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December 27, 2016

Final GPP News Alert of 2016 is published

27 December 2016

he December edition of the EU GPP News Alert is now available to read online, providing the latest green public procurement (GPP) news from across Europe. This issue takes a close look at the new European network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), established to further support the implementation of GPP in Europe. So far, 28 NGOs from 16 countries have committed to join the network.

Natalie Evans, the Responsible Procurement Manager from the City of London (UK), is this month’s interviewee, outlining how collaborating on responsible procurement in London has been working in practice, and providing insights into the city’s new Responsible Procurement Strategy.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

December 22, 2016

Sweden, World Bank Support Better Solid Waste Management in Bosnia and Herzegovina

SARAJEVO, December 22, 2016 – The World Bank has received a contribution of US$2.0 million from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to provide Technical Assistance (TA) for improved solid waste management practices in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Technical Assistance activities will seek to strengthen the country’s institutional capacities to plan, manage and operate this important sector in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner through four components: 1. Solid waste management sector review and reform plan; 2. Institutional strengthening; 3. Public awareness and education campaign; and 4. Assessment of selected priority investments.

“As part of Sweden’s firm commitment to support improvement of environment and sustainable development in BiH, waste management is considered one of the important areas where collaboration should be extended. Sweden has actively supported the waste management sector in BiH since 2010. Our long term engagement in this sector aims at supporting BiH to effectively bridge the transition from the current status of waste management to a more integrated and sustainable sector aligned with EU Directives”, says Marie Bergström, Counselor at the Embassy of Sweden.

Read more at The World Bank.

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category : Topics

December 22, 2016

Report finds social criteria in procurement can prevent abuse of workers

22 December 2016

A new study by Swedwatch, a non-profit organisation reporting on Swedish business relations in developing countries, has found that including social criteria in public procurement can improve working conditions in global supply chains. Many products purchased for EU consumers are produced in developing countries where there is a higher risk of human rights violations occurring. Social criteria can help to mitigate this risk.

Titled Agents for Change, the report focuses on the production of surgical equipment in Pakistan, chicken meat in Thailand, and coffee in Brazil. A comparative study between 2007 and 2015 found that conditions in Pakistani factories had improved as a result of the inclusion of social demands by Swedish councils.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

December 21, 2016

NooTrees: Fighting Deforestation 'One Loo at a Time'

December 21, 2016
by Laura Allen

There are about 3 trillion trees left on earth, or roughly 400 trees per person. Seems like a lot, but what if we told you that since the advent of human civilisation, half of all trees have been cut down, or that 15 billion trees are lost each year? Or how about the fact that the haze that covers Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia does is a direct result of deforestation, where vegetation is cleared via the slash-and-burn method for resources such as palm oil, paper and pulp?

27,000 trees are cut down every day just to make toilet paper. But one man is on a mission to change that, “one loo at a time.” David Ward is the founder and GM of NooTrees, a subsidiary of The FJ Benjamin Group in Singapore that uses bamboo instead of wood for its tissue and personal care products. We caught up with him recently to chat about the company, the environment, and how alternative supply chains are increasingly becoming a key priority for businesses.

Unlike wood from trees, bamboo is a much more efficient material for producing paper.

“It takes 30 years to grow a tree, but it only takes three years for bamboo to reach maturity,” he says; bamboo is able to produce 5 to 6 times more raw material than a tree during that time.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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category : Topics

December 20, 2016

30 New EU Life+ Pilot Projects Make Convincing Case for Circular Business Models

December 20, 2016
by Libby MacCarthy

A recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a number of new initiatives sweeping Europe have highlighted the convincing business case for companies to adopt circular principles into their business models. The latest development on the path to a circular economy? A new project across the UK and the Netherlands called REBus.

An EU Life+-funded partnership project led by WRAP, REBus is testing a methodology that enables organizations to transform their strategies to profitable, resilient and more resource-efficient business models (REBMs). For the last two years, 30 organizations in the UK and Netherlands have been piloting new REBMs with the support and expertise of REBus.

European manufacturing firms already spend more than 40 percent of their total operating costs on raw materials, and growing scarcity and volatility mean prices will continue to rise in the future. By reimagining business models and incorporating more circular practices, companies will be better equipped to deal address changes in resource availability, ultimately averting detrimental effects to their profitability and resiliency.

The pilot projects are wide-ranging, but all share the common goal of creating value for consumers, the environment and the organization itself. Examples include Argos’ UK-wide Gadget Trade-In Service; ProRail’s circular procurement of office furniture for the company’s new office in Utrecht, Netherlands; Globechain’s online reuse platform; and IT4Kids’ community-wide reuse collections.

REBus has published case studies from the 30 pilot projects on its website, and hopes that sharing the successes and lessons learned – along with a €24 billion incentive from the European Commission – will inspire businesses and organizations to embrace the many benefits of circular business models.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

December 20, 2016

Trending: New Research Looking to Turn Fabric Into Fuel, Keep Microfibers Out of Water

December 20, 2016
by Talia Rudee

We’ve seen a rash of textile-recycling schemes emerge of late — in which the textiles in question may become new garments, but for the most part they remain, well, fabrics. But in what may be the first fabric-to-fuel program we’ve heard of, Japan Airlines — which is already working to roll out sustainable aviation biofuel for flights during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo — is now working to turn used clothing into jet fuel, in partnership with Japan Environmental Planning (Jeplan) and Tokyo’s Green Earth Institute. The organizations have teamed up to create a collaborative council that could pilot the alternative energy source by as early as 2020.

In October 2015, Jeplan founder Michihiko Iwamota introduced a technology to create bioethanol from cast-off T-shirts and denim jeans, using fermentation to break down the sugars contained in cotton into alcohols. If all goes well with test flights planned to start in 2020, the company aims to establish the first commercial fuel plant by 2030.

“I totally believed that in the future, there would be a car that runs on garbage,” said Iwamoto, referring to the trash-powered time machine from Back to the Future II. “But years went by, and that didn’t happen. So I thought I’d develop it.”

Although addressing a large energy source, 100 tons of cotton yields only around 10 kiloliters of fuel, or roughly 2,641 gallons (a commercial airliner uses about 1 gallon of fuel every second). As Nikkei Asian Review points out, even if all the cotton consumed in Japan were used in fuel production, this would give only 70,000 kl or so annually — less than 1 percent of Japan’s jet fuel usage. But since the technology can also be applied to other types of waste, including paper, clothing may only be the beginning.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

December 20, 2016

Hospitals Share Successes, Challenges from Pilot Healthcare Plastics Recycling Program

December 20, 2016
by Talia Rudee

On Monday, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) announced the completion of a multi-hospital plastics recycling project in Chicago, collaborating with the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). Focused on non-infectious plastic packaging and products collected from clinical areas of the hospitals, the project sought to demonstrate a viable business model for recycling healthcare plastics on a regional level.

Key Green Solutions, LLC, a sustainability management software service provider, collected and maintained project metrics, while PLACON provided additional financial support to the project as an interested end user looking to create new products from the recycled materials.

Participating hospitals collected a variety of healthcare plastics, which were then transported to material-recovery facilities for assessments related to composition and quality. Complexity of material types, improper sorting and the presence of non-conforming materials were found as primary barriers to extracting the recycling value from the materials.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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category : Topics

December 16, 2016

Fast Retailing Applies Unique SPA Business Model to Help Forge Brighter Future in Bangladesh

December 16, 2016
by Sustainability Communication Hub

Bangladesh is no longer one of the world’s poorest nations. Today, this emerging nation is steadily growing as one of the world’s leading apparel manufacturers. However, the country’s economic structure remains fragile due to its heavy dependence on textile exports and overseas remittances from emigrant workers, and the country’s manufacturing base and infrastructure require urgent improvement.

Against this backdrop, in 2010 Fast Retailing Co., Ltd, Japan’s largest casualwear retailer and operator of the UNIQLO brand, established the UNIQLO Social Business Bangladesh Ltd. In 2011, Fast Retailing joined forces with renowned local social business proponent Grameen Bank Group to launch Grameen UNIQLO Ltd. The joint venture company has drawn on UNIQLO's unique specialty store retailer of private retail apparel (SPA) business model, which spans the entire clothes-making process from materials procurement through planning, design, manufacture and retail, to develop a social business and a more robust clothing manufacturing base in Bangladesh.

Fast Retailing is adamant that all clothing design, manufacture and retail are conducted entirely within Bangladesh, and all profits reinvested. The apparel giant has actively channeled its resources as a global company - from manufacturing to store management and personal training - into building a successful business, and carving new markets for Bangladesh’s nascent retail industry. The joint venture is a powerful example of Fast Retailing’s drive to help eradicate poverty, encourage industry, expand employment opportunities, and nurture independence through business.

Six years on, the joint venture has overcome many difficult challenges, including ensuring high-quality procurement standards while respecting local business practices, culture, laws and the social nature of local factories. Learning from each experience, the venture continues to steadfastly pursue business expansion, cultivating factories that share its social business ideals, developing traditional dress and other products to meet local needs, and reviewing store development strategies.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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December 16, 2016

Green buildings make you work smarter and sleep sounder, study reveals

Damian Carrington
Friday 16 December 2016 11.04 GMT

People working in green buildings think better in the office and sleep better when they get home, a new study has revealed.

The research indicates that better ventilation, lighting and heat control improves workers’ performance and could boost their productivity by thousands of dollars a year. It also suggests that more subjective aspects, such as beautiful design, may make workers happier and more productive.

An increasing number of green buildings are being constructed by developers as the cost and health benefits become better known, but this the first study to show such buildings can make their occupants brainier.

The research analysed workers in certified green buildings in five US cities and compared them with other workers in the same cities employed in different offices owned by the same companies.

“We saw higher cognitive function scores for workers in green certified buildings, compared to their counterparts in buildings that were still high performing, but which had not achieved green certification,” said Joseph Allen, at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the US.

The workers in the green buildings scored over 25% higher in a standard test which uses a Sims-like computer game to assess the ability to think and plan. “The tool assesses complex decision-making performance, which mimics the real-world decision making that all of us encounter every day in our normal work routine,” said Allen.

The quality of sleep of the workers was also assessed using special watches with sensors that measured the length of sleep, tossing and turning and interruptions. Those in green offices had 6% higher sleep scores, said Allen: “I think this is one of the most provocative findings in the study - it suggests that buildings impact us after the eight hours we are in there for our work day.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

December 15, 2016

IKEA to Invest Over €3B to Ensure Stable Supply of Sustainable Materials

December 15, 2016
by Talia Rudee

As companies and governments around the world are working to meet climate goals set out by the Paris Agreement, the IKEA Group’s 2016 Sustainability Report shows considerable progress towards its People & Planet Positive strategy and continued long-term investments in sustainability.

According to the report, IKEA has allocated over €3 billion for sustainability investments. This includes a new financial frame of €1 billion, to secure a long-term supply of sustainable materials by investing in forestry, as well as in companies active in recycling, renewable energy and biomaterial developments.

Additionally, the investment includes €1.5 billion put toward wind and solar energy projects since 2009 and €600 million allocated for further investments in renewable energy. Ultimately, IKEA aims to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes in its operations by 2020; it has already reached 71 percent as of FY16.

The report also describes projects such as IKEA’s More Sustainable Store in Kaarst, Germany, currently under construction and due to open in summer 2017. Making use of abundant natural light and environmentally friendly technologies, it will also feature green areas for play and a dedicated transportation concept.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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category : Topics

December 15, 2016

Green buildings: researchers call for fuller environmental assessment

Over half of a low-energy building’s environmental impact occurred before it was even occupied, a new case study from Italy calculates. The researchers recommend expanding the environmental assessment of buildings from just the operational stage of a building’s life, when it is in use, to include production and transport of materials, construction activities and building maintenance. A wide range of environmental impacts should also be considered, they argue, and not just energy use.

Buildings are the biggest consumer of energy in Europe; in 2010 it was estimated that the building sector, considered as an end-user, accounts for 42% of energy consumption in EU countries — this compares with 32% for transport and 24% for industry. For this reason, the EU has pushed for greater energy efficiency of buildings and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive1 calls for all new buildings to be ‘nearly zero energy’ by the end of 2020. A nearly zero-energy building is defined by this Directive as a building that has very high energy performance, and that the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources. The energy performance of a building is the energy demand associated with the typical use of the building, which includes energy used for heating, cooling, hot-water production, mechanical ventilation and lighting.

This study considers how the environmental performance of buildings could be improved further through assessment procedures which go beyond measuring energy consumption for the typical use of the building, as required by the Directive.

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

December 15, 2016

New system to convert food waste into fertiliser for greenhouse use gives potential 95% reduction in CO2 emissions

A new method of processing food waste into fertiliser has been outlined in a recent study. The process uses a digester system with microorganisms to break down organic waste into fertiliser. The resultant fertiliser was used in a low-energy greenhouse to produce a range of food crops. The method is a potential way to utilise food waste and reduce the energy consumption of food production as part of a circular economy.

Globally, food waste accounts for 6–10% of human greenhouse gas emissions. In the EU, an estimated 88 million tonnes of food is wasted annually, which is around 20% of food produced, or 95–115 kilograms of food per person each year. The EU is attempting to reduce the environmental impact of waste through the Circular Economy Strategy, which aims to maintain the value of materials in the economy for as long as possible and to reduce waste by promoting the reuse and recycling of materials; this programme includes food waste as a priority sector.

Anaerobic digestion — the breakdown of organic material using microorganisms in the absence of oxygen — is a good way of allowing resources in food waste to be used rather than disposed of at landfill. This method also reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from composting or landfills. The biogas — gaseous fuel, such as methane – produced from the process can also be used as a substitute for fossil fuels. However, the treatment and handling of digestate — the material remaining after anaerobic digestion — is still a cause of CO2 emissions, or equivalent emissions from methane or nitrous oxide, even when sustainably used as a substitute for mineral fertiliser. Utilising digestate directly in a closed greenhouse system can, therefore, improve the sustainability of this process. However, digestate is toxic to plants and needs to be treated if it is to be used directly on plants as a fertiliser. Greenhouses can also produce high CO2 emissions due to artificial heating, transportation of produce grown for commercial sale and the cooled storage of vegetable crops grown.

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

December 10, 2016

Doctors call for ban on diesel engines in London

10 December 2016

A campaign led by medical professionals is calling for all diesel cars to be banned from London.

Doctors Against Diesel claim 9,400 Londoners a year die prematurely from breathing in toxic fumes from diesel engines.

Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens have committed to a ban on diesel vehicles by 2025.

Opponents to the campaign have called the proposals "impractical" and warned a blanket ban could "backfire".

Doctors Against Diesel - comprising doctors, nurses and health professionals - are calling for Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, to commit to phasing out diesel vehicles from London.

Mr Khan has already said he wants to get rid of diesel buses by 2018.

A spokesman for the mayor said he has no legal powers to ban cars in London and is calling on the government "to face its responsibility and implement a national diesel scrappage scheme now".

"The mayor has more than doubled air quality funding and is doing everything in his power to tackle London's toxic air and rid the city of the most polluting vehicles, but he cannot do this alone" the spokesman added.

According to the campaign, nearly 40% of all nitrogen oxides emissions and PM10 pollution, which is linked to decreased lung function, within London comes from diesel vehicles.

Read more at BBC News.

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category : Topics

December 8, 2016

African Countries Ban Dirty Diesel Imports from Europe

ABUJA, Nigeria, December 8, 2016 (ENS) – Five more West African countries have agreed to ban the import of Europe’s dirty high-sulfur diesel fuel, a move that will slash vehicle emissions and help an estimated 250 million people breathe cleaner air.

Following Ghana’s announcement in November, the countries of Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire agreed on December 1, at a meeting convened by the UN Environmental Programme in Abuja, to introduce strict standards to ensure cleaner, low sulfur diesel fuel and tougher vehicle emissions standards.

A report by the Swiss nonprofit Public Eye in September exposed how European trading companies exploited the weak regulatory standards in West African countries, allowing for the export of fuels with sulfur levels up to 300 times higher than levels permitted in Europe.

The public pressure generated by media coverage of Public Eye’s report, “Dirty Diesel” as well as the campaigns by Public Eye’s partner organizations have led these five countries to announce the reduction of sulphur levels for imported diesel to 50 parts per million, or ppm.

In Togo, by comparison, sulphur levels in diesel can be as high as 10,000 ppm.

In Nigeria, the current limit is 3,000 ppm. As Africa’s largest fuel market, Nigeria’s move could trigger fuel improvements in other West African countries.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

December 8, 2016

Eco-friendly nanomembrane removes oil spills

Researchers from Egypt and Saudi Arabia have developed a simple way to manufacture an eco-friendly and affordable membrane that can efficiently adsorb oils spills from sea or waste water.

The membrane can recover quickly and easily for reuse — it can be applied at least 10 times with the same efficiency, according to a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Leakage of petroleum pollutants into water can be catastrophic to the environment and aquatic life systems. The methods used to remove these pollutants are complex and very expensive; some require use over a long period and involve many workers, while others have a harmful effect on marine and aquatic organisms.

These methods include using chemical dispersants to penetrate the oil and break it up into small pools, setting the oil ablaze at the spill site, or gathering oil from the water surface by mechanical means.

The method that has proved most efficient, in terms of cost and ease of extracting oil, is the use of cheap and eco-friendly adsorbing materials which turn the oil layer to solid or semi-solid particles that can be easily removed.

Read more at Sci Dev Net.

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December 8, 2016

Four cities announce landmark ban on diesel vehicles

Gregory Scruggs
December 8, 2016

MEXICO CITY — Diesel vehicles on city streets will soon be a thing of the past in Athens, Madrid, Mexico City and Paris. The leaders of those four cities last week announced a sweeping ban, set to take place by 2025, at an international mayors summit on climate change.

The move comes as cities worldwide are taking a harder look at how they can reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions in the transportation sector, and by extension improve their air quality. The four mayors signed a declaration focused on air quality and made clear that their intention was to send a signal to industry.

“Mayors have already stood up to say that the climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face,” said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo during the announcement Friday at the biennial C40 Mayors Summit. “Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes — particularly for our most vulnerable citizens. Big problems like air pollution require bold action, and we call on car and bus manufacturers to join us.”

Hidalgo and other mayors made the announcement as the French capital suffers its worst winter air pollution in a decade, according to broadcaster France24. A combination of vehicle emissions and forest fires have left a stagnant cloud of particulate matter over the city, smudging views of the Eiffel Tower. This week, Hidalgo tweeted an image of a smoggy Paris with the message: “#Paris today. Proof that it’s necessary to reduce the presence of cars in downtown #pollution.”

Read more at Citiscope.

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category : Topics

December 6, 2016

Google, Apple, Facebook race towards 100% renewable energy target

Alison Moodie
Tuesday 6 December 2016 16.53 GMT

Tech giants are jockeying to be the first to hit a 100% renewable energy goal. Google, which has invested in solar and wind energy for a decade, intends to get there by 2017.

Google is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, and plans to buy enough wind and solar energy to offset all the electricity used by its 13 data centers and offices in 150 cities worldwide, the company said Tuesday.

Apple seems close to reaching its own 100% goal as well. The company said it achieved 93% in 2015. An Apple spokeswoman said the company has yet to set a year for when they would likely cross the finish line.

For Google, hitting the 100% target means for every unit of electricity it consumes – typically from coal or natural gas power plants – it would buy a unit of wind or solar electricity. The company wouldn’t say how much electricity it will need to have purchased by the end of next year to reach its 100% goal, but did say that the amount would exceed the 5.7 terawatt-hours solar and wind energy that it bought in 2015.

“We want to run our business in an environmentally responsible way, and energy consumption is the largest portion,” said Neha Palmer, head of energy strategy and development at Google’s Global Infrastructure Group.

Google is taking a big leap to that 100% goal, having achieved just 37% in 2014. The company has invested in renewable energy ever since it kicked off the construction of a 1.6-megawatt solar energy system in 2006. Since 2010, it’s signed 2.6 gigawatts worth of solar and wind contracts.

The tech giant isn’t alone in setting the 100% target. A global campaign to promote 100% renewable energy use in the business world includes Ikea, Facebook, Starbucks and Johnson & Johnson.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

December 5, 2016

West African countries ban Europe's dirty fuel imports

5 December 2016 - Five West African countries have agreed to ban importing Europe's dirty fuels, a move that will dramatically reduce vehicle emissions and help more than 250 million people breath safer, cleaner air.

Together, the countries of Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire agreed on 1 December in Abuja, to introduce strict standards to ensure cleaner, low sulfur diesel fuels and vehicles emissions standards, effectively cutting off Europe's West Africa market to export its dirty fuels.

A report by Public Eye in September this year exposed how European trading companies were exploiting the weak regulatory standards in West African countries, allowing for the export of fuels with sulfur levels up to 300 times higher than is permitted in Europe.

Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment said: "West Africa is sending a strong message that it is no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe. Their decision to set strict new standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emission standards shows they are placing the health of their people first.

"Their move is an example for countries around the world to follow. Air pollution is killing millions of people every year and we need to ensure that all countries urgently introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles to help reduce the shocking statistics."

Alongside the introduction of the new standards, the West African group has agreed to upgrade the operations of their national refineries, both public and privately owned, to produce fuels of the same standards by 2020.

UN Environment has been supporting countries in West Africa to develop policies and standards to stop the practice of importing fuel with dangerously high sulphur levels and introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles. Reducing the emissions of the global fleet is essential for reducing urban air pollution and climate emissions. A combination of low sulfur fuels with advanced vehicles standards can reduce harmful emissions of vehicles by as much as 90 per cent.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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category : Topics

December 5, 2016

Cigarettes, tampons, toothbrushes: The company that wants to recycle everything

By Vaidehi Shah
Monday 5 December 2016

Recycling cigarette butts, tampons and toothbrushes is likely an already impossible demand for most traditional waste management companies. Add in the expectation that the firm’s work should be ‘sexy’ enough to warrant being made into a reality television show, and many may simply write off the task as too unrealistic to take seriously.

However, this is exactly what one company has achieved. Meet TerraCycle, the New Jersey-based outfit that since 2002 has been driven by a simple mission: Eliminating the idea of waste.

The firm, which started 14 years ago as an organic fertiliser business run out of a dorm room, has since grown into a US$18.8 million outfit which creates solutions to give new life to materials that may otherwise end up as waste.

In the process, TerraCycle, which now has 130 employees and eight global offices, has helped 63 million people recycle their waste, and raised US$15 million for charities around the world. It has also diverted some 3.7 billion pieces of waste from the landfill to date.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

December 2, 2016

Four of world's biggest cities to ban diesel cars from their centres

Fiona Harvey
Friday 2 December 2016 12.47 GMT

Four of the world’s biggest cities are to ban diesel vehicles from their centres within the next decade, as a means of tackling air pollution, with campaigners urging other city leaders to follow suit.

The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced plans on Friday to take diesel cars and vans off their roads by 2025.

Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, led the initiative at the C40 conference of mayors on climate change, taking place in Mexico this week. She said: “Mayors have already stood up to say that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes, particularly for our most vulnerable citizens.”

“Soot from diesel vehicles is among the big contributors to ill health and global warming,” added Helena Molin Valdés, head of the United Nations’ climate and clean air coalition, noting that more than nine out of 10 people around the globe live where air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation safety limits.

Miguel Ángel Mancera, mayor of Mexico City, said increasing investments in public transport would also help clean the city’s air, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Giorgos Kaminis, mayor of Athens, said his goal was to remove all cars from the city centre. The city authorities will also work with national governments and manufacturers, and promote electric vehicles and cleaner transport.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

December 2, 2016

'Findicators' track the path to Finland’s progress on the SDGs

By Tim Hill
Friday 2 December 2016

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, which includes ending poverty and providing clean water and sanitation for all nations among others, is an ambitious vision of a better, more sustainable world.

But the nitty gritty of monitoring the progress of each goal can be a headache for researchers. For every goal, there are a large number of indicators to track; and each indicator requires a lot of effort to identify, capture and measure the relevant data.

For instance, one of the SDGs - Goal 14 - is to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”. One of the indicators is the proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels.

But different countries use different methods to gather this data. In the Mediterranean, what method do they use? How about in the North-east Atlantic? Some countries have not even started collecting the data.

Inconsistent or missing data was one of the problems researchers in Finland encountered when they started exploring the best way to implement the SDGs in their country.

But they found a way to get around it, which is basically to collate all the available data about the SDGs into one place so that they can see the gaps and overlaps in their information, and what goals need urgent attention.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

December 1, 2016

Big food faces annihilation unless it moves with millennials on health

Alison Moodie
Thursday 1 December 2016 14.29 GMT

A college student in the 1980s may have been content living off instant noodles for dinner. Nowadays, a twentysomething is as likely to pick up a piece of wild salmon with quinoa and a fresh rocket salad from their local grocery store on any given night.

It’s a shift that’s having ripple effects throughout the food industry as manufacturers and retailers scramble to adapt to a younger generation’s appetite for fresher, healthier foods.

But their efforts aren’t creating a more sustainable industry as healthy convenience meals are often just as heavily packaged as processed products.

Sales of fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood, and prepared deli foods have risen from $257bn (£206bn) in 2009 to a forecasted $315bn in 2016, according to a report from London-based market research firm Mintel.

The shift is taking place because consumers are changing so much, and fast, says John Stanton, professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. And it’s not just any consumer – millennials, those born roughly between 1982 and 2004, are driving the growth. They favour fresh, minimally processed food that is easy to prepare, says Stanton.

Read more at The Guardian.

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