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August 26, 2016

First International Standard for Sustainable Procurement Is Almost Here

August 26, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

The number of standards for green products has grown in recent years due to increasing market demand for environmentally-preferable products, resulting in concerns over greenwashing and a need for an international standard. ISO has been working on such a standard since 2014, to help organizations make their procurement processes more sustainable.

The purchasing decisions an organization makes have impacts far and wide, from the energy it consumes to the quality of life of the workers who manufactured the products it buys. Procurement in the public sector alone accounts for around 12 percent of GDP and 29 percent of government expenditure in OECD member countries - it is not something to be taken lightly.

Purchasing sustainably – known as sustainable procurement – should be the goal for any organization as it maximizes its positive social, environmental and economic impacts. This means making smart choices with all purchases, including everything from office supplies to energy providers, caterers and building materials.

The new standard in development, ISO 20400, Sustainable procurement – Guidance, will provide guidelines for organizations wanting to integrate sustainability into their procurement processes. It has just reached a second Draft International Standard (DIS) stage, meaning interested parties can once more submit feedback on the draft before final publication in 2017.

While industry-specific consortiums and supplier ratings platforms have helped with responsible purchasing, the Chair of the ISO committee developing the standard, Jacques Schramm, said that up until now there have been few harmonized, international guidelines that can be applied universally and in sufficient detail despite that procurement is a key driver of an organization’s level of social responsibility.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

August 24, 2016

Microplastics should be banned in cosmetics to save oceans, MPs say

John Vidal
Wednesday 24 August 2016 00.01 BST

Cosmetics companies must be banned from using plastic microbeads in scrubs, toothpaste and beauty products because of the marine pollution they are causing, say a group of MPs.

Members of the environmental audit committee have called for a ban within 18 months after hearing that trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain. About 86 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone, they were told.

Microplastic pollution comes from the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic waste, small synthetic fibres from clothing and the microbeads used in cosmetics and other products. The microbeads in scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes are an avoidable part of this plastic pollution problem. A single shower could result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean, said the committee chair, Mary Creagh.

“We need a full, legal ban, preferably at an international level as pollution does not respect borders,” she added. “If this isn’t possible after our vote to leave the EU, then the government should introduce a national ban. The best way to reduce this pollution is to prevent plastic being flushed into the sea in the first place.”

Many large cosmetics companies have made voluntary commitments to phase out microbeads by 2020. But the committee said a national ban, preferably starting within 18 months, would have advantages for consumers and the industry in terms of consistency, universality and confidence. It is a significant and avoidable environmental problem. Addressing it would show commitment to reducing the wider problem of microplastics.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

August 22, 2016

Eat your food packaging, don't bin it - scientists

by Alex Whiting
Monday, 22 August 2016 15:52 GMT

ROME, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists are developing an edible form of packaging which they hope will preserve food more effectively and more sustainably than plastic film, helping to cut both food and plastic waste.

The packaging film is made of a milk protein called casein, scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The milk-based packaging does not currently have much taste, but flavours could be added to it, as could vitamins, probiotics and other nutrients to make it nutritious, they said.

The film looks similar to plastic wrapping, but is up to 500 times better at protecting food from oxygen, as well as being biodegradable and sustainable, the researchers said at the meeting in Pennsylvania, which runs until Thursday.

"The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain," research leader Peggy Tomasula said in a statement on Sunday.

Between 30 and 40 percent of food produced around the world is never eaten because it spoils at some time after harvest or during transport, or gets thrown away by shops and consumers.

Yet almost 800 million people worldwide go to bed hungry every night, according to U.N. figures.

Halving food waste by 2030 was included as a target in global development goals adopted by world leaders in 2015.

The U.S. scientists also want to reduce the amount of plastic that is thrown away.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

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category : Topics

August 22, 2016

Food Supply Chain Ethics Increasingly Important to UK Consumers, Studies Find

August 22, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

Two surveys of consumers in the United Kingdom (UK) have highlighted their growing demand for food supply chain ethics.

Research from Globescan showed that the vast majority of shoppers believe that food companies and the government are responsible for ensuring long-term food production sustainability. 92 percent of shoppers put the onus on food companies, indicating they should focus their efforts on securing the future sustainability of food, while 85 percent believed the government should be held accountable.

The survey’s roughly 1,000 respondents identified eradicating child and slave labor, followed by food safety and safe working conditions for producers as the top priorities for government. Nearly two-thirds thought farmers in the UK and in developing countries are underpaid for their produce and 58 percent said they would pay more if they knew producers received fairer prices.

“This research shows very clearly that British consumers expect businesses and government to take action to ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of food production, both here at home and in developing countries,” said Abbie Curtis, a senior project manager at Globescan.

UK business and government leaders were asked to take more active roles to deliver long-term food security last year, as well. A report from WWF-UK and the Food Ethics Council highlighted businesses’ limited knowledge of food security challenges and how to respond to them, and offered practical advice to help businesses develop their understanding and take action to reduce risk.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

August 21, 2016

Fungi recycle rechargeable lithium-ion batteries

PUBLIC RELEASE: 21-AUG-2016
AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21, 2016 -- Although rechargeable batteries in smartphones, cars and tablets can be charged again and again, they don't last forever. Old batteries often wind up in landfills or incinerators, potentially harming the environment. And valuable materials remain locked inside. Now, a team of researchers is turning to naturally occurring fungi to drive an environmentally friendly recycling process to extract cobalt and lithium from tons of waste batteries.

The researchers will present their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

"The idea first came from a student who had experience extracting some metals from waste slag left over from smelting operations," says Jeffrey A. Cunningham, Ph.D., the project's team leader. "We were watching the huge growth in smartphones and all the other products with rechargeable batteries, so we shifted our focus. The demand for lithium is rising rapidly, and it is not sustainable to keep mining new lithium resources," he adds.

Although a global problem, the U.S. leads the way as the largest generator of electronic waste. It is unclear how many electronic products are recycled. Most likely, many head to a landfill to slowly break down in the environment or go to an incinerator to be burned, generating potentially toxic air emissions.

While other methods exist to separate lithium, cobalt and other metals, they require high temperatures and harsh chemicals. Cunningham's team is developing an environmentally safe way to do this with organisms found in nature -- fungi in this case -- and putting them in an environment where they can do their work. "Fungi are a very cheap source of labor," he points out.

Read more at EurekAlert!

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category : Topics

August 20, 2016

The troubling evolution of corporate greenwashing

Bruce Watson
Saturday 20 August 2016 15.00 BST

In the mid-1980s, oil company Chevron commissioned a series of expensive television and print ads to convince the public of its environmental bonafides. Titled People Do, the campaign showed Chevron employees protecting bears, butterflies, sea turtles and all manner of cute and cuddly animals.

The commercials were very effective – in 1990, they won an Effie advertising award, and subsequently became a case study at Harvard Business school. They also became notorious among environmentalists, who have proclaimed them the gold standard of greenwashing – the corporate practice of making diverting sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record.

The term greenwashing was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, back when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media – the same outlets that corporations regularly flooded with a wave of high-priced, slickly-produced commercials and print ads. The combination of limited public access to information and seemingly unlimited advertising enabled companies to present themselves as caring environmental stewards, even as they were engaging in environmentally unsustainable practices.

But greenwashing dates back even earlier. American electrical behemoth Westinghouse’s nuclear power division was a greenwashing pioneer. Threatened by the 1960’s anti-nuclear movement, which raised questions about its safety and environmental impact, it fought back with a series of ads proclaiming the cleanliness and safety of nuclear power plants. One, featuring a photograph of a nuclear plant nestled by a pristine lake, proclaimed that “We’re building nuclear power plants to give you more electricity,” and went on to say that nuclear plants were “odorless [...] neat, clean, and safe”.

Some of these claims were true: in 1969, Westinghouse nuclear plants were producing large amounts of cheap electricity with far less air pollution than competing coal plants. However, given that the ads appeared after nuclear meltdowns had already occurred in Michigan and Idaho, the word “safe” was arguable. Westinghouse’s ads also ignored concerns about the environmental impact of nuclear waste, which has continued to be a problem.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

August 19, 2016

India’s solar dream rests on Chinese imports

By Soumya Sarkar, thethirdpole.net
Friday 19 August 2016

The Indian solar energy sector is in the middle of unprecedented growth, fed by rapidly declining tariffs, improved technology and a global oversupply of photovoltaic panels and other material, mainly in China. Although a smaller market than the United States, China or Japan, it is expanding the fastest among major nations.

India expects to add as much as 5.4 GW of solar capacity in 2016, making it the fourth largest solar market globally. The country currently has a total capacity of 7.8 GW of solar power. In comparison, installed capacity in the United States is 25 GW.

The prospect for India looks bright. “The tailwinds are exceptionally strong with rapidly falling costs and greater environmental agenda in the post COP21 (Paris climate summit) world,” Bridge to India, an energy consultancy, said in its new India Solar Handbook.

“The solar development pipeline now stands at 22 GW with over 13 GW under construction,” Mercom Capital Group said in their India Solar Quarterly Market Update.

The bullishness benefits from a global glut in photovoltaic equipment. “Recent market reports suggest that an oversupply situation is building up in PV module manufacturing in China, especially for the second half of 2016 and this is likely to lead to significant price corrections in the market,” Bridge to India says. This has forced Chinese industry, particularly tier II firms, to lower prices and look at overseas markets.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 18, 2016

How BASF, Henkel Are Supporting Smallholders to Secure Supply of Sustainable Palm Oil

August 18, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

In recent years, palm oil has arguably become one of the world’s most ubiquitous and contentious raw materials in the consumer goods industry. When conventionally produced palm oil and palm kernel oil are used, there are significant economic, environmental and social impacts along the entire supply chain – from field to shelf. Small farms produce roughly 40 percent of the world’s palm and palm kernel oil; an important question for the oil-producing countries is how to increase the yields from the land already under cultivation. This is why chemical giants Henkel and BASF – both of which use palm oil in a variety of their cosmetic and home care products – are collaborating with the development organization Solidaridad to support a project in Indonesia and advocate for smallholders and local initiatives.

Trainings for roughly 5,500 farmers

Sustainable farming methods, efficient production and high occupational health and safety standards are some of the most important conditions for certified palm oil production. Smallholders can learn how to fulfill these requirements locally in dedicated training programs. Since 2015, Henkel has been supporting the 5-year-project in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan. Earlier this year, BASF joined the effort as an additional industrial partner. The smallholder program was implemented by Solidaridad in cooperation with its partners, Australian NGO Good Return and Credit Union Keling Kumang (CUKK). Good Return coaches and supports the teachers who carry out the trainings on the ground and who will continue the farmer support program after the project ends. The teachers are employees of CUKK, the second-largest local credit organization in Indonesia.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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category : Topics

August 18, 2016

Here’s where tropical forests have been destroyed for palm oil over the past 25 years

18 August 2016
Mike Gaworecki

Most oil palm is grown in areas that were once species-rich and carbon-rich tropical forests, thanks to the fact that the crop’s natural range is limited to the humid tropics. So where are the active fronts of deforestation for oil palm? And where might they be in the future?

Palm oil has become one of the most in-demand agricultural commodities over the past several years and, as such, has also become a significant driver of deforestation. Palm oil and its derivatives are common ingredients in everything from peanut butter and snack foods to shampoo and toothpaste.

More than 80 percent of the world’s palm oil production occurs in Indonesia and Malaysia, but the patterns of deforestation associated with expansion of oil palm plantations in these two countries, and the associated impacts on biodiversity, are not necessarily the same everywhere in the world.

A new study led by researchers at Duke University that was published last month in the journal PLOS ONE looked at high-resolution imagery from 20 countries to determine where oil palm plantations have destroyed tropical forests over the past quarter century and where the crop might threaten rainforests in the future.

“Many studies focus solely on Indonesia and Malaysia, but oil palm is grown in 43 countries,” Clinton Jenkins of the Institute for Ecological Research in Brazil, a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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category : Topics

August 18, 2016

Trending: Consumers Want Fewer Phones, More E-Waste Recycling

August 18, 2016
by Hannah Furlong

Each year, a new wave of computers, smartphones and accessories spill onto the market with smaller components made from increasingly complex materials. Even as awareness of e-waste has grown and the circular economy has begun to spread its wings, progress is being undermined by a disposable culture in the tech industry.

A new Greenpeace study suggests consumers have had enough. A survey of 6,000 people across the U.S., China, Mexico, Russia, Germany and South Korea revealed that over half of consumers want manufacturers to release fewer phone models and do more to help them recycle their old devices.

Respondents reported they currently owned an average of at least three phones (in use and not in use) – and the average was more than five in Russia and Mexico. More than one third indicated “getting a more up-to-date device” was the reason for their most recent phone purchase, while less than three in ten answered it was because their previous phone was broken or got lost.

With new designs released each year, waste companies are struggling to adapt their sorting technology. Smartphones, for instance, can include up to 50 different types of metal. Similarly, plastics can contain over 25 different compounds, which makes recycling more difficult.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

August 17, 2016

How Australia can cut waste and grow responsibly

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 17 August 2016

Responsible batteries, “cleaner” clean energy, mobile recycling centres and better-designed buildings that accommodate rubbish trucks—these were some of the ideas suggested by waste management experts at the Australian Waste and Recycling Expo (AWRE) at the Sydney Showground last Wednesday.

Speaking at a seminar on the sidelines of the expo, Damien Giurco, director of research outcomes at the University of Technology Sydney Institute for Sustainable Future, argued that the Australian economy can grow in a more responsible fashion by adopting circular economy approaches across various industries.

The circular economy is an umbrella term for business models and industrial processes which do not generate waste but rather, reuse natural resources repeatedly.

According to the World Economic Forum, the circular economy globally could be worth US$1 trillion per year by 2025. Research co-authored by Giurco last year shows that Australia’s share of the benefits could be A$26 billion annually.

Giurco told the audience about 80 that right now, Australia needs to be more rigorous about applying circular processes. For example, as renewable energy adoption gains popularity in Australia, many buildings and products are designed to be compatible with renewable energy. But ironically, less thought is given to conserving the natural resources used in making solar panels and batteries.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

August 17, 2016

Adding Value, Sustainability to the Supply Chain by Recycling the Unrecyclable

August 17, 2016
by Tom Szaky

One of the most significant challenges that manufacturers and major brands face today is maintaining high sustainability standards across their entire supply and production chain. It’s no new idea that consumer brands that have not embraced sustainability and CSR initiatives are at risk on many fronts, but integrating more environmentally sound and socially responsible processes requires sweeping infrastructure changes that many businesses may have difficulty implementing and sustaining.

Striving to mitigate costs and reduce uncertainty, businesses are constantly presented with prohibitive obstacles that, like most institutional challenges, boil down to a matter of economics. Companies and manufacturers are concerned about their bottom line and may see little economic incentive to reallocate resources necessary to improve the sustainability of their supply chain.

However, some companies see the massive ROI potential for setting their own bar on sustainability and keeping it high, giving themselves room to scale for growth.

For example, Henkel is one of TerraCycle’s newest corporate partners; because of the partnership, it is now the first company to offer a recycling solution for anaerobic adhesive packaging. Through the LOCTITE® Anaerobic Adhesive Recycling Program, Henkel customers can now purchase a postage-paid recycling box that they fill with empty LOCTITE adhesive containers to send to TerraCycle for processing. TerraCycle will thermally treat the containers and turn them into new plastic products, such as park benches, chairs, watering cans and even paving stones.

A global industry leader undertaking such an extensive recycling initiative is impressive, as recycling anaerobic adhesive packaging is not without its challenges - these containers are not accepted by the conventional waste management infrastructure due to the residual adhesive. Learning about the adhesives and how they cure allowed us at TerraCycle to develop a solution and recycle this category of material for the first time.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

August 16, 2016

Hitting the water, waste and energy sweet spot

By Nicholas Walton
Monday 15 August 2016

Around the world, millions of people are familiar with the ubiquitous ‘Veolia’ logo that many bin lorries and other vehicles carry on the side. The French environmental giant – which employs 174,000 people in well over 45 countries – has been helping cities and companies deal with water, waste, and energy.

Most recently, it has begun generating entirely new resources for its clients – such as energy from organic waste or recycled food-grade plastics. The advances in Veolia’s services, to a large extent, reflects how the world has evolved, says Veolia’s Global Food, Beverage and Biofuels Market Director Laurent Panzani.

In a recent interview at the Singapore International Water Week held in Singapore, Panzani notes how there is now a greater focus on environmental impacts and the efficient use of resources worldwide, and nowhere is this more evident than in its food and beverage operations.

“There’s momentum for both large and small companies to produce more sustainably. Veolia has everything needed to ride that tide thanks to years of expertise in water cycle, energy, and waste management,” he says.

Veolia has its roots in a French water company that began life in 1853. It began to diversify in the 1980s, into sectors such as transport and property, and took on the Veolia name in 2003 while refocusing on water and the related energy and waste sectors.

Panzani joined the firm soon after, bringing an all-round perspective as a Food Engineering and Biochemistry graduate from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Toulouse (INSA).

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 16, 2016

IPCC special report to scrutinise ‘feasibility’ of 1.5C climate goal

ROZ PIDCOCK
16.08.2016

The head of the United Nation’s climate body has called for a thorough assessment of the feasibility of the international goal to limit warming to 1.5C.

Dr Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told delegates at a meeting in Geneva, which is designed to flesh out the contents of a special report on 1.5C, that they bore a “great responsibility” in making sure it meets the expectations of the international climate community.

To be policy-relevant, the report will need to spell out what’s to be gained by limiting warming to 1.5C, as well as the practical steps needed to get there within sustainability and poverty eradication goals.

More than ever, urged Lee, the report must be easily understandable for a non-scientific audience. The IPCC has come under fire in the past over what some have called its “increasingly unreadable” reports.

Read more at Carbon Brief.

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August 15, 2016

Trending: Latest Circular Innovations Close the Loop on Furniture, Packaging, Textiles

August 15, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

More and more companies are looking for ways to adopt circular models for their products, and some of the latest examples have been provided by industry giants. Furniture company IKEA, chemical firm Total, and Inditex, the parent company of apparel brands Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti and Bershka, are all working to reduce their environmental footprint by changing how their products are made.

IKEA’s PS 2017 Collection Includes “No Waste” Products

IKEA releases ‘PS’ collections every three years or so to complement its main catalogue, and the latest one includes several products made from recycled wood, plastic and glass, including some made from the company’s own packaging and manufacturing waste. The PS 2017 range, which is aimed at young urban dwellers, includes 60 products and will begin to hit stores in February.

Twenty-one designers collaborated with IKEA on the collection, including Stockholm-based studio Form Us With Love to create the Odger chair using 70 percent recycled plastic and 30 percent renewable wood. The chair has a rounded shell and will be available in white, blue and brown, with wood flakes visible across the surface. Recycled plastic and wood will also be used in otehr items, such as Kungsbacka cabinet doors which will use recycled PET plastic bottles.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 12, 2016

Trending: Entries Open for Circulars Awards; New Toolkit Helps Businesses Shift Models

by Hannah Furlong
August 12, 2016

With the potential to change how businesses think about their waste, circular economy models could be an effective means of emissions reduction towards the commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement in addition to economic benefits, waste reduction, and reduced consumption of virgin materials. For businesses interested in making the shift to a closed-loop model, the Canadian National Zero Waste Council has published a toolkit to help, while those already demonstrating leadership can enter apply for The Circulars Awards.

Individuals and organizations can apply for The Circulars through September 30, 2016. The awards, which are an initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, recognize leaders driving innovation and growth that is decoupled from the use of scarce natural resources, who have made notable contributions to the circular economy in the private sector, public sector, and society. The awards will be presented in a ceremony at the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2017.

There are seven distinct categories, with Awards for: Leadership (for an individual); Multinational; SME (small-to-medium enterprise); Government, Cities & Regions; Investor; Entrepreneur; and Digital Disruptor. The judging process for these awards will take place in October and November to select the winners and runners-up. There will also be one “People’s Choice” award winner as voted by the public via the website.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 12, 2016

Buenos Aires is the latest city to join the GLCN on SP

The Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement (GLCN on SP) has welcomed a new city as part of the initiative: Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. With this new incorporation, a total of 14 cities are now part of the GLCN on SP, championing sustainable public procurement (SPP) globally, and setting ambitious and quantified targets on SPP that can serve as inspiration for other local and regional governments.

The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is the largest and most populated city in Argentina. Its conurbation population is about 13 million people. The city has over 1,050 green spaces.

The city issued a manual on sustainable public procurement that includes information about the concept, its history, its relevance, possible barriers and obstacles, and the benefits it entails. During the last years, local authorities have focused on the sustainable management of packaging, as well as the responsible consumption and purchasing of paper. Energy efficiency has been another important topic.

Read more at the ICLEI Europe website.

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August 12, 2016

Waste management is prioritised by the public as an environmental behaviour

A US-based study has confirmed the prominent position that recycling and personal waste management take in the public consciousness.
Crucially, the researchers suggest that understanding the popularity of such waste-management activities could help policymakers promote other forms of pro-environmental behaviour.

Towards the end of the 20th century, the idea of solid waste as a serious environmental issue was heavily promoted to the public. Advertising campaigns, media attention and the support of social science research all helped to make recycling a routine activity throughout much of the EU, as well as the wider industrialised world.

However, the focus among environmentalists has shifted in recent years. Researchers no longer see waste management in itself as a major barrier to a greener world, but instead focus on more systemic challenges, such as climate change and water shortages. This can be observed in UNEP’s Emerging Issues in Our Global Environment series, in which waste management is conspicuous only by its absence.

The researchers explain that the planet is facing many environmental challenges that require a range of responses from the human population, including changing behaviour related to transport, food, purchasing and numerous other aspects of life. They set out to explore the extent of environmental behaviours among residents of the San Francisco Bay Area to see if they match the concerns of environmental scientists.

They conducted a telephone survey with 1 201 residents, as well as 14 community listening sessions comprising small focus-group-style gatherings with community institutions that included a total of 115 participants. Questions were asked regarding participants’ environmental concerns and what actions they may consequently be motivated to take.

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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category : Topics

August 11, 2016

New EU-funded project aims to improve urban waste management

11 August 2016

Urban_WINS, a new European project funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and in which ICLEI is involved, will study how cities consume resources and products, and how they eliminate the waste produced. At the core of the work is developing and testing innovative plans and solutions aimed at improving waste prevention and management. These strategic plans will be tested in eight pilot cities in six European countries.

The City of Cremona (Italy), a municipality which has been active in ICLEI’s Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network for over seven years, is coordinating the project and hosted the recent kick-off meeting. In his welcome speech, Cremona's mayor Gianluca Galimberti highlighted the approach that Urban_WINS will use to develop its research: understanding cities as living organisms. Mr Galimberti also remarked on the impact this project can have by turning problems into opportunities and by raising awareness on the fact that choices we make today when consuming resources can be crucial for our future.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

August 10, 2016

Pressure mounts on retailers to reform throwaway clothing culture

Marc Gunther for Yale Environment 360, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Wednesday 10 August 2016 16.13 BST

Fast-growing, fast-fashion retailer H&M, which has more than 4,000 stores in 62 countries, sold $24.5bn worth of T-shirts, pants, jackets, and dresses last year. It also took 12,000 tons of clothes back. In a glossy, celebrity-studded video, H&M says: “There are no rules in fashion but one: Recycle your clothes.”

Recycling has become a rallying cry in the apparel industry, with H&M as its most vocal evangelist. The Swedish firm launched a €1m contest to seek out ideas for turning old clothes into new, invested in Worn Again, a company that is developing textile recycling technology, and enlisted hip-hop artist MIA. to produce a music video called Rewear It, that aims to “highlight the importance of garment collecting and recycling”. With Nike, H&M is a global partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose mission is to drive a transition to a circular economy – that is, an industrial system in which everything at the end of its life is made into something new, in contrast to today’s economy, where most consumer goods are produced, used, and then thrown away.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

August 10, 2016

Earth Overshoot Day Continues to Creep Up the Calendar

August 10, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

While Olympians are desperately competing in Rio for the fastest times and highest scores, humanity has achieved a different world record – we have used up nature’s budget for the entire year in record time. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year and arrived earlier than ever, falling on August 8, 2016. Unfortunately, there are no winners in the race for natural resources.

“When overshoot day arrives, it means we have spent all the interest on the planet’s ecological bank account and are now dipping into the capital,” Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University explained to National Geographic. “That is, we’re depleting what our planet does for us, so year after year, there is less for us to use. Less forest, fewer fish in the ocean, less productive land — burdens that fall disproportionately on the world’s poor.”

Earth Overshoot Day has been creeping up the calendar throughout the new millennium, from October 1st in 2000 to August 13th in 2015 and now August 8th. Carbon emissions are the fastest growing contributor to ecological overshoot, with the carbon footprint now making up 60 percent of humanity’s demand on nature, or its ecological footprint. Under the Paris Climate Agreement, the carbon footprint will need to gradually fall to zero by 2050. While countries have begun to ratify the accord, the responsibility is larger than governments, and businesses and individuals will need to find new ways of operating and living on our planet if we are to achieve such a goal.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

August 10, 2016

Recycle your coffee capsules, support organic farming

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 10 August 2016

While single-serve coffee pods have grown popular in recent years for their convenience, they have also sparked concern among environmentalists due to the massive amounts of waste they generate.

This has prompted some capsule coffee makers like Nespresso—owned by Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé—to roll out large-scale recycling programmes to assure customers that their coffee habit does not come at the cost of the environment.

Nespresso drinkers around the world know that when they return used pods to the company, the aluminium is recycled into new products such as window frames, food packaging and bicycles. The company has the capacity to collect and recycle 86 per cent of its capsules today , and aims to raise this to 100 per cent by 2020.

It has set up more than 14,000 capsule collection points in 31 countries, and collects capsules directly from customer’s homes in 15 countries worldwide.

In Singapore, people can drop off used capsules at either of Nespresso’s two stores, at Ion Orchard or Ngee Ann City malls in the city centre, or hand them to the courier when ordering capsules online.

Members of Nespresso’s coffee club who recycle their capsules are also rewarded with a 10 per cent discount voucher for purchasing fresh, organic produce from Quan Fa Organic Farm.

This is because since 2014, all the coffee grounds from recycled Nespresso capsules are given to Quan Fa, which turns them into fertiliser and compost.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 8, 2016

Should you be concerned about plastic and other human debris in your seafood?

8 August 2016
Mike Gaworecki

By now, you’ve probably heard of the massive, floating garbage patches swirling around in each of Earth’s five major ocean basins: the North and South Atlantic, the North and South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean.

Recent research has shown that mankind’s trash does not get trapped in these oceanic gyres forever, as was previously thought, but that currents flowing away from the gyres in the Pacific Ocean allow the debris to eventually wash up on the shores of North and South America.

Scientists are also becomingly increasingly concerned about another place where ocean trash might be ending up: the guts (or whatever passes for a digestive tract) in marine life. Plastics and other debris that degrade very slowly can leach harmful chemicals into the ocean. Does that mean your seafood might be carrying these toxins, too?

A study published in the journal Scientific Reports last September noted that marine debris is found in just about every ocean habitat, from the open ocean and the deep seas to coral reefs, estuaries, and shallow bays. Ocean trash has also been found in hundreds of marine wildlife species, including fish and bivalve species like tuna, swordfish, mussels, and oysters — the types of species you might be more familiar with as “seafood.”

There are several ways this can affect human health: marine debris can cause physical harm such as inflammation and laceration of tissues in the gastrointestinal tract of humans who ingest it via seafood, for instance, while consuming marine debris can also increase the levels of hazardous chemicals in humans. But, as the authors of the study write, “The first step in understanding potential impacts of anthropogenic marine debris on human health is to determine whether anthropogenic marine debris is present in fish and shellfish caught and sold for human consumption.”

The study’s authors, a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis and Indonesia’s University of Hasanuddin, sampled fish sold in markets in Half Moon Bay and Princeton, California and in Makassar, Indonesia. They found that, in Indonesia, debris was present in 28 percent of individual fish and 55 percent of all species sampled. The US markets had similar numbers, with debris found in 25 percent of individual fish and 67 percent of all species. Anthropogenic debris was also found in 33 percent of individual shellfish the team sampled.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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August 6, 2016

Rio's waste pickers: 'People spat at us but now we're at the Olympics'

Sam Cowie
Saturday 6 August 2016 08.00 BST

Claudete Da Costa started working as a waste picker with her mother when she was 11 years old, collecting recyclable goods in Rio de Janeiro to sell to scrap merchants.

“We were ashamed,” she says. “People saw us and spat at us, thought we were thieves.”

Today, 36-year-old Da Costa’s outlook has changed. She is the Rio de Janeiro representative for Brazil’s National Movement of Waste Pickers, whose mission is to improve workers’ rights and increase recognition of the contribution made by one of Brazil’s most marginalised professions.

This month, Da Costa and 240 other pickers from 33 of Rio’s waste collecting co-operatives – autonomous groups that collect the city’s rubbish throughout the year – are formally contracted to handle recyclable waste during the Olympic Games.

The pickers will be spread across three of the four Olympic sites – Maracana, Olympic Park and Deodoro – where they will collect recyclable goods such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and take them to a depot to be sorted, stored and sold on by the co-ops to scrap merchants.

The co-operatives will divide the profits from the sale of the recycled materials between workers and investment in new equipment. In addition, each waste picker will be paid a fixed daily salary of R$80 (£19) by the Olympic Committee. In contrast, at the Ecco Ponto co-operative, for example, where Da Costa is president, pickers normally take home around R$30 (£7) a day.

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 4, 2016

Decathlon Plans to Use Eco-Design, Labeling to Reduce Product Impact by 20% Per Year

by Sustainable Brands
August 4, 2016

Product-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represented 74 percent of sports retailer Decathlon’s total emissions in 2015. With a new goal to stabilize its emissions by 2019, the company estimates it will need to reduce product-related impacts by 20 percent per year if it is to meet its target. Decathlon says its design teams have taken up the challenge and are progressively integrating environmental criteria into the quality-price combination of all of its products.

The retailer’s latest sustainability report details its commitments for 2015-2019 and the strategies it will take to address five key areas:

- Team member happiness at work through responsibility and diversity, with a focus on training and projects promoting equality and diversity within the company;
- Decent work and economic growth, including improving the working conditions provided by subcontractors;
- Fight against climate change, with a new commitment to stabilize emissions to 5.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) by 2019;
- Clean water and sanitation, carrying out inspections of subcontractors’ water management; and
- Responsible production and consumption, particularly in terms of cotton use, with a new commitment to use only sustainably produced cotton by 2020.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

August 2, 2016

2nd Annual Summit of the GLCN on SP to take place within Seoul Mayors Forum on Climate Change

Participants of the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement will convene in Seoul (South Korea) to hold their 2nd Annual Summit. The gathering will take place as part of the Seoul Mayors Forum on Climate Change (1-2 September 2016), which will focus on two key developments: the Compact of Mayors and its relevance to the Paris Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda to be adopted at Habitat III.

The GLCN on SP Summit will demonstrate how sustainable public procurement is a key tool for local and regional governments to achieve environmental, economic and social benefits. It will serve as an inspirational session for other Mayors and cities attending the Forum to consider the power of sustainable procurement. The GLCN cities will present their SP commitments and actions, and encourage others to replicate strategies and policies.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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