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News Archives

September 30, 2016

Energy-consumption feedback cut electricity use by up to 27% in low-income Mediterranean households

Electricity consumption fell by 22–27% in low-income households participating in an energy-efficiency programme in Cyprus, France, Malta and Spain, reports a new study. Participants were provided with a range of tools and information to help them curb their energy use, including smart meters and customised reports. The results confirm the value of tailoring information to
specific demographic groups.

Households and buildings are responsible for over 40% of energy use in the EU. Technical solutions to energy efficiency are important, but householders’ behaviour can be just as important, if not more so, previous research has suggested. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ energy-efficiency awareness campaign designed to change behaviour is unlikely to work equally well across all of society, however, and campaigns targeted at certain groups are likely to trigger higher savings.

This study, conducted under the EU-funded ELIH-Med project, considered how to encourage
energy efficiency in low-income households in the Mediterranean area. Although poorer groups tend to consume less energy than more affluent groups, the researchers say poorer groups have to be specially targeted, due to their social constraints, and they are considered hard to reach through traditional public policies.

A total of 125 low-income households were given technologies (in-house display screens or smart meters) which monitored and provided feedback on energy usage. Of the 125 households, 60 were in Spain, 25 in France, 25 in Cyprus and 15 in Malta. They were also given informative bills and customised reports, which gave personalised advice on how to save energy, as well as information on how much energy they had used, its costs and associated CO2 emissions.

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

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category : Topics

September 29, 2016

Shoppers in England now far more likely to use their own bags

Adam Vaughan
Thursday 29 September 2016 06.01 BST

Shoppers in England have become much more likely to take their own bags to the high street since the introduction of a plastic bag charge nearly a year ago, a study has found.

More than nine in 10 people now often or always carry their own bags, up from seven in 10 before the 5p charge came into effect, and the public became much more supportive after it started. The number of plastic bags taken from supermarkets and big retailers in England has fallen by 85%.

The authors of the Cardiff University study said that the charge’s success suggested a charge on takeway coffee cups, an idea backed by campaigner and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and former environment minister George Eustice, could be successfully brought in too.

Support for the England bag charge went from five in 10 people to six in 10 after the 5p fee came into effect, and the number of shoppers sceptical that the charge would go to charity dropped significantly after its introduction. The charge had raised £29m for good causes by July.

“One thing that stood out to me was the effects were universal, there weren’t age, gender or income effects,” said lead author Prof Wouter Poortinga. “Everyone changed their behaviour and everyone increased their support for the charge. I think that is important.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

September 29, 2016

WBCSD releases a new online tool that help cities improve their sustainable mobility


Geneva, 29 September 2016 – WBCSD today released its online Sustainable Mobility planning tool at the annual CIVITAS Conference on sustainable urban mobility in Gdynia, Poland.

The online tool was developed following the success of the Sustainable Mobility Project 2.0 (SMP 2.0) in six demonstrator cities. The project has been widely recognized as a game-changer for cities aiming to improve their sustainable mobility planning.

The online tool is designed to increase the accessibility and user-friendliness of the sustainable mobility indicators and the mobility solutions and toolbox of SMP2.0. Access to the calculation of the indicators is free and open to all cities.

This tool builds on the recognized success of the project. The European Commission has endorsed the project’s output of sustainable mobility indicators and SMP2.0 has been nominated as a Transport Quickwin at COP22.

The European Commission encourages European cities to use the sustainable mobility indicators to measure and improve their individual mobility footprint, and is looking into ways to offer technical assistance to a significant number of European cities to collect the data and calculate the indicators.

Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport said: "The set of indicators from WBCSD is very thorough and covers all EU urban mobility policy objectives. We encourage cities to make use of them, both to assess their current situation and to monitor the results of their urban mobility strategy and measures. This new tool will allow cities to perform useful analysis and make fact-based decisions, which will help achieve the objectives set forth by the Paris Climate Conference and make cities nicer and healthier places to live”.

WBCSD encourages cities around the world to use the entire tool, which includes an indicator methodology as well as the solution toolbox. WBCSD urges cities to implement the SMP process in partnership with relevant local entities, stakeholders and businesses – as this approach was identified as a key success factor by the six cities in which the approach was demonstrated.

Read more at WBCSD News.

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category : Topics

September 28, 2016

Twenty African eco-enterprises to receive prestigious SEED Awards

Nairobi, 28 September 2016 - Shoes made from old tires by disabled artisans in Ghana, roads built from recycled plastic in Kenya, natural fertilizers made from water hyacinths in Burkina Faso. Those are just some of the 20 African eco-innovations honoured this year with the prestigious SEED Awards.

Founded in 2002 by UN Environment, UN Development and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the SEED global partnership recognizes the most innovative, environmentally friendly start-ups in developing countries and provides them with technical support and business know-how to help them grow and share their experiences.

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment: "Small and growing businesses in developing countries are helping drive green economies, and are vital to achieving global goals for green growth. The 2016 SEED Winners are exceptional examples of entrepreneurial talent that not only support green growth goals, but inspire other individuals and businesses to contribute as well. From innovative waste management in Mauritius to solar power deployment in Burkina Faso, SEED Winners are driving their local and national economies toward resource efficiency, and growing Africa as a hub of sustainability innovation."

Helen Clark, Head of UN Development: "The 2016 SEED Winners are living the SDGs. With their innovative business models, they are improving local livelihoods while conserving natural resources. Their businesses rely on strong multi-stakeholder partnerships at the local level, a success factor UNDP is building upon internationally to implement the Sustainable Development Goals."

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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category : Topics

September 27, 2016

Longest record of continuous carbon flux data is now publicly available

Around the world -- from tundra to tropical forests, and a variety of ecosystems in between -- environmental researchers have set up micrometeorological towers to monitor carbon, water, and energy fluxes, which are measurements of how carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor and energy (heat) circulate between the soil, plants and atmosphere. Most of these sites have been continuously collecting data, some for nearly 25 years, monitoring ecosystem-level changes through periods of extreme droughts and rising global temperatures. Each of these sites contributes to a regional network -- i.e. the European Network (Euroflux) or the Americas Network (AmeriFlux) -- and the regional networks together comprise a global network called FLUXNET.

Recognizing that a plethora of scientific insights could be gleaned from this information, over 450 sites worldwide are sharing their observation data with the FLUXNET database. The project's most recent data release -- FLUXNET2015 -- includes some of the longest continuous records of ecosystem data ever taken. The information has undergone extensive quality checks and controls (QA/QC) and is now publicly available online: http://fluxnet.fluxdata.org/data/fluxnet2015-dataset/

Read more at Science Daily.

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category : Topics

September 26, 2016

Building industry demands stronger leadership on energy efficiency

By Samuel White | EurActiv.com

Leading voices from Europe’s building industry have called on the Commission to do more to improve the energy efficiency of Europe’s building stock, saying this would benefit the economy and the climate.

A group of 42 CEOs from some of Europe’s major construction and building materials companies have signed a letter to European Commission, urging it to show “vision” in its revision of the Energy Performance of Building Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive, which is due to take place this autumn.

Addressed to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the letter warned that the EU’s target of a “Nearly Zero Energy” building stock by 2050 could not be achieved without a “high level political commitment”. This, the signatories said, would give the renovation industry the certainty it needs to boost investment in the sector and put the EU on track to meet its climate targets.

“We, representatives of major European industries and building community, see the upcoming review of the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) as a unique opportunity for the European Union to act “big on big” issues: jobs and growth, while putting our economies on the right track to meet the Paris Agreement,” the business leaders said.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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category : Topics

September 22, 2016

France Bans Plastic Plates, Cups, Cutlery

PARIS, France, September 22, 2016 (ENS) – France has become the world’s first country to pass a law banning plastic plates, cups and utensils unless they contain a large proportion of compostable or biologically-sourced materials.

The new law will require all disposable tableware to be made from 50 percent bio-sourced materials that can be composted at home by January of 2020. That number will rise to 60 percent by January of 2025.

The new legislation follows the law that banned plastic bags in grocery stores last July. Both measures are part of France’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, which requires producers and consumers of energy in all sectors, including waste – to play their part in reducing climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

French President François Hollande said, the goal is “to make France … an exemplary nation in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying its energy model and increasing the deployment of renewable energy sources.”

The government wants to promote a circular economy of waste disposal, in order to encourage recycling.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

September 22, 2016

Business, plastics and waste management - the sustainability dream team?

There’s a reason we call our home the “Blue Planet.” Oceans cover most of Earth’s surface and generate roughly 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. They regulate our climate and provide many of the environmental processes that enable life as we know it - but there’s a problem.

Our oceans are in trouble.

You’ve probably heard that over 85% of global fisheries have been stretched beyond their biological limits, and that large ocean fish have been reduced to just 10% of their preindustrial populations. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, threatening sea life from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

If we don’t make a change, there’ll be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.

As if that weren’t concerning enough, toxic debris have been found in 67% of all seafood species in the United States, which means that, if unchecked, floating plastics could potentially worm their way into our bodies.

It’s costing the global economy billions.

Because of weak waste management practices and the deeply embedded global “throw away” culture, about 32% of all discarded plastic packaging ends up leaking back into the environment instead of retaining its worth within the value chain.

The New Plastics Economy Report released at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, reveals that because so much of plastic packaging is only used once before it’s tossed, 95% of its value is wasted. In dollar figures, this means that the global economy forfeits up to USD $120 billion annually.

In simple terms, the Report says we are virtually siphoning billions from the global economy and dumping it directly into the ocean at an average speed of one garbage truck every single minute – and it’s increasing.

Read more at WBCSD News.

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category : Topics

September 21, 2016

PROPOSED SALE OF TIMBER FROM PALM OIL CONCESSION SPARKS ALARM IN LIBERIA

21 September 2016 / Jeremy Hance

In July, news leaked out that Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) was considering a new regulation to allow timber logged from palm oil and other plantations to be sold abroad.

The news followed the failed request for a timber sale from a palm oil concession owned by Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL). The NGO Rainforest Rescue started a petition against the potential new regulation and 50 Goldman Prize Winners signed an open letter calling on the Liberian government “to abandon its plan to legalize forest destruction by removing the current restriction on the export of timber from forest conversion.”

The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), a Goldman award-winning Liberian NGO, warned that the move “will mean the end of many forests.”

Environmentalists were concerned that allowing the sale of timber from forests cut for palm oil – termed “conversion timber” – would lead to a massive increase in deforestation in the West African nation by allowing companies to increase the size of their concessions at the expense of forests and wildlife.

Moreover, environmentalists feared that any such move could undercut the last five years of work Liberia has done to clean up its logging industry. During Liberia’s two civil wars, which lasted a cumulative 11 years, former president Charles Taylor allegedly used the timber industry to finance conflict during which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and the country’s forests were decimated.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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category : Topics

September 21, 2016

New Campaign Aims to Leverage Private Investment Capital to Help Achieve SDGs

September 21, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

A new campaign is calling on investors and money managers everywhere to make their investments part of a “tremendous force for good in effecting positive change.” Launched by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the campaign asks investors and money managers to commit capital to impact investing efforts aimed at meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or Global Goals) agreed upon by the United Nations roughly one year ago.

“Impact investing is no longer just a feel-good footnote to an investor’s portfolio. Nine years on from when the term was coined, impact investing has become a vibrant industry, offering proven financial returns and demonstrable social and environmental progress,” GIIN CEO Amit Bouri wrote in a blog post on the announcement.

In addition to the call to action, the GIIN is publishing a series of investor profiles to highlight successes of the impact investing industry. The profiles illustrate the benefits for investors aligning with the SDGs through the examples of leading impact investors who have already done so and have made headway in addressing many of the very important global issues covered by the 17 goals.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

September 21, 2016

Our Use of Eco-Labels Is Set to Soar – For Products, Brands ... and People?

September 21, 2016
by Tom Idle

Certification, standards and labels have long provided an effective mechanism for raising awareness around a range of sustainability issues – from deforestation and overfishing, to carbon reduction and energy efficiency. Standards such as Fairtrade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance (RA) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) offer a useful framework to help organisations make the right decisions. With more and more businesses committing to obtain 100 percent of their commodity supply from certified sustainable sources, for example, they can be comfortable in the knowledge that trusted standards will make it clear as to what is expected of them if they want to become more sustainable, resilient and successful businesses.

And these mechanisms – which see more and more businesses working with social and environmental NGOs – have been replicated many times and used for decades, with relative success. The FSC has 850 members and has so far certified more than 190 million hectares of forests in 82 countries; RA claims to have 125 million acres of land under sustainable management and has helped to train 1.4m farmers in better agricultural techniques.

However, the use of standards and their associated labels has had its detractors, with many commentators bemoaning the fact that the creation of consumer-driven certified products and services has its limitations. Take the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), for example, an organisation that has been in existence since 2004. In that time it has worked tirelessly to encourage companies to sign up to meet its set criteria of what it defines as best practice. Its 2,000+ members represent 40 percent of the global palm oil sector. And yet just 17 percent – 11.37 million tonnes – of the world’s palm oil is currently certified under the RSPO system.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

September 19, 2016

Singapore green group calls for mandatory plastic bag charge

By Vaidehi Shah
Monday 19 September 2016

In a bid to reduce the wasteful use of plastic bags and encourage people to bring their own reusable bags when shopping, Singapore’s newest green group Zero Waste SG has called for a scheme that imposes a mandatory charge for plastic bags in the city-state.

The non-governmental organisation on Monday (September 12) released a recommendation paper urging a policy where all retailers in Singapore charge 10 cents for large plastic bags, and five cents for smaller bags.

The proposed scheme would be rolled out in two phases: first, to major supermarkets, chain stores, and retailers in the city-state, and later, to smaller shops, hawkers, as well as small and medium enterprises.

Eugene Tay, executive director, Zero Waste SG, shared that the group hopes to start a dialogue with the National Environment Agency (NEA) on their recommendations, and also discuss the feasibility of the charge and how to get major supermarkets and retailers involved.

The proposed nationwide mandatory charge would apply to carrier bags, flat top bags (that is, thin film bags without handles), as well as biodegradable or compostable bags. However, bags for carrying food without packaging, frozen or chilled items, or prescription medicine would be exempt from the fee.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

September 16, 2016

Germany wants to scrap EU recycling targets

By James Crisp | EurActiv.com

EXCLUSIVE / Germany, the EU’s most influential country and its leading recycler, has called for recycling targets in the European Commission’s Circular Economy package of green laws to be scrapped.

The executive wants to increase recycling rates of municipal waste across the EU to 60% by 2025, rising to 65% in 2030, as it tries to create an economy where as little as possible is wasted in a world with finite resources.

But, according to a document circulated among diplomats’ working groups and obtained by EurActiv.com, Germany wants to bin any recycling targets for at least three years.

Campaigners warned that if new targets were put forward 36 months after the package enters into force, they could be lower. Voluntary measures had failed in the past, they said, and any new targets would need a new bill, meaning a lengthy legislative process would start all over again.

Germany is Europe’s top recycler, according to Eurostat, and has already hit the 2030 target. But recycling rates vary widely across the EU.

Sources said that Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria support Berlin’s idea, while the UK, Italy, Finland and Greece, are open to considering it. That could not be independently confirmed.

There are fears Germany’s stance will have a chilling effect across other rules in the draft package of six bills on landfill, waste, packaging, end of life vehicles, batteries and accumulators, and waste electronic equipment.

Landfill reduction targets, for example, are controversial, facing opposition from some Eastern European member states.

Stephane Arditi, of the European Environmental Bureau said, “If it is confirmed that Germany is calling for no targets at all, then this would be a major mistake, depriving industry and the economy of the legal driver they need and sending a bad signal to other EU member states that are not at Germany’s level in terms of waste management.”

“Higher targets aren’t only an environmental need, but will certainly help bring a circular economy, meaning jobs and environmental protection,” said Ferran Rosa, of NGO Zero Waste Europe.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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category : Topics

September 16, 2016

ICLEI article on the importance of networks published by UN

16 September 2016

The benefits of joining a network for buyers and suppliers is outlined in an article in the UN publication Future Proofing Procurement. The article is written by ICLEI Europe Procurement Officer Caroline Chandler.

Ms Chandler acknowledges the constraints facing procurers who may wish to undertake sustainable procurement, particularly those who "sit at an awkward junction between long-term policy ambitions and the everyday realities of short-term contracts issued within strict financial constraints." She goes on to say that cooperation with other public procurers is an important tool to help procurers meet their goals: “In the current economic climate, networks are a useful tool to ensure procurement is safeguarded against spending cuts, evolving public sector needs and fluctuating demand and supply.”

The example of Copenhagen (Denmark) is used to illustrate a city that that benefited from extended planning, capacity building and market engagement. The Danish capital achieved its goal of sourcing 90 percent organic food for all publicly funded meals prepared by the city without increasing the overall food budget.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

September 16, 2016

A circular economy for mobile phones: study recommends improved waste collection and longer lifespans for handsets

Around 50% of gold in used mobile phones is not recovered for future use, a new study finds. The researchers suggest that a global circular economy in mobile phones could be created by improving recycling of precious metals in phones in developing countries, as well as increasing the lifespan of phones and improving collection after use. These changes will reduce pressures on nonrenewable resources and close ‘metal flow loops’.

An ever-increasing amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE or e-waste) is discarded by consumers around the world. Mobile phones make up a substantial amount of that waste, driven by consumer demand for the latest technological innovations and products that are designed to have a limited lifespan. Mobile phones, like other electronic equipment, contain valuable and non-renewable resources including gold, copper, silver and palladium.

In a circular economy, the aim is to reduce waste to a minimum and keep precious resources within a loop, that is, to keep them available for repeated reuse. Ways to keep materials in the loop include reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling products when they reach their end-of-life. Developing a circular economy is central to the EU’s plan for sustainable consumption and production and the basis of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy.

In this study, partly funded by the European Commission, the researchers modelled the stocks and flows of gold (representing a phone’s valuable metal content) in the world’s mobile phones to assess how to reduce losses of gold from the loop and help contribute to a circular economy. Gold comprises around 80% of the economic worth of valuable metals in mobile phones and its recovery is the main economic driver for recycling phones.

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

September 16, 2016

Better Buildings Partnership releases new green lease standard

By Cameron Jewell, The Fifth Estate
Friday 16 September 2016

The City of Sydney’s Better Buildings Partnership has released an updated green lease standard designed to help tenants and landlords deliver stronger sustainability performance.

As covered in the Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness series with the BBP, adversarial tenant–landlord relationships can be a huge barrier to high-performance buildings. Green leases help to get tenants and landlords on the same page regarding sustainability outcomes.

The new BBP leasing standard includes 20 categories that help to classify a lease as being green, including on energy, water, waste and IAQ management; sustainable transport; sustainable procurement; fitout works; social initiatives; comfort; and information sharing.

Participating companies are able to generate a scorecard and display a BBP Leasing Standard logo so they can be recognised as committing to collaboration on sustainability. The scorecard and badge allow easy comparisons of proposed leases, which can then be compared to others in the industry, hopefully encouraging companies to raise ambitions.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

September 14, 2016

A VISION OF THE FUTURE FREE FROM PLASTIC POLLUTION: THE EU MUST RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

A groundbreaking new global vision for a future free from plastic pollution has been released today by a network of 90 NGOs. The vision lays out 10 principles with the ultimate goal being 'a future free from plastic pollution'. It represents the first step in a global movement to change society's perception and use of plastics.

Scientists predict that without urgent action there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, threatening marine biodiversity and posing a risk to human health. Yet, despite the danger that plastic pollution poses to our planet and to human well-being, governments and industry have so far failed to face up to the systemic change required to solve the issue.

At the European level, the development of the Circular Economy Package and the EU Strategy on Plastics present a major opportunity to fundamentally tackle the use of plastic and prevent the creation of plastic waste. This cannot be done without policy makers addressing the full life-cycle of plastics from oil extraction and design, to end-of-life.

"This is the first time that groups from all around the world have come together to find a common solution to the problem of plastic pollution. It is the beginning of a movement which will lead to governments, cities and companies taking major action to tackle this ever-growing problem" said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Zero Waste Europe policy officer and coordinator of the European plastics alignment process.

European governments and multinationals need to face up to their responsibility for driving the irresponsible use of plastics and for the resulting environmental damage around the world, which often most affects the most vulnerable globally. It is clear that without strong and coordinated effort and impetus by policy makers, businesses will continue to use plastic indiscriminately and the pollution will intensify.

Read more at SCP Clearinghouse.

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category : Topics

September 13, 2016

WRAP Hopes New Industry Framework, Campaign Will Get Tonnes More Recycling in the Bin

September 13, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

The waste reduction experts at WRAP have brought together representatives from across the waste management sector to create an industry framework that could divert up to 11 million tonnes more recyclable material from disposal in England.

Supported by the U.K.’s Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and DCLG, the ‘Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling for England’ offers opportunities for businesses and local authorities to save money and avoid around 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

“As an industry we have achieved so much in the last 15 years. A thriving recycling industry has been created and recycling is now a way of life. When Defra asked us to investigate the opportunities for greater consistency, we were delighted to lead this, and to work with representatives from each stage of the recycling supply chain,” said Marcus Gover, the CEO at WRAP. “By pooling the wealth of recycling experience from across the sectors, we have developed a vision that offers the opportunity to increase recycling, improve the quality of recycled materials, save money and offer a good service to householders. It is only by joining together that we can now realise the benefits of the vision and I look forward to working with all those involved to do that.”

Published today, the framework draws on good practices by local authority and industry, and suggests these actors collaborate to address recycling barriers such as packaging recyclability, consumer, and collection rates of core materials. Further, WRAP recommends these actions are supported by widespread communications with householders using the same messages.

If effectively implemented, WRAP’s calculations show that the framework could increase England’s recycling rate by seven percentage points and divert more than 8 million tonnes of food waste (WRAP also recently created a Food Waste Recycling Action Plan). At the same time, the organization recognizes that improving consistency in household recycling is going to require the collective action of brands, retailers, manufacturers, local authorities, waste management companies and reprocessors – which may not be an easy feat. WRAP is working with seven local authority areas to evaluate their business cases for consistency and has helped organize industry groups to target recycling barriers.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

September 13, 2016

Brazil ratifies Paris agreement with pledge to sharply reduce emissions

Associated Press
Tuesday 13 September 2016 09.56 BST

The Brazilian government has ratified its participation in the Paris agreement on climate change, a significant step by Latin America’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases that could spur other countries to follow suit.

With a landmass larger than the continental US, Brazil emits about 2.5% of the world’s carbon dioxide and other polluting gases, according to United Nations data.

“Our government is concerned about the future,” said President Michel Temer during a signing ceremony in Brasilia. “Everything we do today is not aimed at tomorrow, but rather at a future that preserves the living conditions of Brazilians.”

Temer said Brazil’s ratification would be presented formally to the UN later this month.

The Paris agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions have formally joined it. Climate experts say that could happen later this year.

Countries set their own targets for reducing emissions. The targets are not legally binding, but nations must update them every five years. Using 2005 levels as the baseline, Brazil committed to cutting emissions 37% by 2025 and an “intended reduction” of 43% by 2030.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

September 13, 2016

China, S. Korea seek to cut emissions in daily life

China.org.cn
Tuesday 13 September 2016

Government officials, experts and representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from China and South Korea gathered in Beijing on Sept. 10 to share their views and experiences in cutting carbon dioxide emissions in people’s daily lives.

“It is a trend that emissions arising from investment-driven development will see a gradual drop, while consumption-based emissions will keep growing,” said He Jiankun, vice chairman of National Experts Panel on Climate Change and director of Institute of Low Carbon Economy of Tsinghua University.

He emphasised the need to guide the public to be low-carbon-oriented in their consumption habits and lifestyles, which will “bring changes to their production activities and industrial structure, and hence promote the building of a low-carbon society.”

In 2013, China rolled out the first round of pilot projects for low-carbon cities, and trials for trading carbon emissions rights were carried out in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangdong, Hubei and Shenzhen. It pledged last year to launch a nationwide carbon emission trading market in 2017.

Such a trading system mainly targets key industrial sectors, including iron and steel, electricity, chemicals, construction materials, papermaking and nonferrous metal. “It is important to make the market play the decisive role in resource allocation,” said He. “We also welcome the use of market tools to encourage the public to reduce emissions in their own way.”

Director Choi Min Ji from the South Korean Ministry of Environment echoed He’s opinion, adding that her country has been promoting market measures to arouse enthusiasm among its citizens to lead a greener life, including the green credit card scheme and the carbon labeling system.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

September 8, 2016

PUMA Launches Financing Program to Reward Suppliers for Sustainability Performance

September 8, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

Sports company PUMA is offering its suppliers in select emerging markets with a new financing program in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The program is expected to incentivize improvements to suppliers’ social, environmental and health and safety standards, and is a first-of-its-kind financing structure for the apparel industry.

IFC has adopted a financing structure with tiered pricing of short-term working capital, offering lower costs for those suppliers that achieve a high score in PUMA’s supplier rating, which is applied after PUMA has monitored the supplier’s adherence to the company’s social and environmental standards through an auditing process. At the same time, suppliers are able to benefit from PUMA’s strong reputation and financial position to secure affordable financing.

“This is the first program in our industry, which takes into consideration a supplier’s score in PUMA’s environmental and sustainability rating as a bonus or malus on related fees. Thus our supplier’s investments in sustainability are rewarded, which is an additional incentive for them to improve their environmental and social standards,” said Lars Sørensen, PUMA’s Chief Operating Officer.

The new financing structure was recently launched with the support of European bank BNP Paribas and IT platform provider GT Nexus. The first phase of the program is being rolled out in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Vietnam, but the partnership with BNP Paribas is expected to help the program expand.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

September 8, 2016

Impact Over Compliance: The Trouble With Certification

September 8, 2016
by Kelsey Halling

Have you heard the one about the fire extinguisher?

An auditor was completing an onsite assessment of a production facility for a major apparel brand when he noticed that fire extinguishers were mounted on devices that allowed them to slide up and down the wall. The auditor asked about this.

“Well,” the facility manager said, “you require that our fire extinguishers be 4 feet from the floor, but Brand X requires that they be 3 feet from the floor, and Brand Y requires 2 feet from the floor.”

It’s a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of auditing. A facility could lose points for having accessible working fire extinguishers, because of an arbitrary decision that optimal fire extinguisher height is 4 ft vs. 3 ft vs. 2 ft: A classic case of missing the forest for the trees.

Certification = Compliance. Not Impact.

There are few universally accepted certifications in the apparel industry. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is making headway with the Higg Index, which is the tool Thread adopted for our annual auditing process, but there is still a way to go before universal adoption. Once brands post their Higg scores publicly - the way our B Corp score is posted publicly, or the way New York restaurants post their sanitation grades - things will get interesting.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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September 8, 2016

Singapore's new green standards for homes focus on people and design

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 8 September 2016

In a bid to make Singapore homes more sustainable and comfortable, the city-state’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Wednesday announced an updated set of criteria for new residential buildings to attain the Green Mark certifications.

Launched at the International Green Building Conference 2016 held in Singapore’s Sands Expo and Convention Centre from September 7 to 9, the revised scheme places a greater focus on the well-being and behaviour of occupants than the current version, which has been in effect since January 2013.

The new criteria for the Green Mark—the national certification for green buildings—will be implemented on a pilot basis for one year and fine-tuned based on input from the industry before it is fully integrated into the certification requirements.

While the current scheme focuses heavily on energy and water efficiency, environmental protection, as well as indoor environment quality, the new scheme covers five more holistic categories: climate responsive design, building energy performance, resource stewardship, smart and healthy buildings, and advanced green efforts.

New features of this revamped structure include a greater emphasis on passive design, where buildings and landscapes maximise the use of natural sunlight, ventilation, and other environmental factors to keep occupants comfortable.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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September 6, 2016

New Project Set to Help European SMEs Transition to Circular Economy

September 6, 2016
by Hannah Furlong

Businesses of all sizes can realize opportunities presented by the shift from linear ‘take, make, waste’ models and systems to circular ones. As the originator of the circular economy concept Walter R. Stahel once said, “A circular economy will directly create numerous jobs with a broad diversity of skills at local and regional level, and give rise to new SMEs [small and medium enterprises] exploiting opportunities in the local loops.”

To help SMEs in this endeavor, ten partners from six European countries are pursuing a four-year project called the Circular Economy for SMEs (CESME). Created by the Business Development Centre North Denmark, the project aims to create a step-by-step guide to help SMEs with the transition to more closed-loop operations, maximize the efficiency of their resources during their use, and extend products’ value through processes such as reuse, repair, remanufacturing, and recycling.

Groups from Denmark, the UK, Italy, Finland, Bulgaria, and Greece will share experiences and identify best practices for both SMEs and policymakers. In the first phase of the CESME project, the organizations are working to identify and recommend improvements for relevant policy instruments, as well as design support packages to help SMEs adopt more circular business models. Next, the second phase will involve working directly with SMEs to act on the lessons learned from the previous work.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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September 3, 2016

Planet is paying for palm oil profits

September 3, 2016, by Paul Brown

LONDON, 3 September, 2016 – Palm oil makes a big contribution to modern life as one of the most-widely used substances in food, cooking, cosmetics, medicines and a range of chemicals. But the industry that produces it is seriously harming the planet.

That is the conclusion of a study of nearly 1,000 scientific papers about oil palm plantations, published in Biological Reviews journal.

Over the last few decades, the scale of destruction of forests and peat lands so as to expand the highly-profitable oil palm plantations − mainly in southeast Asia − has been immense.

Although deliberately starting fires to clear pristine forests for plantations is illegal, the practice still continues and has contributed to serious air pollution across the region, causing breathing difficulties.

Oil palms are now a highly-profitable cash crop grown throughout the humid tropical lowlands in 43 countries, with 18.1million hectares in cultivation. Indonesia (7.1m ha) and Malaysia (4.6m ha) account for 85% of global production, and the number of their plantations is steadily increasing.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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September 2, 2016

UK government to ban microbeads from cosmetics by end of 2017

Adam Vaughan
Friday 2 September 2016 17.49 BST

Tiny pieces of plastic in personal beauty products, that end up in the oceans and are swallowed by marine life, will be banned from sale in the UK by the end of 2017, the government is to announce on Saturday.

The move comes just days after MPs called for a ban on so-called microbeads, and sees the UK following in the footsteps of the US, which has banned them beginning in mid-2017. More than 357,000 people signed a petition calling for a UK ban, and environment groups welcomed the news of the ban.

Microbeads are very small pieces of plastic in products such as facial scrubs and makeup. Some are visible to the naked eye, but others are as tiny as one micrometre. Conservationists have warned that they can affect fish growth and persist in the guts of mussels and fish that mistake them for food.

The industry had argued that it was already phasing them out voluntarily, but critics have claimed some companies were exploiting loopholes or dragging their feet on a phase-out.

Greenpeace said the new ban was welcome but should be extended to other products too.

“It’s a credit to Theresa May’s government that they’ve listened to concerns from the public, scientists, and MPs and taken a first step towards banning microbeads,” said the group’s oceans campaigner Louise Edge. “But marine life doesn’t distinguish between plastic from a face wash and plastic from a washing detergent, so it makes no sense for this ban to be limited to some products and not others, as is currently proposed.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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September 1, 2016

adidas, Woolworths Among Brands Saying YESS to Slavery-Free Cotton

September 1, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

Today, the Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), a project of the nonprofit As You Sow, launched its newest initiative, YESS: Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced. YESS will work to eradicate modern slavery in cotton harvesting and yarn production by enabling yarn spinners to identify and eliminate cotton produced with forced labor, and be verified for having fair labor practices. The development of YESS is supported by Humanity United.

Cotton produced by forced labor, documented in at least nine countries according to the U.S. Department of Labor, makes its way into clothing and home goods sold by major brands and retailers. This program will pilot in India and Bangladesh, which have numerous spinning mills and are highly affected by forced labor.

Major brands and retailers have endorsed a Statement of Support for this approach including adidas, Hudson’s Bay Company, Indigenous and Woolworths Holdings. YESS will assist companies to comply with new anti-slavery regulations, minimize verification costs, establish an industry-wide traceability approach, and manage a global list of verified spinners. Current multi-stakeholder endorsements are linked here.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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September 1, 2016

Halogen spotlights to be phased out across Europe

Arthur Neslen
Thursday 1 September 2016 15.02 BST

Energy-gobbling halogen spotlights will be phased out across Europe from Thursday, in a boost for super-efficient LEDs ahead of a wider halogen bulb ban in 2018.

Directional halogen bulbs already in stores can still be sold after today but no new retailer orders will be possible for the spotlights, which can waste up to 10 times more energy than LEDs.

First hit by the ban will be GU10 halogen spotlights and PAR30 halogen floodlights (big reflector lamps). Bulbs with an energy label rating of B or above, such as low-voltage halogen spotlights, will not be affected.

Which? magazine last month advised its readers to switch to LEDs, which can cut lighting electricity bills by up to 90%, according to the coolproducts efficiency campaign.

“With bulb purchase costs included, British homes on the average tariff will pay £126 per socket over a 10-year period for halogen lights, compared to £16 for LEDs,” said Jack Hunter, a coolproducts spokesman.

The European commission also sees lightbulb efficiency rules as a no-brainer, arguing that EU standards across all product ranges will save the average consumer €465 a year on energy bills by 2020.

Read more at The Guardian.

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September 1, 2016

How much do Singapore businesses care about sustainability?

Thursday 1 September 2016

Singapore-based companies are starting on the journey towards sustainability, although most of them have not yet made the connection between corporate responsibility and profitability.

This is the main finding of a new survey conducted by Eco-Business, a leading online media covering business and sustainability in Asia Pacific.

The survey was conducted in June 2016 among 404 respondents in the Asia Pacific region, of which 352 are based in Singapore, on their attitudes towards business sustainability.

The survey revealed that manufacturing companies are more advanced in their consideration of sustainable business practices than those in services.

Multinational companies claim to have more robust sustainable business practices than local companies, although senior executives from both types of companies differ in their opinions on the sustainability of their operations compared with the views of their line managers.

Energy efficiency tops the survey as the most adopted sustainability practice, with 89 per cent of respondents saying their companies have energy efficiency policies and practices in place. Presumably, this is the one obvious area of sustainability that directly impacts their bottom line.

A common feeling from respondents was that corporate attitudes towards sustainability were somewhat starting to gain more traction in Southeast Asia, with a director of a multinational automotive company commenting: “This is still a very ‘young’ topic in APAC, especially in Asean. But it is getting more traction.”

Read more at Eco-Business.

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September 1, 2016

G20 emissions pledges are far too low

September 1, 2016, by Alex Kirby

The promises made by the G20 group of the world’s leading economies to meet the goals reached in last December’s Paris Agreement on emissions reduction are nowhere near adequate, according to new analysis by a global consortium.

In a comprehensive assessment, they identify the G20 climate challenge: it needs by 2030 to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by six times more than it has pledged so far.

It needs also to move more vigorously to a green, low-carbon economy. And if the G20 goes ahead with its plans for new coal-fuelled power plants, that will make it “virtually impossible” to keep global warming below 2°C, the initial target agreed at the Paris climate conference.

The analysts’ report is released in Beijing today ahead of the G20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on 4 and 5 September.

Shared mission

It has been produced by Climate Transparency, which describes itself as “an open global consortium with a shared mission to stimulate a ‘race to the top’ in climate action through enhanced transparency”.

Contributors include NewClimate Institute, whose flagship projects include Climate Action Tracker, Germanwatch, which publishes an annual Global Climate Risk Index, the Overseas Development Institute, the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, and a range of other international experts.

Climate change and green finance are high on this year’s G20 agenda, so the assessment examines a range of indicators − including investment attractiveness, renewable energy investment, climate policy, the carbon intensity of the energy and electricity sectors of the G20 economies, fossil fuel subsidies, and climate finance.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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