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April 29, 2015

EU to halve plastic bag use by 2019

The European Parliament passed a law on 28 April to drastically cut down on single-use plastic bags. EurActiv France reports.

Single-use plastic bags could soon become a thing of the past in European supermarkets. On Tuesday (28 April), MEPs approved the final version of a text drastically limiting the use of plastic bags in EU member states.

These bags, which are often only used once, are a scourge on the environment, take several centuries to degrade and are particularly harmful to marine ecosystems.

Around eight billion of these bags end up polluting the European environment every year, according to estimates.

Limits in 2019 and 2025

Gilles Parneaux, a Socialist Party MEP, said that in France alone "an estimated 122 million plastic bags pollute 5,000 kilometres of coast".

The new law requires member states to progressively reduce their use of plastic bags, with an initial threshold of 90 bags per person per year by 2019, followed by 40 bags in 2025. Certain countries like Hungary, Portugal and Poland and heavy plastic bag users and will have to make radical changes in order to comply with these limits.

At the other end of the scale, some EU member states like Finland and Luxembourg already find themselves on the right side of the future limits. With an average consumption of 79 plastic bags per person per year, France is already well below the first threshold.

Read more at EuActive.

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category : Topics

April 28, 2015

Ministry ready to give loans to open green stores, says minister

Ministry ready to give loans to open green stores, says minister

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said his ministry is prepared to give loans to companies keen on opening shops that promote environmentally friendly products.

To qualify for the Green Technology Funding Scheme (GTFS), companies have to have certification such as from Sirim or the MyHijau scheme, he told reporters after opening a 'GR!N Store' here today.

The store, located at Super Pharmacy Warehouse in Petaling Jaya, is the first of its kind in Malaysia, and is a collaboration between Green Purchasing Network Malaysia (GPNM) and Symbion Biotech Sdn Bhd.

Mahdzir said criteria for eligibility as a GR!N Store include green practices such as efficient energy usage and waste management, eco-labelling of products, and promotion of green products.

He said collaboration between the public and private sectors is vital to further enhance the green technology industry, which in 2013 contributed RM7.9 billion or 0.8 per cent to the country's Gross Domestic Product.

According to the GTFS website, an eligible company can get a loan of up to RM10 million to promote green products.

Read more at The Malaysian Insider.

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category : Topics

April 27, 2015

Green Purchasing Network India (GPNI) has released its Newsletter

Green Purchasing Network India (GPNI) has conducted a study about consumer perceptions of green products in India and reported the study result in its Newsletter.
For more information, please download the file here.

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category : Topics

April 24, 2015

Nike and Adidas show cautious support for eco-friendly dye technology

Stephanie Hepburn
Friday 24 April 2015 10.34 BST

It has been a significant step forward for the textile sector. Up until now the effluent from dye houses that can often be seen in rivers flowing through the textile manufacturing areas of India, China and elsewhere is a result of unabsorbed dyes, chemicals and heavy salts that are used during the dyeing process.

A number of companies, DyeCoo, ColorZen and AirDye have set out to address this pollution by designing waterless dye technology. The result is a reduction in wastewater, energy, chemicals and toxic discharge to such a degree that it could revolutionise the textile industry.

Major brands including Nike and Adidas have been integrating waterless dye technologies into their product lines, but costs and limitations have experts in the textile industry worried that the support will not last.

“Right now there is very low uptake of use of these technologies,” says Andrew Filarowski, technical director at Society of Dyers and Colourists. The textile industry is viewed as low-cost entry into industrialisation of countries, meaning that lower-cost technologies are used even when superior technology is available.

The technology
“Cotton is actually fairly difficult to dye and there is a lot of associated pollution,” says Michael Harari, president and co-founder at ColorZen. His company cuts the need for chemicals, salts and alkalis by offering a pre-treatment service for cotton, which makes that cotton more receptive to dye. Harari says “the result is up to 90% less water, 75% less energy and 95% less chemicals, and zero toxic discharge.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

April 23, 2015

Local and national interests clash in Indonesia's palm oil industry

Oliver Milman
Thursday 23 April 2015 15.43 BST

The industry of palm oil, the product found in everything from chocolate to lipstick that is habitually reviled by environmentalists, is facing new challenges due to unrest in key producing regions.

It was reported by the Cameroonian Association of Oil Refineries this month that the export of refined products including palm oil from several African nations, including Nigeria and Cameroon, has been “virtually at a standstill” for several months due to a spate of murders and kidnappings committed by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

The unexpected slowdown in palm oil production in Africa, seen as a key growth area for the product, comes as political tensions are heightening in Indonesia, the world’s leading producer of palm oil.

According to statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Indonesia produces around 30m tonnes of crude palm oil a year and, along with Malaysia, accounts for nearly 90% of the world’s supply.

Proponents of palm oil point out that it’s cheap and efficient to grow and use, although critics point out that huge tracts of rainforest have been cleared – at a rate of around 690,000 hectares a year between 2006 and 2010 – to make way for the crop, putting engendered species such as the orangutan under severe threat.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

April 23, 2015

New biodegradable waste management plans proposed and evaluated

Researchers have designed and proposed a new organic waste management plan for Catalonia, Spain, and presented it in a recent study. They say that the plan would reduce a number of environmental impacts that arise from landfilling biodegradable waste, including natural resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication.

For this study, the researchers proposed a new biowaste management plan. They used model simulations to examine the outcomes of using the plan to treat the annual amount of organic municipal solid waste produced in Catalonia in 2012 (1218 gigagrams (Gg)). In particular, they looked at the impact of using anaerobic digestion for recycling biowaste to produce biogas, adding sludge to soil, and various forms of industrial and home composting treatments.

They compared this new plan with those of actual waste management in 2012 in terms of impacts on abiotic (non-living) natural resource depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming, ozone layer depletion and summer smog.

The proposed management model meets the requirements of the Landfill Directive, as well as the new Catalan waste management plan (2013–2020). As incineration or disposal to landfill of untreated municipal solid waste is banned, the new plan is designed to cope with the increased volume of organic waste (food and green waste) collected by local authorities.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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category : Topics

April 21, 2015

Better Resource and Energy Efficiency 'begins at home'

Nairobi, 20 April 2015 - Buildings last longer than almost all other types of products and the world around them can be expected to undergo great change during their lifetime. In the next 15 years, two billion more people are expected to move to the world's cities, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The built environment is rapidly changing, contributing to environmental challenges such as climate and land-use change, natural resource scarcities and waste generation, but it also provides vital opportunities for more sustainable lifestyles.

Globally, the buildings and construction sectors account for 40 per cent of global energy use, 30 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, about 12 per cent of water use, and nearly 40 per cent of waste. They also employ about 10 per cent of the world's workforce.

A new programme, launched today, aims at improving the social, environmental and economic performance of buildings by promoting resource and energy efficiency, and a shift towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns in the building and construction sector.

The Sustainable Buildings and Construction (SBC) Programme aims to foster a clearer understanding and appreciation of sustainable buildings among relevant stakeholders and to identify the knowledge, resources and incentives required to build, maintain and use them. It also aims to ensure that structures are healthy to live and work in; that they use land, energy, water and other key resources sustainably; that they respect environmental limits and are responsive to climate change; and that they contribute to the social and economic development of the communities in which they stand.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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category : Topics

April 20, 2015

Valuable But Toxic: World’s E-waste Goes to Waste

The United States and China produce the most e-waste overall – 32 percent of the world’s total. But the top per capita e-waste producers are the wealthy nations of northern and western Europe, the top five being Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

In 2014, people worldwide discarded all but a fraction of an estimated 41.8 million metric tonnes of electrical and electronic products – mostly end-of-life kitchen, laundry and bathroom equipment like microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers.

And the volume of e-waste is expected to rise by 21 percent to 50 million metric tonnes (Mt) in 2018.

The new figures were released Sunday in the Global E-Waste Monitor 2014, a report compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s think tank.

UN Under-Secretary-General David Malone, rector of UNU, said, “Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials. At the same time, the hazardous content of e-waste constitutes a ‘toxic mine’ that must be managed with extreme care.”

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

April 17, 2015

It’s time to stop managing waste and start preventing it

Frank E. Celli and Rick Perez
Friday, April 17, 2015 - 1:00am

Diverting the world’s estimated 12 million tons of daily waste is no easy task. Today’s waste management strategies are often costly, cumbersome and bad for our environment.

In order to really reduce impacts on the environment while increasing profitability, companies need to aggressively shift the focus from waste management to waste prevention.

Companies in all industries have the potential for increased profitability, efficiency and reduced environmental impact when they make the decision to start preventing their waste. Whether it is occurring during production or consumption, a high waste output is an unnecessary expense.

Incorporating a strategic waste-savings plan into your business model, instead of paying for waste removal services, is a great way to tie waste reduction directly to the bottom line.

But waste prevention is also a matter of focus. When businesses start thinking about recycling and zero waste, they tend to start with the more obvious materials: paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and aluminum. These recyclable products are easily monetized and can generate revenue.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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category : Topics

April 15, 2015

Circular economy could bring 70 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030

Anders Wijkman
Wednesday 15 April 2015 12.45 BST

Odds are, your mobile phone is less than two years old. Today’s economy is built on a “fast turnover” principle. The faster we replace our gadgets the better – not only our phones, but most items we consume.

This leads to a staggering inefficiency in the way we manage the Earth’s resources, with increased pollution, loss of ecosystems and substantial losses of value with each product disposed. A new study from The Club of Rome, a global thinktank, highlights that moving to a circular economy by using and re-using, rather than using up, would yield multiple benefits.

This Swedish case study, the first in a series of reports in 2015, suggests that 2015 is a key window of opportunity to start modernising the EU economy, while boosting jobs and tackling climate change ahead of the UN climate change conference, COP 21, in Paris in December.

It analyses the effects of three strategies underpinning a circular economy: renewable energy, energy efficiency and material efficiency. It concludes that by 2030, carbon emissions could be cut by almost 70% if a key set of circular economy policy measures were adopted.

In addition, caring for items through repair, maintenance, upgrading and remanufacturing is far more labour-intensive than mining and manufacturing in highly automated facilities. In moving to a more circular economy, the number of additional jobs would likely exceed 100,000 – cutting unemployment by more than a third.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

April 13, 2015

Global Lead Cities Network on sustainable public procurement launched

Seoul Metropolitan Government and ICLEI have joined forces to establish a Global Lead Cities Network on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP). The aim is to create a worldwide network of leading cities that share and develop their capabilities to implement sustainable and innovation procurement, driving a transition to sustainable production and consumption. The network was launched at the ICLEI World Congress in Seoul (Republic of Korea) on 11 April 2015.

The network marks a recent growth in international interest and understanding of the importance of procurement in the fight against climate change. It has been set up to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable and innovation procurement, and to help develop a supportive political framework. According to the United Nations Office for Project Services, an average of 15 percent of global gross domestic product is spent through public procurement systems each year, amounting to over $10 trillion. Public authority spending has real potential to change the future, achieve significant value for organisations and provide tangible benefits to the environment and the well-being of our society.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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category : Topics

April 9, 2015

Lessons from Apple and Walmart: 4 ways to really cut supply chain risk

Sumit Kumar
Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 2:00am

Recent history has presented many examples of well-known companies — Apple, Walmart, Target, Primark and Tesco, to name a handful — facing the ire of customers, investors and governments due to flaws in their supply chains.

As a result, it is increasingly clear that unsustainable supply chains can have negative reputational, as well as financial, implications. That realization is now elevating the sustainability of supply chains for organizations worldwide.

Part of the credit for this increased awareness also goes to organizations such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and Global Reporting Initiatives for sharpening the focus around these topics.

Unfortunately, however, the approach to achieving sustainable supply chains has become a stereotype, as most organizations end up only meeting baseline compliance.

Purchasers go by clichéd “sustainable procurement guidelines” that list expectations from suppliers on common sustainability parameters and act as a screener at the time of on-boarding a supplier. But this approach defeats the purpose, especially for critical suppliers, because of its inherent limitations:

1. A straitjacket approach for all suppliers results in weak guidelines, which mostly seeks basic compliance to environmental, labor and human rights laws.

2. Once that weak guideline is met, there is little incentive for the suppliers to improve their performance.

These shortcomings then create a situation where neither the buying organization nor its suppliers are focused on improving the sustainability performance of suppliers beyond basic certifications.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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category : Topics

April 8, 2015

Consortium launches e-waste recycling programme in Vietnam

The Vietnam Recycling Platform on April 6 launched the Vietnam Recycles programme to collect and recycle used, end-of-life and broken electronic equipments in Viet Nam for free.

The platform is a consortium established by American technology giants Hewlett-Packard and Apple.

The programme helps manufacturers and customers to follow regulations on collecting and recycling of waste, which were issued by the Prime Minister on August 9, 2013, and took effect from January 1, 2015.

It also aims to raise the responsibilities of manufacturers for collecting and recycling end-of-life electronic products and electrical household appliances.

The electronic waste will be recycled in an environment-friendly way to ensure that maximum resources are collected after the recycling.

Since the end of January 2015, the programme has been providing free e-waste collection and recycling services to governmental agencies, organisations and enterprises in Ha Noi and HCM City. From July, the people living in the two largest cities will be offered free services.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

April 6, 2015

How can agriculture solve its $5.87 billion plastic problem?

Elizabeth Grossman
Monday, April 6, 2015 - 1:15am

“Seed trays, drip tape, mulch film, water pipes, hoop house covers, twine, hose, fertilizer bags, totes, tool handles and everything we use to keep ourselves dry.” On a rainy March afternoon, Kara Gilbert, co-owner of Vibrant Valley Farm, rattles off how plastics are used on the farm as she stamps mud off her boots.

On a visit to the four-acre farm on lush Sauvie Island at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers near Portland, Ore., Gilbert gives me a tour de farm plastics. The fields are just being readied for the season, but black plastic already is laid out under a hoop house. PVC water pipes are being set into place and drip irrigation tape is ready to be deployed, as are plastic sacks of fertilizer. Out in the greening field, little orange-pink plastic plant tags on ankle-high stakes flap in the wet breeze to mark rows of just-sprouted peas.

By farming standards, this is a tiny operation. It sells organic produce to 15 or so local restaurants and through community-supported-agriculture shares, and grows flowers it sells wholesale. But even this small farm, Gilbert said, spends between $4,000 and $6,000 on plastic every year. Maybe more. It’s an environmental trade-off, she explained: Using plastic means saving water.

“In our very fickle climate, if we want to have a local food movement and want to compete with California and Mexico, it’s almost imperative that we have the black plastic,” Gilbert said.

“Plastic film or road cloth is a weed suppressant,” explained farm co-owner Elaine Walker. “Black plastic can retain heat and moisture so you don’t need to water as much and you can grow things in the offseason.”

Whether it’s this small organic farm coaxing an impressive yield out of a few acres in Oregon or a large conventional operation somewhere else in the world, plastic is a huge part of modern agriculture — a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry, according to Penn State Extension. Billions of pounds are used around the world each year, with much of the plastic designed for one season’s use.

There’s a growing recognition by farmers and others in the agricultural community of the need for environmentally responsible disposal solutions for these materials. The question, though, is how to do that with materials designed to not break down in rain, sun and heat, and that can — if burned or left to degrade — pose environmental health hazards.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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category : Topics

April 6, 2015

Govt levies palm oil exports to fund biodiesel push

Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer, will impose a levy on exports of crude palm oil to help pay for biodiesel subsidies, replanting, research and development of oil palm farmers to boost their production.

Palm oil exporters would be levied US$50 per metric ton for crude palm oil (CPO) shipments and $30 for processed palm oil products — when CPO prices stand at below $750 a ton — said Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil. CPO prices hovered around $590 a ton recently, he added.

“The funds will be used to compensate the price differences between the regular diesel and biodiesel […] I hope the President will sign [a policy] on Monday or Tuesday,” Sofyan told reporters on Saturday, adding that the policy would become effective this month.

The government is pushing efforts to boost domestic use of biodiesel to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that are largely imported and have added pressure on Indonesia’s current account deficit — the broadest measure of international trade that has made investors jittery about the country’s assets.

The government will keep imposing other tax charges on CPO shipments when prices exceed $750 a ton with rates ranging between 7.5 percent and 22.5 percent for higher prices. It sets the tax monthly, based on monthly average prices in Jakarta, Rotterdam and Kuala Lumpur. But since October last year, duties were cut to zero as CPO prices dipped below the reference price.

Read more at The Jakarta Post.

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category : Topics

April 3, 2015

New Recycling Approach Would Decrease Contamination, Improve Yields

Anthony Georges, president of Amut North America, is touting a new recycling approach that relies more on plastic recycling facilities (PRFs), Plastics News reports.

While existing materials recycling facilities (MRFs) are designed to handle a variety of recyclables, they have historically emphasized paper at the cost of plastic. Georges says that the yield from the plastics recycling stream can be increased by sending plastic bundles from MRFs to stand-alone PRFs for further processing.

Not only would sending plastics through supplemental processing increase the yield of usable recyclables, it would also cut down on contamination. When processed through MRFs, plastics can be contaminated by other recyclables and resins. Sending plastics through an added PRF would improve the sort of plastics, remove contamination and create a higher quality, more valuable, bale.

It’s not only plastics that can be contaminated, Georges adds. While convenient, single-stream recycling results in different recyclables contaminating different recycling streams. The reduction in quality ultimately limits the revenue for all recycling streams.

The pounds of used bottles collected for recycling in the US has grown for 24 consecutive years. In 2013, plastic bottle recycling grew 120 million pounds, edging up 4.3 percent, to top 2.9 billion pounds for the year.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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category : Topics

April 2, 2015

Singapore, Indonesia lead growth in sustainable investing in Asia

Singapore Business News
Thursday 2 April 2015

While Asia still lags Europe and the United States in sustainable investing, the market for funds employing such strategies is healthy and expanding rapidly in the region, with Singapore and Indonesia leading the growth.

Asia’s sustainable investment assets – defined as funds employing sustainable investing strategies – stood at US$53 billion at the beginning of 2014, an increase of 32 percent from the US$40 billion at the start of 2012. That’s 0.2 percent of the global total.

These are the findings of The Global Sustainable Investment Review 2014, a report released on 24 Feb by the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA), a group of sustainable investment organizations that include the European Sustainable Investment Forum (Eurosif) and Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA).

Sustainable investment is an investment approach that considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors such as climate change and human rights in portfolio selection and management.

Globally, the sustainable investment market stood at US$21.4 trillion at the start of 2014, up nearly 61 percent from US$13.3 trillion at the start of 2012. The fastest growing region was the United States, followed by Canada and Europe. Together, they account for 99 percent of global sustainable investing assets.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

April 2, 2015

Mediterranean Sea 'accumulating zone of plastic debris'

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondent

Large quantities of plastic debris are building up in the Mediterranean Sea, say scientists.

A survey found around one thousand tonnes of plastic floating on the surface, mainly fragments of bottles, bags and wrappings.

The Mediterranean Sea's biological richness and economic importance means plastic pollution is particularly hazardous, say Spanish researchers.

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, turtles and whales.

Very tiny pieces of plastic have also been found in oysters and mussels grown on the coasts of northern Europe.

"We identify the Mediterranean Sea as a great accumulation zone of plastic debris," said Andres Cozar of the University of Cadiz in Puerto Real, Spain, and colleagues.

"Marine plastic pollution has spread to become a problem of planetary scale
after only half a century of widespread use of plastic materials, calling for urgent management strategies to address this problem."

Plastic is accumulating in the Mediterranean Sea at a similar scale to that in oceanic gyres, the rotating ocean currents in the Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, North Pacific, South Atlantic and South Pacific, the study found.

A high abundance of plastic has also been found in other seas, including the Bay of Bengal, South China Sea and Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

Read more at BBC News.

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category : Topics

April 1, 2015

How to pitch environmental performance to your market

Terry Swack
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 1:00am

Thanks to industry drivers and growing demand, environmental performance has taken its rightful place alongside functional performance, cost, aesthetics, safety and other criteria in product creation and purchasing.

Now it is time to include it in marketing.

Consumers and B2B customers — tired of greenwashing — are beginning to demand scientific evidence and rigorous methodology to support manufacturers’ green claims. So, marketing needs to go beyond mere claims to include verified metrics of environmental performance — delivered in a way purchasers can understand.

Volumes of international standards lay out the rules for measuring, reporting and publishing environmental information about products. These reports are referred to as declarations or disclosures. They are detailed, often lengthy technical documents.

But environmental disclosures have been intentionally created separate and apart from the other information manufacturers create to market and sell their products.

The word disclosure suggests the unveiling of information the owner would prefer to keep hidden. Indeed, synonyms for disclosure include words such as confession, exposure, leak, betrayal and declaration. Many manufacturers feel this way, which is why uptake of marketing with scientific evidence and metrics has not been rapid.

Legal issues about disclosing hazards and concerns about numeric results that aren’t actually comparable among products are keeping many manufacturers from being transparent while asking "What’s the value?"

Increasing reporting on a product’s environmental performance, especially in North America, remains voluntary and optional.

But if the only way today’s standards programs allow for providing information is in the form of a technical disclosure or declaration, the value proposition will continue to be difficult to make. It’s a stick, not a carrot.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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