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News Archives

March 30, 2017

El Salvador makes history as first nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining

Nina Lakhani in Mexico City
Thursday 30 March 2017 12.49 BST

El Salvador has made history after becoming the first country in the world to ban metal mining.

Lawmakers in the water-parched country passed the ban in a unanimous vote on Wednesday, declaring El Salvador a mining-free territory.

The decision followed a long and bitter struggle to protect the Central American country’s diminishing water sources from polluting mining projects.

Campaigners holding banners with the now famous “No to mining, yes to life” slogan celebrated inside and outside the legislative assembly in the capital, San Salvador.

“The vote is a victory for communities who, for more than a decade, have relentlessly organised to keep mining companies out of their territories. The prohibition ensures the long-term ecological viability of a country already considered one of the most environmentally vulnerable in the world,” said Pedro Cabezas, from International Allies Against Mining in El Salvador.

Wednesday’s vote, which was expected by both sides to be much closer, builds on a rising tide of popular opposition to environmentally destructive projects across Latin America, where partial bans have been implemented in Costa Rica, Argentina and Colombia.

El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Latin America and, while rainfall is plentiful, holding on to the water is a major issue because of unsustainable farming practices and inadequate industrial controls that have led to widespread soil erosion and the almost total destruction of its forests.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 28, 2017

Only Sweden, Germany and France among EU are pursuing Paris climate goals, says study

Arthur Neslen
Tuesday 28 March 2017 12.58 BST

Sweden, Germany and France are the only European countries pursuing environmental policies in line with promises made at the Paris climate conference, according to a new ranking study.

The UK is in fifth position in the table which assesses policy actions taken by EU states to meet Europe’s pledge of a 40% cut in carbon emissions by 2030.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain and Italy are judged to be propping up the league, due to their support for forestry and carbon accounting dodges that weaken the greenhouse gas reduction effort.

“EU politicians portraying themselves as climate leaders should put their money where their mouth is by closing loopholes in the EU’s key climate law and pushing for more ambition,” said Femke de Jong, the EU policy director for Carbon Market Watch, a campaign group that co-drafted the EU Climate Leadership Board survey.

The ranking was compiled using ministerial statements and official documents submitted to the European commission, and was then cross-checked with country representatives.

It focuses on behind-the-scenes lobby forays mounted by EU countries in negotiations over an “effort sharing regulation” to cover the 60% of European emissions that come from transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management.

These fall outside the bloc’s flagship Emissions Trading System (ETS) which allocates tradable pollution permits to heavy industry.

Several countries have tried to gain wiggle room in the talks by pushing for measures such as a later (and higher) baseline for measuring their CO2 cuts, or greater use of forestry credits to meet the EU’s climate goal.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 27, 2017

Achieving Paris Climate Goals Could Give Global Economy a $19T Boost

March 27, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

$19 trillion — According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), that’s amount the global economy stands to gain if countries rise to the challenge of meeting the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In a new report released by IRENA for the German government, the energy body highlighted how investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency — crucial measures for keeping global warming below the agreed 2 degrees Celsius limit — has the potential to add approximately .8 percent to global GDP by 2050.

However, current rates of investment are not enough to achieve the desired outcome. The CO2 emission intensity of the global economy would need to be reduced by 85 percent in 35 years. This means reducing energy CO2 emissions by 2.6 percent per year on average, or .6 gigatons per year in absolute terms.

Investment would essentially need to double in order to speed up the transition to a low-carbon economy, a sum of around $3.5 million annually. IRENA and the International Energy Agency (IEA) — which co-authored the report — also pointed out that the percentage of renewables as a primary energy source would also need to change substantially, increasing to 65 percent by 2050 from 2015’s 15 percent.

While companies such as DONG Energy and Royal Dutch Shell recognize the benefit and necessity of embracing a low-carbon future, the move is still a hard sell for many. The IRENA report suggests that the transformation of the energy sector to a low-carbon model would mean abandoning $10 trillion of coal, gas and oil assets. With investment in renewables, however, these losses could easily be offset, with an added advantage of creating around six million jobs.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 24, 2017

WWF, AHLA, Rockefeller Foundation Kick Off Pilot to Curb Hotel Food Waste

March 24, 2017
by Libby MacCarthy

Food waste is increasingly garnering attention from governments, businesses and private individuals as its impact on both environmental health, food security as well as bottom lines — companies that invest in reducing food waste can expect a 14:1 ROI — are increasingly researched and understood. Now, a new pilot project initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) with support from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and The Rockefeller Foundation hopes to make food waste in the hotel industry a thing of the past.

Food production has the largest environmental footprint of any human activity, yet one-third of the world’s available food either spoils or gets thrown away. Forty-percent of food is wasted through the supply chain in the United States and the majority of that loss comes from homes and food service industries, including the hotel industry. Improved food management strategies across food service operations present industry-transforming potential, which ultimately has led WWF and the AHLA’s Food & Beverage and Sustainability Committees to join forces to develop actionable projects to prevent food waste through better food management.

Hotel brands participating in the projects include Hilton, Hyatt, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and Marriott International, as well as Hershey Entertainement & Resorts, Sage Hospitality and Terranea Resort. The pilots were also developed with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation’s YieldWise Initiative, which aims to reduce post-harvest food loss and halve the world’s food waste by 2030.

“With its substantial food service volume and broad reach with consumers, the hospitality industry is an ideal catalyst for accelerating change,” said Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste at WWF. “Imagine every hotel breakfast buffet or conference luncheon eliminating food waste. While businesses should make food donation and landfill diversion a priority, these pilot projects will focus on food waste prevention, which is ultimately better for business and the environment.”

Recent research conducted by WWF shows a strong need for industry-wide training and education on food waste reduction among hotel properties, and a general lack of measurement and track of food waste. Each pilot project within the program has been developed to tackle a critical step along the food waste supply chain. This includes measuring food waste outputs on a regular basis, improving employee training programs, creating menus designed to limit food waste and raising awareness with customers.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Waste materials are an underused resource in the construction of Europe’s roads

Recycled waste material could play a major role in the construction of roads in Europe, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. A new study proposes a scenario where 50% of the asphalt for Europe’s roads consists of recycled materials, leading to significant reductions in costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the European Waste Framework Directive, there is a need to promote reuse and recycling, which are the preferred options to disposal or incineration of waste. However, there need to be clear pathways for that recycled waste to take. One such pathway is reuse in the construction and renovation of Europe’s road network. Europe’s road network is the key component in its transport infrastructure, and as such it requires constant maintenance; every year 4.7 million kilometres of new road are built.

Waste is already used in road construction. This study suggests that the input of recycled materials in road construction can be increased, with the potential for both economic and environmental benefits. The researchers assessed certain waste materials as substitutes for virgin raw materials that normally form the basis for new roads.

These waste materials, which include glass, asphalt, concrete, wood and plastics, were considered appropriate substitutes because they demonstrate comparable performance to traditional materials and are available in large quantities, with effective systems in place for their collection. In addition, there are no alternative applications with higher value for these waste materials, and they are too expensive to dispose of by traditional methods such as incineration. Part of the analysis also looks at potential sources for the materials, such as construction and demolition waste and end-of-life vehicles.

Read more at "Sciencefor 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

March 23, 2017

Recyclables must be collected separately for circular economy to succeed, says panel

By Janie Matthews | EURACTIV.com
23 March 2017

Separate collection of recyclable materials is the key to a successful circular economy but some member states struggle to put the necessary infrastructure in place, policymakers told a EURACTIV event held on Tuesday (21 March).

Europe is on the fast track to having a circular economy, a vision of the future where no resources are wasted and all materials are recycled.

Materials need to be collected separately in order to minimise waste but not all EU member states are willing, or capable, of making separate collection a priority.

“We want to achieve something ambitious, but we need to keep in mind that member states are at different levels,” said Edward Vernon, Environment Unit Coordinator for Malta, which currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

Separate collection will be one of the issues up for discussion at forthcoming Council meetings, he said, expressing hope that a political agreement on the circular economy package can be reached by the end of 2017.

“We listen to the member states, and we need the majority of them on board,” he told the EURACTIV event, supported by FEFCO, the European Corrugated Packaging Association.

Plastic under the spotlight
But the recycling of plastics have been and will continue to be an obstacle, according to Kestutis Sadauskas, who is director for the Circular Economy and Green Growth at the European Commission.

Davor Škrlec, a Green MEP from Croatia, admitted his country was a “champion in landfilling”, particularly with plastics.

The current goal is for 85% of paper to be recycled by 2030, and Sadauskas says plastics need to catch up and “follow the example of paper”.

Read more at EURACTIV.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Timberland’s New Line Is Made From Trash Collected From The Streets In Haiti

BY ADELE PETERS
03.10.17 | 5:45 PM

A new backpack started life as 7.5 plastic bottles trashed on streets in Haiti.

The backpack–part of a new line of boots, bags, and t-shirts made by Timberland–looks like it’s made from canvas. But the material is 50% recycled plastic, sourced from a place that both has excess trash and a desperate need for jobs.

“It just so happens that we have this enormous resource that exists, and it just seems to be locked up in some of the toughest parts of the world,” Ian Rosenberger, CEO of Thread, the certified B Corporation that creates the fabric used in the collection, tells Co.Exist.

In Haiti, for the fabric made for Timberland, more than 1,300 people collected plastic bottles, and sold them to 50 Haitian-owned and operated collection centers that Thread partners with.

The process to turn a bottle into fabric is fairly simple: the plastic is mechanically broken down into flakes, put through something that looks like a Play-Doh extruder, and then rolled and manipulated into bales that can be spun into fabric. Plastic bottles are made from oil; so is polyester. When a bottle is recycled into fabric, the end result looks the same as if it had come from fossil fuels (it can also be recycled into other products, such as printer cartridges).

“It is the same as virgin polyester,” says Rosenberger. “But because it comes from these areas, it’s actually helping people as opposed to destroying the environment. It puts us in the position where we can talk about some of the amazing things it’s providing for folks, namely jobs.”

The polyester can also be blended with cotton, as in the case of the Timberland products.

Read more at FAST COMPANY.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Wastewater cleaned thanks to a new adsorbent material made from fruit peels

PUBLIC RELEASE: 23-MAR-2017
UNIVERSITY OF GRANADA

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR), and from the Center for Electrochemical Research and Technological Development (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico en Electroquímica, CIDETEQ) and the Center of Engineering and Industrial Development (Centro de Ingeniería y Desarrollo Industrial, CIDESI), both in Mexico, have developed a process that allows to clean waters containing heavy metals and organic compounds considered pollutants, using a new adsorbent material made from the peels of fruits such as oranges and grapefruits.

Said peels are residues which pose a problem for the food industry, given that they take up a great volume and aren't very useful nowadays. 38.2 million tons of said fruit peels are estimated to be produced worldwide each year in the food industry.

The research, in which the UGR participates, has served for designing a new process by which, thanks to an Instant Controlled Pressure Drop treatment, it is possible to modify the structure of said residues, giving them adsorbent properties such as a greater porosity and surface area.

Researcher Luis Alberto Romero Cano, from the Carbon Materials Research Team (Grupo de Investigación en Materiales de Carbón) at the Faculty of Science, UGR, explains that, by a subsequent chemical treatment, they "have managed to add functional groups to the material, thus making it selective in order to remove metals and organic pollutants present in water".

Read more at EurekAlert!

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category : Topics

March 22, 2017

Carbon fibre: the wonder material with a dirty secret

Mark Harris
Wednesday 22 March 2017 05.00 GMT

Carbon fibre is increasingly celebrated as a wonder material for the clean economy. Its unique combination of high strength and low weight has helped drive the wind power revolution and make planes more fuel efficient.

Carbon fibre turbine blades can be longer and more rigid than traditional fibreglass models, making them more resilient at sea and more efficient in less breezy conditions.

Auto makers are also waking up to the material’s potential to make lighter and more efficient vehicles. McLaren recently announced plans to open a factory in Sheffield to manufacture carbon fibre sports cars, and BMW’s i3 is fitted with a carbon fibre passenger unit – the first such mass-produced car.

But carbon fibre has a dirty secret: the hi-tech material is wasteful to produce and difficult to recycle.

Excess waste for landfill
To become the strong, light composite material industries love, carbon fibre is combined with a plastic polymer resin. But the manufacturing process, in which sheets of composite material are often laid up by hand, is wasteful.

By the time they’ve been trimmed to size, almost a third of these carbon fibre sheets end up on factory floors, according to recycling company ELG Carbon Fibre. Where the material does make it into products, most of it will ultimately end up in landfill, the firm says.

A report (pdf) in February from the environmental charity Green Alliance listed carbon fibre as one of several novel materials that could create waste problems in the future unless swift action is taken to make it ready for recycling and reuse.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 17, 2017

Korea needs to put green growth vision into action

16/03/2017 - Korea has improved access to environmental services and become a world leader in climate change mitigation technology. However, it will need to accelerate its green growth reforms to temper the effects of a decade of vigorous economic expansion that has pushed up energy use, resource consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, according to a new OECD report.

The OECD’s third Environmental Performance Review of Korea recommends that the country review its energy and climate policies to ensure they are in line with its international climate commitments and do more to develop large-scale carbon capture and storage to compensate for new coal plants coming online in the years ahead. Energy prices and taxes need to be adjusted to better reflect the environmental costs of energy production and use.

With an energy mix dominated by fossil fuels, Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by 39% from 2000 to 2013, the second-highest growth rate of OECD countries over the period. Korea now ranks as the OECD area’s fifth-largest GHG emitter, up from ninth place in 2000, and if current trends continue GHG emissions will have tripled by 2030 from 1990 levels.

‌“Korea has been a champion in framing ambitious green growth policies. It now needs to turn its vision into action by making progress towards its climate goals”, said OECD Environment Director Simon Upton, presenting the Review in Seoul.

“As a technology leader, Korea is well placed to profit from the transition to a low-carbon economy. But that will only happen if it implements low-carbon reforms that reward clean-tech innovation and penalise polluters”, Mr Upton said.

The predominance of heavy industry makes Korea a resource-intensive economy, yet material productivity has improved as material consumption has been decoupled from economic growth. With the 2016 Framework Act on Resource Circulation, Korea is moving towards a “circular economy” which promotes greater recycling and re-use and contributes to raw material and energy supply security.

Read more at the OECD website.

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category : Topics

March 17, 2017

Smarter use of natural resources can inject $2 trillion into global economy by 2050 – UN

17 March 2017 – The United Nations has found that smarter and more efficient use of the world’s natural resources today can yield an “environmental win-win’ by injecting $2 trillion into the global economy by 2050 while also offsetting the costs of ambitious climate change action.

Citing new research from the International Resource Panel in anews release today, Erik Solheim, Head the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), called it “an environmental win-win.”

The global population, which is set to grow by 28 per cent, is predicted to use 71 per cent more resources per capita by 2050. Without urgent steps to increase efficiency, the global use of metals, biomass, minerals – such as sand – and other materials will increase from 85 to 186 billion tonnes per year by 2050.

The report, “Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications,” which was commissioned in 2015 and released in Berlin at the G20 meeting, found that while investment in ambitious climate action would cause a 3.7 per cent fall in per capita gross world product by 2050, more sustainable use of materials and energy would not only cover the cost of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, but also add an extra $2 trillion to the global economy by 2050.

“By making better use of our planet's natural gifts, we will inject more money into the economy to create jobs and improve livelihoods,” Mr. Solheim stressed. “At the same time we will create the necessary funds to finance ambitious climate action,” he added.

The report analyzed four paths that countries could take over the next three decades, ranging from ‘business as usual’ to a scenario where they adopt both ambitious climate policies and improve resource efficiency.

Read more at UN News Centre.

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category : Topics

March 15, 2017

Kenya announces breakthrough ban on plastic bags

PRESS RELEASE
March 15, 2017

15 March 2017 – The Government of Kenya announced today a ban on the use, manufacture and import of all plastic bags, to take effect in six months. This announcement comes just three weeks after the UN declared a “war on plastic” through its new Clean Seas initiative, which has already secured commitments to address major plastic pollution from 10 governments.

Some 100 million plastic bags are handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone. Long identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems, they kill birds, fish and other animals that mistake them for food, damage agricultural land, pollute tourist sites and provide breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever.

“Kenya is taking decisive action to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “Plastic waste also causes immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems - both on land and at sea - and this decision is a major breakthrough in our global effort to turn the tide on plastic.

“Kenya should be commended for its environmental leadership. It's a great example that I hope will inspire others, and help drive further commitments to the Clean Seas campaign.”

Plastic bags are the number one challenge for urban waste disposal in Kenya, particularly in the poorest communities where access to disposal systems and healthcare is limited.

They also contribute to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that leak into the ocean every year. At current rates by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, wreaking havoc on marine fisheries, wildlife and tourism.

Kenya today is the 11th country to take action in support of the UN Environment campaign. In Africa, Rwanda and Morocco have already banned plastic bags and other countries are set to announce measures in the coming weeks.

Further afield, Indonesia has committed to slash marine litter by 70%, Canada has added microbeads (tiny particles of plastic) to its list of toxic substances, and New Zealand, the UK and the US have annouced bans on microbeads in cosmetics.

Read more at UNEP Newscentre.

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category : Topics

March 13, 2017

Report Reveals Gap Between Marketers and C-Suite in Driving the Sustainability Agenda

March 13, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword these days — it’s insurance against reputational risk, the key to new market opportunities, a safeguard against climate change and a critical element for staying competitive. And companies that are resistant to adopting a defined sustainability standards will feel the effects.

Mind the Gap: How Marketers Feel About Sustainability, a new report by marketing website The Drum and marketing agency gyro, finds that while the majority of marketers feel a moral imperative to incorporate sustainability practices into business, only 38 percent of the companies they work for have defined strategies.

Over two hundred brands and agencies were surveyed for the report to understand how marketers perceive their organization’s impact on the environment, the barriers they encounter and how they view their roles alongside the C-suite in driving the sustainability agenda. An absence of management urgency, a lack of buy-in from management and cost of initial investments were identified as the three principle barriers faced by forward-thinking marketers. What’s more, 52 percent of marketers that participated in the survey said their companies did not have sustainability strategies.

“Nothing is more humanly relevant than sustainability,” says Christoph Becker, global CEO and CCO of gyro. “Now is the time for business to drive positive and necessary change. Because sustainability isn’t just about business, it is about the future of life itself. As this groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind study proves, a company’s stated approach to sustainability is the primary marker that shows it is living up to its stated ideals.”

Mind the Gap points to several key benefits for businesses that integrate sustainability into their operations. Forty-two percent of marketers believe investment in sustainability will lead to long-term financial gains and 41 percent feeling confident sustainability will put them at a strong competitive advantage in the market over the next five years. Additionally, 52 percent feel that investing sustainability will boost brand perception.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 13, 2017

Wales continues to lead UK in recycling, announces circular economy fund

By George Ogleby | edie.net
13 March 2017

The Circular Economy Capital Investment Fund (CECIF), which kicks off in 2019, will assist businesses in various ways; from increasing recycling for hospitality, tourism and food services sectors, to improving the use of recycled content in products manufactured in Wales.

The news was delivered late last week by Wales Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths, who said: “The £6.5m fund underlines our commitment to moving towards a circular economy.

“This will help businesses save money by becoming more resource efficient and resilient, an approach that will deliver numerous environmental benefits including less waste and reduced CO2 emissions.”

Proud achievement
The fund will help Wales towards the milestones of 70% recycling by 2025 and 100% recycling by 2050, as set out in the Welsh government’s waste strategy Towards Zero Waste. Recent studies have found the adoption of a circular economy could save the Welsh economy up to £2bn and has the potential to create up to 30,000 jobs.

Wales already leads the way in the UK on recycling rates, which last year jumped to 60%, exceeding a national 58% recycling target for 2015/2016.

The figures reveal that the country has doubled the amount of waste it has recycled over the past decade, thanks in the main to a close collaborative relationship between the Welsh government and local authorities.

Read more at EURACTIV.

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category : Topics

March 13, 2017

Emissions Blamed for 1,260 Premature Deaths

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, March 13, 2017 (ENS) – Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and two other institutions report that Volkswagen’s emissions in excess of the legal standards have had a deadly effect on public health not just in Germany but across Europe and in the United States.

In September 2015, the German Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest car producer, admitted to having installed “defeat devices” in 11 million diesel cars sold worldwide between 2008 and 2015.

The devices were designed to detect and adapt to laboratory tests, making the cars appear to comply with environmental standards when, in fact, they emitted pollutants called nitric oxides, or NOx, at levels that were on average four times the applicable European test-stand limit.

While Volkswagen has issued recalls of affected vehicles in both the United States and Europe, scientists at MIT, Harvard University and Hasselt University in Belgium have found the excess emissions have already affected public health.

The team previously estimated that the excess emissions generated by the 482,000 affected vehicles sold in the United States will cause approximately 60 premature deaths.

Now the researchers have looked more closely at Volkswagen’s home base, examining the health impact from the 2.6 million affected cars sold in Germany under Volkswagen Group’s brands VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

March 13, 2017

City strategies to make buildings more energy efficient

By David Hatch, Citiscope
Monday 13 March 2017

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings lacks the glamour of headline-grabbing urban innovations such as drone-based delivery and elevated bicycle highways.

Yet for cities determined to achieve sustainable growth, it’s a must. Buildings account for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions and it’s more like half in many big cities.

Reducing the energy used to heat, cool and light buildings has to be an essential ingredient of any municipality’s broader climate goals.

A pair of reports released last month contain recommendations and case studies aimed at helping city leaders craft policies for the buildings sector.

The first, from the World Resources Institute (WRI), highlights strategies that local governments can employ to maximise efficiency in buildings.

Accelerating Building Efficiency - 8 Actions for Urban Leaders, emphasises that decisions made today on how to construct, design and operate buildings will have lasting consequences owing to the long lifespan of buildings.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

March 10, 2017

How Health Care Is Pushing Sustainability Ahead of Consumer Demand

March 10, 2017
by Gary Cohen

Over the last few years, we’ve seen consumer demand accelerate the push for corporate responsibility in business. Consumers today aren’t just paying lip service to good causes; more are choosing to ‘vote with their dollars,’ seeking out and purchasing products from companies that align with their values.

In today’s highly charged and politicized business environment, companies seen as lacking in social responsibility can sometimes suffer, leading to a loss in sales. A good example can be seen in the experience of Uber, whose CEO has been under fire for several instances of perceived corporate irresponsibility. Consumers are using the power of their purchases — and their opinions — to hold companies accountable and ultimately influence which businesses succeed and those who don’t. From a business perspective, the pressure is on.

Companies from all sectors have responded by showing that their work can help people, profit and planet all thrive together. For example, tech companies such as Intel have significantly reduced energy consumption while increasing the use of clean energy (Intel is the largest purchase of green power in the U.S.). Companies are also transforming their own products to be more sustainable every year while also pushing suppliers to meet sustainability goals. These strategies build on commitments to social and environmental responsibility while signaling a strong case to customers to support them. And these efforts are paying off.

So, what if leaders in the health care industry also operated its facilities and managed care with sustainability in mind?

Well, it already does. Health care has been working behind the scenes to create sustainable, responsible facilities that provide better care that is supportive of local communities and more mission-aligned than ever before. The industry is well-positioned to meet growing patient and staff demand for sustainable hospitals.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 9, 2017

Can supermarkets encourage customers to cut food waste through social media? Analysis of UK campaign shows mixed results

Vast quantities of food are wasted on a global scale each year. Throwing away food also wastes the resources used to produce it and pushes up food prices. In addition, this loss harms the environment — deforestation, for example, has been partly linked with creating agricultural land for growing food that is subsequently wasted. Furthermore, food that is disposed of in landfill emits methane and carbon dioxide. Reducing food waste is, therefore, a crucial part of moving towards a sustainable society. The EU, for example, is committed to reducing food waste as part of its drive towards a circular economy.

Behaviour change research has found that face-to-face influence, where people learn from one another — for instance, showing your neighbours how to compost, can be very powerful. Some researchers have suggested that social media could encourage behaviour change in the same way as face-to-face contact, potentially influencing large numbers of people in a cost-effective manner.

This study explored whether social media could be used to help consumers at a large UK retailer reduce their food waste. The researchers worked closely with the store’s organisation to design three one-off interventions with messages to reduce food waste, using the store’s communication channels.

For the first intervention, a feature article containing expert tips for reducing the most commonly wasted food at home was published in one issue of the store’s magazine. Every month, the magazine is circulated to 1.9 million readers and is available in-store or online. The article included advice on how to store food and use up leftovers in appetising ways.

For the second intervention, two feature articles were published in the store’s e-newsletter, which is distributed to 1.4 million customers. One feature discussed household food waste and how to use leftovers. There was also a link to a social media campaign, which encouraged customers to share ideas for reducing food waste. The second feature advised consumers on how to store food and keep it fresh.

The third intervention posted a campaign on leftovers on the store's Facebook page. Customers were encouraged to interact by sending in their favourite recipes using leftover food and also to go to a separate website which gives advice on how to reduce food waste.

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

March 9, 2017

EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming

Oliver Milman
Thursday 9 March 2017 19.12 GMT

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has dismissed a basic scientific understanding of climate change by denying that carbon dioxide emissions are a primary cause of global warming.

Pruitt said on Thursday that he did not believe that the release of CO2, a heat-trapping gas, was pushing global temperatures upwards.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC.

“But we don’t know that yet ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

This stance puts Pruitt at odds with his own agency, which states on its website that carbon dioxide is the “primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”. This finding is backed by Nasa, which calls CO2 “the most important long-lived ‘forcing’ of climate change”.

Scientists have understood for more than a century that CO2 traps heat. Atmospheric concentrations of the gas have increased by more than a third since the industrial revolution, driven by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

Read more at The Guardian.


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category : Topics

March 9, 2017

Pure Strategies: Increased Corporate Sustainability Spending Spurred Gains of $5-8B in 2016

March 9, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

New research from sustainability consulting firm Pure Strategies reveals growth in corporate spending in sustainability; more than 80 percent of surveyed companies expect a budget increase from 2016 to 2017 with a third anticipating double-digit growth.

Conducted by research firm Verdantix, Pure Strategies interviewed 153 sustainability leads in global companies with revenue of at least $250 million in the food and beverage, apparel and footwear, life sciences and medical products, electronics and appliances, home care and cleaning, personal care and cosmetics, and general merchandise industries.

The 153 survey respondents reported gaining approximately $800 million from increased sales and $800 million in manufacturing cost savings, with additional earnings in risk reduction, productivity gains and enhanced growth opportunities adding up to billions in value. Companies that report earning the most from sustainability plan to further increase their budgets, pointing to a key link between sustainability program investment and business benefits.

“The business case for sustainability has never been stronger,” noted Tim Greiner, Pure Strategies managing director. “Investment is higher than ever, especially from the top performers. But resources must shift to promoting more productive and regenerative systems, clean energy, safer materials and fair opportunities. These shifts are where change is most needed and where companies can find the greatest business value.”

The survey reveals encouraging signs of progress, including an increase in the number of companies using renewable energy, from 26 percent in 2016 to 46 percent in 2019. Seventy percent of respondents have also indicated that they are embracing safer materials. This area is expected to grow by 15 percent during the period between 2016 and 2019.

The survey and its respondents identified Walmart as the number one retailer driving investment in sustainability, receiving twice as many votes as its competitor Target, the second most cited retailer. In two previous Pure Strategies studies, Walmart was named the top retailer stimulating investment in product sustainability.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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March 8, 2017

New World Bank Program Explores Concentrated Solar Power Potential in Middle East & North Africa

March 8, 2017

Ouarzazate, March 8, 2017 - More than 100 senior energy officials from 7 MENA countries have gathered in Ouarzazate, Morocco for the first session of the World Bank Middle East & North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Knowledge & Innovation Program (MENA CSP KIP), a new program designed to support officials exploring the potential of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) as a sustainable source for the region’s rising demand for energy.

The World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund announced the launch of the MENA CSP KIP with an inaugural conference at Ouarzazate, the site of the world’s largest CSP plant. The new program will help inform decisions on CSP investment projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region with some of the world’s best solar energy resources. Alongside other clean energy options, CSP offers great potential for meeting global and national goals for clean, secure and affordable energy.

One of the primary advantages of CSP is that it can rely on thermal storage to continue generating power after the sun goes down. This makes CSP as reliable as the fossil fuel-driven plants it can replace. The program kicked off with a workshop on Concentrated Solar Power Markets, System Value & Financing.

The gathering in Ouarzazate —is the first of a series of conferences to be held through 2019. The program was launched in Morocco to draw on the lessons the country has learned with the launch of its ground breaking CSP program. Participants will explore lessons about development, technology and financing from Noor-Ouarzazate I, II and III, along with lessons from other CSP projects launched around the world.

Read more at The World Bank News.

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March 7, 2017

New Research Finds Companies Saved $14 for Every $1 Invested in Reducing Food Waste

Washington, 7 March 2017: One-third of all food produced in the world is never eaten, which has tremendous economic, social and environmental consequences. New research on behalf of Champions 12.3 finds that for every US$1 companies invested to reduce food loss and waste, they saved US$14 in operating costs. The report finds that household savings could be much greater.

In a first-of-its kind analysis, The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste evaluated financial cost and benefit data for 1,200 sites across 700 companies in 17 countries, finding that nearly every site realized a positive return on its investment to reduce food waste. The types of investments companies made include: quantifying and monitoring food loss and waste, training staff on practices to reduce waste, changing food storage and handling processes, changing packaging to extend shelf-life, changing date labels, and other staff and technology investments.

"Too much food, or too little – this is something that everyone on the planet can connect with. Today, over one-third of the food we produce is lost or goes to waste – and while 800 million people go hungry every day, the weight loss industry generates revenue of about $60 billion per year in the U.S. alone," said Peter Bakker.

The 14:1 return on investment comes from not buying food that would have been lost or wasted, increasing the share of food that is sold to customers, introducing new product lines made from food that otherwise would have been lost or wasted, reducing waste management costs and other savings.

Read more at WBCSD News & Insights.

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March 6, 2017

Turning food waste into tires

By: Pam Frost Gorder
Published on March 06, 2017

WOOSTER, Ohio—Tomorrow’s tires could come from the farm as much as the factory.

Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than a century.

In tests, rubber made with the new fillers exceeds industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open up new applications for rubber.

As Katrina Cornish explains it, the technology has the potential to solve three problems: It makes the manufacture of rubber products more sustainable, reduces American dependence on foreign oil and keeps waste out of landfills.

Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, has spent years cultivating new domestic rubber sources, including a rubber-producing dandelion. Now she has a patent-pending method for turning eggshells and tomato peels into viable—and locally sourced—replacements for carbon black, a petroleum-based filler that American companies often purchase from overseas.

About 30 percent of a typical automobile tire is carbon black; it’s the reason tires appear black. It makes the rubber durable, and its cost varies with petroleum prices.

Read more at The Ohio State University News.

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March 3, 2017

Circularity of Hazardous Chemicals Requires New Legal Framework, NGOs Say

March 3, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Policymakers must limit chemicals entering the material cycle and adapt existing legislation in order to protect human health and the environment from toxic substances in a circular economy, say ClientEarth and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in a new report.

The NGOs indicate that the current legal framework has failed to ensure information about dangerous chemicals is diffused throughout the whole material cycle and potential subsequent lifecycles.

“The failure places economic operators in a situation where it is more costly to comply with legal requirements protecting human health and the environment when using recycled and recovered materials than with using virgin ones,” the report says.

In its 2015 EU Action Plan, the EU set as a priority the transition to a circular economy, where goods are used, recycled or repurposed. However, applying circular principles to products containing hazardous chemicals will require careful consideration.

“Allowing dangerous chemicals in a circular economy would mean infinite exposure of people and the environment to toxics, and perpetuating the mistakes from the past,” said ClientEarth lawyer Alice Bernard.

Keeping It Clean: How to protect the circular economy from hazardous substances analyzes the benefits and shortcomings of EU chemicals, product and waste legislation, and offers recommendations to improve the legal framework for a better circularity of materials.

Limiting hazardous chemicals from entering the material cycle in the first place is essential, according to the report, and would facilitate the future use of recovered materials for companies and therefore the circular economy. To achieve this, the two NGOs call for implementation of REACH and other legislation restricting the use of hazardous chemicals.

Keeping It Clean also urges policymakers to ensure companies have access to sufficient information on the presence, location and concentration of hazardous chemicals in products and materials recovered from waste. Such a move will help reduce the burden on businesses making products with recovered materials and improve the protection of human health and the environment.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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March 3, 2017

New Timberland X Thread Collection Made with 'Most Responsible Fabric on the Planet'

March 3, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland has launched the Timberland X Thread collection in partnership with Thread, the Certified B Corporation that transforms plastic bottles from the streets and canals of Haiti into what Thread calls “the most responsible fabric on the planet.” The collection goes beyond environmental sustainability, creating social value and impact in the form of cleaner neighborhoods and meaningful new job opportunities.

“The Timberland X Thread collection is incredible proof that style and sustainability can go hand-in-hand,” said Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland. “This collection delivers good with every fiber, not just by recycling plastic bottles that would otherwise end up littering the streets, but also by creating job opportunities and cleaner neighborhoods in Haiti. Consumers can feel good about pulling on their Timberland® X ThreadTM boots or backpack, and know they are making a positive impact in someone else’s life.”

The new products build upon Timberland’s longstanding commitment to be Earthkeepers – to innovate and operate its business in an accountable and responsible manner. With a shared passion for supporting communities in Haiti, Timberland and Thread were natural partners from the start. Both companies are determined to look beyond the environmental value of recycled plastic bottles to focus on responsibility, transparency, and creating social value.

Last month, Thread released its fourth annual impact report – an illustration of its commitment to these same values. To engage more than CSR professionals in the company’s accomplishments in 2016, Thread enhanced this year’s iteration with videos, animated stats, and an interactive supply chain map – users can explore the lifecycle of Ground to Good fabric from profiles of owners of the bottle collection centers in Haiti to yarn spinners and dye houses in North Carolina, to where it is cut, sewn, and assembled into finished Timberland x Thread products at Timberland's partner facilities in Vietnam.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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March 2, 2017

‘Communicating SDGs’ key to achieving global development targets – senior UN official

2 March 2017 – Bringing together a diverse array of partners to communicate the Sustainable Development Goals was a key focus on day two Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development, a ‘playable’ United Nations conference that aims to chart a new way of thinking on addressing some of the world’s most complex development challenges.

“We have to make the world aware of this […] agenda that is definitely going to transform the planet and that is going to ensure that no one is left behind,” Cristina Gallach, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, told the Festival.

“The more we communicate about the SDGs and make people aware of the agenda, the more the governments will be accountable and will ensure that it is implemented,” she added.

The UN Department headed by Ms. Gallach, Department of Public Information, is the organization’s entity tasked with informing the wider world on the SDGs and ensuring that the 17 goals are known and understood.

To that end, 17 ‘icons’ – each with a designated bright colour, short name phrase and single image – have been created to illustrate each Global Goal.

The icons have also been translated in over 50 languages, from Czech to Bahasa Indonesia, and the number is growing.

Read more at the UN News Centre.

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March 1, 2017

European Green Public Procurement NGO network issues GPP guide

1 March 2017

The European GPP NGO Network has published its Green Public Procurement Guide for NGOs, aimed at enabling NGOs to encourage public procurers to embrace GPP principles and processes. The 16-page guide provides GPP ideas in four key GPP sectors: food and catering, road vehicles, energy-consuming products and buildings.

Transferable examples of GPP projects completed by local authorities and other public agencies from across the EU are presented as case studies.
No previous knowledge of the procurement legislative context or prior engagement with GPP is required to use the guide, which also contains useful facts and figures demonstrating the budgetary and environmental benefits to local authorities of implementing GPP principles in their procurement processes.

Practical advice on how NGOs can approach local authorities with low awareness, commitment to or capacity in GPP is provided alongside a resource list and testimonials on how embracing GPP has impacted cities and NGOs.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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