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June 30, 2016

New World Bank Procurement Framework Promotes Strengthened National Procurement Systems

Flexible approach will help countries make the best use of public spending

The World Bank’s new Procurement Framework becomes effective tomorrow, July 1, 2016. Aimed at helping countries make the best use of their public spending, the new Framework will enhance the strategic role of procurement in development effectiveness.

“The new Procurement Framework reflects the views, knowledge, and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders from across the globe. The Bank can now offer a more modern and nimble procurement system to help promote sustainable development,” said Hart Schafer, World Bank Vice President for Operations Policy and Country Services.

The new Procurement Framework will allow the World Bank to better respond to the needs of client countries, while preserving robust procurement standards throughout Bank-supported projects. It provides an expanded range of procurement tools to enable a better fit for varying country contexts and client needs.

“With this modernization of the procurement system, the Bank looks forward to working together with its partner countries to strengthen efficiency in public spending and to strengthen procurement systems around the world. This will help assure that public resources are being well used, and countries can better deliver critical services such as education, health, and infrastructure” says Deborah Wetzel, Senior Director of the Governance Global Practice.

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors initially approved this new policy framework in July 2015. It governs procurement in Bank-financed projects in 172 countries worth about USD 56 billion. This new Framework is a result of an extensive review and three-year consultation process involving over 5,000 people in 100 countries including partner countries, CSOs, and private sector.

Read more at The World Bank website.

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category : Topics

June 29, 2016

HP Commits to Zero Deforestation by 2020, Other New Goals After Achieving Targets Early

Today, HP Inc. announced several new commitments with the release of its latest Sustainability Report. The company met the 20 percent emissions reduction targets it set for its operations and supply chain five years early, and set three new goals for 2020. Among these is a new zero deforestation commitment, which will involve sourcing all HP brand paper and paper-based product packaging from certified and recycled sources by 2020, with a preference for virgin fiber from certified sources of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

According to Forest500, only 8 percent of companies have an overarching zero or zero-net deforestation commitment. HP’s zero deforestation pledge adds the company to that group, and builds on its progress; in 2015, HP achieved the public forestry goal of 50 percent FSC-certified fiber in HP brand paper products. Moving forward, the company plans to work with WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network-North America (GFTN-NA) to reduce fiber sourcing risks for products and packaging, source more responsibly, and engage suppliers as partners.

“HP’s efforts to lead the way on eliminating deforestation from its paper products and packaging are commendable,” said Linda Walker, Director of Responsible Forestry & Trade at WWF-US. “This is a leadership-level goal within HP’s broader sustainability commitments.”

In 2015, HP also saved $9 million thanks to packaging innovations for printing and personal systems products, by effectively reducing 5,700 tonnes of packaging material compared to previous-generation products. The packaging improvement projects were estimated to avoid 12,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The new zero deforestation goal includes the box that comes with each product and all paper (including packaging and materials) inside the box.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

June 29, 2016

WWF launches new Singapore alliance on sustainable palm oil

By Jessica Cheam
Wednesday 29 June 2016

WWF Singapore on Monday launched a new alliance on sustainable palm oil in a bid to boost demand for the commodity, and ultimately, help tackle the haze pollution plaguing the region for many decades.

Speaking at the launch of the alliance at Marina Bay Sands on Monday, WWF Singapore chief executive officer Elaine Tan said the alliance “sends a clear signal to consumers about which companies are committed to sustainability”.

“This is a timely opportunity for NGOs and businesses to work together towards transforming the palm oil industry,” she added.

The alliance, which aims to emulate similar networks in Europe that support sustainable palm oil, seeks to connect players in the palm oil industry, retailers and manufacturers to tackle deforestation and haze, said WWF.

The practice of burning peat or forest land, commonly used among Indonesia’s farmers as the cheapest way to clear land, has over the decades caused habitat loss, severe environmental impact and air pollution.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 27, 2016

Global 500 Decoupling Emissions, Revenue Growth; Data Offers Hope for COP21 Targets

For the first time, data has shown a decoupling between revenue growth and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions output among the world’s 500 largest businesses (Global 500), according to a Thompson Reuters report released today. While as a group the companies are not yet reducing their emissions at a rate that follows the global scientific consensus on the risks of climate change, the slight improvement over the past five years offers a glimmer of hope.

The Global 500 currently represents about 28 percent of the world’s Global Domestic Product (GDP) and collectively emitted 10 percent of the world’s GHG emissions over the last five years. Revenues for the companies grew roughly 5 percent, while their emissions only increased by 1 percent over the most recent four-year period for which complete and comparable data is available (which was from fiscal year (FY) 2011 to FY2015 for 52 companies, FY2010 to FY2014 for 413 companies, and older data for the rest).

“Following COP21 last year, sustainable business growth has become a top priority and focal point for many organizations,” said Tim Nixon, managing editor of sustainability at Thompson Reuters and co-author of the report. “Limiting environmental impact is no longer just about doing the 'right' thing. Organizations recognize sustainable business growth is central to mitigating risk and driving top and bottom line performance.”

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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June 25, 2016

Scientists call on EU businesses, govts to support greener palm oil

While Europe has shown early leadership in pushing the palm oil sector toward less damaging practices, European politicians and business leaders need to do more to improve the sustainability of the industry, says a body representing hundreds of conservation scientists from dozens of countries.

In a declaration issued at the conclusion of its annual meeting — held this year in Montpellier, France — the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) called for specific measures to strengthen the market for “responsibly sourced” palm oil, including greater supply chain transparency, incentives and mandates for certified palm oil, increased engagement between governments in consuming and producing countries, and adoption of zero deforestation procurement policies.

“[We] acknowledge and commend recent developments towards sustainable palm oil production,” states the Montpellier Declaration. “We also recognize that there remains much work to be done, particularly in increasing the demand for certified and responsibly sourced palm oil, and in integrating smallholder producers into certified palm oil markets.”

Noting that Europe represents 15 percent of global palm oil production, ATBC said the continent “has a pivotal role in leading global initiatives to advance the adoption of sustainable palm oil production and supply chain management.” It identified the European retail and manufacturing sector as a key agent for driving transformational change in how palm oil is produced.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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June 24, 2016

Chemicals risk assessment: evidence-evaluation methods analysed for nine EU regulations

The use of two methods to systematise evidence-evaluation methods is reviewed in nine EU regulations dealing with chemicals risk assessment. The majority of frameworks were found to promote the use of ‘weight of evidence’ or ‘systematic review’-style approaches, but the study found a lack of structured, consistent and detailed guidance for these approaches. The researchers recommend this guidance is developed collaboratively by European regulatory
agencies and points to best practice for this guidance.

Weight-of-evidence (WoE) evaluation and systematic review (SR) are methods (developed in the fields of economics, law and medicine) to summarise, synthesise and interpret a body of evidence to draw conclusions, for example, the relationship between chemical exposure and adverse health effect. These practices are expected to play a more important role than they did in traditional risk-assessment methods, which relied on fewer studies.

For the majority of chemicals on the EU market today, health and environmental risk assessments are performed by the producing or importing company, with guidance from different regulatory frameworks, depending on their intended use. Improving guidance on how to conduct and report WoE or SR would improve the robustness, reproducibility and transparency of assessing the health or environmental risk of a chemical.

The aim of this review was to investigate if either WoE evaluation or SR in chemical risk assessment is promoted within nine different regulatory frameworks set out by the European Commission and implemented by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) , the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Medicines Agency. Riskassessment documents selected from the most prominent areas within chemical risk assessment in the EU were scrutinised for whether WoE evaluation and SR were promoted and whether there was sufficient guidance for WoE evaluation and SR.

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/chemicals_risk_assessment_evidence_evaluation_methods_nine_eu_regulations_460na1_en.pdf

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June 21, 2016

Using Only Renewable Energy, Portugal Powered Its Entire Country for Four Days

By: Susan Bird
June 21, 2016

Portugal just did something pretty amazing. In fact, it’s historic — something no other nation has ever done. Portugal just powered its entire country’s electricity needs for four consecutive days using nothing but renewable energy.

Using a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, biofuels, geothermal heat and hydroelectric power, Portugal powered everything requiring electricity for 107 hours between Saturday morning, May 7, 2016, and Wednesday evening, May 11, 2016. The country’s ZERO System Sustainable Land Association, in collaboration with the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association, released information about this impressive achievement on its website.

“These data show that Portugal can be more ambitious in a transition to a net consumption of electricity from 100 percent renewable, with huge reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming and consequent climate change,” according to a statement on the ZERO website.

“We are seeing trends like this spread across Europe — last year with Denmark and now in Portugal,” Oliver Joy, Wind Europe trade association spokesman, told The Guardian. “The Iberian peninsula is a great resource for renewables and wind energy, not just for the region but for the whole of Europe.”

Read more at Care2.

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June 20, 2016

Fairphone Achieves Traceable Supply for All Four Conflict Minerals; Your Move, Industry

Today, Fairphone announced it is adding conflict-free tungsten from Rwanda into its supply chain. With this achievement, Fairphone has successfully managed to transparently source all four of the conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold).

Fairphone began in 2010 as a campaign to increase awareness for the use of conflict minerals in consumer electronics. Six years later, the social enterprise has released two smartphones and more than 100,000 Fairphone owners have joined the movement, but this cause is more relevant than ever.

Most consumers still lack information about how their products are made, including where the materials come from and how they are sourced. A smartphone, for example, contains about 40 different minerals, which come from every corner of the globe. The starting point of the mineral supply chain – the mining sector – is often fraught with environmental and human rights abuses ranging from pollution and dangerous working conditions to child labor.

A selection of these minerals - namely tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold -have been singled out as especially problematic. In some instances, mining and trading of these so-called ‘conflict minerals’ have contributed to fund rebel groups and thus support conflict and other adverse impacts, including serious human rights abuses. The Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010, requires all electronics manufacturers listed on the US stock exchange to report on the use of minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries, and to show they do not finance conflict. Last week, the EU agreed on an outline deal on a law that aims to address the use of conflict minerals in the European Union.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

June 20, 2016

Green homes are only as green as their users

By Cameron Jewell, The Fifth Estate
Monday 20 June 2016

New research out of Michigan State University has found that more than 50 per cent of potential energy savings from energy efficient homes can be lost if users don’t know how to use the buildings properly.

A study, published in Procedia Engineering, found that incorrect use of airconditioners, thermostats, ventilation and humidity control could have a dramatic effect on predicted energy savings from efficient homes.

“Technological advances in building and equipment account for only 43 per cent of energy consumption,” MSU assistant professor and study author Dong Zhao said. “That means that you could buy the greenest house on the market, yet your personal habits could waste more than 50 per cent of your energy savings.”

Dr Zhao said this was of concern both for individual homeowners as well as for commercial property owners with business and residential tenants.

He and his team of researchers collected data from 320 residential units that met the green building standard of Home Energy Rating Systems.

Preferred temperature settings in summer and winter were surveyed, how often windows were kept open, use of fans and space heaters, humidity settings, length of showers, dishwasher and washer and dryer use, and residents’ knowledge of building systems.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

June 17, 2016

New Palm Oil Risk Tool Allows Companies to Better Identify Deforestation Risk

by Nithin Coca
June 17, 2016

Global Forest Watch’s new PALM (Prioritizing Areas, Landscapes and Mills) Risk Tool, released by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and freely available through its open-source Global Forest Watch Commodities platform, includes information about over 800 palm oil mills in Southeast Asia, along with regularly updated satellite imagery and spatial data. Using automatic analysis, the tool determines the level of risk that a particular mill is using palm oil from illegally deforested sources, making it a powerful platform for companies to not only better understand their supply chains, but figure out how to mitigate risk and allocate limited resources towards achieving zero-deforestation goals.

“There are some really ambitious commitments, but often there is not great information about how to implement these commitments,” said Sarah Lake, Corporate Engagement Research Analyst for WRI's Global Forest Watch program, to Sustainable Brands. “This tool ... really enables companies to prioritize, in their supply chain, the areas and the suppliers that will allow them to achieve the greatest progress possible with the smallest investment.”

One of the earliest users of the tool is the multinational consumer products giant Unilever, which, back in 2009, committed to using 100 percent sustainable palm oil in their supply chain by 2020. This, of course, is easier said than done, and the company, to its credit, has been working closely with WRI and other civil society organizations to create an achievable path towards this ambitious goal.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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June 14, 2016

Plastic debris can escape Pacific ‘garbage patch’

14/06/16
Tania Rabesandratana

Plastic debris that was thought to be trapped in vast floating patches in the Pacific Ocean may be able to escape and pollute islands and coastal areas, a study warns.

These great patches of rubbish — sometimes inaccurately called plastic islands or continents — could partly break up due to short-lived, hard-to-observe eddies, the paper finds. Such rubbish had been thought to be permanently trapped in the middle of the Pacific.

“We used to think that [debris] converged in the centre and went round in circles, and now we’ve shown that there are small escape routes,” says lead author Christophe Maes, an oceanographer at the Research Institute for Development in France. He says the finding could help design strategies to collect marine rubbish that threatens marine wildlife.

To obtain these results, Maes’s team relied on computer models with a resolution as fine as three kilometres, compared with the 50- or 100-kilometre resolution of models commonly used to study climate change.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters in April, provides a first, exciting confirmation that ‘garbage patches’ are not a “black hole” for plastic debris, says Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, who was not involved in the analysis.

Read more at SciDev.Net.

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June 14, 2016

Internet of bins: smart, solar powered trashcans in Colombian cities

Elaine Ramirez
Tuesday 14 June 2016 05.00 BST

Cities have a huge waste problem. Levels are expected to more than double (pdf) over the next 20 years in low and middle income countries as the population increases towards an estimated 8.6 billion by 2030.

Ecube is one of a handful of startups trying to tackle the issue through technology. Based in South Korea, the company produces solar-powered, smart waste bins which allow cities to monitor the levels of rubbish in each bin. The tech also compacts the waste. It has established some 2,500 smart waste networks at cities, campuses, amusement parks and restaurants worldwide, and expects to double the number by the end of the year.

Waste technology is not usually top of the list when it comes to smart city infrastructure; energy, transportation or water tend to get more attention. But the market is growing (pdf), with smart urban waste solutions estimated to help process more than 40% of all urban waste worldwide.

While most of the growing industry’s focus is on Europe and the US, Ecube says it wants to prove that Latin America is full of potential and is piloting schemes in Colombia. “When we talk to investors and even [the] media, they always have this misconception that our solutions are only for rich countries,” says Roger Kim, Ecube’s executive director. “We tried to prove people wrong.”

Several Latin American cities such as Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Santiago are already adopting digital tracking of waste collection trucks, says Juan Alfredo Rihm Silva, water and sanitation specialist at the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). “Latin America is becoming more environmentally aware and tech-savvier,” he says.

Colombia’s quasi-governmental organisation Interaseo, in charge of the country’s waste management, wanted to solve the problem of overflowing bins in busy areas where bigger bins couldn’t necessarily fit, Kim says.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 13, 2016

In unprecedented move, Michelin adopts zero deforestation for rubber sourcing

Michelin Group, one of the world’s three largest tire companies, has just adopted a zero deforestation policy for its rubber sourcing. The move is significant because rubber is a major driver of tropical forest destruction through the conversion of natural forests for plantations. Forests in West Africa and Southeast Asia have been particularly hard hit by the commodity’s production.

The new policy, which is published on Michelin’s web site, calls for many of the same provisions adopted by “zero deforestation” companies, including respecting local communities’ rights to reject plantations and barring sourcing of rubber from newly cleared forests. According the policy, primary forests as well as “high carbon stock” (HCS) and “high conservation value” (HCV) are off-limited for conversion.

“[Michelin] Group undertakes not to contribute voluntarily, directly or indirectly, to actions which might lead to the illegitimate appropriation of land to the detriment of local communities or populations,” the policy states. “The Group is committed to ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) principle of local communities likely to be affected by its operations, especially when setting up or transforming corporate plantations and/or industrial sites.”

“Keen to protect natural forests, and particularly primary forests and areas of high environmental value likely to be jeopardized by the development of rubber cultivation, the Group advocates a responsible land management policy,” the policy continues.

The move comes after environmentalists ratcheted up campaigns to reform the rubber sector, which has often been associated with deforestation and conflict.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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June 13, 2016

Cities encouraged to join Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition

Public authorities in Europe use enormous amounts of timber-based products, whether in the construction of infrastructure such as buildings and bridges, or for furniture and office-equipment needs. Through increasing the demand for sustainable products, and in particular sustainable timber, public procurers have the power to stimulate green growth. To help bring this message to cities, ICLEI has partnered with the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC), a Netherlands-based initiative for sustainable trade and responsible forest management.

The STTC is a broad alliance of industry, business, local and regional governments and NGOs working in close partnership with the European Timber Trade Federation to increase European demand for sustainably sourced tropical timber. Through joining the coalition, members can benefit from expert support and networking opportunities with like-minded purchasers. They will also have access to tens of thousands of Euros of funding to implement sustainable sourcing strategies and to enhance sustainable procurement of tropical timber.

Read more at the Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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June 11, 2016

Maersk Slammed for Sidestepping EU Ship Recycling Law

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 11, 2016 (ENS) – Indian and international environmental groups are taking Danish container ship giant Maersk to task for its statement that the company is considering flagging its end-of-life vessels out of Danish or any other European registry to circumvent the European Ship Recycling Regulation and break the ships in India.

Owners of ships flying the flags of EU Member States must ensure that their ships are recycled only in ship recycling facilities that comply with strict requirements and are included on the European List. The European List will be officially published by the end of 2016.

Maersk says it will have to scrap more vessels in the coming years due to oversupply and low freight rates in the container market, and the company estimates it can earn an additional US$1-2 million per ship by using beaching yards in Alang, India.

After “Maersk Group’s recent announcement of its long-term commitment to create more responsible recycling options in Alang, India, an agreement has been reached for the landing of the first two vessels,” the company announced last month.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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June 9, 2016

Hundreds of Cities Commit to Emissions Limits

WASHINGTON, DC, June 9, 2016 (ENS) – Cities today host more than half of the Earth’s human beings and account for about 70 percent of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, 228 cities around the world are taking the lead on climate action, setting greenhouse gas reduction goals or targets.

Action in these cities, with a combined population of 439 million people, could ensure that countries meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the national greenhouse gas reduction pledges embodied in the Paris Climate Agreement.

At the UN’s annual climate conference in December 2015 in Paris, 195 countries adopted the world’s first universal, legally binding global climate deal.

The agreement sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. World leaders from 175 countries signed the historic accord on April 22, Earth Day. The agreement is due to enter into force in 2020.

Cities and their inhabitants are playing a leading role in meeting global climate action goals, according to “Can a City Be Sustainable?,” the 2016 edition of the annual State of the World report from the Worldwatch Institute.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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June 8, 2016

Congress Strengthens U.S. Chemical Safety Law

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8, 2016 (ENS) – By unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would update federal chemical safety protections for the first time in four decades. The measure gives the Environmental Protection Agency new power to require safety assessments of chemicals found in ordinary products from toys and clothing to household cleansers.

The Senate approved the legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives on May 25, sending it to President Barack Obama for his expected signature.

The bill reforms the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, TSCA, lifting restrictions that have kept the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating chemicals in common use from asbestos to flame retardants.

Today, tens of thousands of chemicals, including many that Americans come into contact with in daily life, to go on the market without any safety evaluation.

The legislation, titled the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, is named for the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, who championed TSCA reform until his death in 2013.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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June 8, 2016

MPs attack loopholes in cosmetic industry's microbead phase out

Damian Carrington
Wednesday 8 June 2016 17.34 BST

Voluntary action by the cosmetics industry to phase out the use of microbeads in Europe came under strong attack from MPs on Wednesday, who criticised loopholes in the pledges and slammed the lack of labelling on products containing the plastic particles.

Tiny plastic beads are widely used in toiletries and cosmetics but thousands of tonnes of them wash into the sea every year, where they harm wildlife and can ultimately be eaten by people. The US has banned microbeads and a petition signed by over 300,000 people asking for a ban in the UK was delivered to David Cameron on Wednesday.

However, giving evidence to parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, John Chave, director general of trade body Cosmetics Europe, said: “We think voluntary action is a good way to address this problem. We think we are a responsible industry and we want to do the right thing.”

Zac Goldsmith MP disagreed: “I am trying to understand why as a trade body would you be so strongly opposed to a ban and I can’t think of any reason other than the fact that the industry is perhaps not as committed as you imply.”

Another MP, Peter Heaton-Jones, said the lack of labelling of products was a serious problem: “The consumer has no way of knowing whether that box or tube or bottle of stuff that he or she is about to buy contains microbeads or not.” Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, which represents the UK industry, said: “The practical side of [labelling] may be extremely difficult to implement.”

Loopholes in the voluntary pledges made by the cosmetics manufacturers were also raised by MPs, based on evidence submitted by campaigners. These include only committing to stop using plastics beads in “exfoliating” products, despite solid plastics being used in items including moisturisers, make-up, lip balms and shaving foams.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 8, 2016

Looking at sustainable packaging from a systems perspective

By Padmakshi Rana
Wednesday 8 June 2016

Packaging waste is a problem that cannot be solved just by the packaging industry on its own.

Instead, companies should adopt a systems approach to find solutions, said panellists at a recent workshop in Singapore on sustainable packaging.

Such an approach would mean that companies work with a wider group of stakeholders such as government, NGOs, and academia among others, to come up with solutions which benefit all the parties involved.

Erin Simon, the deputy director of private sector engagement at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), opened the sustainable packaging workshop with her engaging talk on how to drive transformational change through the use of greener packaging.

She emphasised the need to look at the product life cycle through systems thinking. Given how multiple stakeholders are interdependent on each other in the global network of products and services, this approach provides a way for collaboration and innovation across a product’s life-cycle.

The Technical Workshop on Sustainable Packaging on May 24 was hosted by the WWF at the Copthorne King’s Hotel in Singapore. It was supported by the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA), an initiative by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 6, 2016

ICLEI celebrates 20 years of work on Sustainable Public Procurement

This year marks 20 years of work on sustainable procurement at ICLEI – Local governments for Sustainability. Celebrations kicked off with a ceremony in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum on 27 April 2016. The event formed part of the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns and also provided the opportunity to showcase the new-look SP Platform and the revamped Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network.

Over the last 20 years, through its activities on sustainable and innovation procurement, ICLEI has been involved in 150 projects; organised 100 conferences, seminars and workshops; trained over 2,000 people; supported 300 cities in more than 50 countries, and saved 1 million tonnes of CO2.

For the last two decades, many ICLEI Members have been including sustainability criteria in their procurement policies and procedures to achieve resource efficient, low-carbon and socially responsible societies. ICLEI has also worked with sustainable procurement experts from cities across the world on numerous projects and initiatives related to SPP. These include specific initiatives such as installing 20,000 energy efficient light bulbs in Copenhagen, policies such as Rotterdam’s 100 percent green procurement commitment and initiatives such as the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement and the GPP 2020 project, which has brought together central purchasing bodies to achieve savings of over 700,000 tonnes CO2e to date.

“In 20 years a lot has been achieved in the field of sustainable procurement. We have had the pleasure of working with committed and creative experts from cities large and small to develop and implement sustainable procurement strategies which have helped to create low-carbon, socially responsible societies. The work done so far provides a good basis for continuing to strengthen our relationships and contribute positively to the sustainable and innovation procurement community over the next 20 years,” said Mark Hidson, Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre. Organisations or public authorities involved in sustainable procurement are invited to share their achievements and thoughts on SPP using the hashtag #SPPecialists.

For more information, visit the SP Platform.

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June 6, 2016

Unclear if France will revisit ‘discriminatory’ palm oil tax

6th June 2016 / Loren Bell

Last month, the French Senate removed a proposed tax on palm oil from their version of the country’s biodiversity bill. The draft initially increased the tariff on all palm oil entering the country, but was later revised in response to industry pressure. Producers called the tax discriminatory, excessive, arrogant, and an attack on the developing world.

The watered-down bill reduced the tax amount, made it applicable only to consumable products, and excluded certified sustainable oil. However, this did not satisfy industry lobbyists, and the Senate later removed the section entirely. It is unclear whether the issue will be revisited by the other house of parliament, the National Assembly, before the final vote.

During a brief meeting during the G7 summit in Japan, the president of Indonesia reportedly asked the president of France to help “halt ongoing discussions” about the planned tax. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

As the industry struggles with a long history of environmental degradation and human rights violations, economists, politicians and environmentalists struggle to find practical paths toward positive change.

Read more at Mongabay.

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June 6, 2016

First-Ever Global Standard to Measure Food Loss and Waste Introduced by International Partnership

Copenhagen//Washington, June 6 2016 — A partnership of leading international organizations is launching the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit in Copenhagen. The FLW Standard is the first-ever set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently and credibly measure, report on and manage food loss and waste. The standard comes as a growing number of governments, companies and other entities are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.

“This standard is a real breakthrough. For the first time, armed with the standard, countries and companies will be able to quantify how much food is lost and wasted, where it occurs, and report on it in a highly credible and consistent manner,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “There’s simply no reason that so much food should be lost and wasted. Now, we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources and ensure more people get the food they need.”

The Food Loss and Waste Protocol is a multi-stakeholder partnership convened by World Resources Institute and initiated at the 3GF 2013 Summit. FLW Protocol partners include: The Consumer Goods Forum, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), EU-funded FUSIONS project, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) and World Resources Institute.

Read more at the WBCSD website.

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June 3, 2016

New technique developed to recycle indium from waste LCD screens

The EU has identified 20 critical raw materials, including indium, with economic importance and a high supply risk. Indium is mainly used for the production of LCD screens and is predominantly sourced from Chinese mines. This study, funded by the European Commission, details the development of a process to recycle indium from waste LCD panels, where indium is found as indium tin oxide (ITO). The study is one of the first to describe how to recover indium from a leaching solution of waste LCD panels. Developing methods to recover materials from waste equipment is an important way of saving resources and reducing primary production of materials.

The researchers recovered indium from waste LCD panels through cementation: the process by which a solid is created from a solution. The panels were first shredded into small pieces and sieved to remove glass and plastic fragments, then indium was dissolved in a strong acid solution. Zinc metal powder was used in the solution to collect the indium, which becomes solid by reacting with zinc during the cementation process.

The study was undertaken in order to identify the best operating conditions under which to recover indium from a solution that contains other metals; 16 experimental treatments were used to investigate the effect of variations in zinc concentration, pH of the acid solution and the duration of the recovery process. An important goal of the process is to ensure that the maximum possible yield of high-purity indium can be obtained from ITO.

The environmental impact of the indium recovery process was also assessed through life-cycle assessment (LCA). The LCA was undertaken to identify the environmental benefits and impacts of recovering indium using this method, in terms of the loss of (non-living) natural resources and global-warming impacts. Indium recovery from waste LCD panels was compared with incineration and use of landfills, which are the current methods of LCD waste disposal.

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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June 1, 2016

SE Asia’s damaged peat swamps could release 8.7 gigatons of CO2

By Loren Bell, Mongabay.com
Wednesday 1 June 2016

Clear-cut rainforests and homeless orangutans make for powerful images, but it’s what you don’t see — hidden just below the surface — that may be the most sinister threat from tropical development. Long after the last tree is harvested from a peat swamp, decomposition of the soil continues to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, alarming new models show us how much is at stake, and how quickly it is being lost.

Just over half of the world’s tropical peat is found in Southeast Asia, where swamps began forming 6-8,000 years ago. The organic material accumulates at a rate of 0.2-2.0 millimeters per year, locking in large quantities of carbon. There it safely remains — unless the land is drained for agriculture or development.

By 2010, oil palm plantations had replaced 2.1 million hectares (8,100 square miles) of the region’s peat forests, while another 2.3 million hectares had been logged and abandoned. Combined, that is just smaller than Denmark.

According to new models published by a team of researchers with the U.S. Forest Service and Universities of New Hampshire and Oregon State, that land will release 8.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide over the next 100 years.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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