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News Archives

January 29, 2016

European Commission promotes Clean Fleets LCC tool

A new free-to use tool, specially developed for local authorities to calculate life-cycle costs of vehicle fleets in line with the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD), is now available via the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport site.

Developed by the Clean Fleets project with the support of the European Commission's Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, this calculator performs a lifetime cost calculation on the basis of the harmonised methodology in Art. 6 of the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) 2009/33/EC.

The Clean Fleets project, which ran from 2012 to 2015 and was coordinated by ICLEI Europe, produced a number of publications, tools and policy recommendations based on its work assisting local governments with the implementation of the CVD and the procurement or leasing of clean and energy-efficient vehicles.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 28, 2016

Study finds toxic pollutants in fish across the world's oceans

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO

A new global analysis of seafood found that fish populations throughout the world's oceans are contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants, collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The study from researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego also uncovered some good news?concentrations of these pollutants have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years.

The findings, reported in the Jan. 28, 2016 issue of the journal PeerJ, were based on an analysis by Scripps researchers Lindsay Bonito, Amro Hamdoun, and Stuart Sandin of hundreds of peer-reviewed articles from 1969-2012. The pollutants studied included older 'legacy' chemicals, such as DDT and mercury, as well as newer industrial chemicals, such as flame retardants and coolants.

Read more at EurekAlert!

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January 27, 2016

Your guide to making the business case for saving energy in your building portfolio

Launched at Buildings Day at COP21 in December, the new WBCSD Energy Efficiency Toolkit for Buildings (EEB Toolkit) is a landmark guide for energy efficiency that outlines strategies for businesses to significantly reduce energy use across their building portfolios.

Why energy efficiency in buildings is important:
Buildings represent 40% of primary energy consumption and emit around one third of global GHG emissions of human origin; yet buildings provide great potential for delivering significant cuts in both energy use and emissions. Recent advances in technology, design practices and expertise, coupled with behavioral changes, are estimated to achieve up to a tenfold reduction in the energy requirements of individual new buildings and up to a fourfold reduction for individual existing buildings, largely cost-effectively or sometimes even at net negative costs.

The EEB toolkit is a practical guide with a focus on the business case to support decision making on energy efficiency measures. It provides an approach that is applicable to all buildings (e.g. offices, factories, warehouses, laboratories, etc.).

Read more at World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The EEB Toolkit is free to use, and available online.

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January 27, 2016

Stakeholders invited to shape review of EU GPP transport criteria

The Joint Research Centre's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS), a European Commission research agency, is asking stakeholders in the field of transport to help revise the existing EU GPP criteria for Transport. The JRC-IPTS is currently conducting a study into the existing EU GPP criteria for Transport, the results of which will be used to inform the criteria review process. A wide-variety of stakeholders are invited to take part in the criteria consultation process, from local government officials to transport service providers, manufacturers to consumer organisations.

Respondents are requested to fill out a questionnaire, which registers whether they agree or disagree with the current definition of technical specifications, award criteria, and contract performance clauses for a range of transport areas. The JRC-IPTS has said that it is particularly interested in feedback regarding practical implementation of the current criteria.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 26, 2016

New study tracks nitrogen footprint of products made for export

Carbon Brief
Tuesday 26 January 2016

Just four countries – the US, China, India and Brazil – are responsible for almost half of the world’s total nitrogen pollution, a new study finds.

The new research maps the nitrogen ‘footprint’ of 188 countries, and finds that around a quarter of emissions come from making products that are then traded internationally.

As most of this trade takes products from poorer countries to richer ones, nitrogen pollution in developing nations is being driven by demand for food and clothing products in developed countries, the researchers say.

Nitrogen footprint

Nitrogen pollution comes in various different forms. Some of the main sources are from burning fossil fuels in cars and power stations (nitrogen oxides), processing of textiles for clothing (nitrous oxide), rearing livestock and using fertilisers (nitrous oxide and ammonia), and water run-off from industry and farming taking nitrogen into water supplies.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 25, 2016

Champions wage war on wasted food

Climate News Network
Monday 25 January 2016

Governments, businesses and citizens’ groups are joining forces to try to put some beef into efforts to cut food loss and waste in a world facing growing hunger.

Almost a third of all food produced globally − enough to feed everyone in the world for two months − is lost or wasted, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says. And not only does this cost US$940 billion annually, it also causes around 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes about a quarter of all the water used by agriculture.

The new coalition, launched at the World Economic Forum meeting that ended in the Swiss resort of Davos yesterday, is called Champions 12.3 − a nod to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Production and supply
Target 3 of the SDGs’ 12th goal commits the world to specific action: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.”

The coalition is committed to “inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving” the target. It says reducing food loss and waste can be a triple win: saving money for farmers, companies, and households; feeding more people; and alleviating pressure on climate, water, and land resources.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 22, 2016

Consumer Goods Forum Calls for Action on Forced Labor, Scale-Up of Low-Carbon Refrigeration

by Hannah Furlong

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a group of about 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other global industry stakeholders, sent out two calls to action this month. The CGF is rallying the industry to fight forced labor – which affects 21 million people globally – in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The CGF also plans to ramp up its implementation of low-carbon refrigeration equipment among its members’ stores.

Forced labor has remained a challenge as supply chains have become more globalized and complex. As the CGF points out, global supply chains “often involve some of the poorest countries in the world with limited institutional capacity for regulation to protect workers’ rights.” The informal sector, large amounts of displaced people, and lack of transparency have led to unique challenges and ongoing human rights abuses, hampering corporate commitments to improving decent working conditions. The palm oil, seafood, and apparel industries have particularly struggled to address the problem.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 22, 2016

Innovation or e-waste? Apple's rumoured plan to ditch headphone jack

David Nield
Friday 22 January 2016 13.00 GMT

The annual cycle of the iPhone rumour mill has become almost as predictable as the launch of the handsets themselves. Leading the charge of this year’s batch of tittle-tattle is that the 3.5mm headphone jack is being ditched for the iPhone 7.

It could make sense for Apple. Getting rid of the jack would allow it to make the handset even thinner, while potentially selling more products. Users are less enamoured with the idea, however, and a petition to keep the 3.5mm socket has attracted more than 290,000 signatures.

“Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again,” reads the petition’s blurb. “This is right out of the Apple corporate playbook.”

Apple has never been shy about changing component design and leaving older technology behind. From getting rid of DVD drives in its laptops, to swapping the 30-pin iDevice connector for the Lightning port upgrade and releasing its latest MacBook with just one data and charging port, the focus is on creating super-thin, super-light products.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 21, 2016

European Commission adopts procurement paper designed to reduce administrative work

The European Commission has officially adopted the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), a policy paper designed to make it easier for businesses to apply for public contracts. The ESPD allows companies to self-certify that they are eligible to apply for public contracts, greatly reducing the current administrative burden.

While the current system varies by country, in most cases suppliers are required to provide full documentation proving their abilities and financial status. Under the new system, only the winning bidder will be required to provide such documents. It is hoped that by lowering the amount of paperwork necessary, more small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to participate in the bidding process.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 19, 2016

Cities showcase sustainable energy solutions on CEPPI website

The CEPPI team, comprised of expert partners Jera, Optimat, Steinbeis Transferzentrum and ICLEI, has launched the CEPPI project website to showcase the sustainable energy solutions being developed by the five participating cities: Birmingham (UK), Budapest (Hungary), Castelló and Valencia (Spain), and Wrocław (Poland). By using a pro-innovation procurement approach, these cities aim to achieve energy savings of 33GWh per year.

This 3-year project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, intends to build the cities’ capacity in the fields of public procurement of innovation (PPI) and sustainable public procurement (SPP). Public authorities have started identifying the possible areas of intervention and related information has been published on the CEPPI website - Birmingham City Council, for example, announced its interest in procurements related to its waste strategy; Budapest is exploring the implementation of PPI practices in tenders to retrofit the City Hall; Valencia is looking at city lighting, fountain systems and sports centres; and Wrocław is considering a focus on street lighting modernisation.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 18, 2016

The key to sustainable growth in Asia Pacific

By Shamshad Akhtar
Monday 18 January 2016

Economic and financial stability in Asia is critical as we embark on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a universal and ambitious blueprint that expands the horizons of policymaking to implement the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals, reduce the region’s collective environmental footprint and secure the resources necessary to build the future we want.

The Asia-Pacific region remains uniquely positioned to deliver on these promises, given its growth record and potential, resource base, achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as its innovation and dynamism. As the region leads on the 2030 Agenda, however, it has to tackle not only the long term challenges posed by its immense population, (60 percent of the global population) and its significant contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions (53 per cent), but must also gear itself for high and sustainable economic growth, backed by efforts to enhance economic and financial resilience.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 15, 2016

Is eco-certification the solution to forest destruction?

By Saul Elbein, Mongabay
Friday 15 January 2016

In September 2015, a Peruvian cargo ship dropped off 71 shipping containers of rainforest wood on the docks of Houston, Texas. At 3.8 million pounds, the shipment was an ample demonstration of the continued flow of lumber from tropical countries into the Northern Hemisphere; laid out end to end it would have covered “several football fields” and had a retail value of $300,000, the Houston Chronicle reported.

And the wood’s fate shows the criminal practices that still haunt that trade: in early December, American customs officials blocked the import of the shipment, announcing that the wood had been cut illegally and shipped out of Peru on fraudulent permits. Peruvian police carried out further raids in the Amazonian port of Iquitos, resulting in the biggest bust of illegal wood in Peruvian history.

The busts were a black mark for a system intended to marshal the power of markets to protect the world’s forests from destructive logging, among other threats. Since the early 1990s, when attempts to build a system of international law to save the world’s tropical forests collapsed, a union of thousands of civil society, environmental, and corporate groups has turned their hope to the market.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 14, 2016

Re-using resources in cities: a Dutch casestudy

Dense urban environments have significant resource-saving potential and serve as good platforms for climate change mitigation. This study reviewed an initiative to improve use of energy and water in Rotterdam, highlighting factors important for success including exchanges in close geographic proximity and private-sector participation.

Over half of the global population now live in cities. In Europe the proportion is even higher — cities house around three-quarters of the population. Yet as cities expand, so do their environmental challenges. Home to increasingly large populations, cities use lots of natural resources. Cities also generate pollutants, namely greenhouse gases (GHGs). In fact, cities are responsible for over 70% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

Cities therefore have high potential for addressing environmental challenges. One way of doing this is by making better use of materials. A concept growing in popularity is that of ‘urban symbiosis’, which aims to break linear relationships between consumption and waste by returning outputs as inputs, e.g. converting waste heat into reusable energy, recycling wastewater or water from industrial processes. This has dual benefits; as cities improve the efficiency of their resource use, they also reduce their GHG emissions.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/reusing_resources_in_cities_a_dutch_case_study_442na4_en.pdf

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January 14, 2016

New factsheets provide clarity on bio-based products

The EU-funded InnProBio project has produced the first of a series of factsheets containing information on bio-based products and services. The publication helps to define bio-based products, providing an insight into the primary differences with traditional products.

The first factsheet highlights the benefits of bio-based products, such as their potential to reduce the economy’s dependence on fossil fuels, create green jobs in the European Union, and drive European innovation. The link between bio-based products and sustainability is also outlined.

The section From biomass to bio-based products shows, in a very visual way, different biomass materials that can be used to create products (known as “feedstocks”), such as sugar, starch and natural rubber, as well as bio-based intermediates, such as fibres, polymers and composites, and bio-based end products. Factsheet #1 is available online. The InnProBio team is currently working on the following factsheets.

For more information, visit the InnProBio website.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 11, 2016

Redesigning the recycling industry

Low raw material costs have dealt a heavy blow to the recycling industry. The French recycling federation (FEDEREC) believes the sector needs a complete overhaul to stay afloat in the coming years. Our partner Journal de l'Environnement reports.

FEDEREC published its view of the future of recycling in a white paper entitled "The recycling industry by 2030." In the preface to this 70-page document, a frank discussion of the problems facing the industry and how they might be solved, Corinne Lepage, a Republican politician, evoked a sector "devastated by an oil price that is so low that it is driving us back towards a linear economy, as it is cheaper today to buy primary raw materials than recycled raw materials".

But according to the former French environment minister, other factors also explain "this economic nonsense, which is made possible by an absence of pressure to absorb external costs, particularly the cost of carbon, which burdens recyclers and the whole of the reuse industry".

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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January 7, 2016

Enabling the clean energy revolution

By Jean Chua
Thursday 7 January 2016

Across Asia, companies and governments are adopting more renewable energy as concerns over climate change and carbon emissions move up the development agenda. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the share of renewables in electricity generation in the region will increase from 1.9 per cent in 2010 to 7.1 per cent in 2035.

As these new sources such as wind, solar and hydropower become part of the electrical grid, they also introduce instability as energy is produced only under certain weather conditions. Utility operators must therefore find a way to keep the grid stable, says Sven Wagner, Director, ConnectedEnergy at Bosch Software Innovations in a recent interview.

Smart grid software not only helps manage this variability by automatically shifting energy to where it is needed in the grid, it also enables consumers to use energy more efficiently, he says. The software uses smart meter data and sensors which measure and monitor electricity consumption, feed-in and flows within the grid, analyse the information and automatically execute decisions to optimise the grid’s operations.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 7, 2016

Environmental taxation in the right place can increase business productivity

Environmental regulation is essential to limit the effects of human activity on the environment. However, some claim that this generates additional costs for businesses, and thus negatively affects industrial competitiveness. The argument put forward is that complying with environmental regulations generates higher operating costs, and so may decrease investments, productivity, and profit margins.

In the 1990s, this view was challenged by economist Michael Porter. He suggested quite the opposite – that strict environmental regulations improve efficiency, promote innovation and increase commercial competitiveness. The hypothesis of his name proposes that properly designed environmental regulations, even if stringent, can improve firms’ innovation and productivity by highlighting underlying inefficiencies, with a further positive effect on other sectors and even on national economic competitiveness.

However, empirical studies have failed to reach a conclusion on whether these effects are really occurring. This study put the Porter hypothesis to test, by investigating the effect of environmental regulations on innovation and productivity in manufacturing companies in Europe. The researchers assessed eight European countries and 13 different manufacturing sectors over the years 2001–2007. The EU-funded researchers used an empirical framework, which investigates the links between the strictness of environmental regulation, innovation, and productivity.

Read more at : "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.

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January 5, 2016

The great bathroom debate: paper towel or hand dryer?

By Simon Lockrey
Tuesday 5 January 2016

It’s the age-old question that continues to baffle many of us in the bathroom: when you come to drying your hands, should you reach for the paper towel, or the electric dryer?

For some, this decision might be related to hygiene, and for others, drying performance. For many, environmental concerns are also an important consideration, no doubt motivated by the fact that our daily activities contribute to the complex web of growing sustainability pressures facing the planet.

So how might we decide which of the two most common methods of drying our hands — paper towel or an electric dryer - is the most effective, and environmentally friendly, without resorting to the convenient wipe on the trousers?

Life cycle analysis is a method long used to identify life cycle environmental impacts of products and services, including materials, manufacturing, transport, use, and end of life (e.g. disposal).

Using this analysis, we can search out “hot spots” - those parts of the life cycle which have higher impacts - to identify the most important aspects for our analysis.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 1, 2016

D.C. Styrofoam Ban Starts: Will Styrofoam Get the Plastic Bag Treatment?

By: Kevin Mathews
January 1, 2016

Say farewell to Styrofoam take-out containers in the nation’s capital. It’s been a few years in the making, but Washington, D.C. has finally enacted a firm ban on polystyrene food and beverage containers. Henceforth, all restaurants will have to provide biodegradable alternatives if they want to send their patrons home with leftovers.

The ordinance is a big score for the environment since Styrofoam is a harmful material that takes hundreds of years to decompose. Although it was recently discovered that mealworms can safely digest polystyrene, that’s not currently a practical approach to handling the world’s massive foam waste problem. As it stands, Styrofoam products account for about 30 percent of all space in landfills in the U.S. Altogether, Americans toss approximately 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year.

Styrofoam may be a nationwide problem, but lawmakers also factored in local concerns when deciding to enact the ban. The city has undergone a serious effort to clean the highly polluted Anacostia River, and the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) notes that foam containers are some of the most common types of litter fished out of the river. By eliminating Styrofoam boxes and cups, the river should become that much cleaner.

The D.C. law pertains specifically to food and drink containers obtained at restaurants. Styrofoam will still be allowed for a number of other uses, including to pack and ship food products. The DOEE says it will conduct regular inspections to determine that food industry businesses are complying with the law, and it invites citizens to call in tips to report restaurants that continue to serve Styrofoam.

Read more at Care2.

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