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December 30, 2015

The top 5 waste management stories in 2015

By Medilyn Manibo
Wednesday 30 December 2015

The crucial role of government policies in sustainable waste management grabbed the limelight this year.

More cities and companies recognise that landfills and oceans are not the righful place for waste, and that they should be circulating waste back into the economy as new products - in the form of biogas, fertiliser or a new pair of shoes.

Here are our top 5 picks for 2015:
1. Addressing food waste
This year saw big initiatives from some countries and large companies that address the issue of food waste. In France, a law on food waste will take effect in January 2016 while Paris-based Consumer Goods Forum, a network of 400 global food and drink companies, has pledged to halve the food it throws away by 2025.

In Singapore, the government has stepped up efforts to address the issue and has now piloted a food waste collection system where the waste will be converted into compost. It also invested in a new project aimed at producing biogas for electricity generation by mixing the collected food waste with water sludge which comes from the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant.

The trend seems to be catching on in cities worldwide. New York City also unveiled plans in August to require restaurants in hotels, sporting venues, food manufacturers and wholesalers to recycle all food waste.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Australia, instead of giving a thumbs-up to a zero food waste initiative by local restaurant Brothl, the city government shut the business down. Brothl’s owner Joost Bakker refused to pay the authorities AUD$12,500 for placing its composter in the laneway behind the restaurant.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

December 28, 2015

Global reductions in mercury emissions should lead to billions in economic benefits for U.S.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
December 28, 2015

Mercury pollution is a global problem with local consequences: Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources travel around the world through the atmosphere, eventually settling in oceans and waterways, where the pollutant gradually accumulates in fish. Consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairments.

In the past several years, a global treaty and a domestic policy have been put in place to curb mercury emissions. But how will such policies directly benefit the U.S.?

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers report that global action on reducing mercury emissions will lead to twice the economic benefits for the U.S., compared with domestic action, by 2050. However, those in the U.S. who consume locally caught freshwater fish, rather than seafood from the global market, will benefit more from domestic rather than international mercury regulations.

Read more at MIT News.

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category : Topics

December 24, 2015

RSPO makes palm oil maps public

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 24 December 2015

The industry association for sustainable palm oil announced on Friday that it will make its members’ concession maps public, in a bid to improve the monitoring and enforcement of its rules for environmentally and socially responsible cultivation.

After two years of legal uncertainty, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said that by the middle of next year, it will publish digital maps of all its members’ palm oil concessions except those in Malaysia, where it is not legal to do so yet.

The maps will be published on the Global Forest Watch Fires online portal, which is managed by US non-profit World Resources Institute.

Green groups agreed that this move marked some progress towards transparency, but maintained that it did little to solve the wider problem of unsustainable palm oil practices.

Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia, said that many of RSPO’s non-grower members continue to buy palm oil from firms which are not RSPO members, and therefore have no obligation to make their maps public. She cited edible fat processing firm IOI Loders Croklaan as an example.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

December 21, 2015

Copenhagen adopts energy efficient smart lamps

Copenhagen’s (Denmark) outdoor street lamps are getting an upgrade, with 20,000 energy-efficient LED lamps to be installed in 2016. Energy savings of around 57 percent are expected, which is enough to power 4,500 homes in the Danish capital. In addition to saving energy, the new lights will be fitted with smart capabilities. Maintenance officials will be able to remotely dim or brighten the lamps, and will be automatically alerted if repairs are required.

The technology installed in the lamps will also enable it to detect approaching cyclists and shine extra light, improving journey safety. Around half of Copenhagen’s outdoor street lights will be replaced, with the local government deciding to sell the old models at auction, giving potential buyers the chance to own a piece of Copenhagen history.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

December 17, 2015

GM Advancing Global Zero-Waste Goal by Making Shoes, Washing Rags

Making shoe soles and washing solvent-drenched rags instead of discarding disposables are two ways General Motors is approaching its aspirational goal of becoming a zero-waste manufacturer.

With the addition of six landfill-free sites in Mexico and England, the company’s industry-leading landfill-free count totals 131 facilities.

Luton Assembly and Ellesmere Port Assembly achieved landfill-free status, making all 18 Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing plants in Europe landfill-free, which means daily waste is recycled, reused or converted to energy.

The addition of two engine plants, a warehouse, and technical center at GM’s Toluca, Mexico complex mean all of GM de Mexico assembly, engine and transmission plants plus various non-manufacturing operations such as the company’s global headquarters in Detroit — a total of 16 facilities — send no waste to landfills.

“Our global progress in waste reduction is possible because of employee participation, creative ideas, and a strong supplier network,” said Jim DeLuca, GM’s EVP of Global Manufacturing. “Our teams understand the positive impact of this initiative and they drive it in their facilities every day.”

The Toluca facilities work closely with resource management suppliers to find uses for their byproducts, such as turning polystyrene foam packaging into footwear (see infographic, right). GM takes the material to a warehouse where it is baled, and then sent to be crushed and densified into pellets. Those pellets are combined with other polymers to create shoe soles.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

December 16, 2015

African nations to phase out lead in paint by 2020

[ADDIS ABABA] African countries have agreed to cooperate in setting limits for use of lead in paints with a view to phasing it out by 2020.

This is because of its dangers to human beings, especially to children, and the environment.

In a workshop jointly organised by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network early this month in Ethiopia (2-4 December), speakers observed that paints containing lead additives pose major risks to human health, and that manufacturers need to stop their use.

“Lead is an environmental toxicant and needs to be eliminated from paints as has been done with motor vehicle fuel,” said Eisaku Toda, a senior programme officer of UNEP, adding that governments in African countries should introduce standards and restrictions on its use.

He said that the WHO lists lead among the top ten environmental health hazards globally, and African countries should take initiatives such as introducing regulatory frameworks to control its use with a view to eventually eliminating it from paints.

Read more at Sci Dev Net.

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category : Topics

December 16, 2015

Environmental group sues VW for emission cheating

China.Org
Wednesday 16 December 2015

A domestic environmental group has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen over the company’s cheating on emissions readings.

It is the first public-interest lawsuit in China related to pollution from automobile exhaust. The group said it hopes to attract attention to the need to supervise motor vehicle exhaust.

China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, an NGO based in Beijing, said it entered the case against the German auto giant because it “produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened the air pollution and affected public health and rights”.

“Such behavior has violated the law on product quality, environmental protection and tort liability. So we filed the case,” Wang Wenyong, a lawyer for the group, said on Monday.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

December 15, 2015

Feedback invited on new global sustainable procurement standard

A new standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) that provides guidance on integrating sustainability into procurement processes is open for public comments until 12 January 2016. The development of ISO 20400 is part of a two year programme of work that has seen countries across the world provide input. The standard is intended to be a world-wide solution, and was created partly in response to the increased globalisation of supply chains and the greater involvement of multi-national organisations.

The primary purpose of the standard is to define sustainable procurement, provide information on impacts and aspects to be considered across different procurement activities, and to give practical information. It aims to be applicable to both public and private organisations, and can be broken down into four primary components. The first looks at fundamentals, outlining the scope and principles of sustainable procurement and examining the organisational benefits of engaging in this type of procurement.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

December 14, 2015

Epson paper-recycling printer coming soon

From: Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published December 14, 2015 06:42 AM

Printing boarding passes is sooooo 2005. Seriously, does anyone still print? My handy HP all-in-one printer collects more dust than print jobs. While it is true that most paper comes from managed forests, most of us just do not really have the need to print — a trend the paper industry, including the Paper and Packaging Board, whines about endlessly.

But sometimes we do need to print — for example, editing is easier for me to do on paper than staring at that laptop screen. And as an office tactic, distributing handouts at a meeting is a way to keep those rude colleagues’ eyes on the whiteboard and hands off their smartphones.

So, what if the office had printers that recycled shredded paper into new 8×10 or A4 sheets, creating a closed-loop recycling system within the office?

Epson, one of the world’s most popular printer manufacturers, is doing just that.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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category : Topics

December 10, 2015

SPP Regions website provides guidance on sustainable public procurement of innovation

The newly launched SPP Regions website showcases the creation and strengthening of networks of public authorities focused on sustainable public procurement (SPP) and public procurement of innovation (PPI) in seven European regions.

The networks in Barcelona (Xarxa de Ciutats i Pobles cap a la Sostenibilitat), South West England (PIPEN), Bulgaria (Bulgarian SPPI Network), Copenhagen, Torino (APE), Metropolitan Region Rotterdam – The Hague, and West France (RGO) are co-operating on tendering for eco-innovative solutions and building capacity to implement sustainable and innovative purchasing practices.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

December 9, 2015

The Italians fighting against an 'invasion' of palm oil

Sarah Hucal
Wednesday 9 December 2015 05.00 GMT

Mozzarella, ciabatta, Parma ham … when considering Italy’s culinary landscape, palm oil is unlikely to feature high on the list – if at all. Yet the Mediterranean country is the EU’s second largest (pdf) importer of the oil, which some estimate is found in 90% of biscuits and baked goods in Italian supermarkets.

Not everyone in Italy is happy about this, with critics voicing concerns over the health impacts of an ingredient high in saturated fat as well as over the commodity’s links to deforestation in south-east Asia. A survey earlier this year, for example, found (pdf) 37% of those polled in Italy considered palm oil to be bad for the environment, up from 18% last year.

Is “palm oil free” the way forward?

With such a complicated subject, it’s not surprising Italy is divided over how best to approach palm oil.

Over the past year more than 160,000 people have signed a “stop the invasion of palm oil” petition created by Italian online magazine Il Fatto Alimentare. The magazine has been campaigning to reduce the use of palm oil in food products on health and environmental grounds, compiling lists of biscuits and other snack foods made without the oil.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

December 9, 2015

Reducing emissions through sustainable public procurement at COP21

UNEP, ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability, and the Korean Environmental Institute for Technology and Innovation (KEITI) hosted a session on Saturday 5 December at the Cities and Regions Pavilion to raise awareness about the potential of sustainable public procurement (SPP) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The discussion focused on how to measure the GHG emissions stemming from public procurement. Three members of the 10 year framework programme on sustainable public procurement (10YFP on SPP) presented case studies from Europe, Asia and North America that illustrate the role SPP can play in reducing emissions.

The goal of the 10 YFP on SPP is to build the case for SPP on a global scale and support the implementation of SPP on the ground. The session saw UNEP, ICLEI, KEITI, and the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) showcase practical ways to reduce GHG emissions through SPP, as well as outline methods to effectively monitor impacts. Mark Hidson, Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre, emphasised the importance of monitoring as a powerful communication tool for encouraging sustainable procurement.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

December 4, 2015

Don't buy a product, save the world?

By Kim Yen White
Friday 4 December 2015

There is no escaping the fact that shopping season is upon us; stores declare their oversized discounts on equally oversized signs on display windows, newspapers bulge with inserts boasting the best deals, junk mail folders contain double the number of pages and exclamations promising huge savings.

From these indications alone, one would think the driving force of today’s civilisation involves relentless, if not indiscriminate, consumption. If there is one thing that an environmentally-responsible business grapples with, it is toeing the line at increasing profit margins without creating excess need and output. How do you develop a viable business model that balances profit growth viability with eco-consciousness?

The answer, it seems, might lie in “anti-marketing”. Consider REI, a company that sells outdoor sport equipment via a co-op system in which members (instead of shareholders) can purchase products and also receive dividends (in lieu of discounts) at the end of each financial year. This year, instead of enticing members via sale prices, the company is opting to close its stores on Black Friday (traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year in the US) with the message to its workers to spend the day outdoors.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

December 2, 2015

EU puts recycling on the agenda at Paris climate talks

Arthur Neslen Brussels
Wednesday 2 December 2015 16.17 GMT

Europe has put recycling on the agenda of the Paris climate talks with a raft of new waste targets to cut emissions, with its environment commissioner calling on other countries to follow the EU’s lead.

Under the new goals, by 2030 European countries will have to recycle 65% of their municipal rubbish and 75% of their product packaging, as well as reducing landfill dumping to a maximum of 10% of overall waste disposal. The targets, some of which are binding, are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4% within 15 years.

On Thursday, the bloc’s environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella will call on delegates in Paris to match the EU.

“The world will need many individual measures like these, whose cumulative effect will be far greater than their individual impact,” Vella will say, according to a prepared speech seen by the Guardian.

The commissioner singles out the potential of waste reuse to curb carbon-intensive production processes, adding that “more cuts will come by reducing methane emissions from landfills.”

By expanding the use of eco-labels, “we [will] bring about savings that exceed the annual primary energy consumption of Italy,” he will say. “This translates into reduced greenhouse gas emissions of 340m tonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than 7% of total EU emissions in 2010, for example, and close to €500 saved each year for the average household.”

However, most of the new goals are diminutions of a previous package that the commission’s vice-president, Frans Timmermans , had promised to make “more ambitious”.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 1, 2015

England urged to urgently improve stalled recycling rates

Press Association
Tuesday 1 December 2015 17.09 GMT

England must urgently improve its recycling rates if it is to reach European Union targets by 2020, according to one of Britain’s biggest waste companies.

David Palmer-Jones, the chief executive of Suez recycling and recovery in the UK, said England is trailing behind the EU after new figures show there has only been a marginal increase in recycling in England over the last two years.

The Regional Household recycling rates, published today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), reveal that the rate of recycling in English households from March 2014 to March 2015 was 44.7% - an increase of 0.5% since 2013.

The EU target is for the UK to recycle at least 50% of its waste by 2020.

Recycling rates have actually dropped in London and the East Midlands, where there have been declines of 0.8% and 1.2% respectively.

The drop represents London’s second successive decline, and Palmer-Jones said greater focus is needed in these areas of high population.

Read more The Guardian.

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December 1, 2015

EU bans wasteful lamps in favour of efficient alternatives

The EU is helping to move the European market towards more energy efficient light bulbs by upholding a ban against a certain class of halogen lamps. Mains-voltage directional halogen lamps will be phased out of the European market from September 2016 onwards due to their high-level of inefficiency.

The move has been controversial among the business community with many coming out both in favour of and against the ban. LightingEurope, the trade association representing actors in the lighting industry, has criticised the ruling, stating that the move restricts consumer choice and is likely to "cause confusion".

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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