Tag Archives: recycling

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sla-logoEdie.net’s Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 have broken the record for the highest amount of entries ever received in the awards’ 8 year history. Edie say they are all thrilled about the huge number of entries received – it is a sure reflection of how many of you are continuing to put the spotlight on sustainability And of course, it should also make for a great awards ceremony! With entry levels at an all time high, the 2015 awards promise to be something really special and Edie say “we cannot wait to get all leaders of sustainability under one roof to celebrate their achievements. More information here.

Twenty seven blocks of land across the UK have been formally offered to energy companies by the UK Government for the extraction of onshore oil and gas. The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which allocated the land, said that a further 132 blocks were still undergoing environmental assessments, with the results expected “later in the year”. The first 27 blocks, each around 10km2 , are located mainly in the North East, North West and East Midlands. The second tranche is also largely clustered in the North of England. UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said that onshore oil and gas – often recovered by fracking – would “play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come”.

arcticAnd Shell has received final permission from the US Government to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012. Having been granted permission by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) yesterday (17 August), Shell can begin exploratory operations into potential oil bearing zones in the Chukchi Sea of the coast of Alaska.The move comes after the icebreaker ship Fennica, which carries emergency well-capping equipment, arrived at the site.

Scottish Power has announced that its coal-fired Longannet power station will be closing on 31 March 2016 after 46 years of service . The closure was first announced back in March 2015, reportedly thanks to high carbon taxes and the high cost of connecting to the grid. Neil Clitheroe, the CEO of retail and generation at ScottishPower, said it was a sad day for the company, but green groups hailed the closure as a ‘historic step’ in Scotland’s energy transition.

Renewable power billionaire Elon Musk has introduced to the world his sleek new Powerwall – a wall-mounted energy storage unit that can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, all for US$3,500. That translates into an electricity price (taking into account installation costs and inverters) of around US$500 per kWh – less than half current costs, as estimated by Deutsche Bank. Read more here.

Leading representatives of Islam have called for action to tackle climate change across the world, at a symposium in Istanbul. Islamic representatives from the United Nations, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and the UK set out a climate declaration for the world’s 1.6bn Muslims. The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change says: “God created the Earth in perfect equilibrium … the present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of this balance.” The declaration from the leaders calls on the nations meeting in Paris in December later this year at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) talks on climate change to set clear targets, stressing the part well-off nations and oil-producing states have to play to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

birdsneonictonoidsThe bee-harming pesticides we’ve been fighting for years are worse than we imagined. Research suggests that neonicotinoids aren’t just decimating bee colonies — they’re hurting birds too. Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations of neonicotinoids, bird populations declined every year. This means our worst fears are coming true — neonicotinoids may be moving up the food chain and killing our birds and our bees. For the sake of the birds, the bees, and the whole food chain, THESUMOFUS are challenging one of the biggest neonicotinoids producers of them all: Bayer. “In two weeks, we’re going straight to Bayer’s door with our massive petition — and we hope to have your name in our massive petition box.” It’s not just the bees anymore. Neonicotinoids are killing our birds too. It’s time to get Bayer to stop producing these chemicals.

A new app that can reportedly cut household energy use by 10% is being rolled out to 200,000 Swedish homes. The Energy Tree app analyses data from the smart power grid to discover households’ energy trends and encourages users to consume less energy through personalised feedback and guidance. “The Energy Tree combines behavioural science and gamification with data analytics to engage and motivate households,” said a statement from the app developers Greenely. “By entering their energy consumption data into the user-friendly and accessible app consumers can realise a potential 10% reduction in energy use.” More here.

fde1Efficient recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) could be worth €3.7bn to the European economy by 2020, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Sheffield found that recycling electronic waste was already worth €2.15bn in 2014 and could rise to €3.67bn by 2020. On top of the significant revenue gain, more effective recovery of materials could be environmentally beneficial by reducing manufacturers’ reliance on natural resources. The paper, entitled ‘Recycling of WEEEs: an economic assessment of present and future e-waste streamswas published by Professor Lenny Koh from the University of Sheffield and Federica Cucchiellaa, Idiano D’Adamoa  and Paolo Rosac  (University of L’Aquila, Italy). Professor Koh said: “This research has strong relevance to addressing global issues of materials availability and security, reducing reliance on unused non-renewable materials, especially precious, critical and rare earth materials in manufacturing for sustainability and for consideration for substitution.”

litterA survey has shown that 30% of people in the UK believe that more should be done to educate school children about recycling. Conducted by Direct365, the research highlighted that more needs to be done to inform future generations on how to minimise waste and promote eco-friendliness. As part of their Green365 campaign, which aims to help industries reduce their environmental impact, Direct365 asked 750 people a range of questions as to what measures schools can take to improve waste management. The survey showed that almost 30% want to see schools teach kids how to prevent food waste, while 25% stated that energy-saving lessons should be on the National Curriculum. 11% felt that children need more guidance on saving water

whales being mudreredThe horrific mass slaughter of whales in the Faroe Islands has sparked a reaction from two cruise lines, who announced they will no longer send their ships there. The latest move against the annual bloody massacre announcing means that Hapag-Lloyd and AIDA cruise lines are looking at alternative destinations for their vessels.  Both AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd were contacted by Netherlands-based charity Sea Shepherd to immediately postpone cruises to the Faroe Islands in the face of the on-going slaughters. Dr Monika Griefahn, a director at AIDA, confirmed the re-routing of the company’s ships in a letter to the charity. She said: “In the interest of our crew and our guests as well as for reasons for species protection AIDA Cruises has decided to stop making port calls to the Faroe Islands until further notice.”

handgunIn Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, many people know the devastating consequences these weapons can contribute to. That’s where creative activist Pedro Reyes comes in. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. he has melted down  1,527 guns and turns them into shovels for planting trees. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. With this unique perception, he transforms things people see as broken and models them in a new way. He encouraged local residents to swap their guns for household and electronics goods vouchers before re-making the metal into shovels. Read More: http://www.trueactivist.com/artist-melts-1527-guns-and-turns-them-into-shovels-for-planting-trees/. Let’s be honest – of we divered all the vast amount of money spent on wars and weapons into food, medicine, education, culture and housing we would ALL be well fed, healthy and well educated.

Indigenous communities in Brazil are using a new project called Tribal Voice to publicise how their homes and lands are being destroyed by loggers, ranchers and miners. The peoples, from some of the remote areas of the world, use Tribal Voice to air their voices o the internet. In Brazil the powerful farming lobby is trying to persuade the Brazillian government to clear;ly map out tribal lands – something the agribusinesses want to control themselves. They are lobbying the Brazilian government to turn over control of the mapping from a independent agency to Congress itself – something tribespeople say would be a disaster. Tribal Voice (not to be confused with the UK based sustainable tourism consultancy or the clothing company both of the same name) say “Ever wondered what life’s like in a remote tribal community? What tribal people have to say about the world? Tribal Voice, a project by Survival International, brings the thoughts and experiences of some of the most diverse societies on earth direct to your screen in real time. We’re kicking off the project with two tribes in Brazil. The Guarani, whose land has been stolen and destroyed by plantations and ranches, are now sending regular updates about their lives, and their struggle to survive. It’s time to listen.”

The Guardian reRIOports that the world governing body of sailing is threatening to move events for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics out of the city’s polluted Guanabara Bay unless “a whole lot more is done very quickly” to clear the venue of floating debris and sewage. Alastair Fox, head of competitions for the governing body, ISAF, said: “We’ve got quite frustrated with it all,” adding that Brazilian “politicians and the government must get going”. Fox suggested two sailing courses located just outside the bay in the open Atlantic – and a third being planned there – could be used for all races. Three other courses have been planned inside the bay but may not be used. The enclosed bay is heavily polluted and has been described as an “open sewer” by Olympic sailors. The Rio state government promised to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay by 80% but has since admitted that goal is unlikely to be met.
Gyre ocean rubbishA giant mass of floating plastic rubbish in the Pacific Ocean is believed to be far larger than previously feared — even though it was first estimated to be twice the size of Texas. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is much more than patch now – its a vast toxic ‘ocean fill’ of rubbish dumped from ships and washed out from the West Coast of North America. Julia Reisser, the main oceanographer on the “mega expedition” made up of 30 ships that surveyed the Patch, said that they had found much more plastic than expected, “perhaps an order of magnitude more”. The Ocean Star, the 171ft mother ship of the expedition, docked in San Francisco carrying huge white bags and freezers filled with plastic samples taken from 80 separate locations in the patch. “The trawls we did found little marine life, but lots and lots of plastic,” Dr Reisser said. “I would say that we had hundreds of times more plastic than organisms on our catch.” The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered by Charles Moore, a sailor and oceanographer, in 1997 as he returned home from the Transpacific Yacht Race, which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu. More here and more on Plastic Soup News here.

An American solar firm has launched a new liquid technology that turns regular windows into solar panels which could be up to 50 times more productive than regular roof-based photovoltaics. The solar windows, designed for skyscrapers, are created by applying ultra-thin layers of liquid coatings on to glass and flexible plastics. These liquid coatings produce ultra-small solar cells and form groups called ‘arrays’.  Solar Window Technologies revealed its innovation via a webinar, with a video demonstrating the windows collecting electricity, which was then used to charge a monitor.

orangsStarbucks has become the latest major brand to come under fire from campaign groups for its palm oil policy, with a new video urging consumers to boycott the coffee shop chain. The video is part of an ongoing campaign from the SumOfUs group, which has almost reached its petition goal of 200,000 signatures calling on Starbucks to cut conflict palm oil from its supply chain. The video highlights that, while 99% of Starbucks coffee is ethically sourced and sustainably produced, the company is still implementing “environment-wrecking” palm oil in its other commodities, such as baked goods

The private sector could cut more than five hundred megatons of greenhouse gas emissions in the next five years, simply by scaling up existing green initiatives, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and energy consultancy Ecofys, analysed five current initiatives, such as the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 and En.lighten. The report found that expanding these schemes could save emissions equivalent to one years’ worth activity from 130 coal power stations. The report focuses in particular on so-called ‘cooperative initiatives’ between businesses, Governments and NGO’s. One of the programmes looked at is WWF’s Climate Savers, which aims to help companies develop zero-carbon business models.

In the USA President Obama has unveiled  a package of programmes to help America switch to cleaner energy, including $1bn in loan guarantees to boost ‘innovative’ technologies, like smart grids and solar rooftops. The funding will also go towards installing solar panels on military housing and helping low-income families become more energy-efficient The initiatives aim to boost innovation, ensure grid reliability and ‘help the country towards a low carbon future’.

Edie.net reports that Rebuilding Scotland’s energy sector around green technology could generate 44,000 additional jobs compared to the current oil-and-gas status quo. That’ s according to a new report – Jobs in Scotland’s new economy – published by the Scottish Greens.  The report states that 200,000 new jobs could be created by adopting more renewable energy, compared to the 156,000 people currently employed in the country’s fossil fuel industry.

Audi2018Audi has unveiled concept designs for its first all-electric SUV, with a full reveal expected at the International Motor Show 2015 in Frankfurt next month. The concept car – the Audi e-tron Quattro – would have a battery range of more than 310 miles. Audi says the E-tron Quattro would come somewhere between Audi’s current Q5 and Q7 models in terms of size, and a production model for the SUV could be expected from 2018. The German carmaker said the electric model was constructed using Audi’s experience of its electric Audi R8 e-tron sports car, which entered a highly limited, on-demand production run this year.

And a French start-up claims to have developed the world’s first Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for road freight vehicles. Popularised in Formula 1, a KERS system recovers the kinetic energy usually lost under braking, and uses it to power a small electric motor. French firm Adgero, working with German company Skeleton Technologies, claims to have developed a KERS system that can be used with trucks and lorries, reducing associated emissions by up to 25%.

deforestationbrazilgreenpeaceAnd finally back to Brazil: Germany has pledged €550m to help Brazil’s deforestation and energy efficiency programmes as part of a new climate change agreement between the two countries. Following Angela Merkel’s state visit to Brasilia on Thursday, the two countries issued a joint statement calling for an ambitious agreement at the Paris climate talks in December. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff promised to end deforestation by 2030, while Germany also donated €23m to help Brazil establish a rural land registry aimed at increasing monitoring of the Amazon. “Brazil is the key to all goals related to the climate,” said Merkel. She added that the biodiversity of the rainforest was as important as its carbon absorption. “What gets destroyed here cannot be replaced,” she said. More on Edie.net here.

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Amazon burningGiant Asian logging companies that make billions from destroying rainforests use a labyrinth of secret shell companies based in a UK overseas territory, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which operate as a tax haven, according to documents seen by the Observer. The 13 companies own millions of acres in Indonesia, provide much of the world’s palm oil, timber and paper, and use complex legal and financial structures to keep their tax liabilities low. An unpublished two-year investigation by anti-corruption experts, and seen by the Observer, says Britain should launch a major investigation into the use of the BVI and other tax havens by “high-risk” sectors such as Indonesian forestry. This follows a court case in Jakarta in which one of the world’s largest palm oil companies, owned by billionaire Sukanto Tanoto, was fined US$205m after being shown to have evaded taxes by using shell companies in the BVI and elsewhere. The company has agreed to pay the fines.

The designer Sir Paul Smith is expected to be announced as a winner of a competition to design the UK pavilion at the 2015 World Fair in Milan. Smith is one of a team, led by artist Wolfgang Buttress, which has proposed a design in which the UK’s pavilion will be a virtual beehive, in order to “highlight the plight of the honeybee”. In the words of the proposal, visitors to the World Fair will walk through an orchard and a wildflower meadow before entering the hive, which will “pulsate, buzz and glow according to signals from a real hive”.

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has paid a visit to the UK’s first shopping bag and plastic film recycling facility in London. He visited the Woolwich-based facility with Liberal Democrat MEP for London Baroness Sarah Ludford. They were given a tour of the facility which has been developed by recycling specialists PlasRecycle.  The new plant, which started operations in late 2013, uses a high tech proprietary process developed by PlasRecycle over the past four years, to reprocess up to 20,000 tonnes per annum of used shopping bags and plastic films – equivalent to one third of all of the 8 billion so-called “single-use” carrier bags handed out by supermarkets every year in the UK. And Construction work has begun on the Fraddon Biogas Plant – a new biomethane-to-grid anaerobic digestion (AD) site in Cornwall. The Plant, which is scheduled to open towards the end of the year, will convert organic materials from local agricultural and food waste into gas and electricity. It will be one of the few AD plants feeding biogas into the UK national grid, producing 1,000 cubic metres per hour and exporting it to the gas grid as renewable bio-methane.

PenguinA report by former military officers says that Climate change poses growing threat of conflict in the Arctic and  says prospect of ice-free Arctic has set off scramble for shipping lanes and for access to oil. “Things are accelerating in the Arctic faster than we had looked at,” said General Paul Kern, the chairman of the Centre for Naval Analysis Corporation’s military advisory board, which produced the report. “The changes there appear to be much more radical than we envisaged.” The group of retired generals and admirals say that the prospect of an ice-free Arctic by mid-century had set off a scramble for shipping lanes by Russia and China especially, and for access to oil and other resources. “As the Arctic becomes less of an ice-contaminated area it represents a lot of opportunites for Russia,” he said. Oil companies were also moving into the Arctic. More here http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/14/climate-change-arctic-security-threat-report?CMP=EMCENVEML1631

Treehugger says that the giant candy (that is chocolate to us Brits)  and pet food maker MARS Inc has taken a big step in the right direction by announcing that it will soon begin construction of a massive wind farm in Texas that will produce enough clean energy to power all of MARS’ operations in the United States (they have 37 factories and 70 offices, so it’s a pretty big deal). This is one of many steps that the company has been taking as part of its ‘sustainable in a generation’ plan: The wind farm will be erected near Lamesa, Texas, with 118 GE wind turbines (1.7MW each) producing annually about 800,000 megawatt-hours, equivalent to what it takes to power 61,000 U.S. households.

jobsingreenenergyThe increasingly important role that renewable energy plays in job creation and economic growth has been further highlighted by a new report which reveals that 6.5 million people were employed in the industry last year. The report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), reveals that international employment across the renewable energy sector rose by almost a million people in the space of a year, with 5.7 million people directly or indirectly employed by the industry back in 2012.

Companies like Cree and Philips have started selling LED-based T8 lights. They have the potential to save a massive amount of electricity, and thus reduce pollution. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2011 about “461 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity were used for lighting by the residential and commercial sectors.” The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings and public street and highway lighting, consumed about “275 billion kWh for lighting or 21% of commercial sector electricity consumption in 2011.” There are about 2.3 billion fluorescent sockets in the US commercial sector, and most of them are based on the T8 standard – and with 30% energy cost savings it’s time for change! More on Treehugger.

solarSolar farms in the UK are to lose government financial support. The move to cut subsidies for large-scale installations is condemned by green activists and renewable power companies who say that the move is likely to reduce the UK’s ability to generate low-carbon power and green jobs, and to increase dependency on imports of fossil fuels. It is the second major blow to renewable energy within a month, followingthe announcement that the Conservatives want to axe subsidies to new onshore windfarms if they win the next election. But the government insisted the changes were necessary in order to ensure subsidies were fair and that renewable energy targets would still be reached, while keeping down costs for consumers.

For UK Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s climate sceptic thinktank is to launch campaigning arm – but the Global Warming Policy Forum will escape scrutiny for accuracy of information it produces by becoming a non-charitable company. The new arm, to be called the Global Warming Policy Forum, will share the same website and initials and publish reports and research papers, as well as organising lectures and debates on science and policy. In particular, it will put out news articles and opinion columns through a section of its website. The Charity Commission must agree the changes. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/09/nigel-lawson-climate-sceptic-thinktank?CMP=EMCENVEML1631

The emerging circular economy agenda is overlooking the valuable role energy-from-waste (EfW) can play, a leading industry academic has warned. Professor Chris Coggins, an independent consultant, argues that the founding principles of a circular economy can be equally applied to EfW – not just through renewable power generation, but through energy efficiency relating to product design and use.  As an example, he points to research that has shown the food industry in Europe could supply up to 20% of its energy requirements in the form of electricity, heating and cooling from its own food wastes.  Despite this, Coggins claims that literature published on the circular economy since 2012 focuses “almost entirely on mineral and biogenic resources with virtually no mention of urban carbon and wastes as energy resources – neither source-segregated wastes nor residual wastes which compete and/or offset the use of fossil fuels”.  More on Edie.net here

In the UK the Ministry of Defence has lost a battle to block radioactive waste contamination report of military sites could pose public health risk. The Report will now be published after six-month delay. But after the 75-page report was leaked to the Guardian, a decision was taken in Whitehall to publish and the Report will reveal that Comare (The 18-member Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment) is concerned about radium contamination from the second world war at Dalgety Bay in Fife and at least 25 other sites across the UK.

The UK Government is being urged to remain focused on the task of moving the UK to an efficient and low-carbon energy system following the release of a new report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee about the potential of using more shale gas. The report looks specifically at the economic impact of using shale gas, which is drilled out of rocks in a process known as ‘fracking’.  But Nick Molho, head of climate and energy policy at WWF-UK, believes the Lords has overlooked the many serious analysts who have said that shale gas in the UK is unlikely to have much impact on either gas prices or the UK’s rising exposure to gas imports.  In other fracking news, Celtique Energy has told residents that it will not drill horizontally under their homes and land in the South Downs national park – though it will push ahead with a vertical well at its own site.

Two winners from the Sustainability Leaders Awards 2013, organised by edie.net, have been selected as UK finalists for the European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). The EBAE recognise outstanding, new or innovative contributions to sustainable development. The 12 UK finalists are selected from the winners from RSA-accredited schemes, including the Sustainability Leaders Awards. Edie has said that two of its winners have been selected: Cynar, which won the Sustainability Product Innovation category; and Berendsen UK, the Sustainability Leaders Awards winner in the Water Management category.

mcdonalds rubbish 2Several of the UK’s biggest brands have signed up to a pledge to reduce litter across the country. McDonalds, KFC, Dominos Pizza, Coca-Cola and Wrigley have all joined the Litter Prevention Commitment – a new bid by Keep Britain Tidy to reduce the levels of rubbish which  blow around our streets, parks and country side and cost £1 billion a year to deal with. The companies will include rubbish in their corporate social responsibility and environmental policies and seek to minimise waste through product design, labelling and by influencing the behaviour of their customers. Anecdotally I have to say Coke drinking McDonalds customers are the worst offenders – incapable to reaching a bin less than one metre away and prone to drop rubbish out of cars anywhere that suits them!

The EU has proposed a new ban on driftnets in all EU waters and on all EU boats to enforce the protection of dolphins and other sea mammals as well as turtles and the fast disappearing bluefin tuna. Driftnets can stretch for miles close to the surface and are often responsible for the incidental killing of thousands of marine creatures.

 

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solarSolar energy is an incredible resource, but one of its weak points is affordable storage options to be able to have a bank of power that can be used when demand is high but the sun is down. A number of high-tech solutions for an energy storage system that can overcome that issue are being developed, but many of them have a high cost or are dependent on expensive materials.  However, an older technology could be a viable way forward for solar energy storage, by using steam piston engines and pressure vessels to accumulate and store the energy for when it’s needed. And a group of Australian engineers have been developing this novel energy storage solution, and their startup, Terrajoule, already has one demonstration system in place in California, and is taking aim at some promising cost figures by 2015. The Terrajoule system couples concentrated solar with steam engines and an integrated storage system using an insulated pressure vessel to deliver cost-effective solar energy 24 hours a day.

Treehugger reports on the cramped, unhygienic, and horrific conditions that were recorded by secret camera at two egg farms in Alberta this past summer. The video footage, taken by activist group Mercy for Animals Canada (MFAC), shows chickens being treated with shocking cruelty. Some get “thumped,” a barbaric practice that kills animals by smashing their heads against a hard surface. Chicks are piled in a garbage bag and left to die. Other dead chickens aren’t removed from the cages where live chickens are stuffed in, unable to spread their wings or move around. You can see the footage here. But don’t try before an omelette.

chickensSpeaking of eggs, new research from Professor Christine Nicol, a expert in animal welfare at the University of Bristol, says that chickens kept in cages often have better lives than free range birds. It amazed me but Professor  Nicol says that birds in enriched cages (where they have room to move around, can scratch and perch) have lower mortality rates, less injuries, peck each other less and have less stress – not least as free range farms have widely differing standards  – some brilliant – some “dismal”. Almost all animal welfare charities promote free range eggs are more humane. Professor Nicol says “There’s nothing to be ashamed of in buying eggs from enriched cages”. Enriched cages replaced battery cages on intensive farms after a 2012 ban in the European Union.

The UK has no justification to reduce its efforts on cutting emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). In a new report, the CCC says that there have been no changes to global science and policy that would justify a loosening of the UK’s fourth carbon budget, covering 2023-2027, which was set in June 2011. The report says: “In respect of science, international and EU criteria, there has been no significant change in the circumstances upon which the budget was set. In this regard, there is therefore no basis to support a change in the fourth carbon budget”.

And Prime Minister David Cameron ,ad broad suggestions that Britain should keep cutting carbon emissions – comparing action to prevent global warming to home insurance – there is a real but not 100% proven risk that greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change and recent global weather disasters, and that “the evidence seems to me to be growing”.   As Japan announced that it was to scale down its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is set to repeal carbon taxes, former cabinet minter Peter Lilley, one of the few MPs who voted against the Climate Change Act, said that Britain, which produces 2% of global greenhouse gases,  should not “further disadvantage itself” by taking a lead in the fight against global warming and that unravelling global consensus should prompt a rethink and that mankind could adapt to climate change.

melissa bachmanMelissa Bachman, the self styled American huntress who posted a picture of a slaughtered South African lion on her Facebook page (see right – along with her and her high powered rifle with telescopic sights – oooohhh what a brave brave hunter she must be shooting the male lion from 60 yards away) is facing a backlash from tens of thousands of animal and nature lovers. She has since removed the picture from Facebook – same the lion can be reinstated in its place.  The hunt though was legal – South Africa still has regulated hunting.

New techniques for editing genes could “open the floodgates” of new strains of animals being bred for farming, testing and even as pets.

More than 100 London buses will run on fuel derived from used cooking oil and other food waste in a pilot scheme announced by London Mayor Boris Johnson. All of the buses that run from a depot in Barking, East London will be powered by a blend of 80% regular diesel and 20% biodiesel in a scheme that aims to cut the carbon emissions of each bus by about 15%.

Less good news for Boris – four cyclists have been killed in London in the space of just eight days. The fourth victim, a woman in her mid 20s, was dragged under a truck on the Bow Roundabout, East London.

Changes to the migratory patters of birds are due to chicks hatching earlier due to warming weather from climate change. New chicks are destined to migrate at different times to to earlier generations to cope or eve benefit from climate change.

Global pressures on materials demand and the environmental impact of material use call for a revolution in “our mind-sets and behaviour” towards a resource efficient circular economy, says the EU Commissioner for Environment. Addressing delegates at WRAP’s annual conference via teleconference, the Commissioner Janez Potocnik said that it is “pretty obvious” that the private sector must be at the centre of any transition to a resource efficient and circular economy. “It is companies creativity and innovation that determine what technologies and systems we will use tomorrow; companies product design choices that determine the features of products,” said Potocnik.

Waste industry leaders have voiced grave concerns over plans by Defra to cut back its involvement in the sector following an announcement by the new resource minister Dan Rogerson. Rogerson wrote to members of the waste industry informing them that his department will take more of a back seat on policy intervention and funding activity during the period 2014/15 due to financial pressures. He insisted however that waste remained “one of his priorities”. Various trade bodies such as the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and the Resource Association have reacted with disappointment to this news

The UK landfill tax system is failing to divert food waste from landfill but introducing mandatory separate collections of the material will help the UK to achieve a food waste-free future by 2020, according to ReFood. This is one of four key recommendations in a report launched by the food waste recycler in collaboration with entrepreneurial charity BioRegional.

Edie.net reports that early a third of people admit to not recycling as much as they could due to the fact that they can’t be bothered, according to a new study. The survey by Greenredeem highlights a growing complacency among the British public to embark on green actions, in the wake of recent statistics from Defra which revealed that the rate of increase in recycling rates has slowed down. Two-thirds (64%) of Brits reckon the Government doesn’t yet do enough to incentivise recycling, which would suggest that that current schemes to drive up recovery rates are not having the necessary consumer impact.

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tn_IMG_7303Well worth a read: Music Festivals: A Stage for Environmentalism by Christopher Davis begins “Recent years have witnessed a growing convergence between the expanding music festival scene and environmental activism surrounding the issues these festivals can give rise to. This development has followed from the realization that music festivals can be, on the one hand, grossly unsustainable and excessively consumptive, while, on the other hand, a great medium through which to spread the message of environmentalism”. More here – including interviews with our very own Claire O’Neill, Kate Jackman from Bestival , Joanna Watson, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth and Andy Hope from the Croissant Neuf Summer Party. http://www.theinternational.org/articles/409-music-festivals-a-stage-for-environmenta

A clearer EU policy is needed to unlock investment in secure, affordable and low carbon energy, according to a report by the House of Lords.   The EU Sub-Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy has called for stronger EU leadership, a revised EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and a 2030 decarbonisation target. In better news,the European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted to introduce stricter new targets for van fuel economy and CO2 emissions in 2025. MEPs approved a draft law setting out rules to reduce the CO2 emissions of new light commercial vehicles sold in the EU to 147g CO2/km by 2020, from the current 203g. The European Parliament has also reaffirmed its goal towards safer and more environmentally friendly shipping today as it continues discussions on reducing CO2 emissions throughout the region. And the European Commission is encouraging the use of green infrastructure by adopting a new strategy which also ensures that the enhancement of natural processes becomes a systematic part of spatial planning. The Commission says that green infrastructure is a tried and tested tool that uses nature to provide ecological, economic and social benefits

power station3Finally in EU news, energy and environment ministers from nine European member states have outlined their support for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) backloading proposals, as it emerged that a second vote on the proposals would take place next month. Last month in a 334-315 split, the European Parliament voted against EU ETS carbon back-loading proposal. The ministers who said they were disappointed by the first vote (and there were 60 abstentions)  also called for a resolution of the proposals by July and urged the European Commission to bring forward proposals to perform an overall structural reform of the EU ETS by the end of the year.

“Greenwrapping” is an interesting concept – covering up power plants and other buildings with trees, vines and other plants to make the more ‘green’ and there is an interesting article on Treehugger. The designers of one greens scheme, AZPA, publicly stated that vines on the roof of a power plant would “absorb a substantial part of the carbon emissions of the plant”: Treehugger rather sardonically reply ” Right, the creepers will just soak up that CO2 and grow like mad. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Why get rid of coal plants when you can just plant vines? Or put every power station in a park?”. More here http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/greenwash-watch-good-design-or-egregious-greenwrapping.html

Whilst the EU will now implement bans on the “bee killer” neonicotinoid pesticides, some bee keepers are worried that farmers will now revert back to older and more indiscriminate pesticides – which actually will kill more bees.

Edie.net reports that the DECC is in ‘crisis’ after Ravi Gurumurthy stepped down from his role as head of strategy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, according to an unconfirmed report.The resignation follows that of Jonathan Brearley last week, who was head of energy markets and networks at DECC.

ALLOTMENTS4My Cool Allotment: An Inspirational Guide to Stylish Allotments and Community Gardens by Lia Leendertz and Mark Diacono, is a tour of 31 different allotment gardens in the USA, the UK and Europe.  And Treehugger highlight  Another fantastic design from the Instructables Green Design Contest! This one is a vertical garden planter from angelitali.

Recycled polymers could stimulate a return to plastic manufacturing in the UK as changing attitudes towards sustainability and rising costs for Far Eastern producers present new market opportunities for Britain. According to reprocessor expert Keith Freegard who heads up Axion Polymers, tapping into the UK’s plastics recycling infrastructure, could herald a bright future for firms that have traditionally struggled to compete against the manufacturing might of Asian producers.  He highlights examples of certain product types returning to the UK as importers review the balance of benefits versus cost in the face of high real-estate prices, rising labour and electricity costs and onerous custom transfers in China. More here http://www.edie.net/news/5/Closing-loop-on-waste-plastics-could-spark-renaissance-in-British-manufacturing-/

Scottish Water has installed 10 small-scale wind turbines at its wastewater treatment works in Stornoway to help reduce energy costs. The turbines, which make up the utility’s first project of its kind in Scotland, are capable of generating 500KW of electricity per day.

Finally, the mystery of LED ‘droop’ has been solved: Droop is where the increase in the electrical current sent to a LED would, past a certain point, reduce the amount of light produced.  Now the riddle has been solved by a group of researchers from the engineering department of UC Santa Barbara and from CNRS-École Polytechnique in France. They have “conclusively identified Auger recombination as the mechanism that causes light emitting diodes (LEDs) to be less efficient at high drive currents.” And now have a solution. More here http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/cause-led-droop-identified-could-lead-more-efficient-led-lights.html

Another Planet

Air pollution during the London 2012 Olympic Games is set to be monitored using pioneering 3D technology developed by the University of Leicester (UoL).  The technology, developed by a team of researchers from UoL gathers scattered sunlight to scan whole cities and takes readings of air quality to help assess the impact of increased traffic levels on pollution.

A smartphone wheelie bin application to notify householders of changes in waste collection services will be launched by two of England’s top performing recycling councils this summer. The Binfo app, which will go live in time for the Jubilee weekend on 2-5 June, will be available for Android and iPhone users and has been designed to alert residents to new recycling services as well as service changes.

The UK’s Green Party says that the UK’s drought status and hosepipe ban during a period of torrential rain is the result of mismanagement by water companies who said that the current water restrictions demonstrate an urgent need for better water management by companies, as well as for climate change issues to be addressed. The Green Party also called for water companies to tackle leaks, which it says will save water, reduce costs and provide thousands of jobs. .And Lib Dem MEP George Lyon says that Europe’s need to increase food production is being blocked by energy and water constraints saying the last time the ERU needed to improve food production “In the 1950s and 60s unused land was put into production, poor land was improved, lots of water was used for irrigation and energy, which was dirt cheap at the time, was thrown at the problem,” adding “The challenge today is to achieve the same output boost while trying to reduce the amount of energy and water used in production and doing so without any new land being available.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come under fire from leading environmental figures after what was heralded as a keynote green economic speech was downgraded. Reacting to the speech made by the Prime Minister at the Clean Energy Ministerial in London, a number of green NGOs, businesses and politicians have disputed claims that new policies and reforms enacted by the Coalition have been responsible for driving the UK’s green economy.  Labour shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint MP criticised the PM for failing to deliver a “proper” speech, saying it demonstrated the Government’s real lack of support for the green economy.  Energy secretary Ed Davey launched the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) by pledging that the UK would develop a policy framework with ministers worldwide that supports clean tech innovation.

Sustainability may be past the toddler stage but it’s not much more grown up than that, according to Forum for the Future deputy chief executive Dr. Sally Uren. Speaking at the ‘Sustainable Business in Practice’ conference Dr Uren said that while “sustainability language” had hit the mainstream that she wasn’t sure it was fully embedded in business as “if it was we would be much closer to a sustainable economy”. Rather, she said that sustainability is in its “teenage years as it has had a growth spurt and got us to where we are now.” It has also left the toddler stage where people didn’t really understand it”, she added saying it is “coming of age”.  And in the wake of the Clean Energy Ministerial in London, Lib Dem peer Lord Redesale who is chair of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, said that while the coalition has set out an ambitious goal to be the ‘greenest Government ever’ and made some positive steps that progress towards renewables remains “painfully slow”.  NHS hospitals have been told that they could make significant savings in the future by tapping into the waste they produce to power their sites as part of a decentralised energy strategy.  This is according to MITIE, a leading outsourcing firm, which is working with a number of NHS trusts to improve their sustainability ratings.

Edie.net reports that twelve EU regions are to join forces to develop a common framework in a bid to improve the consistency of recycling and recovery rates across Europe.  The partnership project ‘Regions 4 Recycling’ (R4R) will run over three years and will formulate a methodology for waste data observation, selective collection and recycling rates that will enable participating regions to share best practice to improve their recycling performance. Countries involved include France, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Romania, Estonia and Ireland. So far, there is no UK involvement.

ANOTHER PLANET

Good news –  scientists have developed a robot jellyfish which has synthetic muscles powered by the hydrogen and oxygen in water. The Robot is made up of eight moving parts wrapped in carbon nanotubes and coated with a platinum powder. How sustainable is that! Bad news – the research was funded by the US military who are looking at options like ‘underwater spy drones’ for the new technology.

A fascinating article on Tree Hugger about the future design of wind turbines – and they don’t have to be giant windmills, or have baldes – and they can run in low wind,  – and designs include the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine, the Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbine (pictured)the Wind Harvester, the Wind Stalk and vertical axis turbines.  Much more at http://www.treehugger.com/wind-technology/future-wind-power-9-cool-innovations.html?campaign=weekly_nl

TreeHugger also has an interstig review of a new book detailing many of the buildings that have been built for the London 2012 Olympic Games  – London 2012 Sustainable Design – Delivering a Games Legacy by architect Hattie Hartman   http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/London-sustainability-guide-Olympics.html?campaign=weekly_nl

The UK government is to revive its £1bn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) competition and take its first steps to design the first workable demonstration project has been welcomed by industry.  Energy secretary Ed Davey announced the CCS Commercialisation Programme, which replaces the scrapped Longannet CCS scheme, and which aims to boost innovation in carbon capture and storage technologies.  It is anticipated the initiative, which is financed using public funding, will help the UK meet its climate change targets and boost energy security by encouraging development in CCS technology. A major change to the reformed competition is that it will be open to gas-powered stations with Stuart Haszeldine, Scottish Power Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh saying “This is a much, much better offer than we had before”.

A French village has proposed giving two chickens to each household to cut down on food waste.  Officials from Pince in the northwest of France say the chickens could consume up to 150kg of food waste each year from families, as well as provide eggs for the breakfast table.  So far, 20 households have reportedly already stated an interest in receiving the birds which will be handed out in September – and it works – when I used to keep chicken, ALL household vegetable waste either went to the chickens or was composted – the hens loved peas, cooked rice, potato peelings, lettuce leaves – even cabbage leaves – and produced lovely eggs and free manure too!

NHS trusts will be required to produce annual sustainability reports as from this year under new laws announced by the Department of Health. Trusts will be required to chart their sustainability progress as part of their annual reporting obligations.  The legislation aims to tackle the NHS’s immense carbon impact which totals 20m tonnes of CO2.

UK Businesses will face higher waste disposal costs as from this month as landfill tax rises to £64 per tonne under the Government’s continued materials diversion drive. The hike represents an £8 increase from the 2011-12 rate of £56 per tonne and will put companies under greater pressure to manage their waste more effectively by seeking alternative treatment and recovery options.

Edie.net reports that despite climate change posing a “substantial” risk to UK major companies less than half have contingency plans in place. New research by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which conducted a poll of UK FTSE 100 companies as part of its Insight into Climate Change Adaptation by UK Companies Report which found that while 80% of respondents had identified substantial risks to their business from climate change, just 46% said they had plans in place to protect against.

The UK’s paper recycling rate stands at 78.7%, an increase of nearly 5% on the previous year, according to latest figures. Data released by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) shows a rise from 75.1% in 2010 to 78.7% in 2011.

Water restrictions are in force for Southern and Eastern England customers as seven water companies pull the plug on hosepipe use. This follows last month’s warning that restrictions are likely to be enforced this spring as a result of a drier than average autumn, winter and early spring which has left reservoir levels seriously low and parts of the country in drought  Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are the first seven companies to enforce restrictions, with some of these restrictions coming into force on April 5th in the form of a hosepipe ban with a maximum £1000 penalty.

Nearly 20 states in the USA are planning to introduce labelling for genetically modified foods – something an estimated 90 percent of American people want but aren’t getting from their federal government but it seems that that state government officials may even be dragging their feet on legislation they previously supported—with AlterNet reporting that this is because chemicals giant Monsanto is threatening to sue explaining hat the legislators changed their minds only after a Monsanto representative threatened a public official that the chemical and biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the labeling bill. More here http://www.vtrighttoknow.org/.

Trade body Renewable UK has said that the wind power industry would create almost 80,000 new jobs in that period, taking the total number of employees in the sector to around 90,000 by 2020. And, in the shorter term in order to address the projected demand and skills gap, it pledges to create up to 2,000 places on specialist training courses by the end of 2013 to help people retrain within the sector and creating employment opportunities. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey welcomed the charter saying: “As an island, we have an abundance of free wind energy which we would be crazy not to harness. We have the opportunity to build a world leading wind energy industry”.

Three of the four big supermarkets in the UK have refused to publicly reveal how much food they throw away each year. According to Channel 4 news, Britain’s supermarkets collectively generate 300,000 tonnes of food waste every year, but Tesco, Asda and Morrison’s declined to disclose their individual figures when contacted by the news channel. Only Sainsbury’s was prepared to publish its food waste figures and told Channel 4 it generated about 44,000 tonnes of food waste in 2011.

A planned anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at Scottish ice cream manufacturer Mackie’s could save the firm up to £300k a year in energy costs, bolstering it’s already impressive renewable energy credentials.  The firm already has three 800kW wind turbines which supply 70% of the firm’s energy needs at its 1,600-acre Aberdeenshire site – as well as exporting 62% of their output to the national grid. A further 50kW of solar panels was added earlier this year, however, an AD plant would reduce reliance on wind or sunshine, allowing the company to power operations using only on-site renewable energy.

The Midcounties Co-operative has saved over £100,000 in waste disposal costs over the past 12 months due to an aggressive recycling drive.

New conference on commercial waste

On the 29th May at the Hallam Conference Centre, London the Commercial Waste – Reaching out to SMEs event will examine strategies and barriers to increase material capture rates from SMEs in an economically viable way.

Rhis one day event has been developed by edieWaste and LAWR for waste contractors, SMEs, local authorities, and government.

Louise Clark, Commercial and Industrial Waste Policy Lead, Defra will provide insight into how the Waste Review and voluntary responsibility deals can deliver on capturing more C&I materials from SMEs. She will be joined by the following speakers among others.

  • Councillor Clyde Loakes, Vice Chairman Environment Board, Local Government Association
  • Matthew Farrow, Director of Policy, Environmental Services Association
  • Linda Crichton, Head of Collections and Quality Programme, WRAP
  • Bob Baltrop, Group Sales and Marketing Director, Biffa Waste Services
  • Andy Hudson, Head of Environment and Waste, Milton Keynes Council
  • Shane Clarke, Deputy Executive Director, Team London Bridge BID
  • Daniel O’Connor, Waste Manager, Newcastle University
  • Derek Greedy, President, CIWM (Chair)

For full event information, visit: www.commercialwaste.net and for registration queries call Lucy Hargreaves on +44 (0) 208 651 7057 or emaillucy.hargreaves@fav-house.net today. 

(Register before 12th April to save £60.)