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News Archives

May 29, 2015

Car makers gear up for next round of CO2 emission cuts

As the EU prepares for tough negotiations on reducing CO2 emissions from cars post-2020, industry lobbyists, green campaigners and the European Commission alike seem to agree on one thing: deeper emission cuts from road transport will require a more “holistic” approach.

Just what “holistic” means is still subject to discussion, however.

On June 18, the European Commission will fire the starting gun on the next round of talks to reduce emission from the road transport sector.

A formal legislative proposal on reducing car’s CO2 emissions will not be tabled before 2016 but lobbyists of all kinds are already lining up their arguments.

For carmakers, the matter is clear: cutting CO2 beyond the 95 grams per kilometre currently required by 2020 will call for “a comprehensive approach” that looks at other things than mere fuel efficiency improvements.

It means looking at the whole range of alternative fuels – including electric and others – but also connectivity aspects and the renewal of Europe’s gas-guzzling fleet of old vehicles, according to Erik Jonnaert, the Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

Read more at EurActiv.

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category : Topics

May 28, 2015

Nanocoating on buildings releases potentially toxic particles to the air

Weathering and abrasion are reported to cause titanium dioxide nanoparticles to escape from a self-cleaning coating for buildings. These particles may be toxic to humans and wildlife. The researchers have developed three indicators from the test results to help predict levels of nanoparticle release from these coatings.

Photocatalytic coatings containing nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide are increasingly applied to the outside of buildings for their antibacterial and self-cleaning properties. Weathering and wear can cause them to disintegrate and there are concerns about the subsequent release of nanoparticles into the environment. Various studies have found that some types of titanium dioxide nanoparticles have damaging effects on humans and animals. For example, experiments have shown that they can damage DNA.

This study investigated weathering and wear’s effects on a photocatalytic nanocoating to help predict levels of nanoparticle release into water and air. The coating was comprised of 1.1% titanium dioxide particles by volume, which were around 8 nanometres in size.

Over a seven-month period, the researchers exposed a brick painted with the coating to UV light and water to recreate the effects of weather. At four intervals — two, four, six and seven months — they measured titanium levels in the runoff water. Titanium was measured as it is not possible to measure the relative number or percentage of titanium dioxide nanoparticles specifically. However, the coating’s nanoparticles were the only type of titanium in the experiments.

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

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category : Topics

May 27, 2015

US Recycling Industry Generates $105bn Annually

The scrap recycling industry in the US generates more than $105 billion annually in economic activity and accounts for nearly half a million jobs, according to a study released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The study was performed by the independent consulting firm of John Dunham and Associates to explore the size and scope of the scrap industry in the US, and measure its contribution to the economy in terms of employment, tax generation, and overall economic benefit.

According to the report, the recycling industry is responsible for 471,587 direct and indirect jobs in the US. This includes 149,010 direct jobs that pay an average of $77,153 in wages and benefits. Direct jobs include those in facilities that process scrap materials into new, usable commodities. Indirect jobs come from those that supply machinery, equipment and services to processors, and the wages and taxes paid by the scrap recyclers to their workers and suppliers.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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category : Topics

May 26, 2015

InnProBio aims to stimulate demand for bio-based products and services in Europe

The EU-funded InnProBio project will increase the number of public procurers equipped to carry out the procurement of innovative bio-based products and services, leading to better purchasing practices. With the public sector controlling around one fifth of European GDP, public procurers can significantly influence demand for, and investment in, renewably produced products.

The 2014 EU Procurement Directives have made it easier for public procurers to purchase innovative goods and services, but many remain unsure of how to start the process. Through the project, procurers will be provided with much needed guidance and support tools, while standardisation bodies will be enlisted to offer definitive information on products that carry the “bio-based” tag. Joint trainings, workshops and other networking activities will be held in the scope of the project, with a focus on training those who are in a position to retrain others in their locality.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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category : Topics

May 26, 2015

Australia: ‘Road-Ready’ Fuels Made From Waste Plastic

BERKELEY VALE, New South Wales, Australia, May 26, 2015 (ENS) – Australia’s first commercial-scale plant to convert waste plastics to “road-ready” fuel has produced its first batch.

The facility will turn discarded non-recyclable household plastics into diesel, gasoline and the electricity needed to power the facility.

Foyson Resources is behind the new A$4 million facility at Berkeley Vale, about 90 kilometers north of Sydney on Australia’s east coast.

Based in North Sydney and publicly traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, Foyson Resources is engaged in the exploration and development of gold, copper, and molybdenum deposits in Papua New Guinea.

Integrated Green Energy Ltd, IGE, is constructing the facility, which uses IGE’s proprietary catalytic re-structuring technology.

This technology subjects shredded plastic to a high temperature heat stream – above 400 degrees Celsius – in the absence of oxygen. This causes the polymer to break down into smaller molecules, forming gas and liquids which resemble crude oil.

The liquids are fractionated into hydrocarbons in the form of gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel.

The road-ready fuels that have been produced will be independently tested and evaluated, Foyson said in a statement May 18.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

May 26, 2015

Toxic cadmium one step closer to EU-wide ban

The European Parliament voted last week to re-assess the used of cadmium in TV sets sold across Europe, saying safer alternatives to the toxic and carcinogenic substance were now widely available.

Cadmium is widely used in illumination and display lighting applications such as LCD screens used in television sets or desktop computers.

The substance was exempted from the EU directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) because safer alternatives were not available at the time of adoption, in 2002. RoHS requires replacing heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, with safer alternatives, when available.

The European Commission had proposed extending the exemption until July 2017, arguing that cadmium-free quantum dots technology was not yet technically available.

But MEPs rejected that claim, saying it was “manifestly incorrect”.

Read more at EurActiv.

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category : Topics

May 26, 2015

Renewable energy trading set for big boost as SC upholds green obligation

Jyoti Mukul
New Delhi May 26, 2015 Last Updated at 00:03 IST

Compulsory purchase of renewable energy got a major boost last week from a Supreme Court order, even though it is likely to increase the power cost for a host of industries dependent on captive power generation and direct purchase of power for their manufacturing units. With the apex court upholding renewable purchase obligation, power purchasers in all states would have to follow the regulatory norms for renewable purchase obligations (RPO). This would also boost the market for renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are traded and bought to meet the RPO.

The apex court in the order said regulations framed by electricity regulatory commissions imposing obligation upon captive power plants and open access consumers to purchase electricity from renewable sources cannot, in any manner, be said to be restrictive or violative of the fundamental rights. The court ruling, in a case filed by Hindustan Zinc against the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission, came on May 13. The court also ruled out the case filed by a number of firms, including DCM Shriram, Binani Cements, JK Lakshmi Cement and UltraTech Cement and has favoured the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission's decision that compelled these players to procure fixed amounts of energy from renewable sources or entitled to pay money, in case they failed to meet the requirements.

Read more at Business Standard.

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category : Topics

May 22, 2015

Companies cannot keep shying away from setting tough climate targets

Pedro Faria
Friday 22 May 2015 13.17 BST

Today the low carbon economy is worth over £3tn. This fact is just one of many showing how far the business case for addressing climate change has come, with smart businesses broadening their strategy beyond risk management to value creation. Business leaders who shared their vision of a low-carbon future in Paris this week echoed this sentiment, calling on governments to lock in the right frameworks and targets to help deliver this goal.

Yet, despite the emphasis on government target setting, the goals that come from businesses are just as important. Balancing near-term targets with longer-term climate risks is one of the most complex risk management challenges facing company executives today. Businesses increasingly recognise that emissions reductions will need to be ambitious, because going over the 2C warming limit is not a viable economic option.

The good news is that many companies are already setting themselves greenhouse gas reduction goals. In 2014 over 80% of the world’s 500 largest companies reported having an emissions reduction target. But in this critical year for climate action, it is no longer sufficient to set just any target.

For companies, figuring out how much greenhouse gas emissions they can continue to release is one of the biggest hurdles to framing their long term goals. Our analysis of 70 energy intensive companies shows that a small handful are leading the way by setting ambitious and long term emission reduction targets in line with climate science. However, most are not and the majority of targets reported through CDP tend not to extend beyond 2020, suggesting a lack of long-term strategy to stay within the global carbon budget.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

May 21, 2015

Parliament votes for tougher conflict minerals regulation

European gold, tantalum (the material that makes mobile phones vibrate), tungsten and tin imports from conflict zones could be subjected to tougher surveillance procedures under a new draft regulation voted on by the European Parliament.

MEPs in Strasbourg voted to enforce an obligatory monitoring system for the whole supply chain of "conflict minerals", affecting 800,000 European companies.

Applause broke out as lawmakers at the last minute passed amendments calling for compulsory ethical sourcing of materials from conflict areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Afghanistan. The amendments passed by a vote of 378 to 300, with 11 abstentions.

"I must confess that it's been one of the most intense moments I've experienced since becoming a member of the European parliament," said Socialist Gianni Pittella of Italy, who leads the second biggest bloc in the assembly.

Mineral importers, smelters and refineries, but also manufacturers of consumer products (mobile phones, tablets, washing machines) will have to ensure that revenues from the minerals they use are not funding conflicts.

The bill is largely aimed at Africa, where minerals play a role in several violent conflicts. The Great Lakes region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is particularly affected by the phenomenon. Mineral production accounts for an average of 24% of gross national product (GDP) in African countries, and is implicated in no fewer than 27 conflicts on the continent.

Read more at EurActiv.

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category : Topics

May 18, 2015

Battle lines drawn as EU Parliament votes on ‘conflict minerals’

The European Parliament will consider this week whether to follow the United States by bringing in tighter controls on minerals from war zones, but critics say the measures risk being watered down.

Armed groups in areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo often fund their activities through the sale of precious metals and those used in electronic goods such as laptops and mobile phones.

The European Parliament will vote on a regulation this week that would force the EU's smelters and refiners to use responsibly sourced minerals, while encouraging other businesses to self-certify their supply chains.

The aim is to ensure profits from the key "blood metals" - tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold - do not go to warlords.

It is inspired by the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 US financial reform law under which US companies must inform regulators if they use metals from DR Congo or neighbouring countries.

But the conflict minerals have themselves sparked a battle in Strasbourg, the French city that is home to the European Parliament.

Read more at EurActive.

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category : Topics

May 18, 2015

Countries Move Forward on Important Issues for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste

Geneva/Nairobi/Rome,16 May 2015

Significant steps were agreed upon early this morning by parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, as the 2015 Triple COPs drew to a close.

Staged under the theme "From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow" from 4 to 15 May 2015, almost 1,200 participants from 171 countries converged on Geneva to push forward the chemicals and waste agenda at this biennial event.

A number of technical guidelines for the management of waste under the Basel Convention, four new listings (three under the Stockholm and one under the Rotterdam Conventions - polychlorinated napthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters; and methamidophos respectively), and continued and strengthened synergies and implementation arrangements were the highlights of the decisions adopted on the final day. Meanwhile several chemicals considered were not listed, but instead deferred or made subject to special inter-sessional working group focus.

Basel Convention technical guidelines, aimed at assisting Parties to better manage crucial waste streams and move towards environmentally sound management (ESM), were adopted covering mercury waste and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste (one general and 6 specific waste-streams). Of high significance is the adoption on an interim basis of the technical guidelines concerning the transboundary movement of e-waste and used electronic and electrical products.

The BC technical guidelines on electronic, or e-waste provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic. Adoption came just days after UNEP released new data suggesting that as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, costing countries as much as US 18.8 $ billion annually and posing severe hazards to human health and the environment, particularly in Africa. Designed to provide a level playing field for all parties to the Convention, the guidelines will support and also encourage genuine recovery, repair, recycling and re-use of non-hazardous electronic components and equipment.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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category : Topics

May 14, 2015

Less material consumption is not the end for business

Jules Pretty
Thursday 14 May 2015 16.21 BST

The past half century has seen dramatic lifestyle changes for people in affluent countries. Per person, GDP in the UK has risen nearly four-fold. Each of us consumes more, has more stuff, benefits from abundant technology and transport, there is more diverse food and better housing, and we live longer.

Yet there is a worrying fact: average wellbeing and happiness across whole populations has not changed over 50 years.

This seems odd. Every government in all affluent countries wants their economy to grow; all engage in collective panic when material consumption slows or stops. In the poorest countries, of course, more consumption is good. It means food, shelter, water, education, transport. Yet after about $10,000 (£6,300) per capita GDP, the returns for wellbeing flatten off.

One explanation for this is that material consumption also produces many costly side effects on both human health and the natural environment. It gives with one hand and takes away with the other. The external costs of modern living have risen dramatically. Now we have to spend to solve the problems created by the very material consumption we thought was solely good. The costs of conditions and diseases caused by modern lifestyles are eye-watering. We have calculated that seven conditions – mental illness, dementia, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, loneliness and cardiovascular disease – now cost Britain’s NHS £60bn a year and result in £184bn of costs to the whole economy. The revenue expenditure of the NHS is some £100bn annually.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

May 14, 2015

Philippines lets Canada dump waste

By Medilyn Manibo
Thursday 14 May 2015

The Philippines government is allowing the allegedly smuggled tonnes of household and plastic scraps from Canada to be disposed within its territory amidst public protests, two years after the waste was discovered by port authorities in Manila.

Philippines president Benigno Aquino III confirmed to Filipino reporters on Friday - during his state visit to Canada - that the waste issue has been addressed by the government’s executive agencies, when asked if he felt the matter need not be raised with Canadian authorities. He said that appropriate action - whether the waste will be incinerated or buried in a landfill - will be taken once the court gives clearance to the agencies.

Aquino’s statement drew flak from environmental and public health campaign groups in the Philippines, which have been pressing Canada for more than a year now to take back the waste.

Aileen Lucero, a coordinator with non-profit group EcoWaste Coalition, said on Monday that Aquino had let the Filipino people down for not standing up for the country’s sovereignty. “It’s a bizarre stance coming from a country with a gargantuan garbage problem to deal with and we deplore it,” she added.

Before Aquino’s departure to Canada, Lucero’s group and other environmental campaign groups, including BAN Toxics, Greenpeace Philippines and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, had urged the president not to “sweep the issue of Canada’s waste under the rug” and to tackle it with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The NGOs were concerned that the government agencies’s decision to dispose the waste in the country, announced by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in March this year, had been influenced by the president’s state visit and that the waste issue is being sidelined by the government so as not to hurt the two countries’s diplomatic relations.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 14, 2015

Supermarket ordered to remove products with anti-palm oil labels

The Star
Thursday 14 May 2015

Kuching: A supermarket here has been directed to remove products with anti-palm oil labelling from its shelves following complaints from the oil palm industry.

The state Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry has instructed the supermarket to stop selling the products after inspecting the premises on Wednesday.

It said the products were imported from Australia and were believed to have entered the market here about a week ago.

The labels, which showed an orang utan urging shoppers to buy palm oil-free products to help save the animals, earned the ire of Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing when they were brought to his attention on Tuesday.

He criticised the “unfriendly” labelling for being unfair to Malaysia’s palm oil industry and as being based on incorrect facts.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

May 13, 2015

Multinationals cannot prevent palm oil deforestation on their own

Andrew Bovarnick, Samantha Newport and Tomoyuki Uno
Wednesday 13 May 2015 12.56 BST

As the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, Indonesia counts on this much-used commodity – that generates almost $20bn a year for the country and employs millions – to drive growth and development.

But the palm oil boom has triggered controversy. With Indonesia set to increase production by 50% by 2020 to meet rising demand, the question is not one of palm oil or not, but of how to maximise the economic and development benefits while minimising the adverse social and environmental effects.

To achieve this, the government needs to bring together all palm oil stakeholders, including private businesses and smallholder farmers, to lead on innovative yet decisive change that will boost sustainability and governance in the sector and steer the country towards a deforestation-free palm oil industry.

Taking action
Shortly after taking office last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo vowed to crack down on deforestation resulting from palm oil expansion. Last month, vice-president Jusuf Kalla called on the international community to partner with Indonesia on investing in green development at The Tropical Landscapes Summit (TLS) in Jakarta.

The government has also launched a mandatory certification scheme – the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard – to legalise and organise production, particularly that of small producers, by providing a legal baseline standard that will complement the voluntary Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard. ISPO, like new standards, has to overcome challenges to become robust and credible, but once fully operational has the potential to raise the standards of all growers in the country and have a major positive impact on the sector.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

May 12, 2015

Illegally Traded and Dumped E-Waste Worth up to $19 Billion Annually Poses Risks to Health, Deprives Countries of Resources, Says UNEP report

Geneva, 12 May 2015 - Up to 90 per cent of the world's electronic waste, worth nearly US $19 billion, is illegally traded or dumped each year, according to a report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Each year, the electronic industry - one of the world's largest and fastest growing - generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste from goods such as computers and smart phones. Forecasts say that figure may reach 50 million tonnes already by 2017.

A staggering 60-90 per cent of this waste is illegally traded or dumped, according to UNEP's "Waste Crimes, Waste Risks: Gaps and Challenges In the Waste Sector", launched today in Geneva, at the Conference of Parties to the three major conventions addressing the global waste issue, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) estimates the price of a tonne of e-waste at around US $500. Following this calculation, the value of unregistered and informally handled, including illegally traded and dumped e-waste ranges from US $12.5 to US $18.8 billion annually.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner said: "We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of electronic waste rolling out over the world. Not only does it account for a large portion of the world's non-recycled »waste mountain«, but it also poses a growing threat to human health and the environment, due to the hazardous elements it contains."

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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May 12, 2015

Child labour won't stop with conflict-free labels and voluntary codes

Josephine Moulds
Tuesday 12 May 2015 14.48 BST

A fight is brewing in Europe over new rules for companies to report on so-called “conflict minerals”, which are commonly found in mobile phones, laptops, lightbulbs and jewellery.

The minerals at stake are gold, tantalum, tungsten and tin, which are mined in conflict or high-risk areas, such as parts of Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zimbabwe. Trade in these minerals can fund armed groups and fuel human rights abuses, in particular for children. Armed groups in the DRC are widely condemned for their use of child soldiers. Extraction of the minerals is predominantly done at small-scale mines, where forced labour, often by children, is endemic. Given the hazardous working conditions, child labour in mines is categorized as one of the worst forms of child labour.

This month , the European parliament will discuss proposals for a new regulatory system for companies involved in the trade of these minerals. This largely conserves the existing system, which relies on self-certification. Only the EU’s smelters and refiners will be forced to use responsibly sourced minerals; other companies in the supply chain will not be required to comply with binding transparency standards.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

May 12, 2015

Parliament must bar toxic cadmium from Europe

TVs containing cadmium are no longer available in Europe since a ban was decided under the 2002 Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment. But cadmium could return via the back door following intense lobbying efforts by some manufacturers, writes Michael Edelman.

By Michael Edelman, CEO United Kingdom-based Nanoco Group plc, a world leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nanomaterials.

Cadmium, a toxic substance and carcinogen regulated by the Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment, will be permitted in displays of televisions and other equipment destined for the European market if a controversial Delegated Act is implemented by MEPs during the week commencing 18 May 2015.

At the heart of the debate is whether new LCD televisions using cadmium-based quantum dot (QD) technology should be allowed into the European market. Quantum dots are tiny fluorescent particles that have optical properties used in televisions and other displays to improve colour quality of the picture and reduce power consumption.

Under a 2011 European Directive on RoHS, the use of cadmium in TVs and lighting was to be permitted until 1 July 2014, after which it would be illegal. However, in January 2015, the European Commission proposed a Delegated Act that would allow cadmium in televisions in Europe until June 2018. But since 2011, manufacturers have been conducting a managed withdrawal of products containing cadmium from the EU market to meet the original July 2014 deadline.

Read more at EurActive.com.

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category : Topics

May 6, 2015

Fix more, buy less: can Patagonia help rebrand repairs?

Lauren Hepler
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 2:37am

There is no shortage of activity at the San Francisco debut of Patagonia's newest sustainability-centric campaign.

Beneath the airy, lofted ceilings at the Potrero Hill headquarters of Yerdle — an app to buy and sell extra stuff sans actual money, in which Patagonia invested some of its very real money last year — happy hour is in full swing.

Next to the plastic tubs packed with cans of Tecate and Sierra Nevada, Patagonia is providing hors d'oeuvres in the form of sustainably-sourced salmon, neatly packaged in spicy salmon rolls, along with samples from a new line of inca berry and almond bars. There is also a kale and quinoa medley of some sort up for grabs.

Around the corner, in a small nook of the open office, kombucha is brewing. Just across the hall, there's a do-it-yourself succulent garden workshop and a demo on shaping surfboards with more environmentally-friendly foam cores.

"This is the most San Francisco moment ever," one bystander quietly says to a friend.

But the big draw for the event is outside, where a white truck adorned in reclaimed wood holds a small team of garment repair techs and a limited selection of Patagonia threads.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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May 5, 2015

The UK company turning coffee waste into furniture

Josephine Moulds
Tuesday 5 May 2015 16.06 BST

Britain was falling in love with coffee just as Adam Fairweather was exploring ideas for new products and materials. Ten years ago, Starbucks stores were opening on every corner, followed by the burgeoning industry of artisan coffee roasters.

Fairweather, a designer by training and expert in recycling technologies and materials development, now develops materials from coffee grounds and uses them to design products including furniture, jewellery and coffee machines.

A poll of 2,000 Britons by Douwe Egberts in 2012 found 69% spent between £1 and £5 in coffee shops five days a week. “We use coffee as a moment to take a break, it’s a luxury product,” says Fairweather. “The idea that it already had this high value but we only use a little of it, that was interesting because I felt that there was a way of tapping into this perceived high value the product has intrinsically.”

On average, we use just 18% to 22% of the coffee bean when we make a cup of coffee but Fairweather says that coffee waste is not “the biggest problem”. “There are already massive recycling programmes in the UK that manage organic food waste very well. My interest is that we can use materials that have a perceived value to them, to communicate and get people excited about the idea of sustainability and social change and environmental management.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 1, 2015

Palm giants ask Indonesian gov't to clear path toward sustainability

Philip Jacobson
May 01, 2015

Executives from palm oil giants Wilmar, Cargill and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) appeared at a green investment summit in Jakarta this week, providing a window into the nature of a high-profile, joint sustainability pact the companies have entered into together with Asian Agri, Musim Mas and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

The agreement, known as the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), has been lauded in some quarters for its potential to transform the sector, a major driver of the country's sky-high deforestation rate, and dismissed in others as mere lip service to protecting the environment.

Despite the IPOP firms' control of at least four fifths of global palm-oil refining capacity, questions remain about how much influence they can exert over their vast, often opaque supplier networks.

"These are complicated, fragmented supply chains, so a lot of these buyers – and they'll admit it – they don't know who they're buying from," Andrew Bovarnick, the head of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) global Green Commodities' Program, told Mongabay on the sidelines of the Tropical Landscapes Summit on Tuesday.

Antitrust concerns also loom over the pledge, with some from among the companies suggesting they might not be able to cooperate to the extent necessary to realize their ambitious goals.

Asked if he was worried about violating competition guidelines, perhaps via a collective blacklist of problematic suppliers, Wilmar's chief sustainability officer, Jeremy Goon, answered, "Yes. And if someone wants to come up with an issue with that, they can. … Of course there are concerns."

Read more at Mongabay.com.

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