efforts to improve its energy buying policies.

The Campaign for a More Sustainable Olympics (CAMSOL) has admitted that it was behind a fake London 2012 Olympic Games press release saying  oil and gas giants BP has been dropped as a sustainability partner. Both the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and BP have fervently denied this is true – instead slamming the release as a hoax.  Speaking to edie.net a BP spokesperson said the press release as entirely false, saying “it’s a complete hoax – the release doesn’t come from LOCOG or obviously BP”, adding that “we know it’s a hoax and will be continuing to tell people so”.  There has been series of disappointing news stories from the Olympics which is a shame (and a missed opportunity) – and the latest is that Despite a commitment to a zero waste Olympic games, shops and suppliers at London 2012 will be able to hand out plastic bags to visitors. According to packaging guidelines issued by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), official London 2012 licensees, shops and suppliers will use plastic bags made form low density polyethylene (LDPE).

The London Legacy Development Corporation  have said that the London 2012 Olympic Games legacy will set a benchmark for sustainable living with the creation of a park complex built to zero carbon and waste standards.   After the Games the Corporation will develop the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a 225 hectare site housing up to 8,000 homes, five sporting venues, with 45 hectares of bio-diverse habitat and a network of pathways, cycle routes and waterways.  The homes on the park will utilise energy-efficient home appliances which should lead to a 15% reduction in emissions from energy use by residents over a five-year period.  All timber products used during the construction process will be sustainably sourced and major materials will feature a 25% minimum recycled content.

This really is ‘ANOTHER PLANET’ ! Running out of resources – mine asteroids? Sound like science fiction but Avatar director James Cameron is one of a number of big name investors behind a new company called Planetary Resources which plans to research the possibility of using robot ships to mine rocks in space – which may have a potential value of up to 12.4 Trillion EACH – and there are some 7,500 already indentified. The consortium includes Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Microsoft Chairman Charles Simonyi.

The UK has been singled out for its success in “drastically reducing” the amount of municipal waste sent landfill over the past decade – but it still lags behind Europe’s best performers. A European Commission (EC) report found that between 2002 and 2009, the UK cut the amount of waste going to landfill from 464kg per capita to 259kg but despite this, it remains well behind countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Sweden who all landfilled less than 3% of their municipal waste in 2010, compared to the UK’s 48%.

Shale oil gas – it has highly environmentally destructive mining techniques which run the risk of creating earthquakes and which release methane and which also pollute or water – so surely a big NO? Well – maybe – Charles Clover argues in the Times (Sunday 22nd April) that until renewable energy sources are developed and catch up with demand, we need to think about the use of gas as beneficial – as the quickest way of cutting carbon emissions in most big economies is by “converting from coal to gas which produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal”.  It’s all in “This shale rage is threatening to put out the lights”.

Investment in the UK’s clean energy sector made a strong comeback last year – growing by 35% after struggling in 2010 – with offshore wind “poised” to create significant future investments.  A new report ‘Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?’ by the Pew charitable trust says that investment in 2011 reached £5.89bn ($9.4bn) – up from £4.36bn ($7bn) in 2010 when it slipped from third place to thirtieth as investment fell.

Engineering professor Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University had predicted that over 2 million engineering jobs could be created over the next decade as the UK looks to cut carbon emissions to meet key targets,  King, who advises the Government on education and technology issues and is a non-executive director of BIS, said “Engineering is crucial to our quality of life and to combating climate change.”

Shell is developing low-carbon biofuels from inedible plants and crop waste that could potentially be blended at higher concentrations with petrol and diesel. The company’s biofuels research team is working with biotech firms and academic institutions across the world on the flagship project in a bid to commercialise its R&D work in this field.  However it admits the research being carried out is highly complex and poses “considerable challenges” and says not every process being developed will become commercially available.

Two-thirds of the top performing councils that operate a dry recycling household collection service in Britain are adopting a co-mingled approach. The findings from a WYG report found that 20 out of 30 leading recycling authorities considered co-mingled collections to be more cost-effective and generated higher recycling rates than separating materials out at the kerbside.  The research, which was part funded by Biffa and trade body PlasticsEurope, will further fuel the long-running debate over co-mingled versus source-segregated collection schemes.

Good to hear that Jenny Dawson is using food waste from London’s new Covent Garden (basically perfectly good food that has not been sold by wholesalers) and is making chutneys from the fruit and vegetables for her new business , Rubies in the Rubble. the 7.2 million tonnes of annual foodwaste in the UK has traditionally gone into landfill where it decomposes producing CO2 and methane – and global warming.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has joined forces with Specialist Waste Recycling (SWR) in a bid to improve the management of waste streams at hotels, restaurants and food service providers As part of the new partnership, SWR will provide businesses in the hospitality industry with tailored waste management schemes to help them better manage and reduce their waste.

Want to invest in green energy? There is a new scheme set up by Abundance Generation bridging the gap between members of the public and renewables projects that need funding. The first project is a £1.3 million wind turbine in Gloucestershire that will provide power for 500 homes. The inimum investment is just £5 – and the maximum £50,000!

The UK’s South West Water (SWW) has been fined £16,000 after polluting the Tamar Estuary with poor quality sewage effluent. The company pled guilty to four water pollution offences at Plymouth Magistrates. SWW also had to pay £4,211 in costs.

One year after piloting the bike industry’s first carbon fibre recycling program, Trek Bicycle has recovered over 31,750kg of material from its manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, US. The bike manufacturer entered into a partnership with Materials Innovation Technologies to divert the fibre from landfill through a closed loop production process.

A four-star Welsh hotel has installed a £0.5m biomass plant on site in a bid to generate its own biomass fuel and cut its energy bills. The new 600Kw renewable energy system at the Tre-Ysgawen Hall Country House Hotel and Spa in Anglesey aims to reduce the hotel’s £200,000 a year energy bills by nearly 50%.

Energy-from-waste (EfW) has the potential to meet a third of Britain’s domestic gas demand according to new research. However in order to exploit this opportunity, a further 80 EfW facilities need to be built by 2020, on top of the 30 already operating in the UK.

The UK and US are set to forge a new agreement on greener energy initiatives, with a floating wind turbines project kicking off the partnership. The agreement forms part of the Clean Energy Ministerial talks which sees energy ministers from 23 of the world’s leading economies gather in the capital to discuss the transition to clean energy technologies.

Edie.net reports that the UK must act now if it wants to take the lead in smart grids and create thousands of high skilled jobs.  The research by Ernst and Young for the SmartGrid GB group, a stakeholder group of 23 businesses, claims that the UK could be at the forefront of smart grid technology if it takes an innovate approach and acts quickly and this could help create around 10,000 high skill jobs and contribute £13bn to the economy by creating a £5bn export market.

And finally, can we pass on AGF’s congratulations to Edie.net  reporter Carys Matthews who completed the Brighton Marathon in the super fast time of three hours and thirty minutes – and raised £690 for WaterAid in the process. Go Go Go Team Green!

Festival Wood – we’re going tree planting!

Great news – we’ve got our first 300 trees for Festival Wood, thanks to 100 trees donated by Big Green Coach from their coach trips to and from events in the 2011 festival season, 100 trees from a private donation and 100 trees from the team here at A Greener Festival. This is the best news we could have this week and Claire deserves a big pat on the back for making all of this work with our new friends at Trees for Lifewho are working to restore Dundreggan’s forest. Dundreggan is a 10,000 acre area of wild land in Scotland near Loch Ness, between Inverness and Fort William, where Trees for Life are now working to restore native forests and wildlife habitats.  Dundreggan has full public access, visitor parking and nature trails.

With your support, Dundreggan will be a very different place in 50 years time. Natural woodland, with open glades intermingled with denser areas, will stretch up from the banks of the River Moriston. This diverse forest of oak, pine, aspen, hazel, juniper and birch will grade into montane scrub that will cover much of the higher slopes. Wildlife flourishing in this abundant woodland habitat will include red squirrel, capercaille, European Beaver, wild boar, osprey, badger, black grouse and wood ants. Twinflower, creeping ladies tresses and other rare woodland plants will thrive. The forests of Dundreggan will no longer be isolated, but part of a larger expanse of native woodland from Glen Affric Nature Reserve in the north to Glan Moriston, and the shores of Loch Ness in the south east – a new Caledonian Forest.

We’re off to Scotland on the 8th of May with our wellies and waterproofs, and we WILL plant some trees. Hooray!

http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/dundreggan/become_friend.html and details of how YOU can plant a tree will be in our next post on FESTIVAL WOOD – watch this space!

Earth Day celebrated in Google doodle

Google has replaced its logo with a time-lapse animation of blooming flowers to mark Earth Day, a worldwide series of events held annually to raise ecological awareness. EARTH DAY IS TODAY!

Solar eclipse …. by solar power

Panasonic will be live-streaming the May 20th annular solar eclipse from the summit of Mount Fuji in Japan, and appropriately enough the filming will use only solar power – this includes all electricity needed to run the the base camp and the broadcast, including video cameras and computers. The project, Eclipse Live from Fujiyama by Solar Power, seeks to bring the astronomical phenomenon to as wide a global audience as possible.  A documentary of the streamcast project will be posted on the site shortly after the eclipse. The last time such an eclipse was visible from land in Japan was on September 23, 1987 from Okinawa Island. Mt. Fuji is in the central eclipse path.

Edie free webinar on waste and energy tomorrow, April 20th (11.00 UK time)

EdieWaste will be running a free webinar this Friday (April 20th) at 11am to address how waste and renewable energy policy is impacting on UK infrastructure with the title Waste strategy: a positive force for the UK’s energy infrastructure development?

Register here.

Nearly two years after the new government came into office, heralding sweeping reform of waste, planning and energy policy, the sector had hoped to have a clear pathway signposting the way forward, underpinning increased inward investment and kick starting further development. Instead we are faced with further delays as many areas of policy remain under review.

In the next edie webinar session, Chair Maxine Perella is joined by David Massingham, director of public affairs at global Energy-from-Waste developer and operator Covanta Energy, to consider whether our current policies are fit for purpose. The webinar will explore the waste development versus inward investment conundrum – and poses the additional question: “Has the recent planning overhaul left waste hanging in the balance?”

You can register to listen in to the debate from your computer using the following link http://www.edie.net/webinar/view_event.asp?id=4270.

During the session you’ll have the chance to pose questions to the panel, take part in interactive polls to inform the debate and learn from the experts.