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News Archives

March 31, 2016

World First: Tire Recycling Yields Steel, Diesel, Carbon

PERTH, Western Australia, March 31, 2016 (ENS) – Tytec Recycling, a new company based in Perth, announced Wednesday that it would open the world’s first environmentally-friendly off the road tire recycling operation this year.

The facility will employ a new Edison Award-winning technology to make high-quality marketable steel, diesel oil and carbon out of the old earthmoving tires used in mining and agriculture.

“We’re currently on track to begin OTR recycling in June 2016 and will open our purpose-built recycling center in Perth in January 2017, then Queensland soon after,” says Brett Fennell, Tytec Recycling’s chairman.

Currently, used off the road, OTR, tires are buried under mining dumps or stacked in EPA-approved areas around mine sites.

Tire recycling has always been difficult, and for mining and agriculture’s cast off tires it has been “nearly impossible,” Fennell said.

Now, using Edison Award-winning technology from the Green Distillation Technologies Corporation, GDTC, Tytec Recycling will convert these outworn tires into steel, diesel oil and carbon.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

March 30, 2016

Supply Chain Traceability Key to Fulfilling Sustainability Promises

by Daniel Prakarsa

Consumers these days want to know that when a business says that it is producing something ethically and sustainably, that it can back up such claims throughout its entire supply chain. After all, a business’s claims to operating sustainably are only partly fulfilled when it can’t confirm the sustainability of its raw materials or other products involved in production. So customers increasingly expect businesses to make sure their supply chain is as committed as they are to principled behaviour.

Meeting this expectation is one of the biggest challenges that businesses now face, which is where supply chain traceability – a company’s ability to map its supply chain thoroughly and to know exactly who produces what at which stage of the business, from raw material to finished good - comes in.

Getting that mapping done can be a laborious journey. This is particularly true of agricultural and retail sectors, which tend to have very complex supply chains. The Indonesian palm oil industry, for example, has over two million smallholders running over 40 percent of plantations across the country. The effort it takes to map the supply chain down to the individual farmer is enormous.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 30, 2016

Consumer protection laws need updating to improve trust in e-commerce

Countries should modernise their consumer protection laws to address new risks posed by online commerce, including “free” apps and peer-to-peer Internet transactions, according to new OECD guidelines for member countries and emerging economies.

The OECD Recommendation on Consumer Protection in E-Commerce says people buying online are entitled to the same level of protection as with conventional transactions. It calls on governments to work with business and consumer groups to determine legal changes that could improve consumer trust in e-commerce.

In particular, it suggests consumer protection laws should cover online apps and services offered for free in exchange for gaining access to the user’s personal data.

While consumers are increasingly drawn to the convenience and choice of online commerce, concerns about privacy, payment security or legal recourse in case of a problem mean that many others remain wary. Other concerns include online product safety risks and doubts over whether consumer reviews are genuine.

Read more at OECD.

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category : Topics

March 30, 2016

Vatican aims to stamp out forced labour from supply chains

The Vatican is taking steps to rid its supply chains of slave labour and is encouraging others to follow its lead. Pope Francis is strongly behind the campaign with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican secretariat for the economy, recently congratulating the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) on their resolution to fight forced labour issues in global supply chains.

The CGF is a global network of 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries. Cardinal Pell hailed the CGF's decision to adopt the resolution to help prevent slavery as a "giant step forward".

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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March 23, 2016

How Asia can clean up its waste problem

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 23 March 2016

China is now the largest economy in the world, but this record-breaking growth has put unprecedented stress on the country’s pollution control, transport, and waste management infrastructure.

The country’s energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) is more than twice that of the world average, and a similar pattern is seen in the consumption of other resources such as steel, cement and other raw materials, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).

But while these growing pains are acutely felt in China, the rest of Asia’s developing countries are also all too familiar with the industrial contamination, water and land pollution, and indiscriminate waste dumping resulting from poorly managed economic development.

Asia’s waste management woes are undermining public health and safety, worsening the quality of life for citizens, and reducing the land available for cities to expand, say experts, adding that failure to address them could slow economic growth and undermine people’s well-being.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

March 22, 2016

Indonesia to Europe: Pay for sustainable palm oil

By Jessica Cheam
Tuesday 22 March 2016

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution has called on European countries to pay the premium for sustainable palm oil, saying that the cost of raising the sustainability standards of the industry “cannot be borne by producers alone”.

Speaking at the International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) held in Bali last week, Darmin noted that “some European countries will not hesitate to promote a boycott on non-sustainable palm oil, however they have yet to be willing to pay (the) premium for sustainable products”.

The minister said that in the past, European countries at advanced stages of development expect Indonesia – a developing country – to adopt sustainability as a “baseline condition of business”.

“Unfortunately not many European countries (are) willing to pay extra for sustainability. Being sustainable requires effort and funding – this cannot be borne by producers alone,” he told a 400-strong industry audience on Wednesday.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

March 21, 2016

Apple announces new recycling program as interest in green gadgets grows

Alison Moodie
Monday 21 March 2016 18.12 GMT

For gadget geeks, today was a lot like Christmas. This morning, Apple announced its next generation of products – including new, smaller iterations of the iPhone and iPad. Apple CEO Tim Cook also reiterated a recent milestone: there are now one billion Apple products in active use around the world.

But, if the estimated 231.5m iPhones sold in 2015 are any indication, this will also mark the beginning of a fresh deluge of Apple products into landfills across the country. More than 700m iPhones have sold since they debuted in 2007. And, while some of those phones have been reprocessed and resold, the majority still end up in the municipal waste stream, where they are likely to contribute to air, water and soil pollution.

To counter this, Apple announced a new research and development program aimed at improving its recycling initiatives. Known as Apple Renew, the program will encourage users to recycle their devices by sending them to Apple for free, or dropping them off at an Apple retail store. Once at Apple, the devices will be deconstructed by a robot called Liam (or an entire assembly line of them, presumably) so Apple can recover and reintroduce the components into its supply.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 17, 2016

Green public procurement: a method to implement environmental policy

GPP is a way of pursuing environmental policy. It is practised in Europe, where the European Commission (EC)1 defines it as ‘a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured’.

The aim of GPP is to influence the market for environmental benefit. Public sector spending is an important part of the economy in many countries. In the EU, public authorities spend €2 trillion every year — equivalent to 19% of its GDP. By using this purchasing power for goods and services with lower environmental impact, public authorities can influence sustainable production and consumption.

Alongside the ‘substitution’ effect (when a purchasing authority substitutes a conventional product for a more environmentally friendly one), GPP can have a ‘transformative’ effect. In other words, it provides incentives for industry to develop greener products. This can be especially powerful in sectors where public authorities have a large share of the market, such as public transport or healthcare.

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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March 17, 2016

Hamburg bans environmentally damaging coffee capsules from public buildings

Hamburg (Germany) is making city employees’ morning coffee more sustainable by banning the use of coffee-pods in state run buildings. The city has taken the decision on the basis that the capsules cause unnecessary resource consumption and often contain polluting aluminum. The composition of the capsules also makes them next to impossible to recycle in traditional recycling plants.

The ban on purchasing coffee capsules was included in the city’s green procurement strategy, which ensures that the city avoids buying “certain polluting products or product components". The use of a separate container for each shot of coffee leads to the generation of a significant amount of waste, which the city aims to alleviate through the ban.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre and BBC News.

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March 16, 2016

Renewables ideas make world of difference

March 16, 2016, by Tim Radford

LONDON, 16 March, 2016 – Here is a snapshot of the future for the energy-aware. It may one day be possible to drive an electric car with a battery partly made with carbon dioxide from the air.

It may also be possible to recharge the same car in a garage covered with lightweight, flexible sheets of organic solar cells spread like wallpaper. And if that’s not enough, engineers might use energy from a bacterial fuel cell that generates current from the water flushed down their toilets.

None of these things is possible right now. All, any or none of them may mature to a commercial product. But each is an indicator of ingenuity, imagination and resource repeatedly demonstrated in the world’s laboratories to confront the coming crisis of energy and climate change.

Researchers in the US don’t just boast that their new car batteries are carbon-neutral: they are carbon negative. They report in ACS Science journal that they have shown that the graphite electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries in electric automobiles can be replaced with carbon recovered from the atmosphere.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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category : Topics

March 16, 2016

Gearing up: how Taipei's bike-sharing program is transforming citizens' commute

Ralph Jennings
Wednesday 16 March 2016 21.30 GMT

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taipei’s rental bikes are hard to miss. The Taiwanese capital has 7,264 of them, and their distinctive orange frames, yellow fenders and smiley face logo are nearly as common in some parts of town as the city’s ubiquitous motor scooters. Last year, the city’s bike rental program logged more than 20m trips, a stunning figure that becomes slightly less surprising when one considers that the bikes rent for as little as $0.15 per half hour from 222 self-service, card-activated storage lots.

It’s hard to believe that, just four years ago, the program was on the edge of collapse, done in by a lack of rental docks and a scarcity of viable bike lanes in the city’s choked streets. After a brief burst of enthusiasm, cycling became an unpopular method of transportation as citizens tried to save gas money during the global financial crisis.

The city worked with Giant Manufacturing, the company that produces the bikes, to turn its bike rental program around. Giant upgraded its fleet to include mini locks, strong braking systems and bikes that change gears – a move that cut down on the number of repair jobs and broken bikes.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 15, 2016

Supermarkets pledge to cut food waste 20% by 2025

Press Association
Tuesday 15 March 2016 09.52 GMT

Britain’s leading supermarkets have pledged to drive down food and drink waste by a fifth within the next decade.

Retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons are backing a voluntary agreement, which also targets a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions created by the food and drink industry.

Some 24 local authorities, including the London Water and Recycling Board, and major brands and manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pizza Hut have also committed to the agreement produced by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

The charity, working on behalf of the government and devolved powers in Wales and Scotland, hailed the deal as the first of its kind and said it would usher in a “new era” for the industry. It comes days after Tesco, the UK’s biggest grocery chain, committed to sending no surplus food to waste from its stores by the end of next year by redistributing it to charities.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 14, 2016

How insetting is helping AccorHotels win over guests and locals

By Vaidehi Shah
Monday 14 March 2016

Signs encouraging simple acts such as reusing towels or saving water have become a permanent fixture in hotels worldwide as they help to reduce environmental impact and minimise energy costs.

But at French multinational AccorHotels’ properties, these gestures are going a step further to sustain local livelihoods and build communities, thanks to an initiative called Plant for the Planet, which channels half of the hotel’s laundry savings into reforestation projects which support sustainable agriculture.

As part of the programme, AccorHotels, in partnership with Pur Projet - a French collective of 50 global organisations which work to support small farmers - channels some of the money saved every time a guest hangs up a towel to support reforestation projects close to its hotels.

Projects are also designed to promote agroforestry - a sustainable farming system where trees and crops are grown on the same plot of land.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

March 11, 2016

German computer system contract results in significant energy savings

It is estimated that a framework contract prepared by the Procurement Agency of the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Germany (BeschA) for thin clients - lightweight computers that do not have a hard drive but instead link back to an external server - will save over 10 million kilowatt-hours per year - equivalent to the annual emissions of over 2,000 European households.

A tender for a nation-wide framework contract for around 50,000 thin client computer systems (and services related to these) was issued in August 2013. The total demand was determined to be around €15 million. The requirements specified in the tender documents were based on a comprehensive needs assessment that was undertaken prior to publication.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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category : Topics

March 10, 2016

Indonesian palm oil producers make sustainability progress

posted by Andrew Allen

Two of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers have taken major steps towards promoting sustainability in their supply chains.

The world’s second largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), has mapped its supply chain to 489 individual mills in Indonesia.

The company said it now knows the location and other details of all mills which supply crude palm oil and palm kernels to its processing facilities in eight different locations in Indonesia.

In 2014 GAR extended its sustainability policy to its entire supply chain.

“We see a clear industry trend where buyers want more information on the impact of the palm oil they purchase,” said Paul Hickman, head of global vegetable oils and oilseeds, trading at the Singapore-based company.

“If we can trace the oil back to its source we can engage more effectively with the suppliers and share what we have learned in our own operations to help them improve their environmental and social practices.”

Read more at Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

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category : Topics

March 10, 2016

Could a new plastic-eating bacteria help combat this pollution scourge?

Karl Mathiesen
Thursday 10 March 2016 19.00 GMT

Nature has begun to fight back against the vast piles of filth dumped into its soils, rivers and oceans by evolving a plastic-eating bacteria – the first known to science.

In a report published in the journal Science, a team of Japanese researchers described a species of bacteria that can break the molecular bonds of one of the world’s most-used plastics - polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or polyester.

The Japanese research team sifted through hundreds of samples of PET pollution before finding a colony of organisms using the plastic as a food source.

Further tests found the bacteria almost completely degraded low-quality plastic within six weeks. This was voracious when compared to other biological agents; including a related bacteria, leaf compost and a fungus enzyme recently found to have an appetite for PET.

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 8, 2016

Australia takes the lead on responsible steel certification

By Paul Wallace, The Fifth Estate
Tuesday 8 March 2016

The global steel industry this week converged on Sydney to lay the foundations for a new global certification scheme that has been five years in the making.

To be launched in 2017, the Responsiblesteel scheme will extend well beyond environmental criteria to take into account ethical and community considerations as well as reporting, product design and biodiversity.

Through the newly formed not-for-profit Steel Stewardship Council (an offshoot of the Steel Stewardship Forum), the scheme has been driven by Australian industry, despite its minnow status in terms of steel production globally.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 3, 2016

Refurbished mobile phones: consumer perceptions and how to increase uptake

A recent survey of Dutch mobile phone owners has identified why some consumers buy refurbished mobile phones while others buy new ones.
Some consumers perceived refurbished phones to be inferior, which was a major barrier to their purchase. The study’s authors make a number of recommendations to increase consumer uptake of refurbished mobile phones, including promoting the financial and environmental benefits and offering warranties.

In a circular economy, the life of consumer goods is extended by recovering, repairing and re-using already-used products. This cycle reduces waste and use of precious resources. The concept is at the heart of the EU’s drive towards sustainable consumption and production and is the basis for the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy.

This study explored consumer perceptions of refurbished mobile phones. The researchers conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with Dutch mobile phone users. Ten participants had recently purchased a refurbished mobile phone (defined as ‘a used phone, which is collected, restored, updated and resold by a professional company’) and 10 had purchased new phones of the same brand as the refurbished phones.

Based on a theoretical model of the consumer decision-making process, the researchers analysed the interviews to look for patterns that might reveal what drives people to choose new and refurbished products.

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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March 2, 2016

U.S. Plastics Industry Pursues Zero Net Waste

WASHINGTON, DC, March 2, 2016 (ENS) – The Plastics Industry Trade Association Monday launched the Zero Net Waste program, a tool for members to use to evaluate waste reduction opportunities and maximize landfill diversion.

The ZNW program will provide plastics companies with a concrete set of resources they can use to pursue, and achieve, zero net waste in their facilities and offices.

The Society of the Plastics Industry, SPI, now known as the Plastics Industry Trade Association, or just SPI, set up an Emerging Trends Subcommittee as part of its Recycling Committee. Chaired by Kathy Xuan, CEO of PARC Corp, the subcommittee came up with the Zero Net Waste idea, which was then developed by a broader workgroup of SPI members.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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March 2, 2016

Most electrical goods bought online have misleading energy labels, study finds

Arthur Neslen
Wednesday 2 March 2016 05.01 GMT

Most electrical goods bought online have either been given a misleading energy label or none at all, according to a three-year survey across 11 European countries.

By law, energy performance energy labels for products such as dishwashers, ovens and fridges must be displayed as prominently on a website as they are in shops.

But a study by MarketWatch, a group of civil society organisations, found that 20% of online goods had no label, 1% had the wrong label, and 35% were displayed in outdated or inaccessible forms.

These included pop-up boxes that consumers could only find by scrolling down to poorly advertised links at the bottom of the page.

Up to 10% of Europe’s expected energy savings by 2020 could be lost as a result of non-compliant products, the paper says - as much as the current residential electricity consumption of central and east Europe.

Read more at The Guardian.

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