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News Archives

August 27, 2015

Texas teenager creates $20 water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution

Karl Mathiesen in Stockholm and Tess Riley
Thursday 27 August 2015 15.32 BST

Consumer electronics, including computers and mobiles, are leaving a legacy of toxic waste in countries including China and India. Recycling factories across Asia are recovering e-waste exported from around the world, but discharging heavy metals and chemicals into local water supplies in the process.

How to safeguard drinking water for local residents is an ongoing battle, with existing solutions such as chlorination, distillation, boiling and high-tech filtration prohibitively expensive and often reliant on fossil fuels.

Now a new filtering device, invented by a US teenager, could provide a cheap and easy way to purify water.

The renewable heavy metal filter, designed by 18-year-old Perry Alagappan, removes 99% of heavy metals from water that passes through it. The filter, built from graphene nanotubes, can be rinsed with a vinegar concentrate and reused. The highly concentrated waste can then be evaporated, leaving a deposit of pure metal that can be used in many different applications.

Alagappan, who was awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize at this year’s World Water Week, said the filter cost just $20 (£13) to make, up to five times less than existing reverse osmosis technology.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

August 24, 2015

Resource consumption exceeds Earth’s capacity to produce earlier than last year

13 August marked this year’s date that human activity consumed more natural resources than the Earth can produce, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Each year the date in which consumption overtakes nature’s ability to produce, named "Earth Overshoot Day", occurs earlier - in the year 2000 Earth Overshoot Day occurred in October.

This year, it took less than eight months to go beyond Earth's biocapacity, with carbon sequestration making up more than half of the demand on nature. “Humanity’s carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, which is when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the Ecological Footprint and the planet’s biocapacity,” said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network and the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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category : Topics

August 21, 2015

LIXIL and Tohoku University unveil toilet lighting system that works even in blackouts

JFS
Friday 21 August 2015

Since July 2014, LIXIL, a Japanese living and housing solutions company, and Tohoku University, have been conducting research to develop the “Zero Energy Toilet (ZET),” which allows people to use toilets comfortably even in times of disaster.

As part of the study, on June 2, 2015, they announced the development of a zero-energy lighting system that utilizes electricity generated from the power of water flushing down the toilet bowl to light the room.

In times of disaster, if the external power supply is disrupted, but water and sewerage systems are not extensively damaged, the new system can provide light to the washroom and make it usable at night, by converting the hydropower energy of the flushing water into electricity for lighting.

The system is supplemented by power storage, high-efficiency LED lights, and power supply control circuits. In addition, the researchers developed a new type of LED lighting that takes advantage of the “Purkinje effect,” a phenomenon that occurs at low light intensity, where blue objects reflect short-wavelength light and appear to be brighter than red objects that reflect long-wavelength light.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 20, 2015

Singapore firms pledge to raise sustainability standards

By Global Compact Network Singapore
Thursday 20 August 2015

As part of the 10th year celebration of Singapore’s corporate responsibility movement, a number of Singapore-based companies will be receiving special certificates from the United Nations Global Compact next week.

General Counsel and Chief of Governance and Social Sustainability of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Ms Ursula Wynhoven will be issuing these at the opening ceremony of the International CSR Summit by Global Compact Network Singapore on 25 August.

These companies are pledging to abide by the 10 universally accepted principles of sustainable and responsible business practices under the UNGC, a voluntary initiative by companies to adopt sustainable and responsible business practices.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 20, 2015

Transparency International calls for openness in German procurement law

A new report by Transparency International criticises the draft version of Germany's new procurement laws for lacking openness, citing the stipulation that it is no longer mandatory to publish contracts awarded in national procurement procedures. Under the draft law, procurers would be given the choice to engage in either an open or restricted procedure, effectively meaning that the procurement could be carried out behind closed doors.

The global NGO rejects the law’s proposal to make the two options equally valid, strongly recommending that the priority of the open procedure be maintained. The report argues that a high degree of transparency and competition in public procurement procedures is vital to preventing corruption and a loss of competition. The authors also condemn the weakening of provisions to exclude previously penalised companies from the procurement process.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

August 19, 2015

An 'EC' way to save energy

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 19 August 2015

As people go about their daily routines at work or home, they are unlikely to give much thought to the army of fans whirring behind the scenes to keep their surroundings cool and well-ventilated, let alone the motors that power them.

But ask any engineer or building owner tasked with making these spaces more efficient and it soon becomes clear that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems hold the key to their success.

This is because HVAC systems account for as much as 40 per cent of energy consumed by buildings, which in turn emit one third of greenhouse gases worldwide. In factories such as for electronics or chemical manufacturing or for refrigeration, HVAC systems can account for as much as 80 per cent of total power consumption.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 18, 2015

The Netherlands pushes for 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe

The European Sustainable Palm Oil (ESPO) initiative is taking steps to achieve its ambitious aim of 100 percent sustainable palm oil across Europe, receiving strong support from Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lilianne Ploumen. Palm oil is the most produced and traded vegetable oil in the world, and an important ingredient for a diverse range of products including food and fuel.

‘The Netherlands are ahead in their achievements: by the end of this year we hope to have switched to 100 percent sustainable palm oil. It is time that other European countries also progress in making their supply chains more sustainable,’ said the Minister. If successful in Europe, Minister Ploumen hopes to roll out the initiative across the globe, saying: “European palm oil imports make up 14 percent of international palm oil imports. When we reach the 100 percent goal here, we may very well start a worldwide race to the top”.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Cente.

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category : Topics

August 13, 2015

Without India, you can forget about achieving a sustainable palm oil sector

Sarah Hucal
Monday 10 August 2015 13.16 BST

In a food stall on a dusty New Delhi street corner, a woman in a bright orange sari drops samosas into a skillet of bubbling liquid, which crackles and pops as it laps up the potato­-filled dough.

She is cooking with palm oil, the ingredient often met with controversy in the west due to concerns about deforestation and habitat loss. In India, however, the world’s top importer of palm oil, its sustainability goes largely unquestioned.

India’s 1.2 billion citizens consume approximately 15% of the global supply of palm oil. The vast majority of the commodity (95% according to WWF figures) is used as edible oil, with the remainder added to haircare and beauty products. The country imports nearly all of its palm oil, more than two-­thirds of which is sourced from Indonesia.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

August 13, 2015

UN efforts to enhance sustainable procurement in the health sector outlined

A new UN report on sustainable procurement practices in the health care sector has been released, detailing the progress of the informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) in its mission to influence the global health market towards greener procurement. The SPHS is comprised of a range of UN organisations, including UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, and WHO.

Placing a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion and chemical pollution, the task force spearheaded a number of initiatives to improve the uptake of environmentally friendly procurement, including the publication of guidelines on energy requirements for medical devices, conducting pilot studies to identify opportunities to reduce waste in packaging, and carrying out research into reducing waste within the manufacturing process of selected pharmaceuticals.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

August 12, 2015

Sri Lanka becomes first country in South Asia to recycle compact fluorescent lamps

Down to Earth
Wednesday 12 August 2015

At a time when developing countries are struggling with safe disposal of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), Sri Lanka is leading by example.

Pitipana, a small town 35 km from the capital Colombo, is home to South Asia’s first CFL recycling plant, Asia Recycling. The plant is owned by Orange Electric, which has a local market share of 48 per cent in CFLS.

“We at Orange Electric manufacture around 0.6 million CFL bulbs every month. Almost 0.5 million of these are disposed in Sri Lanka every month. As a manufacturing company, we wanted to be responsible for safe recycling and treatment mechanism for CFL waste,” says B G Gunathilaka, operations manager, Asia Recycling.

Operational since 2011, the state-of-the-art plant has the capacity to recycle up to 30 million CFLs annually—nearly three times more than the annual usage in Sri Lanka. The facility has been set up in partnership with Nordic Recycling AB of Sweden.

The plant collects CFL waste from institutions such as banks, schools and universities, factories, hospitals and government agencies. Households are encouraged to dispose their CFL waste at designated collection centres. Orange Electric has put collection boxes at leading supermarkets and distributor points across the country.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 11, 2015

Study shows nine out of 10 countries use procurement to support social objectives

The new OECD study Government at a Glance 2015 has found that 94 percent of OECD countries are using public procurement to advance social and economic objectives. The report goes on to state that a significantly lower proportion measures the success of these procurement measures in achieving secondary objectives, with only 69 percent tracking the results of green procurement policies and 39 percent measuring the impact of policies to foster greater innovation.

Insufficient incentives, the lack of necessary financial resources, and the lack of a measurement framework are cited as factors in this lower showing. The report states that in 2013, 29 percent of total public expenditure was spent on procurement, with public procurement accounting for an average of 12.1 percent of spending relative to GDP.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

August 11, 2015

Waste efficiency soon to be a reality in Sydney

By AWRE
Tuesday 11 August 2015

The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) - a City of Sydney initiative in collaboration with Foresight Environmental - has developed and launched a set of operational waste guidelines to help building owners, property managers and waste companies to work more effectively using a standard across their portfolios.

A key member of the BBP, Oliver Batchelour, Director of Foresight Environmental, says that this initiative - which brings 14 key building owners in the city of Sydney - will be a game-changer and resolve the biggest pain points commercial building owners face in the realm of waste management.

The BBP represents a number of Sydney’s leading commercial and public sector landlords and the new guidelines will address longstanding pain points such as inaccuracies in waste data reporting which can impinge on Green Star accreditation.

Building owners and managers have found it difficult to manage their waste program effectively. With a responsibility to report waste data to stakeholders, the present difficulty is that without verified data, key decisions regarding recycling rates cannot be made without confidence in the data.

Thus, it has been a challenge for corporations to account for their sustainability achievements due to data accuracy issues, said Batchelour.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 9, 2015

China's 2015 Sustainable Consumption Week Aims to Green the World's Second Largest Private Consumer Market

Beijing, 8 August 2015 – The 2015 Sustainable Consumption Week kicked off in China today with the theme "Green Life, Consume with Wisdom", aiming to raise awareness about sustainable consumption, promote conscious purchasing decisions and create enabling policies for responsible consumption.

Holding the position of a global manufacturing hub, China is already the world's largest consumer of primary materials, such as fossil fuels and metal ores. But with increasing affluence and a rapidly growing middle class, it has also become the world's second largest private consumer market, with household expenditure growing from around US $554 billion in 2000 to over US $3.4 trillion in 2014 according to the World Bank.

China Sustainable Consumption Week aims to change the current consumption patterns, so that these trillions of dollars are spent on goods and services with lower resource and energy intensity. The adoption of sustainable practices and lifestyles in the world's second largest economy could have a positive environmental impact on a global scale.

Several recognizable Chinese and global brands have joined this effort, including GOME, Wal-Mart, Vanguard, IKEA and H&M. Overall, more than 600 chain stores all over the country will participate in the project. The activities for the week will focus on sustainable food sources, energy efficient appliances and eco friendly labeling.

The attractions prepared by organizers include media events, on-site demonstrations, educational quizzes on sustainable consumption and a Sustainable Seafood Festival. In addition to drawing public attention to eco-labels and sustainable brands, the week will also highlight China’s low carbon retail solutions and launch a Sustainable Seafood list.

Read more at UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific.

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category : Topics

August 7, 2015

SCP TO BE PRIORITY AREA OF UN UNIVERSITY'S EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) serves the international community by offering valuable and innovative policy oriented solutions to sustainability challenges. In response to the UN resolution on the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD: 2005-2014), UNU-IAS launched the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme with support from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

The Programme focuses on contributing to international Sustainable Development (SD) and ESD processes through developing multi- stakeholder networks and higher education alliances, enhancing leadership and capacity development, and advancing knowledge through policy-relevant research. Upon the completion of the DESD in 2014, the Programme is committed to further generating, accelerating and mainstreaming ESD by implementing the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD, and through these activities, contributing to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The goal of the ESD Programme is to bridge the gap between learning and development through research and actions which advance partnerships for ESD across geographic, knowledge, and sectoral boundaries. To this end, the Programme will synergize its objectives with the actions of its partner networks to make a tangible contribution to the post-2015 development and education agendas.

After an internal review, the ESD programme identified four priorities which would be the main focus moving forward : the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD; Sustainability Consumption and Production; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction; and Higher Education-driven Initiatives.

Read more at SCP Clearinghouse.

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category : Topics

August 6, 2015

Pacific efficient light strategy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate energy and financial savings

Nadi/Bangkok, 6 August 2015 – Representatives from nine Pacific Island countries are gathering today in Nadi, Fiji, to validate the first ever Pacific Efficient Lighting Strategy (PELS) for the region’s transition to high efficiency, environmentally-sound lighting by 2020.
“By identifying concrete policy measures to be implemented, this new efficient lighting strategy holds the potential to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions, while also decreasing dependence on petroleum imports and improving livelihoods,” the Deputy Director, Energy, of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Solomone Fifita, said.

By implementing the measures identified in the strategy, the region will reduce its electricity consumption for lighting by 36 per cent per year, save the region over US$ 1.7 billion by 2030, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4.6 million tonnes over the same time period.

“This strategy contributes to the call for sustainable energy in Small Island Developing States, materialized in the 2014 SAMOA Pathway. It also demonstrates Pacific leadership towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals which will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in September, especially to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy,” said Isabelle Louis, Deputy Regional Director for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

Read more at UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific News Centre.

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category : Topics

August 5, 2015

See-Through Solar Could Turn Windows, Phones Into Power Sources

By Marianne Lavelle, for National Geographic
PUBLISHED AUGUST 05, 2015

Anyone who has sweltered in a south-facing office during the summer knows the power of solar energy streaming through a window.

In fact, no reputable urban architect today would design such a workspace without treated windows to reduce the sun's glare and heat.

But what if the window coating could do better than keep out the sun? What if that thin film could capture the solar energy for lighting the office, running the computers, and best of all, firing up the air conditioning?

That's the idea behind "transparent" solar, a technology that startup companies hope to bring to market soon, after at least two decades of U.S. government-backed and university research.

With the help of organic chemistry, transparent solar pioneers have set out to tackle one of solar energy's greatest frustrations. Although the sun has by far the largest potential of any energy resource available to civilization, our ability to harness that power is limited. Photovoltaic panels mounted on rooftops are at best 20 percent efficient at turning sunlight to electricity.

Research has boosted solar panel efficiency over time. But some scientists argue that to truly take advantage of the sun's power, we also need to expand the amount of real estate that can be outfitted with solar, by making cells that are nearly or entirely see-through.

Read more at National Geographic.

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category : Topics

August 4, 2015

Consensus Reached on New Sustainable Development Agenda to be adopted by World Leaders in September

Ambitious new agenda would end poverty by 2030 and universally promote shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection

2 August, New York-The 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement today on the outcome document that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda that will be adopted this September by world leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York.
Concluding a negotiating process that has spanned more than two years and has featured the unprecedented participation of civil society, countries agreed to an ambitious agenda that features 17 new sustainable development goals that aim to end poverty, promote prosperity and people's well-being while protecting the environment by 2030.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement, saying it "encompasses a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds an historic turning point for our world."

"This is the People's Agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind. It seeks to ensure peace and prosperity, and forge partnerships with people and planet at the core. The integrated, interlinked and indivisible 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the people's goals and demonstrate the scale, universality and ambition of this new Agenda."

Mr. Ban said the September Summit, where the new agenda will be adopted, "will chart a new era of Sustainable Development in which poverty will be eradicated, prosperity shared and the core drivers of climate change tackled."

He added that the UN System stands ready to support the implementation of the new agenda, which builds on the successful outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, and which, he said, will also contribute to achieve a meaningful agreement in the COP21 in Paris in December.

More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the Sustainable Development Summit at the UN headquarters in New York between 25 to 27 September to formally adopt the outcome document of the new sustainable agenda.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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August 3, 2015

NZ looks to manufacturers to help tackle e-waste

The Fifth Estate
Monday 3 August 2015

The New Zealand government is considering introducing a scheme similar to Australia’s National Computer and Television Recycling Scheme, according to chief executive of the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform, Carmel Dollison.

Ms Dollison said the government had commissioned a review of what is happening in the e-waste stream, with the aim of identifying the priority products for recycling. The ANZRP participated in the review.

She said the outcomes would help inform the government’s decision around what type of product stewardship program should be run, whether it would be a mandatory scheme like the NCTRS, potentially funded through a levy on purchases; a co-regulatory scheme where responsibility is shared; or a voluntary scheme.

“The recommendations have gone to the ministry and they will hopefully come through with a program soon,” Ms Dollison said.

“In the interim there are a number of manufacturers that do run e-waste take-back programs [in New Zealand].”

These companies include Apple, Dell, HP and Fuji Xerox, which operates the only NZ government-accredited IT product stewardship scheme. The manufacturer’s Zero Landfill scheme was formally accredited last month under the Waste Minimisation Act.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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