Tag Archives: FIT

ANOTHER PLANET

Heartland.org, the US organisation that campaigns to deny climate change, is facing a tough time after major corporate sponsors withdrew their funding and a conference they  have ‘organised has ended up as a fisaco – and this alongside a ill judged campaign against those who warn of  global warming using an image of Ted Kaczynski, the ‘UnaBomber’. Bonkers. More here http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/heartland-saga-continues-donors-flee-gleick-cleared.html and here http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/20/heartland-institute-future-staff-cash

An interesting article by Ben McIntyre in the Times (22nd May) looks at the possibility of using Britain’s colonial history and remaining overseas territories such as waters around the Falkland Islands, Acension Island and Pitcairn Island as marine national parks – waters protected from industrial fishing which is currently decimating fish stocks. – the ‘appalling pillage of the sea’. The oceans are effectively being mined by the world’s major nations and just 1% of the sea is protected from fishing in one way or another – tuna stocks are down 95% compared to 50 years ago, 99% of skate has gone and 75% of large sea creatures such as whales, dolphins and sharks. But marine reserves work – the Chagos archipelago in the India Ocean is now protected -0 and where marine reserves have been in place for a number of years fish socks have not only recovered but ‘larval drift’ means fish stocks can be regenerated and sustain fisheries beyond their boundaries. So lets work to establish as may marine reserves as possible – as soon as possible!

Grammy winning musician Femi Kuti has again highlighted the appalling legacy Shell has left at Ogoniland in the Niger Delta where oil spills have destroyed a beautiful wetland and polluted water and land alike. Amnesty International is running a petition to get members of the public to sign up to persuade Shell to take responsibility for its actions and clean up. More at http://amnesty.org/en/50/campaigns/corporate-accountability

More on bees – new research from UC San Diego again shows the awful effect pesticides have on bees – here showing that whilst pesticides might not kill bees outright, they reduce the ability of  bees to  ‘dance’ – the waggling worker bees use to show other bees where nectar and pollen supplies are good – so effectively cutting of food supplies. More on this at  http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-05/24/bees-pesticides

A new survey of Europe’s wild bird population says that EU farm policies have lead to a ‘devastating decline’ in numbers – with 297 million birds lost since 1980: lapwing numbers are down 52%, yellow wagtails, starlings and tree sparrows all  down 53% and grey partridges down 82% across Europe, and 91% in Britain.  Farm policies designed to promote food production include ripping out hedgerows, draining wetlands and ploughing up meadows rob the birds of food and habitats: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/26/eu-farming-policies-bird-population

Nike have persuaded some of the world’s biggest sports stars are raising awareness of how plastic bottles can be transformed into athletic performance clothing.  Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez and basketball star LeBron James feature in a message about recycled football kits as part of Nike’s ‘My Time is Now’ film.  The film shows Hernandez dispatching a water bottle into a bin, which then begins its journey of transformation into a national team kit jersey.

A new carbon reduction forum for the pub and hospitality sector has been launched to help businesses beat energy, water and waste price increases and maintain profitability. Set up by carbon management company Carbon Statement, the Hospitality Sector Carbon Reduction Forum aims to share best practice to cut consumption and boost income.

Businesses have largely welcomed government plans to cut the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) rates from August 1 – rather than July 1 as previously proposed.  From August 1, the new tariff for small domestic solar installation will be 16p KWH, down from 21p.

Nottingham University Business School’s Simon Wright has warned that two thirds of the world’s population will be living with water stress by 2025 during a recent sustainability webinar. Delegates were also told that food security is posing a major potential challenge to the UK supply chain wit Wright saying “Water is going to be an enormous issue going forward” responding to a delegate request to name the next big climate change threat.

Edie.net reports on a pioneering project to study to carbon cycle over the Amazonian rainforest has been launched by the University of Leicester in partnership with research institutions from the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  As part of the initiative, a new UK/Brazil institutional research network has been set up with funding from the UK environmental science research funding body the Natural Environment Research Council and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation. the main goal of the research is to evaluate the feasibility of remote sensing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations over the Amazon, which is anticipated to improve understanding of the Amazonian carbon cycle and tropical carbon movements within the system. Computing giant Intel has joined forces with University College London and Imperial College to launch a new global centre for research to address the environmental, economic and social challenges of city life exploring how technology can support and sustain the social and economic development of cities worldwide.

UK Waste firms have called for increases in landfill tax to be suspended for six months to enable a proper consultation to take place. In a letter addressed to environment secretary Caroline Spelman and communities secretary Eric Pickles, a coalition of skip hire and waste transfer station operators have vented their frustrations over an announcement from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to introduce higher taxation for disposal of certain materials. The letter follows a protest by skip hire trucks on Parliament, which brought traffic to a standstill for several hours. It calls for the Government to take urgent measures to prevent what one operator slams as a “disgraceful” situation with “horrendous” implications for the industry. So implications for the industry – not the planet. Great eh?

WRAP has called for an urgent upgrade of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) infrastructure to enable the recovery of valuable raw materials that are being lost in the recycling process.

The UK Government will face a fresh hearing in the Court of Appeal over claims it has failed to bring illegal air pollution under control. The case against Defra was brought to the High Court by activist law group ClientEarth in December last year, after European Union air pollution limits were breached in 17 regions and cities in the UK, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and lasgow. However, the case failed with the High Court ruling it was a matter for the European Commission. However, the Court of Appeal has now agreed that the case should be re-examined.

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Commitments on the Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Electricity Market Reform (EMR) were both included in the UK governments new legislative programme in the Queen’s Speech, along with the promise of a draft bill dealing with the reform of the water industry. The commitment to introduce legislation to ‘establish’ the GIB is in line with business secretary Vince Cable’s announcement in March this year that the new bank will be headquartered in Edinburgh and that it will be “in a position to be fully operational this Autumn”.  he timetable for the GIB to achieve full borrowing status, however, is scheduled to take until April 2015, a date which, even then, is subject to public sector net debt falling as a percentage of GDP.  The EMR commitment upholds a previous Government pledge that it would legislate for the key elements of this package in the second session of this Parliament, starting in May 2012. The intention is to ensure that such legislation reaches the statute book by spring 2013, allowing the first low-carbon projects to be supported under its provisions ‘around 2014’ – and would promote growth in nuclear power and reduce coal fired power stations. Energy minister Greg Barker is set to lead a green trade mission to the US in a bid to strengthen trading relations and showcase UK businesses which have benefited from the green economy.

Sainsbury’s is shrinking the volume of its own-brand toilet rolls – a packaging move which it claims will take 500 lorries off the road each year. The retailer is the first company reduce the diameter of the inner cardboard tube on every roll by 12mm, cutting the number of delivery lorries required by the equivalent of 140,000kg of CO2. However it was quick to allay fears that consumers might be short-changed by the move. On-pack information will reassure customers that each roll contains the same number of sheets and the same quality.  And Nike has revealed plans to lightweight its shoebox packaging in a bid to cut the weight of the cardboard by 10% and generate cost savings through less material use.

More on retail – Puma has launched an in-store footwear and clothing takeback scheme across all of its stores and outlets in Germany. Its Bring Me Back programme – which will be rolled out globally next year – follows on the heels of Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping scheme launched last week by Joanna Lumley.  Under the initiative customers will be able to drop off any style or brand of clothing, shoes and accessories for reuse, upcycling, or remanufacture.

The UK Government has pledged to develop a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) dealing with climate change impacts on the marine environment.   The announcement, made by Marine Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, followed the release of data from the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) which focuses on how climate change is affecting fish and shellfish in British seas. MCCIP’s report identified both opportunities and threats in the marine environment, linked to climate change. It also highlighted potential social and economic consequences of the changes which are taking place.  “Climate change is having a big impact on the distribution of fish stocks and this is going to present some significant challenges for policy-makers, fisheries managers and for the fishing industry itself,” said Richard Benyon, adding that the new NAP would address key marine environment concerns.

England’s municipal recycling rate now stands at 42.5%, showing a slight improvement over the past 12 months, according to latest figures released by Defra.

A drive by businesses in Ireland to improve energy management has seen them save more than €150m in energy costs, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

Harpenden in Hertfordshire is the new frontline in the ongoing battle over GM crops with activists threatening to target the wheat being grown at the Rothampstead research station. The wheat is described as a ‘eco-friendly’ GM crop and produces chemicals which ‘frighten off’ aphids and attract aphid predators such as ladybirds and wasps.  Opponents say the wheat proses a real risk to British farming and could pollute other crops.  a day of action is planned for May 27th.

More on n bees – the Telegraph (indeed that right wing bastion of sense and reason to its readers) reports on the risk from neonicotinoids “the nerve poison harming our bees’. Neonicotinoids  are used as a pesticide – often used to coat seeds – and are the fastest growing insecticide in the world – with sales over 1.5 euros in 2008 – and used both in farming and in gardens and Thiacloprid is an active ingredient in Bayer Provado.  But the chemicals et into the pollen and nectar and whilst they may not immediately kill the bee they give it a massive ‘hangover’ – often meaning the bee gets lost (and dies) or reduces its effectiveness so bee colonies don’t produce enough food in the long term and starve.  Research from the University of Exeter showed honey bee’s performance went down by 6% to 16% when exposed to the sort of neonicotinoid dose they would get when foraging in oilseed rape. Research from the University of Strling shows that bumble bee colonies grow more slowly when exposed to neonicotinoids and produce fewer queens – and make the bees lethargic and reluctant to forage. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/9257431/The-nerve-poison-harming-our-bees.html

In Peru, coffee farmers are facing real problems from climate change with newly unpredictable weather and wildly differing rainfalls. And the problem is made worse by deforestation. Now Cafédirect  is using the global carbon market to encourage farmers to plant more trees above the coffee plantations where they have been removed – and the trees will capture carbon – which in the future can be traded as a carbon credit, for the benefit of the community. If Cafédirect’s project succeeds it could provide a blueprint for indigenous communities all over the world. Peru’s vice president, Marisol Espinoza, said: “Climate change is a huge worry for us in Peru and we hope this initiative in Sierra Piura can be rolled out to other regions too. It is so important because Peruvian coffee is special. It protects biodiversity, and it’s about development of whole communities. It also has an amazing aroma and taste. That’s the taste of social justice.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/13/peru-coffee-climate-change-carbon-trading

Consent has been given for what’s claimed will become the ‘highest generating capacity’ onshore wind farm anywhere in England and Wales. Consisting of 76 turbines and scheduled to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of up to 206,000 homes a year, the newly approved farm is the Pen Y Cymoedd 299MW development, located between Neath and Aberdare in South Wales.

Edie.net reports that a new UK approach to Emissions Trading has gone out to consultation with the promise of cutting ‘red tape’ and saving businesses both time and money.   The new plan centres on the creation of a single regulation for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), replacing the 13-part process which is currently in use. It’s also suggested that small emitters and hospitals will be given the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of EU ETS altogether from 2013, moving instead into a lighter touch alternative scheme.

The UK legal sector has reduced its carbon emissions by nearly 35,000 tonnes in 2011, according to a new report from the Legal Sector Alliance (LSA) which shows emissions have declined steadily over the last three years, with the period showing an average reduction of 18%, compared with 12% over the previous three-year reporting period.  Launched in 2007, the LSA aims to take action on climate change by following seven principles including; reducing the carbon footprint of their operations, integrating awareness of climate change across business and engaging in public debate on climate change.

EU member states need to stop “watering down” their energy efficiency proposals and recognise the potential for job growth, according to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

A Leicestershire pig farm has taken advantage of a Government planning exemption on small-scale renewables schemes on farms by installing solar panels to run its pig feeding facilities.  Lodge Farm has installed a 39.6kWp solar photovoltaic system.  This is expected to generate more than 34,153 units of green energy per year for use on the 320 acre site and provide £11,236 in tax-free income from the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme.

ANOTHER PLANET

Very bad news: Global warming is leading to such extreme storms, droughts and heatwaves that nations should prepare for an onslaught of deadly weather disasters according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – particularly in highly populated developing regions.

Bad news: The South East of England is now suffering its worst drought for 90 years – 1921 when T S Eliot wrote ‘Wasteland’ amid the most arid conditions on modern Britain.  March in 2012 has been 3C above normal on average , the third warmest march since records began in 1659 and drought conditions now extend to Yorkshire and Wales. The Environment Agency say that a prolonged downpour of twice the average for the next for the next for months is needed to replenish the water table

Bad news – it seems the third runway Heathrow is back on the UK Government’s agenda as the ‘greenest Government’ turns out to be anything but green. Its clear now that the Tories obsession with short term economic gain trumps all – planning, sustainable transport and even common sense. It seems ministers desire to explore  options ‘with the exception  of a third runway at Heathrow’ might not now hold true and we may be seeing a less than desirable U-turn. Ho hum!

Bad news – Europe’s largest eco-labelled fisheries look likely to lose their Marine Stewardship Council ‘blue swoosh’ mark after Iceland and the Faroes decided to breach limits on fishing mackerel putting stocks at risk through over fishing.  All North sea and Atlantic mackerel caught will lose the right to use the sustainable fishing mark. Iceland and the Faroes say that increased numbers of mackerel spawning  and feeding means they can increase their quotas.  Richard Lochhead, the Scottish fisheries minister said that stocks may fall below safe limits by 2014 and that “ensuring the stock is sustainable” is in “everyone’s interests”.

Bad news: Edie.net reports that UK businesses have slammed the Government’s lack of decision in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mandatory reporting as “unacceptable” and “deplorable”. This follows the announcement by government that it has not reached a decision on whether or not it intends to introduce carbon reporting, which was planned to come into force on April 6th  2012.  Despite growing support from UK businesses, green NGOs and politicians for the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting the Government has declined to make a decision and has now broken for Easter recess until April 16.

Better news – the UK government’s final policy framework for planning actually seemed to get everyone on board with Government minister Greg Clark cutting red tape, more local input AND listening to conservationists – with enhanced protection for the environment.

Good news: The Danish Government has unveiled an ambitious low carbon strategy which aims to make greater use of renewables and reduce carbon emissions by more than 34% by 2020.

Mixed news: Energy secretary Ed Davey has claimed that new proposals to simplify the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and cut red tape will save businesses millions – as he tries to save the unpopular scheme. Launching a 12-week consultation Mr Davey said “we have listened to businesses’ concerns about the CRC and have set out proposals to radically cut down on ‘red tape’ to save businesses money”. The Government has set the 2014-15 carbon price support rate at £9.55 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is a sharp increase on the £4.94 C02e for 2013, set one year ago.

Better news: Higher packaging targets for plastic, aluminium, steel and glass will come into force as a result of the UK’s new budget: Legislation will be passed later this year to increase statutory targets annually over a five-year period from 2013-2017 by 5% for plastic, 3% for aluminium and 1% for steel. Glass recycling targets will be split by end use.

Better news: the long-standing feed-in tariff (FIT) saga has at last reached a conclusion – with the Supreme Court throwing out the Government’s appeal against a ruling that its actions on the subsidies were “unlawful”. As a result, the UK’s solar industry has heralded the Supreme Court ruling, which concluded that the Government should not have prematurely cut solar FITs before the end of the consultation period, a victory.

Bad news: Grrrrrr – those Olympics wallahs SHOULD have done a lot better and the games should have been a lot greener. London 2012 organisers have missed a significant reuse opportunity according to sustainability experts involved in the Olympic Park construction programme. A lack of specific reuse targets meant that contractors were not incentivised to reclaim certain materials such as brick and steel from the demolition process, which could have been reused in site construction works.

Mixed news – Britain’s flagging efforts to clean up its energy generation have received a boost after Samsung said it was investing   in a experimental project in the Din valley in South Yorkshire – which will generate power from coal and oil (not good) but use  CCS carbon capture and storage technology at power stations to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. The gas would be stored under  the North Sea in depleted oilfields.

Good news! The UK’s Department for Transport has unveiled plans to increase the number of low carbon buses across England – thanks to a new £101m package of improvements.

Bad news: the Arctic is under increasing threat because of global warming – as the retreat of the ice cap opens up new shipping lanes in the North and new areas for oil, gas and other mineral deposits. The biggest risk of ecological damage comes from the USA – who conveniently ‘forgot’ to sign up to the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

Good news: Glyndebourne Festival in Sussex has confirmed plans to become the world’s first opera festival powered by renewable energy.   Despite some opposition to a new 67m high wind turbine, it is anticipated that the turbine will generate contribute 90% of the power necessary to stage Glyndebourne’s operas – meaning festival goers to the 78th Glyndebourne Festival will be listening to productions of Janáček, Mozart and Ravel through the power of wind.

Bad news: From dolphins with lung and liver disease to dying coral, studies are revealing the ongoing impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster on the Gulf of Mexico’s marine environment when 200  million gallons of crude oil flowed from the well.

Good news: West London Composting is closing the loop on one waste stream by producing quality compost from local authority organic waste. Since opening its doors for business in 2004, the site has been receiving a mixture of garden waste, kitchen and canteen leftovers, and cardboard and paper, processing the material through in-vessel composting to produce a PAS 100 compliant compost for agriculture, landscape gardeners and the general public.

And finally, some top links from Treehugger

Is eating meat ethical? Have your say at http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/eating-meat-ethical-survey.html?campaign=weekly_nl

10 Great gardening Websites http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/10-great-gardening-websites.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Poo-Powered Tuk Tuk hits Denver Zoo http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/poo-powered-tuk-tuk-denver-zoo.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Annual sales of electric bikes to top 47 million by 2018 http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/poo-powered-tuk-tuk-denver-zoo.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Swimming robot Jellyfish makes it’s own hydrogen fuel from water http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/swimming-robot-jellyfish-makes-its-own-hydrogen-fuel-power.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Award-Winning German development aims to be ‘The World’s Most Sustainable Neighborhood’ http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/award-winning-german-development-aims-worlds-most-sustainable-neighborhood.html?campaign=weekly_nl

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/

UK Government will fight on to reduce FITs

The UK government has confirmed it is to appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling that its decision to cut solar feed-in tariff (FITs) before the end of a consultation period was unlawful. The appeal will now go to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal has now upheld the High Court’s ruling, denying the government a right to appeal and instigating procedures that would prevent the rushing through of similar changes in future. “The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court ruling on FITs albeit on different grounds. We disagree and are seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court,” Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne explained in a statement. He said the government has to protect the budget for FITs for all renewable technologies, which would come under pressure if another gold rush started as the tariff levels returns to 43.3p.

ANOTHER PLANET

Glyndebourne Productions have installed a wind turbine at the famous opera site, despite protests from local people who say that the sound of the turbine may affect performances. The Glyndebourne  turbine is supported by opera fan Sir David Attenborough who said that any noise issues were ‘trivial’ when compared to health and pollution issues from fossil fuels, and that the turbine was ‘elegant’ and ‘in harmony with nature’.  The Company said that 90% of the electricity required to run the opera house will now come from  renewable energy.

BP may pay out up to $25 billion to settle actions brought by the US authorities, local businesses and its own workers arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It is thought BP is keen to avoid a court action, scheduled to start on February 27th in New Orleans. BP has already spent $15 billion cleaning up after the massive spill and has paid $10 billion into a Gulf compensation scheme. analysts say if BP lost the court case its potential liability could be up to $69 billion.

Meat production is one of the major contributors to global environmental degradation especially deforestation, water scarcity and loss of bio-diversity – as well as on fifth of the World’s greenhouse gas emissions – so its interesting to see that a Dutch scientist says he is close to producing laboratory grown meat – or ‘cultured’ meat.  It sounds like science fiction but Mark Post from Maastricht University claims he will be able to produce a cultured burger by the end of the year. PETA, the animal welfare group, have a separate $1 million prize available until 30th June 2012 for the first scientist to provide cultured chicken that can be grown in quantity and cannot be distinguished from real chicken. Post hopes celebrity chef Jamie Oliver will cook his first commercially produced burger.

Oil and gas company Cuadrilla felt the wrath of furious local residents at a public meeting to discuss its proposed plans to drill test for shale gas in the South East of the UK. During the meeting, held in West Sussex on January 11,, Cuadrilla’s chief executive Mark Miller met with about 200 local residents and anti-fracking protestors to discuss plans for fracking work in the area.

New Research aims to look at the local options in power grids to reduce peaks and dips associated with renewable energy and cut fossil fuel use. Work by Australia’s Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will aim to overcome one of the ‘main hurdles’ to increased use of wind and solar energy. QUT’s chairman in power engineering, Professor Gerard Ledwich, said because renewable generation ‘was not predictable’ other power sources had to be used to supplement it but says he hopes to develop storage and demand management systems to make sure renewably generated power can be better stored during low usage times for use in peak periods.

The European economy could save €72bn a year if member states implemented EU waste legislation in full, according to a European Commission (EC) study. Such a move would also increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42bn and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020.

Luxury London hotel The Langham is looking to raise recycling levels from 35% to 75% over the next 12 months and make significant cost savings in the process. The five-star hotel has appointed waste management company SWR to manage all of its waste. This will involve greater source-segregation with the installation of new bins, a cardboard baler, a bin press and a glass crushing machine.

Uncertainty continues to dog the solar industry as the Government drags the fights over subsidy cuts back to court. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is going back to London’s High Court to appeal the right, won by campaigners to have a judicial review over cuts to the Feed-In Tariff scheme (FITs). The court ruled last year the cuts, implemented durig a consultative phase, were ‘illegal’ . Ministers have made one minor concession saying that householders who installed panels after the 12th December will continue to  get the full Feed In Tariff, but only until March 2nd, when it will halve.

Boosting plastics recycling in the UK will be a “key focus” for 2012 as the sector continues to develop PET and HDPE bottles recycling technologies.  That is according to resource and recovery specialist Keith Freegard, who predicts further investment in technology and equipment capable of extracting a wider range of materials from mixed plastics collections.  And Reducing water use by 20% by 2020, compared with a 2007 baseline, in the production chain is the second key area flagged up in the British Soft Drinks Association’s (BSDA) Sustainability.

Budget airline Ryanair will add a small charge to every passenger’s costs after claiming new European emission cutting rules were ‘loony’.  The Irish based airline is furious over the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), which makes large organisations monitor and report emissions. No problem for me as I don’t and won’t ever use Ryanair if I can help it as I find most of their charges stark raving mad. And train’s are much nicer anyway.

Edie.net reports that Apple has extended its reuse and recycling programme to the UK, France and Germany in the form of a customer cashback scheme for old devices.  The service has been operating out in the US for some time, but hit European shores last week. The scheme, which is being managed by Dataserv, also accepts certain non-Apple products such as desktop computers. Under the scheme, customers can hand back their used iPads, iPhones and Macs – but not iPods.

ANOTHER PLANET

The UK Government has lost a legal challenge in the High Court over plans to reduce the ‘Feed-in Tariff’ (FIT) for home generated electricity after the court ruled it was wrong to scrap the promised financial returns before a pre-announced consultation period had come to a close. The UK Government hopes to save £700 by 2014-2015. Green energy campaigners have criticised the Government for putting thousands of jobs at risk.   The National Trust has now announced that it is putting twelve of its planned fourteen solar panel projects on hold on its buildings as the rate is slashed from 42p per kwh to just 20p. The National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins said the cut was a ‘blow’ to our plans’ and that several proposed schemes for green energy were no longer viable. And the UK Government is wrong to cut the Feed-In Tariff  in the way it did but bad practice in the solar industry needs addressing, according to a new report.  The Consumer Focus report Keeping FIT is published on the day the subsidies are cut by about 50%. While the report finds many problems with the way the Government has cut FITs it also voices concerns about ‘misleading’ sales practices, a ‘lack’ of information from some solar panel installers and raises issues about the difficulties it found in registering and payment process for the tariff itself. However Solar energy in the UK will continue to be a “viable financial venture for investors”, according to one of the largest international manufacturers of solar modules, which unveiled investment plans. Phono Solar, which produces monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar modules for the international market, said it will continue to invest in the UK market and is confident of its future, despite the planned cuts to Feed-in Tariffs (FITs).

A legally binding deal was signed at COP17 after concerns by major emitters India, China and the US were eased. The deal has been hailed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a ‘breakthrough on the future’ of the international emissions and backed by the UK’s government. But the limited agreement only goes some way to address concerns and UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said that a legally binding deal on global emissions cannot be achieved by the European Union alone. And International condemnation then followed when Canadian Government announced a  decision to pull out of Kyoto in the wake of COP17. The Canadians crushed the small glimmer of optimism that came out of COP17 talks as the country moved to protest its large fossil fuel reserves. The decision shows while the United Nations backed climate talks can produce legally binding deals there’s little they can do if a country’s government decides it will simply pull out.

Edie.net reports that the South African Government has pledged to back an increase in wind power as its Department of Energy announced the winning bids from the first round of tenders for renewable energy projects. Announced at COP17, the South African’s said they plan to install 630MW of wind projects and a similar quantity of solar PV. According to the Department for Energy a further 2200MW of renewable projects will be announced over the coming two years.

The Environment Agency (EA) plans to crack down on illegal waste sites with a new environmental crime taskforce. The taskforce, which will target sites in England and Wales, has received £5m funding for the next two years. The EA has identified some 600 active illegal waste sites and estimates that over 300 of them are within 50m of schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites. The team, which includes former police detectives, will work closely with enforcement partners to gather intelligence and act quickly to close any sites that are operating illegally. The taskforce will be supported by Environment Agency funding for the first two years.

Recycling can benefit the economy in several ways by providing raw materials, creating jobs and encouraging business opportunities, according to a new study from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which examined the economic benefits of recycling in the context of building a green economy and found that the sector can help meet the material demands of economic production by preventing the environmental impacts associated with extracting and refining virgin materials. The study also found that revenues from recycling are substantial and growing fast. From 2004 to 2008 the turnover of seven main categories of recyclables almost doubled to more than 60bn euros in the EU.

Product reuse will grow in importance as the issue of resource security becomes more critical, according to WRAP’s chief executive Liz Goodwin. Speaking at a Green Alliance/CBI conference in London today, Goodwin said that by pursuing opportunities for reuse, the UK could reduce its reliance on raw materials, including rare earths, by as much as 20% by 2020.  WRAP estimates that around 600m tonnes of products and material enter the UK economy each year, with only around 115m tonnes being recycled. “Rare earth metals account for just 1,600 tonnes of this flow, but they are found everywhere – from vehicles, TVs, computers and ceramics, fuels, energy generation, and pharmaceuticals,” Goodwin told delegates. More than £220m could be generated from almost a quarter of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) thrown out each year, according to a report from WRAP and WRAP has also announced a £500,000 fund to encourage best practice in commercial food waste. The money, which will be issued over the next three years, will be used to support demonstration projects in England whereby collected food waste is recovered either through anaerobic digestion or in-vessel composting.

Clothing industry leaders Marks and Spencer and Levi Strauss back plans for more sustainable cotton in the traditionally chemical and water intensive industry. The businesses were talking for the first time in London of their support for the Better Cotton Initiative. The drive, which began two years ago, aims to make sure cotton is grown sustainably and its farmers are paid a fair price.

McDonald’s has pledged to tackle litter in Glasgow by lending its support to a scheme which is encouraging businesses to sign up to a major clean-up campaign. The initiative – National Spring Clean 2012 – is being headed up by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful and will run for two months, between April and May 2012.

Thames Water has been hit with a huge fine after it allowed sewage to leak and kill up to 22,000 fish. The company, the largest water and wastewater business in the UK, has been fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £61,049 following the damage to two rural brooks in Hampshire and Berkshire.  The firm has already pleaded guilty to causing sewage sludge to enter the Silchester Brook, in Hampshire and the Foudry Brook, in Berkshire, in July 2010 and asked for a breach of its condition to discharge treated effluent to be taken into consideration. In Manchester a doll’s house, giant Guinness hat and wrestling DVD have been some of the more unusual objects collected from the city’s waterways as part of a clean-up project. The most common objects it found are shopping trolleys, footballs, lorry tyres, metal fences and traffic cones, with Lucozade bottles featuring as the most littered item.

Big Six’ energy giant E.ON has unveiled plans for a 73 turbine 219MW array in the north of England. The Humber Gateway project will be built 8km off the East Yorkshire coast, just north of the mouth of the river Humber. Further works at the site will begin in March, after E.ON announced the plans last week, with construction of the onshore substation the plan is to complete the scheme in spring 2015. The project aims to create up to 1,000 jobs during construction and a further 30 roles to operate and maintain the wind farm when it is operational.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has unveiled three energy roadmaps to 2050 focusing on the benefits of the country moving to a smart-grid. The plans, which focus on increasing energy from wind, are designed to meet more of the country’s energy needs, in particular for heat and transport.

Edie.net reports that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is calling on Londoners to recycle their Christmas waste in a bid to save the capital £2.7m. According to waste group Recycle for London (RFL), backed by the mayor and WRAP, over the festive period Londoners will generate an extra 29,000 tonnes of household waste – using enough wrapping paper to stretch around the equator, while about one million Christmas trees will decorate London’s homes.